For years, the outgoing president at the University of Kentucky has urged faculty to launch "start-up" businesses. Lee Todd believes those efforts are paying off. Todd says ‘seed money’ along with commercialization centers where new businesses are nurtured helped set the stage for start ups. Then, he says an angel network of investors has helped fund such firms. As a result, Todd says recent rankings put U-K first in creating start ups among similar schools.
He says job growth is always the aim, but, well known companies like Cisco, Microsoft, and Apple started with small payrolls.
“.Big companies start small, so I think what we have to do is start a lot of small companies and then some of those will become larger,” said Todd.
Research efforts at the University of Kentucky seem to be bolstering economic development far outside Lexington. For example, Todd says the school spawned a nationally recognized ‘solar house’ project. Todd says the information gathered by students for the project is now used in the construction of energy efficient manufactured homes.
“Many of them can be made in the Somerset area where the house boat industry which was so great down there has really dried up. They are retrofitting factories to help them learn how to make those. They’ve designed those homes so they will use Kentucky crafted products,” added Todd.
Todd adds the Commonwealth needs to more ingenious in creating more jobs. Todd says last year there were 89 early stage companies in Fayette County, employing about 800 people.