News

“Austin is a tech hot spot. It wasn’t always this way”

IC² researcher and Fellow featured in Statesman article on how landing MCC made Austin a tech hub.

IC² Senior Research Scientist David Gibson and IC² Fellow Pike Powers were featured this week in an article in the Austin American-Statesman on the successful effort to bring the Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corp. to Austin in the 1980s. Austin’s win against a field of 57 cities changed national perception of the city and The University of Texas at Austin, which led to the recruitment of subsequent large manufacturing and R&D facilities and the ensuing Austin tech boom.

MCC was the first for-profit computer industry R&D consortium in the US, created at a time of anxiety over Japanese competition. “The MCC was an inflection point for Austin’s evolution. People on the West and East Coasts didn’t think of Austin too much before it won the MCC,” said Gibson, who co-authored a noted book on the founding and impact of the consortium.

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IC² announces new business acceleration program in Bhutan

DHI Business Acceleration Program will help Bhutanese entrepreneurs launch new ventures.

The IC² Institute of The University of Texas at Austin is pleased to announce the commencement of a new project in Bhutan, together with Druk Holding and Investments (DHI – www.dhi.bt ). This initiative is called the DHI Business Acceleration Program, or DHI BizAP.

DHI BizAP logoDHI was established in 2007, comprising 20 different companies operating in the manufacturing, energy, natural resources, financial, communication, aviation, trading and real estate sectors. The Royal Charter for DHI mandates to “promote and encourage entrepreneurship and business development through venture capital and other required institutional support.” In keeping with the important mandate to promote and support private sector development, a holistic approach to entrepreneurship development is proposed, initially targeted mainly towards promoting Cottage and Small Industries (CSI) sector.

DHI has engaged with the IC² Institute due to the proven IC² methodology, which has been employed with success in over 40 countries around the world, creating more than USD $3 billion in economic impact. IC² programs have taught best practices in technology transfer, entrepreneurship, incubation management and new enterprise commercial acceleration.

This program has already begun, with online training of DHI staff via the IC² Innovation Readiness Series™, with in-country activities that began in September, and with a formal launch supported by His Majesty the King of Bhutan in conjunction with the Royal Wedding Day Seventh Anniversary celebrations on October 13.

DHI BizAP includes:

Training: structured training for selected Bhutanese entrepreneurs, with focus on commercializing business ideas and launching businesses in the market, delivered by global experts in innovation and entrepreneurship, using the proven and patented IC² entrepreneurship training methodology. Selected entrepreneurs will experience a balanced mixture of face-to-face, virtual distance learning and homework assignments.

Funding: opportunity for all entrepreneurs selected to pitch their business to the Business Accelerator Fund panel, and the chance to qualify for capital infusion.

Mentorship: establishment of mentoring relationships, in both Bhutan and internationally, to aid the entrepreneurs in developing a high-impact entrepreneurial venture, building business linkages and networks, and accessing markets for their goods and services.

Advisory services: experts available to provide specific mentoring HR, legal, accounting, etc.

For each of the three 3-month cohorts comprising this initial program, a total of 15 of the applicants exhibiting the highest potential for success will be competitively selected, based on proven IC² Institute selection criteria.

The DHI initiative is the latest in a series of IC² Institute engagements in the South Asia region going back over a decade. Currently, IC² operates the Nexus Startup Hub at the American Center in New Delhi; the XLr8AP Technology Accelerator in Andhra Pradesh, India; and the South Asia Connect program, which links entrepreneurs and startup ecosystem leaders from Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India.

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Bhutan Tiger's Nest, Photo © Michael Foley CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Photo credit: Michael Foley CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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New guide to resources for startups and innovators at UT Austin

The Herb Kelleher Center in the McCombs School of Business has released the 2018 edition of their “A Guide to UT Austin’s Startup Ecosystem,” a directory of units, programs and organizations supporting innovation throughout the university.

A Guide to UT Austin's Startup Ecosystem

The guide notes UT Austin’s special position as a top-notch research institution in a hotbed for startups.

AUSTIN is the No. 1 city for startup activity.
The 2016 Kauffman Index

MCCOMBS SCHOOL OF BUSINESS has one of the top-ranked entrepreneurship programs in the world.
U.S. News and World Report, 2016

UT AUSTIN ranks No. 8 in the world for educating startup founders who successfully raise money for new ventures.
Business Insider, 2016

UT AUSTIN is No. 18 among public universities nationwide.
U.S. News & World Report, 2016

The guide is available for download here.

See pages 10-12 for the IC² Institute’s programs including the Austin Technology Incubator, Southwest I-Corps, and Student Entrepreneur Acceleration and Launch.

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Korean visiting scholars and students gather at IC²

What can happen when mid-career managers from a global supplier of electric power systems connect with members of the UT Korean Student Association (KSA)? Business can happen!

Over pizza and short presentations at the IC² Institute, four visiting scholars from LSIS in Korea got acquainted with a group of graduate students from KSA. In its 9th year, the Institute’s Global Leadership Management Program, which trains LSIS managers in American business practices, connected its Korean visiting scholars with KSA members to talk about business opportunities in Korea.

After a welcome to The University of Texas at Austin provided by Jenn Wang of the Office of Development, Salvador Alanis and Greg Pogue described IC²’s technology commercialization programs in Korea, including initiatives in Seoul and Daejon, Jeolabuk, and Gyeonggido provinces in Korea.

IC²’s relationship with LSIS runs deep: LSIS chairman and CEO Dr. Ja-Kyun Koo, himself a UT Austin PhD, is a generous supporter of the University through his leadership of the Korean Alumni Association and involvement on the University’s International Board of Advisors.

All attendees at the reception seemed grateful for the chance to share ideas and make connections that might pay off back in Korea, after their time in Austin is over. KSA students expressed interest to engage in commercialization programs IC² offers through the Austin Technology Incubator in Austin and global initiatives in Korea.

LSIS and KSA at IC²    LSIS and KSA at IC²

LSIS and KSA at IC²    LSIS and KSA at IC²

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New publications from IC²-funded research on global climate policy

Joshua BusbyJoshua Busby, recipient of a 2017-2018 research award from the IC² Institute, has announced several publications stemming from his research on climate policy and the renewable energy industry in an international context.

Climate Leadership in Uncertain Times
By Joshua Busby and Nigel Purvis. Atlantic Council, September 2018.

Warming World: Why Climate Change Matters More Than Anything Else
By Joshua Busby. Foreign Affairs, July/August 2018.

Turning the Carbon Supertanker: Sectoral Feasibility of Climate Change Mitigation in China
By Joshua Busby, Xue Gao, and Sarang Shidore. Energy Research & Social Science, March 2018.

Still Shining? Our Third Annual Review on Solar Scale-up in India
By Joshua Busby and Sarang Shidore. Council on Foreign Relations, February 2018.

Busby is an Associate Professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs and a Distinguished Scholar at the Strauss Center for International Security and Law at The University of Texas at Austin.

IC² Institute research awards are designed to stimulate research by tenured and tenure-track faculty across UT Austin and to promote thought leadership in the disciplines informing entrepreneurship theory and practice.

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BBR studies human trafficking in the wake of Hurricane Harvey

A team from the Bureau of Business Research and The University of Texas at Austin has received a National Science Foundation grant to explore ways to disrupt human trafficking supply chains related to Hurricane Harvey reconstruction efforts.

After Harvey hit Houston and the Texas coastal bend in 2017, causing $125 billion in damage, residents and officials quickly turned their attention to rebuilding homes, apartments and office buildings. This need for a large supply of quick labor after natural disasters can create conditions ripe for human trafficking, exploitation and coercion, especially in a low-wage, high-hazard industry such as construction.

The NSF awarded UT researchers a two-year competitive grant to help disrupt illicit supply networks by studying the patterns of exploitation endured by laborers in the construction industry after Harvey.

Matt Kammer-Kerwick of the Bureau of Business Research at UT’s IC² Institute will lead the study in collaboration with Eleftherios Iakovou at Texas A&M University. The team also includes researchers from UT’s Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault in the Steve Hicks School of Social Work.

The study will inform policymakers, business owners and regulators so they can better combat human trafficking in the construction industry.

“People would want to know if their homes and local businesses are being rebuilt by workers who are exploited, coerced, or swindled out of their hard-earned wages. Reducing labor trafficking and exploitation makes Texas a fairer and better place to work and live,” said Noël Busch-Armendariz, director of the Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault and professor of social work at UT Austin.

The award stems from an NSF-funded, interdisciplinary workshop at UT in 2017 that was led by Kammer-Kerwick and Busch-Armendariz and brought together scholars from operations research, data analytics and human trafficking to create a new and collaborative research agenda.

This interdisciplinary approach is novel for the study of human trafficking labor networks, said Bruce Kellison, director of the Bureau of Business Research.

“UT has expertise in both human trafficking and in complex mathematical modeling. It’s exciting to be moving the field forward and expanding its reach by identifying ways to disrupt these illicit networks that sustain human trafficking through this innovative collaboration of social scientists, engineers and mathematicians,” he said.

Human trafficking is often associated with the sex trade industry, but people are exploited in other sectors such as housekeeping, kitchen work and construction labor, working under conditions considered to be modern-day slavery — situations of force, fraud, or coercion. This landscape is often marked by a labor supply chain in which labor contractors, recruiters, or other middlemen are present and hazardous work is performed by easily replaced, migrant, or low-skilled workers.

“We saw employers exploiting workers after Ike, and we are seeing it again with Harvey. Wage theft is devastating for workers, many of whom live locally and are recovering from Harvey themselves,” said Marianela Acuña Arreaza, executive director of Fe y Justicia Worker Center, a group that plans to assist with the research and may be able to use the findings to inform their work.

As part of the study, researchers will interview laborers who worked in post-Harvey cleanup about their various jobs, related experiences and working conditions. This real-world evidence will then be used to model human trafficking and other forms of exploitation. The goal is to identify precise interventions that disrupt the illicit behaviors in the construction supply chain.

The $300,000 award to study the exploitation of laborers in the wake of Hurricane Harvey is one of nine grants that the NSF awarded this week to help disrupt illicit supply networks.

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News coverage

flood image - AP
AP Photo/David J. Phillip

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IC² developing collaboration with Army Futures Command

On the occasion of the Activation Ceremony of the Army Futures Command (AFC) on August 24, 2018, the IC² Institute announced its plan to support the AFC mission by facilitating links to the Austin deep tech community.

The Army Futures Command is a major new initiative to modernize the Army’s technological capabilities and has been described by military officials as the most significant reorganization of the army in 45 years. Its mission is “to lead the future force modernization enterprise and deliver lightning-fast innovative solutions with leading talent, technology, and ideas.”

Austin was chosen as the headquarters for the AFC after a competitive process among 150 U.S. cities. The Army chose Austin in order to place the command in a center of innovation with ready access to talent, a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem, and leading academic research institutions.

“The IC² Institute’s history as an interface among industry, government, and The University of Texas at Austin makes it well placed to help AFC create and strengthen connections,” said Gregory Pogue, Interim Executive Director of the Institute. “IC² programs such as the Austin Technology Incubator constitute a ready-made pipeline to Austin’s deep tech startup community.”

The Activation Ceremony at the University of Texas System marked the official launch of the AFC and its new headquarters in Austin. The gathering of military and civilian officials was addressed by Secretary of the Army Mark T. Esper, Governor Greg Abbott, Senator John Cornyn, Austin Mayor Steve Adler, and General Mark A. Milley, followed by remarks from the Commanding General of the AFC, Lt. Gen. John Murray.

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IC² Institute board member Pike Powers with Lt. Gen. John Murray
IC² Institute board member Pike Powers with Lt. Gen. John Murray

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Austin-American Statesman covers ATI rebranding as “deep tech” incubator

In preparation for its 30th anniversary, the Austin Technology Incubator re-emphasizes focus on startups with complex technologies.

The Austin American-Statesman has published a feature story on ATI’s renewed connection with The University of Texas at Austin and the incubator’s unique role in the Austin startup ecosystem. The story also highlights ATI’s work with member companies EQO, H2Optimize/Hydroid, and Yotta Solar.

ATI director Mitch Jacobson explained what he means by deep tech. “We’re not doing things around parking apps and dating apps. We’re doubling down on deep tech, which involves trying to solve big problems with big solutions… That can be clean air, clean water, drugs around cancer or new carbon capture technology.”

The story was released Thursday on the 512Tech.com site and will be featured in this Sunday’s business section. Read it here.

To rebuild the brand, Austin Technology Incubator focuses on ‘deep tech’
Austin’s first tech incubator is working to raise its profile and play a larger role within UT and the Austin startup scene.
Lori Hawkins, Austin American-Statesman

conversation at ATI
Photo: Amanda Voisard, Austin American-Statesman

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ATI welcomes new member company New Dominion Enterprises

San Antonio startup NDE is commercializing breakthrough energy storage solutions.

New Dominion EnterprisesNew Dominion Enterprises, Inc. (NDE) announced this month that they have joined forces with IC²’s Austin Technology Incubator to help commercialize the next significant step forward in energy storage. New Dominion has negotiated an exclusive license with Idaho National Laboratory (INL) for the patents securing the inorganic electrolyte materials that will lead to more durable, longer lasting and safer lithium batteries.

These inorganic electrolyte materials were invented by NDE Chief Scientist and co-founder, Dr. Mason K. Harrup, while he was an Advisory Scientist at INL. NDE’s first product is an electrolyte “additive” that was fully developed and tested under a U.S. government contract. After forming New Dominion with his co-founder Jay Fraser, Harrup continued to innovate and subsequently NDE filed two additional patents covering company-owned intellectual property for a full replacement 100% inorganic electrolyte. These technologies address the heat-related downsides of organic electrolytes thereby improving useful life and reducing safety issues.

When asked how the relationship with ATI evolved, NDE’s president and co-founder, Jay Fraser explained: “This past fall ATI invited us to participate in a market research report as part of a Department of Defense program to explore market acceptance of new technology. Through that program we became interested in ATI and their Clean Energy initiative and began the application process to become an ATI member company. Affiliation with ATI, and through it, IC² and The University of Texas at Austin will help us backstop our management team with skilled mentors and advisors in some of the areas that a small company simply doesn’t have the resources to hire full time.”

Mitch Jacobson, Director of ATI, commented: “We recognize the value of the New Dominion deep technology solution and the potential breakthrough for longer lasting and safer lithium batteries and are excited to have them as a member company.” NDE’s inorganic electrolyte technology has significant market potential in consumer, industrial and defense applications, having been successfully tested in a Department of Defense sponsored program at INL. The application of the technology goes well beyond standard consumer products to also include larger power cells for electric vehicles and energy storage. NDE is now scaling to production levels and commercialization.

About NDE

New Dominion Enterprises is an early-stage technology company commercializing a suite of inorganic electrolyte materials for lithium batteries that will lead to more durable, longer lasting and safer lithium batteries. The first product, an additive, is fully developed and tested, and is in the process of being scaled up.

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ATI member EQO wins $100K top prize at inaugural MassChallenge Texas

Environmental Quality Operations (EQO)ATI member company Environmental Quality Operations (EQO) took home a $100,000 Diamond prize in the inaugural cohort of the MassChallenge Texas competition.

At the August 15 MassChallenge Texas Awards Ceremony, eight startups were awarded a total of $510,000 in equity-free cash prizes.

EQO uses molecular biology to protect lakes from invasive species. Its flagship product is a zebra mussel monitoring and detection service. Zebra mussels are an invasive species with numerous harmful and costly effects, from competing with native fish to clogging pipes in water systems.

EQO joined the Austin Technology Incubator in 2017. Prior to joining, EQO participated in ATI’s SEAL summer accelerator.

MassChallenge is a global network of zero-equity startup accelerators. MassChallenge Texas launched in April 2018 with a cohort of 84 companies.

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EQO wins at MassChallenge Texas

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