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Kentucky Aims to Achieve World-Class Status in Life Sciences

August 22, 2005

With the proper utilization of existing resources, the development of key new programs, strong leadership within state government and coordinated efforts among all programs and stakeholders, Kentucky has the opportunity to become a world leader in specific niches of the life sciences industry, says a report from the Governor's Life Sciences Consortium.

The consortium, created in July 2004 by Gov. Ernie Fletcher, is comprised of experts in professional, entrepreneurial, governmental, and academic fields. The group recently released a strategic plan for positioning Kentucky a leader among states and regions in the life sciences by focusing on four key areas: natural products, medical devices, health technology services, and niche pharmaceuticals and niche biotechnology.

The report, which outlines a strategy for leveraging current assets and developing new opportunities, notes that Kentucky is considered to be an emerging novice state in the life sciences area, particularly in commercialization of research. An aggressive economic growth plan is needed for the life sciences because the state is so far behind, according to the report. For example, Kentucky ranked 48 out of 50 states in the most recent Milken Institute Technology and Science Overall Index, and the index places Kentucky in the bottom tier for S&T. Neighboring states Tennessee, Indiana and Ohio fall in the second tier.

The report recommends 11 action steps across four areas for Kentucky to successfully compete and excel in the life sciences industry: research, commercialization capital, business talent and infrastructure. Among the recommendations are:

  • Establish a venture capital fund dedicated to the life sciences;
  • Establish or explore the designation of existing seed funds for early-stage investing in life sciences;
  • Provide sustained support for K-12 education, workforce development education, and other institutions to develop the life sciences workforce; and,
  • Establish an advisory group to assist in the implementation of the recommendations.

Other proposals include establishing a $100 million, low-interest loan fund for life sciences companies wishing to move to/expand in the state and providing $750,000 per year for a life sciences commercialization program within the state. A Lexington Herald Leader article states that the initiative could cost more than $200 million if approved by the governor and funded by the legislature.

The Life Sciences Consortium report is available at: http://governor.ky.gov/NR/rdonlyres/ABA456B0-26B2-4AF6-BC14-CA35C874FEFF/0/ReportRollOutEdition.pdf

Links to this report and more than 1,000 additional TBED-related research reports, strategic plans and other papers can be found at the Tech-based Economic Development (TBED) Resource Center, jointly developed by the Technology Administration and SSTI, at http://www.tbedresourcecenter.org/.