Entrepreneurial companies in the Bluegrass Region had a record year in 2011, attracting $69.9 million in venture funding according to the annual survey by the Lexington Venture Club. In addition, among the 78 Central Kentucky early-stage companies that took part in the survey, 279 jobs were created with an average full-time salary of $65,651.
Survey results were released during the Lexington Venture Club’s annual entrepreneur celebration held at Buster’s Billiards & Backroom. University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto, Mayor Jim Gray, and Commerce Lexington President and CEO Bob Quick congratulated the entrepreneurs on a record year in spite of an unstable national economy.
“Small businesses are the growth engines for our local, regional and national economy,” Capilouto said. “UK is committed to being a good partner in building a vibrant 21st century economy for the Bluegrass Region.”
Venture funding, including angel and venture capital investments, increased 7.5 percent and is at an all time high since the first Lexington Venture Club survey in 2003. In the past nine years, $407.3 million in early-stage capital has been raised by Lexington area early-stage companies. Funding also comes from founders, friends and family, federal funds, Kentucky matching funds, and from strategic partners.
“This is a testament of what we can accomplish when faculty entrepreneurs, local entrepreneurs, UK, Commerce Lexington, LFUCG, and the state work together,” said Dean Harvey, executive director of the Von Allmen Center for Entrepreneurship. “We are proud of our entrepreneurs and the hundreds of high-tech jobs they have created in Lexington. And we look forward to continuing work with regional investors and our partners to promote Lexington as a great place to do business.”
A total of 780 people were employed last year, both full time and part time, according to the companies participating in the survey. These companies are primarily in the biotechnology and healthcare, advanced manufacturing, IT and software, and business services sectors. The companies also reported $127.2 million in total revenue.
UK spinoff companies Seikowave and Scout Diagnostics/CoPlex Therapeutics were recognized at the celebration event along with social gaming company Sojo Studios. Seikowave is making 3D imaging faster, cheaper and more accessible using technology developed by UK electrical engineer Daniel Lau. In Scout and CoPlex, Mark Lovell, Bert Lynn, UK chemistry professors, and Sanders-Brown Center on Aging researchers, are working on a diagnostic and treatment plan for Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.
UK-affiliated companies — companies with licenses, collaborative projects and or UKCED clients — that participated in the LVC survey reported:
$38.5 million in venture funding – 55% of total funding
296 people employed
109 people hired
$76,937 average full-time salary
$11.9 million total revenue