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Illustration of microscopeUK Research Means Business

by Deb Weis

Five start-up technology businesses based on University of Kentucky research have recently "graduated" from the university environment to business locations in the Lexington area. Three of the new businesses have moved into the Kentucky Technology Center, which officially opened last December at UK's Coldstream Research Campus.

Reflectronics Inc., Equine Biodiagnostics Inc., and The Lexington Carbon Company LLC are among the first tenants of the two buildings that currently comprise the Kentucky Technology Center. The $1.5 million privately funded development contains specialized laboratory and office space and is managed by Kentucky Technology Inc., UK's for-profit corporation to assist in new business start-ups. Five additional buildings are planned for the center.

Reflectronics, based on the research of UK's Fred Payne in agricultural engineering, manufactures fiber optic sensors for the food, pharmaceutical, and chemical process industries.

Equine Biodiagnostics provides specialized diagnostic lab testing for the equine industry worldwide. EBI's primary focus is Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis, a neurologic disease that causes muscle deterioration and can be fatal. The company is based on the work of David Granstrom, formerly with UK's Gluck Equine Research Center.

The Lexington Carbon Company develops and manufactures specialty activated carbon materials. Commercial applications for these materials include gas and liquid separation, energy conversion systems, water treatment, environmental processing of gas and liquid streams, removal of pollutants, military and industrial protective filters, and medicine, food and beverage processing. LexCarb is based on the research of the late Frank Derbyshire, and Marit Jagtoyen and Geoff Kimber of UK's Center for Applied Energy Research.

Both EBI and LexCarb had their start on campus at UK's Advanced Science and Technology Commercialization Center, better known as ASTeCC. "Their graduation from the facility fulfills one of ASTeCC's primary objectives¯the commercial development of UK research leading to the creation of new businesses and economic development for the commonwealth," Fitzgerald Bramwell, says UK vice president for Research and Graduate Studies.

Two additional high-tech start-ups have also moved recently from their on-campus location in ASTeCC. GenApps, a company that develops techniques to prevent disease in plants such as tobacco, is now located in Winchester, Kentucky. The company's work is based on the research of Mark Nielsen, formerly with UK's agronomy department. And TIgen Pharmaceuticals, which works on selective delivery of drugs to target tissues, has moved its operation to Bolivar Street in Lexington. TIgen is based on the research of Thomas Burke, pharmacy.

"ASTeCC has graduated seven new technology-based businesses since the building opened in 1994," says Joe Fink, ASTeCC director and Research and Graduate Studies vice president. "In all, more than 30 new businesses have been started by UK faculty, or have been based on technology developed at UK."

There are currently six businesses, both with and without ties to the university, at UK's Coldstream Research Campus.