EKU-UK Partnership Aimed at Growing Economy

Published on September 10, 2017

Although Eastern Kentucky University and the University of Kentucky were opponents on the football field on Saturday, Sept. 9, two days later the two institutions announced a partnership aimed at growing the state’s economy, with research and intellectual property being the driving forces.

EKU’s Center for Economic Development, Entrepreneurship and Technology (CEDET), headed by Tom Martin, and UK’s Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC), led by Ian McClure, reached the agreement with the full support of the two university presidents, EKU’s Michael Benson and UK’s Eli Capilouto.

“Regional universities like Eastern Kentucky University conduct research and develop inventions, but the costs associated with that effort are significant for institutions focused on instruction and service to their region,” said Benson. “As a research institution, UK has the resources and organizational structure to assist EKU in the proper assessment and commercialization of basic discovery for the innovations of tomorrow. More importantly, this partnership creates a research corridor between UK and EKU, leveraging their individual strengths for the benefit of all Kentuckians.”

“As a research university, we lead the state in success in competing for external grants. That’s the pipeline for intellectual property,” Capilouto said. "We have developed the resources and infrastructure to move some of these breakthroughs to the marketplace.  We are happy to partner with EKU to provide that kind of capability for their faculty when they have discoveries, and we are grateful for the partnership.”

The terms of the agreement call for UK’s OTC to act as an independently contracted partner and service provider to EKU for intellectual property and commercialization services. The services provided by the OTC to EKU include:

  • Assistance with EKU intellectual property (IP) development efforts, including assessing the potential value and patentability or copyrightable nature of invention disclosures
  • Assistance with EKU commercialization and intellectual property procurement transaction costs, including market research, patent prosecution and docket management, identifying potential licensing partners, business development efforts to solicit interest in partnership, and negotiating and executing license agreements in coordination with EKU
  • Development and/or offering of effective faculty education programs and strategies that UK uses to reach out to faculty and encourage invention disclosure and pursuit of IP protection
  • Guidance to EKU on intellectual property and commercialization matters, including related to what UK does with non-patentable IP, particularly software
  • Help in building a stronger EKU network by implementing process and procedures
  • Solidification of a commercialization partnership that can help build a "research corridor" for collaborative research efforts between UK and EKU 

“We can channel the inventive activity happening at EKU through our office and collaborate and cooperate to give those ideas at EKU the best chance at succeeding,” said McClure. “It’s all about raising the bar for the Commonwealth.”

“UK and EKU’s service to each other and to the Commonwealth is the application of original knowledge created by our faculty,” said Martin. “We have a lot of challenges, like solving the ‘Kentucky uglies’ -- high rates of lung cancer, heart disease, diabetes, smoking, obesity.  But we also have the opportunity for collaboration in innovation, building the foundation for the inventors of tomorrow.”

Martin expressed his appreciation to McClure for his work on the agreement and also credited Jerry Pogatshnik, dean of graduate education and research at EKU.