Join us for three tracks with industry and federal funding presenters, keynote speakers, a panel, breakout sessions and networking.

Track A: Materials Enabling the Future of Kentucky
Track B: Innovations Advancing a Healthier Kentucky
Track C: Creating a Circular Economy in Kentucky

Click below for more information!

KIC 2023


Welcome to UK Innovate, the innovation, entrepreneurship and economic enterprise for UK Research. Through technology commercialization, corporate partnerships, social innovation, innovation training and economic development initiatives related to UK's research innovations, talent and community, we work with you to move ideas into the world faster, where they can make the greatest social and economic impact possible. 

UK Innovate Focus Areas

Corporate Partnerships

Under corporate partnerships, Innovation Connect provides dedicated resources to support industry, non-profit and private sector partnerships for research and innovation economic development. 

Innovation Training

Innovation and Entrepreneurial Training manages innovation programs offering translational research, product development and entrepreneurship training, coaching and mentorship to faculty, staff and students at UK.

Technology Commercialization

The Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC) works collaboratively with innovators to strategically assess, protect, and license early-stage technologies and co-create new technology startups. 

Social Innovation

At the intersection of innovation, social entrepreneurship, and transformational changes, UK's initiative to scale ideas and find solutions to create social impact from research and discovery. 

We respectfully acknowledge that the University of Kentucky sits on the traditional territory of the Osage, Shawnee, Cherokee, Adena and Hopewell peoples.


By: Hannah Johnson, UK Innovate Fellow

The Metals Innovation Initiative (MI2) hosted their inaugural MI2 Annual Conference, focused this year on “Factory of the Future” in Louisville, Kentucky, on September 5-6. The conference was well-attended by University of Kentucky (UK) faculty and staff, including members of UK Innovate. The “Factory of the Future” was built around the Smart Factory concept. The Smart Factory is a system that collects data on production and uses it to improve processes and innovation in manufacturing. The event featured a variety keynotes, breakout discussions, roundtables and presentations from startups, convening leaders from Kentucky’s metals industry alongside a wide range of partners and experts.

MI2 is a nonprofit based in Kentucky, with a vision to bring all relevant stakeholders together to make the state the global destination for metals innovation. It offers industry-led executive leadership to drive advanced research, sustainability, commercialization, and talent development. The metals sector in Kentucky is a robust industry, housing over 250 facilities, providing approximately 36,000 full-time jobs, and helping drive further growth for the Commonwealth. “The Factory of the Future” was the first of many events to come from MI2, focused on sharing ideas and innovations while providing partnership and networking opportunities.

“MI2 was founded with the mission to bring metals companies and ecosystem partners together to make Kentucky the destination for metals innovation,” said Vijay Kamineni, CEO of the Metals Innovation Initiative. “The conference brought that mission to life in a direct way, with industry executives directly connecting government representatives, economic development and workforce development professionals, technology companies, entrepreneurs, and researchers and leaders from UK and other university partners. The spirit of what we can all achieve together was strongly evident at the conference, and we are seeing it help drive our initiatives as we begin MI2’s second year.” 

"We look forward to partnering with UK faculty, staff, and students this coming year on research that assists our strategic focus areas, on seeking out new technology innovations from their community relevant to the metals industry, on creating career pathways for talent, on impactful events that demonstrate the power of Kentucky’s metals industry, and on a range of other initiatives,” Kamineni added.

UK Innovate at the University of Kentucky is the innovation, entrepreneurship and economic enterprise for University of Kentucky Research. Through technology commercialization, corporate partnerships, social innovation, innovation training and economic development initiatives related to UK’s research innovations, talent and community, UK Innovate works to move ideas into the world faster, where they can make the greatest social and economic impact possible.

Landon Borders, Executive Director, Innovation Connect, noted how factories are changing to keep up with the new technologies. He explained how, with new technologies and processes, he can “imagine manufacturing jobs of the future being less labor intensive and more knowledge intensive.  Imagine our factories of the future being much more environmentally sustainable.  Achieving this shared vision for Kentucky is why we believe working side-by-side with our partners at MI2 is so important.”

The UK Innovate team was inspired by attending “Factory of the Future” to be innovative in their work, with their team and as part of Generate Advanced Manufacturing Excellence for Change (GAME Change) partners and collaborators. GAME Change is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Type 1 Development Award as part of the Regional Engines Program, which according to their webpage, “fosters innovation ecosystems across the United States...”.

Ian McClure, Associate Vice President of Research, Innovation and Economic Impact, explained he found one of the keynote presentations fascinating, saying “It went through a road map of solutions needed by the metals industry to truly become an innovation forward industry that can compete on a global scale.” These included innovations in various areas such as energy efficiencies, carbon footprint, process efficiencies and collaborative robotics to make a competitive and sustainable manufacturing industry in Kentucky. A big part of GAME Change is being on the same page regarding industry needs and paths to take to advance innovation. Attending “Factory of the Future” was an excellent opportunity for industrial and manufacturing leaders to express where innovation is most needed in their industries.

The University of Kentucky is the lead organization for GAME Change, with McClure as the lead principal investigator. The GAME Change partners and collaborators are working together to become a global leader in circular economy technologies for sustainable manufacturing. At the MI2 conference, many keynote speakers were able to highlight industry challenges and emerging technology resources that may benefit the metals industry.

Kim Sayre, Innovation Connect Manager, was able to connect these ideas back to UK Innovate, “When thinking about the impact of the conference on UK Innovation Connect, we are in a great position to help advance many of the initiatives by facilitating access to our faculty experts, lab equipment and relative research grants.” MI2’s event gave team members a great idea of where to focus their efforts to be most efficient.

UK faculty and staff and the UK Innovate team regularly attend conferences like “Factory of the Future” to stay well-informed on industry trends and learn about innovation. With this knowledge, the team can partner with organizations and create stronger connections through Kentucky.

UK Innovate will launch a new program soon to make it easier for UK researchers and innovators to work with industry partners and consortia such as MI2. To learn more about getting involved with MI2, contact Kim Sayre at