Nonprofit Kentucky Space launches program to help companies

ssloan@herald-leader.comApril 17, 2013 

Kentucky Space, a nonprofit focused on space research and education, has announced plans for a program to assist businesses with similar goals.

Called Space Tango, the program will see investments in as many as six companies from across the country. Companies chosen to participate will be evaluated based on their ideas, science, technology and other factors, according to a news release.

The companies will then participate in a 12-week on-site program in Lexington that will offer them advice and education on growing a space-focused business. Among the resources offered are technical and ground operations centers at the Morehead State University Space Science Center and the University of Kentucky Space Systems Laboratory. Kentucky Space also offers the ability to work with various NASA sites.

Morehead and UK are among the members of Kentucky Space, which includes the Kentucky Science and Technology Corp., NASA Kentucky Space Grant Consortium and engineering firm Belcan.

"Our purpose in doing this is to further expand the entrepreneurial space industry here and also to stir the pot up and encourage and get a look at some of the disruptive and novel ideas out there across the U.S.," Kentucky Space president Kris Kimel said. "We'd like to take a look at those, bring them here, make a small investment in the companies and help get them to where they're competitive.

"It's about innovation, getting the talent and those kinds of things."

The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority approved a $100,000 grant for the program at its March meeting.

The announcement comes as investments in space are increasing. The Space Foundation, a nonprofit focused on space awareness and education, said the "space economy" was valued at $304.3 billion in 2012, up 7 percent from 2011. Most of that growth, the report said, came from investments by private companies rather than governments.

To learn more about the program, go to Spacetango.com or Kentuckyspace.com.

Scott Sloan: (859) 231-1447. Twitter: @HeraldLeaderBiz.

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