Business

Innovation network in Kentucky gets upgrades for better communication for start-up businesses

Looking to boost entrepreneurship in the state, Kentucky officials recently revamped statewide efforts to assist start-up companies.

The Innovation and Commercialization Center program that began in 2002 has been renamed the Kentucky Innovation Network and added and upgraded offices around the state.

Laurie Daugherty, associate vice president of the program, said the offices previously focused more on their specific geographic regions and did not communicate as much with each other.

"Now we've brought them all together to really place an emphasis on it being a network and getting them to support each other around the state," she said.

For example, the network's office directors would be more apt now to connect a company in the western part of the state with another in Eastern Kentucky if they're in need of a contact in the area.

The state has brought the Kentucky Highlands business incubator in London into the fold, creating a 13th office in the Kentucky Innovation Network, she said. The network also upgraded three existing satellite offices in Morehead, Paducah and Owensboro into full regional locations.

Of the network's 13 locations, 10 are now regional offices with three others as satellites.

"There's a much stronger feeling that we are a better network because of this," Daugherty said. "There's much more going on in terms of communicating with each other and talking about their clients with each other.

"So companies should definitely see the benefit. There's just a larger pool of resources there for them."

Beyond the additional office and upgrades of others, Daugherty said the name change is also a boost for the group that is run by the Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation on behalf of the Cabinet for Economic Development.

"We made the name easier and shorter to emphasize innovation," she said, noting a revamped Web site was also launched at Kyinnovation.com. "We're trying to place the emphasis on what we're about."

In its most recent fiscal year, what is now the network helped create 198 new companies that boast 811 jobs paying an average annual salary of more than $50,000, according to its annual report. The companies helped by the network also raised $127 million in private investments.

"The Kentucky Innovation Network is an extremely valuable resource for Kentucky's budding entrepreneurs and is a big reason why the Commonwealth was ranked fifth among all states in the rate of new company formation during the past decade," said a statement from Gov. Steve Beshear.

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