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Murray State University’s Kentucky Innovation Network earns award from technology institute


Murray State University’s Kentucky Innovation Network was recently recognized as a Creating a Better Future award winner by the State Science & Technology Institute (SSTI) for its The Next Big Thing (NBT) young entrepreneurial competition.

With support from the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, the Kentucky Innovation Network office at Murray State University created NBT. Working with teachers throughout a 20-county area, the program involves community partners and incorporates innovation and entrepreneurship through project-based learning.

Students who participate identify a problem and develop their solution, prototype and business model. They attend an accelerator day, receive mentoring in the classroom and present to faculty, entrepreneurs, investors and community leaders. ln the five years since the NBT launched, 876 high school students have participated and many are developing businesses. In 2016–2017, two of the top three teams were already in the marketplace, and interest in the program has spread to investors and across the state.

Loretta Daniel (pictured at left), director of the Kentucky Innovation Network office, accepts an award with Penny Fletcher, assistant director, as the office was recognized by the State Science & Technology Institute for its “Next Big Thing” entrepreneurship competition. (MSU Photo)

The Kentucky Innovation Network office at Murray State won the Creating a Better Future through Economic Opportunity award and demonstrates how any area can influence long-term culture through its youth. One of the judges noted that the program was “addressing a culture change and making a difference.”

“I am very honored to accept this award for the Next Big Thing program. Seeing students realize they have great ideas and can start their own businesses now or in the future makes this one of the most rewarding things we do every year,” said Loretta Daniel, director of the Kentucky Innovation Network office.

This year’s awards were announced during SSTI’s 2017 Annual Conference, held Sept. 13–15, in Washington, D.C. SSTI is a national organization that works to strengthen initiatives to create a better future through science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship.

Murray State University provides an “Opportunity Afforded” for more than 10,000 students through a high-quality education with experiential learning, academic and personal growth and the ability to secure a lifetime of success. The University’s main campus is located in Murray, Ky. and includes five regional campuses. For more information on Murray State University, visit murraystate.edu.

The Office of Entrepreneurship within the Cabinet for Economic Development oversees the twelve offices of the Kentucky Innovation Network and other services, programs and initiatives to encourage small business growth, create, and promote a strong culture of entrepreneurship statewide. Since 2001, the Kentucky Innovation Network has created a network of business leaders and mentors that encourage relationships, grow companies new and existing, and create jobs.

The Network is managed in partnership with the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development and Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation, along with local partners, including Murray State University. Experienced and educated business leaders staff each office.

From MSU


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