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Murray State University selected to establish regional hub for startup businesses in Western Kentucky

KY Innovation has selected Murray State University and its partners to establish a regional hub to serve, attract and cultivate more innovative entrepreneurs and startup businesses in west Kentucky.

Murray State’s Center for Telecommunications Systems Management (CTSM) will partner with the Technology Council of West Kentucky (TCWK) and entrepreneurship service providers throughout the area to launch a Regional Innovation for Startups and Entrepreneurs (RISE) hub. RISE hubs are part of KY Innovation’s 120-county effort to modernize Kentucky’s support for high-tech, high-growth-potential businesses. West Kentucky’s consortium, which includes partners in Murray, Henderson, Hopkinsville, Madisonville and Paducah, will build on the successes of area tech startups, focus on regional collaboration to support early stage businesses through capitalization and commercialization, and develop the region’s culture for supporting entrepreneurs and innovative startups. The west Kentucky innovation hub will receive $428,684 in state funding, representing a nearly threefold increase in annual funding over the prior Kentucky Innovation Network office model.

“We are focusing Kentucky’s resources to support entrepreneurs who create new products, launch and grow businesses and positively impact our overall economy,” Said Governor Matt Bevin. “The western region of Kentucky is vital to KY Innovation’s statewide strategy to serve entrepreneurs. KY Innovation’s investment in west Kentucky’s RISE hub will enable it to better leverage the exceptional businesses, universities and workforce already in the area and will help create an environment where they can flourish.”

KY Innovation, the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development’s initiative supporting entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses, in August called for proposals to lead RISE hubs. RISE fosters partnerships between universities, established companies and industry sectors, entrepreneurs, business accelerator and incubator programs and various other public and private entities.

The west Kentucky RISE model aims to move startup companies through tech commercialization while providing extra resources for local initiatives, regional collaboration and the talent necessary to transition companies to the next stage. Consortium leaders identified the following objectives: developing entrepreneurship culture, regional coordination of local entrepreneurship efforts, fostering growth and development of technology and innovation, and provision of enhanced entrepreneurial services such as startup counseling.

Partners will provide businesses and entrepreneurs a full range of services including business planning, investor-financing readiness evaluations, software development vetting, and advising on the incorporation process, tax and permitting obligations, IP protections and partnership agreements.

Communities involved will perform:

• The First 100: Research-backed effort to identify “first 100” entrepreneurs in five communities within six months.

• Asset mapping: Within the first 90 days, each community will conduct a work session to identify its local technology and entrepreneurial assets in infrastructure, non-governmental institutions related to entrepreneurship, professional support, finance, tools/space and talent.

• Talent Development: All five communities will create a talent development program for implementation during the 2018-2019 school year.

KY Innovation will announce more RISE awardees in the coming weeks. Mefford said the office plans to invest more than $4.9 million in regional efforts, more than doubling funding to the offices of the former Kentucky Innovation Network.

From Governor’s Office

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