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Kentucky Chosen for Prestigious Entrepreneurship Development
Kentucky Ag Connection - 05/14/2018

Kentucky has been chosen as one of nine regional members in the 6th Cohort of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Regional Entrepreneurship Accelerator Program. MIT REAP, an initiative of MIT Sloan Global Programs, is an intensive process designed to engage partners from throughout the state in developing a plan to support entrepreneurs.

"We are thrilled to have been selected," said Luke Ramsay, economic development extension specialist with the University of Kentucky's Community and Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky and REAP team leader. "The fact that we are the first region from the United States selected for this program is a great signal that Kentucky is serious about entrepreneurism and finding the best ways to support our local innovators."

The other regional teams selected for Cohort 6 are from Italy, Denmark, China, Ecuador, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Norway and Australia. Each team comprises members who share a vision for their regional ecosystem for innovative startups and represent government, risk capital, academia, corporate and entrepreneurial communities.

"Being the first regional team selected from the U.S. signifies that MIT REAP recognizes the University of Kentucky's central role in the entrepreneurial landscape of the commonwealth," said UK President Eli Capilouto. "UK's role on this team is another example of our growing research enterprise and a shared commitment to fostering a strong and vibrant Kentucky economy."

The Community and Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky, part of the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, provided the driving effort behind the application to the program, but CEDIK did not act alone. The Kentucky team members include Brian Mefford of the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, John Roush, Centre College president, Stacey Hughes of Logan Aluminum, Rusty Justice of BitSource Technologies, Casey Barach, Northern Kentucky Tri-ED senior vice president for high growth entrepreneurship, Sam Ford of The Future of Work Initiative and Kevin Loux, Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR).

"Today's announcement that Kentucky will field a team in the MIT Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program underscores the fact that our state offers some of the most promising people, ideas, business and institutions for innovation-driven success," Gov. Matt Bevin said. "Kentucky is already a top business environment for innovators and startups. Our participation in this renowned program will make us even stronger." Dean Nancy Cox, UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, said the college is excited to be part of the new cohort.

"Our Community and Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky works daily to improve communities and economies," she said. "Inclusion into this project will only increase the strength of our outreach to the state and its communities. I am excited to see how this develops over the next two years."

The multidisciplinary Kentucky REAP team will begin its formal work in July. For two years, the team will commit significant time working with MIT faculty and staff as well as other global representatives to put into effect a strategy for developing and enhancing innovation-driven entrepreneurial ecosystems in the region.

MIT REAP admits up to eight partner regions annually, with typical regions encompassing from 1 million to 10 million people. Previous cohorts of the program have included regions from Europe, Asia, Latin American and Africa.

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