A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Early-stage tech innovators to share how SBIR match helped them grow at Jan. Venture Connectors lunch


On Wednesday, Jan. 9, Venture Connectors will host a panel of tech-focused innovators who took advantage of the federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program’s matching funds to relocate their early-stage companies to Kentucky and have stayed to grow their businesses. They will discuss why they chose Louisville over other locations in Kentucky, the benefits of doing business here, and what support or resources the local entrepreneurial community might have been lacking when they first arrived.

The panelists are:

• Dr. Jane Hermes, president of Turbo Wheelchair Co. Inc., a developer of custom-designed, lightweight, manual wheelchairs.

• Dr. Angelique Johnson, CEO and founder of MEMStim LLC, which produces implantable electronics to treat neurological disorders.

• Dr. Trey Riddle, CEO of Sunstrand, a leading supplier of biomaterials for composite, technical nonwoven and plastic applications.

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program is a highly competitive grant program that encourages small businesses to engage in research and development that has the potential for commercial use. To be eligible for matching funds, businesses must contribute to Kentucky’s overall economic development and help further the mission of the Cabinet for Economic Development’s Office of Entrepreneurship to support technology commercialization, improve innovation and accelerate the number of innovation-driven startups in the state. Companies must commit to locating in Kentucky for three years.

Venture Connectors’ monthly luncheons are held at the Muhammad Ali Center, 144 N. Sixth St., usually on the first Wednesday of the month. The January event has been moved to the second Wednesday due to the holiday. NEW TIME: Doors open at 11:45 a.m., and the meeting runs from noon-1 p.m. Networking will take place after the lunch.

Each meeting features:

• 30-second open mic announcements about upcoming new companies, events and programs.

• The featured startup, a 5-minute presentation by an entrepreneur interested in obtaining capital to start up or support growth and expansion of his or her business.

• A guest speaker or a panel discussion featuring entrepreneurial success stories or trends affecting today’s entrepreneurial climate.

Registration is required at www.ventureconnectors.org. Members attend free; associate members pay $30. Guests who register online by noon the day before the lunch pay only $40.

From Venture Connectors


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