At our March lunch, Venture Connectors was pleased to host Ian McClure, University of Kentucky’s Associate Vice President for Research, Innovation and Economic Impact and leader of UK Innovate, who presented “The Case for Kentucky: Why Today’s Sputnik Moment is the Commonwealth’s Calling Card.”

When the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1 into space in the 1950s, the United States was prompted to increase its investment in defense, research and education to bridge the perceived technological gap between our country and the U.S.S.R. This ultimately led to the creation of NASA. McClure says today’s Sputnik Moment has building for the past two decades, gaining significant momentum in the past five years.

“A Sputnik Moment is finally culminating in decisions on Capitol Hill and in the federal government right now as they look at the next investment, in fact, the largest investment in innovation infrastructure in this country since the Sputnik Moment basically in the 1950s,” he said.

In June 2021, the Senate passed the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA), a nearly $250 billion bill that is intended to boost technology and research, and help the United States compete with China. During his talk, McClure shared why funding from that bill could be game-changing for Kentucky. Read more on KY Inno here.

At UK, McClure leads efforts to translate the university’s discoveries for the public good, seek equitable returns on its intellectual property, develop innovative approaches to develop, fund and support opportunities for near-stage research, seek grant funding to enhance UK’s investments in innovation, and expand industry and other collaborative research programs.

Previously, McClure served as Executive Director of the UK Office of Technology Commercialization, where he oversaw a team of staff managing the university’s innovation, intellectual property and startup portfolios. In addition, he is an advisory board member for the Oak Ridge Institute, Chair of IPwe’s Advisory Committee for University Technology Transfer, Launch Blue Advisory Board member, a PI on two NIH grants, and is a co-founder of Kentucky Commercialization Ventures, a state-funded program to provide IP and tech transfer services to all other universities in the state that do not currently have dedicated IP and tech transfer resources.

He began his career as a mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and intellectual property (IP) transactions attorney. Following private practice, he helped build IPXI, a startup company in Chicago and the world’s first financial exchange for IP and technology rights, which he led through product development, capital raise, proof of concept and growth to 30-plus full-time employees and two offices.