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Five research areas have been identified as Kentucky’s best opportunity to build centers of research excellence around which competitive technology-based clusters can grow and thrive.

1) Human Health and Development

Kentucky researchers are making significant contributions in basic translational and clinical research in human health and disease. The Cabinet is committing funds to this area to improve the health of Kentuckians while growing Kentucky's economy through the development of new drugs, therapies, and medical devices. The Human Health and Development priority area represents three primary industries:

  • Healthcare providers, such as hospitals and physician offices that provide healthcare services to consumers
  • Medical device and equipment companies that produce materials, products, supplies, equipment, and instruments to healthcare providers and/or consumers
  • Healthcare insurance, healthcare administration, and contract research organizations that provide management of healthcare facilities and services; health insurance and billing services; and clinical study management

Technologies evolving from this area include the following:

  • Healthcare delivery
  • Diagnostics
  • Medical devices
  • Drug delivery
  • Regenerative medicine

2) Biosciences

The new, emerging fields of biotechnology, bioengineering, bioinformatics, and computational biology represent some of the fastest-growing industries in Kentucky. Biosciences extend beyond technologies with direct human health applications. In agriculture, veterinary medicine, and chemical processing, scientists harness, manipulate, and amplify powerful properties of living organisms and their products to serve specific and valuable purposes. Kentucky is uniquely positioned to make major scientific advancements in the following bioscience areas:

Plant and Animal Biosciences

  • Agricultural biosciences (crop science, fertilizer, insect control)
  • Animal bioscience (veterinary medicine, animal feedstocks)
  • Industrial and chemical bioscience (enzymes, catalysts)
  • Biomanufacturing

Human Biosciences

  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Biotherapeutics
  • Diagnostics (molecular diagnostics, in vitro devices)
  • Research tools (instruments, assays, reagents)
  • Drug delivery

3) Information Technology and Communications

IT technology platforms are being applied in Kentucky to both traditional and emerging industries to enhance productivity, provide new value-added services, and manage risk. Since managing information is a fundamental tool in all areas of research, production, and distribution of goods and services, information technology is classified as an essential, or enabling, technology. The development and application of IT products and services not only build traditional software and IT-based industries, but also help grow segments of financial, healthcare, logistics, energy, and manufacturing industries. In support of this technology area, digital and broadband infrastructure is a critical foundation for ensuring that businesses can maximize their IT investment.

4) Environmental and Energy Technologies

Energy production remains a critical industry to the Kentucky economy. If Kentucky is to continue to benefit from its natural resources, it must develop technologies that will reduce the environmental impact without increasing the cost of energy extraction, production, and usage. Technologies in this sector involve clean coal, coal to liquid, and coal to gas, extending the use of Kentucky’s coal resources. Also included are renewable energy resources such as wind and solar energy, and biomass and corn for alternative fuels production. The technology platforms associated with environmental management and remediation can also be applied to an array of industries outside of energy, leveraging state investments made within this field.

5) Materials Science and Advanced Manufacturing

Manufacturing remains an important industry to Kentucky. Manufacturing in the new economy is characterized by high levels of automation, rapid prototyping, lean production methods, and low-impact, “green” manufacturing and processing technologies. Kentucky’s high-tech economy uses new advanced materials with enhanced properties to make better products and decrease production costs. Newly developed, advanced materials are used throughout manufacturing sectors, in electronic and photonic applications, fuel cell power, synthetic fuels, biomedical devices and diagnostic applications, chemical processing, and as industrial catalysts.


Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development   Old Capitol Annex  300 West Broadway   Frankfort, KY 40601
502-564-7140 (local)   800-626-2930 (toll free)