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NKU Awarded Federal Grant to Harness
the Region’s Entrepreneurial Spirit 


May 14, 2021 — Northern Kentucky University receives a $750,000 grant from the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Scaling Pandemic Resilience Through Innovation and Technology (SPRINT) Challenge. The grant will support NKU’s Collaborative for Economic Engagement, a one-stop innovation hub for businesses and entrepreneurs to accelerate economic growth and recovery throughout the region.

NKU launched the Collaborative in Covington's Innovation Alley space last fall to leverage regional agencies and programs to provide the tools that entrepreneurs need to thrive in the post-COVID world. The Collaborative serves as a front door for entrepreneurial engagement and outreach, counseling and mentorship, as well as the university's expertise in data analytics, health, logistics and entrepreneurial innovation.

“This is an historic milestone not just for NKU but small businesses and startups alike,” said NKU President Ashish Vaidya. “NKU offers expertise and access to resources that can build and sustain unique partnerships in the region. This funding further expands the Collaborative’s ability to create jobs and value and to strengthen community connections.”

The federal funding advances the Collaborative’s goal of building the regional economy and competitiveness through scalable startups and overall entrepreneurial capacity. The additional funding will also help NKU diversify the regional economy by developing a novel support model for rural and underserved entrepreneurs.

“We created the Collaborative to overcome the barriers that inhibit innovation, entrepreneurship, and job creation in northern Kentucky,” said Dr. Valerie Hardcastle, vice president for Health Innovation at NKU. “NKU is equipping entrepreneurs with the knowledge and resources needed to enter markets and scale businesses at all levels. We look forward to amplifying the opportunities and services in the region.”

In addition to the Collaborative, the grant will support many ventures on NKU’s campus—including the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship programs, the Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition Program, SoCap Accelerate and the Center for Economic Analysis and Development—along with community collaborators Aviatra Accelerators, Square1 and MORTAR.

The Collaborative will be open and available for community members to visit this fall. To learn more about how NKU is lifting the region’s economic development, visit its website. For more information, visit EDA’s SPRINT Challenge webpage.

About NKU: Founded in 1968, NKU is an entrepreneurial state university of over 16,000 students served by more than 2,000 faculty and staff on a thriving suburban campus nestled between Highland Heights, Kentucky and bustling downtown Cincinnati. We are a regionally engaged university committed to empowering our students to have fulfilling careers and meaningful lives. While we are one of the fastest-growing universities in Kentucky, our professors still know our students' names. For more information, visit