The University of Louisville hosted serial entrepreneur and America Online co-founder Steve Case and others as part of a summit focused on growing regional startups and innovation.
The Louisville Entrepreneurship Summit, presented by the UofL Office of Research and Innovation, brought together more than 300 innovators, entrepreneurs, investors and supporters from throughout the region for a fireside chat, startup expo, networking and signing of Case’s new book, “The Rise of the Rest: How Entrepreneurs in Surprising Places are Building the New American Dream.”
“Entrepreneurship and innovation is so core to what we do and who we are as a university, whether that’s by educating the next generation of founders, developing research-backed products or launching new companies,” said Kevin Gardner, UofL’s executive vice president for research and innovation, who leads the organizing office and gave opening remarks. “We’re proud to work with Case and our community partners to support startups here and beyond.”
In addition to Case, speakers included Elliott Parker, CEO of Indianapolis venture firm, High Alpha Innovation; Jonathan Webb, founder of Kentucky-born agtech startup, AppHarvest; and Monique Quarterman, executive director of KY Innovation. Selected entrepreneurs also participated in a roundtable and had the chance to pitch their ideas to Case’s venture capital firm, Revolution LLC, which invests in early-stage companies located outside of major startup hubs, like New York City or San Francisco.
This event, held at the university’s newly renovated Angel’s Envy Bourbon Club, marked Case’s third visit to UofL and the region; in 2016, he toured UofL engineering facilities and FirstBuild makerspace, and in 2018, he heard pitches from Louisville startups that resulted in a $100,000 investment in a company born from UofL research. Case said Louisville’s entrepreneurial ecosystem has huge potential.
“Louisville has so many of the right elements in place for a robust startup ecosystem, including a great research university,” Case said. “I’m excited by what I’ve seen here, and look forward to following the city’s startups and future success stories.”
At UofL, the Office of Research and Innovation has launched a number of key supports driving regional entrepreneurship. That includes UofL New Ventures, a new team led by Will Metcalf, associate vice president for research development and strategic partnerships, dedicated to launching and growing innovative new companies to move research-backed technologies to market.
“We’ve had a lot of success and built momentum with these efforts to spur entrepreneurship and innovation on our campus and beyond,” said Metcalf, who emceed the Louisville Entrepreneurship Summit. “Our work at UofL, and this event, are meant to accelerate that momentum throughout our regional ecosystem, creating meaningful impact through translational research, innovation, entrepreneurship and economic development.”
Metcalf said those seeking to become more engaged can contact the UofL New Ventures team directly or visit the research website to learn more about resources for entrepreneurs, such as the eight-week LaunchIt product innovation bootcamp (enrolling now for the spring 2023 session).
The Louisville Entrepreneurship Summit was powered by Donna and Charles Denny, the Dan Jones Family, Frost Brown Todd, AppHarvest, AMPED, PNC, Blue Sky Ventures and UofL.