Kentucky Innovation Network at Murray State recognized by national organization


MURRAY, Ky. — Murray State University’s Kentucky Innovation Network was recently recognized as a Creating a Better Future award winner by the State Science & Technology Institute (SSTI) for its The Next Big Thing (NBT) young entrepreneurial competition.


With support from the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, the Kentucky Innovation Network office at Murray State University created NBT. Working with teachers throughout a 20-county area, the program involves community partners and incorporates innovation and entrepreneurship through project-based learning. Participating students identify a problem and develop their solution, prototype and business model. They attend an accelerator day, receive mentoring in the classroom and present to faculty, entrepreneurs, investors and community leaders.


In the five years since the NBT launched, 876 high school students have participated and many are developing businesses. In 2016–2017, two of the top three teams were already in the marketplace, and interest in the program has spread to investors and across the state.


The Kentucky Innovation Network office at Murray State won the Creating a Better Future through Economic Opportunity award and demonstrates how any area can influence long-term culture through its youth. One of the judges noted that the program was “addressing a culture change and making a difference.”


“I am very honored to accept this award for the Next Big Thing program,” said Loretta Daniel, director of the Kentucky Innovation Network office. “Seeing students realize they have great ideas and can start their own businesses now or in the future makes this one of the most rewarding things we do every year.”


This year’s awards were announced during SSTI’s 2017 Annual Conference, held Sept. 13–15, in Washington, D.C. SSTI is a national organization that works to strengthen initiatives to create a better future through science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship.



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