January 29, 2003 | By: Haven Miller

A $600,000 National Science Foundation grant will enable the University of Kentucky to form additional partnerships with private industry scientists and entrepreneurs. The result will be new products for commercial application and enhanced infrastructure for sustaining innovation.

Administered through the UK College of Agriculture, the NSF Partnerships for Innovation “Commercialization of Technology: The UK Natural Products Alliance” grant will focus on development of natural products which are animal, microbial or plant-derived.  Natural Products Alliance programs funded under the grant will bring together researchers from both the public and private sector.

“Our college has always worked closely with private sector partners, historically farmers, to translate research into practical technologies and new enterprises,” said Scott Smith, dean of UK’s College of Agriculture.  “The only difference in this case is that we are working on cutting-edge applications of biotechnology.”

Project teams may include pharmaceutical and biochemical scientists, entrepreneurs, economic development agencies, high-tech startup firms, and a host of other participants.  In some cases farmers will be partners for developing new products.

“These natural products could be plant-derived pharmaceuticals, animal food additives, or any number of other new products with potential for commercial application,” said Gabriel Wilmoth, grant project coordinator.

The project has several components, including research funding, workforce development, idea exchange forums, special courses and student internships.

“Through the intern program we hope to identify undergrads or recent graduates who are interested in entrepreneurship or natural products and actually enable them to gain experience in a real startup company environment,” Wilmoth said.

NSF-PFI grants seek to stimulate innovation by catalyzing partnerships among universities, state and local governments, private industry and other organizations.  Through this commercialization of technology grant UK intends to forge partnerships with other Kentucky universities, state agencies and private companies.

“This project will bring together the commercialization activity with the strong teaching and research activity that already exists at UK,” said Joe Fink, UK vice president for corporate relations and economic outreach. “As a land grant institution the university has long had a mission to bring to life the ideas from the classroom and the laboratory to help improve the lives of not only Kentuckians but people around the world, and this grant will help do that.”

Funding priorities will be determined by an advisory committee. Scientists, students and other potential partners who are interested in the Natural Products Alliance programs are encouraged to contact Gabriel Wilmoth at 859-608-1421, or atgcwilm2@uky.edu.


Gabriel Wilmoth, 859-608-1421