It’s knowledge/talent, entrepreneurship, innovation, technology and collaboration that drive economic growth within communities. At our April lunch, a panel of local leaders discussed the roles their organizations play in the ever-important need to have these cornerstones of an innovation economy in place in the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem in order to fuel economic development and ensure a vibrant startup community.

Our panelists were: Patrick Henshaw, CEO of the¬†Louisville Entrepreneurship Acceleration Partnership (LEAP), a new collaborative effort that is leveraging Louisville‚Äôs entrepreneurial ecosystem for significant national impact; William Metcalf,¬†Senior Director of Research Development & Strategic Initiatives,¬†Office of the Executive Vice President ‚Äì Research & Innovation at the University of Louisville, a university-wide resource for identifying and capitalizing on intramural and extramural resources for research, innovation and scholarship; and Tammy York Day,¬†President and CEO of the Louisville Healthcare CEO Council (LHCC), a nonprofit organization that is leveraging the voices of Louisville‚Äôs top healthcare companies to solve the industry’s collective problems. Tendai Charasika, Venture Connectors Chairman and CEO of SuperFan Inc., moderated the discussion.

At LEAP, Henshaw is bringing together entrepreneurs, corporations, venture capitalists and the community to strengthen the innovation ecosystem in the region. He most recently served as Vice President for Growth, Startups and Technology for Cintrifuse, a Cincinnati-based startup support organization and venture fund. Henshaw also is a founding member of Cincinnati-based rapid prototyping studio Spry Labs. He earned a bachelor of science in civil engineering from U.S. Military Academy at West Point, a master’s degree in civil engineering from Norwich University and a master’s of project management from the San Francisco Institute of Architecture.

In his current role, Metcalf works to promote internal and external collaborations and build strong connections with the research community, leveraging the strengths and assets of UofL to move discoveries from the conceptual stage through development. He also serves as the Director of the Entrepreneurship Law Clinic at the university’s Brandeis School of Law, where he supervises a small group of upper level law students as they provide legal support to entrepreneurial students throughout the university, including students from the Entrepreneurship MBA program. He holds a juris doctorate degree and a bachelor’s degree in business administration, both from UofL.

York Day is leading LHCC’s initiatives to improve both the local and national healthcare economy. She joined LHCC after a 21-year career with Delta Dental, most recently as the company’s Chief Operating Officer. She is Co-Founder of the Unbridled Charitable Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization that holds events such as the Unbridled Eve Gala to raise money for local charities and raise Kentucky’s profile nationally. She holds a global MBA in finance and economics from Duke University Fuqua School of Business and a bachelor’s degree in business marketing from University of Phoenix.

SuperFan is a leading provider of mobile and web applications that help high schools, colleges and professional teams connect with their fans in order to increase fan engagement and revenue. As CEO, Charasika has overseen the company‚Äôs growth from startup into a million-dollar enterprise serving partners around the world. He has served as Chairman of Venture Connectors since 2017, and also held other leadership roles within Louisville‚Äôs most established entrepreneurial organization over the past six years, including President-Elect and President. He is a graduate of UofL, with a bachelor‚Äôs degree in chemical engineering degree and an Entrepreneurial MBA.