STEM in the Technopolis 2019

The IC² Institute will host a one-day conference on April 5, 2019, to examine how secondary STEM education models are opening schools up to businesses and organizations in their communities.

STEM in the Technopolis

The Power of STEM Education in Regional Technology Policy

Friday, April 5, 2019
8:00 AM to 4:30 PM
AT&T Executive Center at UT Austin
1900 University Avenue, Austin, TX 78705
Free – register now

Conference Chair: Dr. Paul Resta
Ruth Knight Millikan Centennial Professor, College of Education, The University of Texas at Austin

Keynote speakers:

Major General Patrick Burden
Director, Combat Systems, Army Futures Command

Dr. Donna Kidwell
Chief Technology Officer, EdPlus at Arizona State University

U.S. cases, and international cases from Mexico, Colombia, Norway, more

Conference outcomes will contribute to development of the academic volume STEM in the Technopolis. Learn more at

Register Now

STEM classroom

When governments think about driving technology-based development, they usually think about partnerships among governments, academia and industry. These partnerships and issues are essential. Models like the Triple Helix (Etzkowitz & Leydesdorff, 2000) and the Technopolis Model (Smilor, Gibson, & Kozmetsky, 1989) focus exclusively or mainly on these concerns.

But what about the impact of the hundreds of millions of secondary students, taught by tens of millions of teachers, supported by hundreds of thousands of volunteers, who deliver STEM education to children around the world? One can argue that these large regional ecosystems, which exist in proximity to industry clusters, and which draw content inspiration from those industry clusters, and which feed their workforce pipelines, must play an important role in these clusters’ long-term development. If this is correct, then when regional STEM education policies are adopted, for better or worse, they interact with technology policies at work in the region. The Technopolis Wheel (Smilor et al., 1989) hints at this relationship through its state and local government spokes, but the relationship is rarely explicitly noted.

STEM in the Technopolis will examine the relationship of secondary STEM education to the long-term development of industry clusters – the same clusters that have led globally to wealth and improved quality of life. We will explore the hypothesis that a region’s policies for technology-based economic development should incorporate support for robust STEM education experiences for K-12 students. The policies should address the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in relevant careers, and they should encourage the framing of STEM education experiences within the context of local industry clusters and societal challenges. In doing so, regions can drive a virtuous cycle of education, economic development, and quality of life for citizens.

The conference will explore the following questions:

  • What does it mean to integrate STEM education policy into regional economic development and technology policies?
  • What is the specific role for K-12 STEM education policies in regional development?
  • What STEM policy elements should educators, political leadership, and the business community adopt to build a technopolis in their community?
  • How do we recognize STEM policy success?

Sponsored by the IC² Institute, the College of Education at The University of Texas at Austin, and the Society for Design and Process Science (SDPS).

For more information, please contact Dr. Cliff Zintgraff,

Special invitation to students: We are inviting students from the College of Education and from the LBJ School of Public Affairs to be recorders for our panel sessions and workshops. Students who are interested will be provided a short 1-2 paragraph book background on arrival at the conference, and they’ll be asked to record observations regarding successes, challenges, and barriers that they hear from presenters, and also their own reactions to the content. They will be provided a web page where they can upload their observations. We will use their observations in development of a conference publication and for the book.

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Austin Technology Incubator receives AgTech grant from Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator

IN2 Channel PartnerThe Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator (IN²), a technology incubator and platform funded by the Wells Fargo Foundation and co-administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), today announced that IC²’s Austin Technology Incubator (ATI) has received a prestigious IN² Channel Partner Award. As an official Channel Partner of the IN² program, ATI was recognized for its efforts to advance sustainable technology solutions that can improve energy efficiency and is one of just 13 organizations nationally to receive the award this year.

Launched in 2014, IN² is a $30 million program that facilitates the commercialization and adoption of clean energy technologies in commercial buildings and in the agriculture sector. To help foster enhanced collaboration, IN² created a network of Channel Partners – a nationwide system of incubators, accelerators and university programs that refer startup companies to the program. Entering its third year, the Channel Partner Awards Program will disburse $1 million in competitive grants across 13 recipient organizations in order to help advance sustainable technology solutions that can catalyze new collaborations, capital flow and job creation.

ATI will spearhead a sustainable food system cluster in Central Texas that provides an incubation network and proving ground for technologies driving greater efficiency, access and affordability in production, distribution and logistics, point-of-sale, and waste elimination. The organization will leverage an existing Austin initiative built around the Good Food Purchasing Program (GFPP), which is transforming how public institutions purchase food. Funds will be used to identify challenges faced by GFPP stakeholders, match those challenges with technological resources that address them, and understand the energy and water implications of implementing the potential solutions.

“We are excited to have IN²’s support as we team with local public institutions, food organizations and entrepreneurs to highlight challenges in Central Texas’ food system and work to address them with innovative tech solutions,” said Mitch Jacobson, Director of the Austin Technology Incubator.

“The Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator is proud to provide additional support to the Austin Technology Incubator for their efforts to accelerate the development and commercialization of clean technology and support early-stage entrepreneurs,” said Ramsay Huntley, Clean Technology and Innovation Philanthropy program officer with Wells Fargo. “These are the folks who are really disrupting the industry and driving innovation.”

“Ultimately, the goal with our Channel Partner Awards Program is to create a strong, collaborative ecosystem of support across the country,” said Trish Cozart, IN² Program Manager at NREL. “We are funding these partners to continue their support of early-stage entrepreneurs and support of each other as they create partnerships and share knowledge.”

Since 2017, the IN² Channel Partner Awards Program has distributed approximately $2.1 million in competitive and non-competitive grants in support of more than 74 events, strategic meetings and trainings as well as 21 larger strategic initiatives between 23 organizations. In the pilot year of the awards program, funded projects engaged over 1,800 participants (entrepreneurs, industry, academia and others), created nearly 200 jobs, led to over $18.3 million in follow-on funding for startups involved and leveraged $812,000 in matching funds from outside organizations.

For more information on the awards program, please visit

About ATI

The Austin Technology Incubator (ATI) is the deep technology incubator of the University of Texas at Austin working with university and community entrepreneurs to commercialize their breakthrough innovations. For over 30 years, ATI has used a customized approach to support entrepreneurs addressing the world’s most pressing problems by connecting startups with the expertise, relationships, and funding sources they need to succeed in the marketplace. ATI is home to a number of specialized incubators which include Circular Economy, Energy, Food & AgTech, Healthcare, Mobility, and Water. For more information on the Austin Technology Incubator, visit

About the Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator

The Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator (IN²) is a $30 million clean-technology incubator and platform funded by the Wells Fargo Foundation. Co-administered by and housed at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado, IN²’s mission is to speed the path to market for early-stage, clean-technology entrepreneurs. Companies selected for participation in the program receive up to $250,000 in non-dilutive funding from Wells Fargo, technical support and validation from experts at NREL and the Danforth Plant Science Center’s facilities and the opportunity to beta test at a Wells Fargo facility or with a strategic program partner. Launched in 2014 with an initial focus on supporting scalable solutions to reduce the energy impact of commercial buildings, IN² began expanding its focus in 2018 to support innovation in sectors such as transportation, food systems, energy storage and others with the ultimate goal of fostering smart and connected communities of the future. For more information, visit

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IC² and ATI at SXSW 2019

Austin’s busiest week of the year is coming up again! Here’s where to find the IC² Institute and the Austin Technology Incubator at SXSW 2019.

Saturday March 9
Gone to Texas: EU Startup Pitches
IC² Institute, Center for European Studies and Arctic Business Incubator
12:30-3:30 at EU House, Palm Door, 508 E. 6th St.
No badge required, RSVP here

Sunday March 10
The Sun Beneath Our Feet: Our Geothermal Future
Jamie Beard of Blackstone LaunchPad with Bob Metcalfe
3:30-4:30 PM at the Fairmont
Requires SXSW badge

Monday March 11
SXSW Future Cities Innovation Showcase
Austin Technology Incubator
With ATI member companies H2Optimize, Inovues, Smarter Sorting, Yotta & Z-Bikez
11 AM – 6 PM at the Austin Convention Center Exhibit Hall 1
Requires SXSW badge

Monday March 11
Central Texas Health Innovation Social
ATI and Capital City Innovation
4-7 PM at the Austin Central Library, 710 W Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX 78701
No badge required, request your invitation here

Monday, March 11
The Future of ______
Sponsored by ATI
8 AM – 6:30 PM at Galvanize, afterparty at Idean
No badge required, RSVP

Wednesday March 13
The Future of Eating
IC² Director Art Markman
12:30 – 1:30 PM at the JW Marriott
Requires SXSW badge

In addition, IC² and ATI team members will serve as judges and coaches at several events. IC² will coach EU companies for the Gone to Texas pitch event. ATI’s Lisa McDonald will be an on-site coach for the SXSW Pitch competition.

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Innovation Business Acceleration Center presents first cohort at Bengal Global Business Summit

IC² program in the Indian state of West Bengal introduced its first class of participating companies to an international audience.

The Innovation Business Acceleration Center (IBAC) of West Bengal, led by the IC² Institute and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, presented its first business cohort at the Bengal Global Business Summit in Kolkata on February 7-8, 2019.

Jim Vance, director of the IBAC program and program manager at the IC² Institute, has spearheaded efforts to identify businesses throughout West Bengal that have strong product/service export potential. Using methods developed at IC², Mr. Vance and his team evaluated companies for readiness, provided expert training, and prepared company leadership to present their product and services to broader markets. From the first cohort of 39 companies, companies with highest potential will be supported in business development activities in their country and internationally.

IBAC at BGBS 2019
IBAC cohort and team at BGBS 2019. IC²’s Jim Vance is in the front row, third from the right; behind him is IC² Fellow Nirankar Saxena, Deputy Secretary General of FICCI; standing in the middle of last row is FICCI Senior Assistant Director Abhay Kumar Singh.

IBAC was established in 2018 by the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC), Government of West Bengal. IBAC serves as a model acceleration and incubation center to support innovators, technology, start-ups, enterprises and businesses which have the potential to grow, scale and contribute to the economy of the state of West Bengal. The center engages with incubatees and businesses for their technology evaluation and growth, with the goal to produce measurable impact. IBAC provides proven methodology to establish and grow sustainable market-driven businesses through technology and innovation. The center will support and promote exports, working closely with exporters in West Bengal to explore opportunities for expansion in existing markets or new geographies for product launches.

Bengal Global Business Summit is the annual flagship event organized by Government of West Bengal to showcase the business readiness and investment potential of West Bengal in front of the global business community. WBIDC arranged for a separate pavilion for IBAC companies to showcase their products while FICCI arranged meetings between visiting delegates and companies from China, Italy, Germany, Australia and Republic of Korea. BGBS 2019 attracted participation of over 4000 delegates from across India and 36 countries. The avenues of collaborations are spread over a wide spectrum of business sectors including agribusiness, IT & ITES, MSME & skills, hospitality & tourism, logistics & transport and infrastructure.

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Gone to Texas: SXSW Immersion for EU Startups

The IC² Institute and the Center for European Studies at The University of Texas at Austin have partnered to bring innovative European companies to Austin’s SXSW Interactive Festival and help these young companies make the most of the networking and pitching opportunities that the festival offers.

EU nation flags against blue sky

With financial assistance from the EU’s Getting to Know Europe Grant and the U.S. Department of Education, the two UT Austin units have collaborated to build a program – now in its second year – that utilizes proven IC² Institute business-development methods, European relationships, and the platform of one of the world’s most prominent business gatherings to demonstrate how the innovation-rich climate of Austin can accelerate the progress of internationally driven startups. This project is funded in part by the European Union.

Center for European StudiesWorking with the Arctic Business Incubator of Sweden and other business-support organizations in Europe, CES and IC² selected thirteen promising companies for awards that include training, mentoring, and travel expenses for a week in Austin. Company representatives will receive mentoring from Austin-based business leaders and practice in pitching with experts at IC² Institute. They will also join the IC² Institute business network at events designed to help entrepreneurs make important connections.

Selected companies will present their pitches on Saturday, March 9, from 12:15-3:15 PM at the EU House in the Palm Door, 508 E. 6th St. No SXSW badge required – RSVP here.

European companies awarded funding for SXSW Interactive 2019 include:

The IC² Institute conducts research and programs to validate the impact of technological innovation on regional economic development with collaboration among the university, government, and private sectors. IC² is extending its research focus from urban ecosystems supporting entrepreneurship to exploring the shape and action of innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystems in rural and isolated-city regions of the world in order to support economic growth.

The Center for European Studies (CES) promotes the study of Europe in the form of: language study; providing courses on European culture, history, economics, business, and politics; creating opportunities for study abroad and internships abroad; and assisting students in pursuing work opportunities connected to Europe. CES also serves civic, nonprofit, and business associations with activities in Europe; academic leaders and institutions from Europe with collaborative agreements with UT; governmental and multilateral agencies dedicated to social and economic betterment in Europe; and the general public in Texas and the U.S. whose world outlook includes Europe.

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IC² Institute 2019 grant solicitation for research on rural entrepreneurship

The IC² Institute announces a grant solicitation supporting research by UT Austin faculty on the theme “Innovation and Entrepreneurial Ecosystems in Rural and Small City Environments.” The submission deadline is March 29, 2019.

The new IC² Institute grant solicitation provides funds supporting research collaborations to tenured and tenure-track faculty at The University of Texas at Austin to accelerate research in the areas of innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystems in rural or small city environments.

IC² anticipates funding six to eight research projects of $100,000 over 24 months in an ongoing effort to stimulate research by faculty across all disciplines at UT Austin focused on key topics of interest to the Institute.

Studies addressing this topic are encouraged from researchers in public policy, social science, engineering and solid science, business, technology, economics, education, arts and culture.

Results from these projects will be presented at an IC² Institute-sponsored conference in spring 2021.

Application procedure

Applications must be submitted online via InfoReady Review ( by Friday, March 29, 2019. Specific application procedures and submission and reporting requirements are detailed in the RFP.

Questions? Please contact Gregory Pogue at

Why rural and small city entrepreneurship?

The sociological and economic gaps between rural and urban communities have grown significantly in the United States and the world. As late at 1940, almost 45% of the U.S. population lived in rural regions. Urbanization has decreased this percentage to <20% as of 2019, exacerbating the existing social, economic and opportunity divide between rural and urban regions. The urban and rural gap may be described by population shifts, but the impact cuts across the fabric of society, creating sociological and economic divisions leading to political discord, technological inequity, disparity in economic participation/reward, disproportional disease prevalence, and poor allocation and use of natural resources. These issues are not just in the U.S. but are shared with the world. In 2018, >55% of the world’s population lives in urban areas. The hyper-urbanization trend is expected to continue in the coming decades increasing the urban living population to 68% by 2050, compounding current city challenges and introducing new ones in virtually all countries.

As noted in recent reports to the U.S. Congress and other published studies, the economic and opportunity gap has widened between rural and urban communities across the United States since the Great Recession. In the U.S., the economic shock of the recession hit rural counties and states harder than those dominated by urban communities with many rural areas having yet to fully recover. For example, employment in urban areas normalized to pre-recession levels by 2013, whereas rural job growth continued to lag pre-recession levels in 2017. Further, sluggish wage growth of 3.8% in rural areas is outstripped by the >5.5% growth in metropolitan areas. This can be dramatically observed in Texas when reviewing data from the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. According to the 2010 census, per capita income is also about $3,000 less in the 191 Texas counties classified as rural than in the 63 non-rural counties. Indeed, the 18 most heavily urbanized counties in Texas have a per capita income almost $5,000 more than the remaining 236 counties in the state.

The dramatic loss of jobs from 2008-2010, the income gap, and the slow recovery of high-paying jobs in rural regions have led many residents to migrate to urban environments to find new opportunities. This migration has exacerbated the decline in rural population and supported significant urban population growth since 2010 and attendant infrastructure overuse and overcrowding. Rural population decline is compounded by the geographic remoteness of communities and lack of online connectivity (39% of rural residents lack access to broadband compared to only 4% of urban residents). Further, underinvestment in rural infrastructure impairs travel as roads, bridges and water infrastructure require urgent repair to facilitate efficient transport across these regions. Limited virtual connectivity coupled with physical distance restricts business communications and increases the costs of logistics and transportation, reducing company investments in rural regions.

Most rural economies are structured to support a single or a small cluster of industries and are usually dependent on the value of natural and agricultural resources in the region. The lack of economic diversification makes rural communities more vulnerable to the impact of individual company decisions, macro-economic shocks and the growing trend of technological displacement. Recent natural disasters in the Coastal Bend region of Texas have further revealed the fragility of rural and isolated city economies to such perturbations.

The growing societal focus on technology, robotics, data and artificial intelligence of the new economy is expected to create further distance between rural and urban communities. The gap in higher education graduates, often viewed as a prerequisite for participation in the new economy, has grown by 25% between rural and communities from 2000-2016. Lower educational attainment and population decline combine to restrict the number of individuals available to respond to government grant applications, receive new federal funds or create new cutting-edge businesses at the same rate as in urban areas.

As rural society, agricultural products and natural resources contribute greatly to the U.S. culture and economy, action is required to remove these disadvantages from rural economies and create new models and incentives for rural communities to thrive and grow. This is especially true in Texas where rural regions make up a dominant part of its land mass and local governments. Economic development in rural regions is a high priority in Texas, as it is for many other midwestern and southern states – not to mention many other developing nations whose rural population far exceeds that of the U.S.

Entrepreneurship is a core backbone of economic development. The University of Texas at Austin has long been a home for scholars whose research explores business development and it continues to have strength in this area. The number of scholars across campus involved in the IC² Institute, the McCombs Entrepreneurship Minor, the Herb Kelleher Center, the RGK Center, the Bridging Disciplines Programs on entrepreneurship, and the many groups on campus that are part of the Entrepreneurship Coordination Committee all attest to the vibrant community of research around the topic of entrepreneurship on campus. The IC² Institute aims to galvanize this community of scholars to focus on the challenges and prospects for developing business ecosystems in rural areas and small, isolated cities.

Why the IC² Institute?

This research focus fits in with the IC² Institute’s long history of research and practical engagement in the economic development of urban, rural and small city environments. In the past 25 years IC² has conducted 29 regional economic studies across the world, including ten in Texas alone, reviewing the innovation and economic growth strategies of urban and rural regions and providing detailed case studies illustrating rural/urban challenges. Based on IC²’s groundbreaking research on the Austin entrepreneurial ecosystem in the 1980s and 90s, the Austin Model was defined and subsequently disseminated across the U.S. and 43 countries around the world. This model is based on the diffusion of knowledge from science and technology centers into economic practice of regions through technology transfer and entrepreneurship. The leadership of Austin as a technology and entrepreneurship hub is widely recognized and IC² will follow the pattern of its founder, Dr. George Kozmetsky, to identify new, unstructured problems of world importance to study and engage solutions. Toward this end, IC² has since completed numerous benchmarking studies in rural and isolated cities in Texas, including the Rio Grande Valley, San Angelo, and Waco, as well as other regions in the U.S., Europe, Latin America and Asia. In addition, IC²’s Bureau of Business Research has a rich legacy of economic research in all regions of Texas going back to the 1920s. A new model for economic development based on innovation is required for rural and small, isolated cities. Our new research initiative seeks to catalyze new studies to define improved and fitted strategies to improve the competitiveness of these regions.

This solicitation follows the successful Insight to Innovation Grant Program conducted between 2017-2018. Eleven grants were provided to UT Austin faculty which engaged over 10 student researchers at UT Austin, produced many peer-reviewed publications and a number of others in preparation or under review, and supported a wealth of scholarly presentations. Further, student-led investigations were conducted in Nepal and Japan through UT courses supported by Insight to Innovation grants.

References used:

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South Asia Connect conducts Entrepreneurship Week 2 at Nexus

IC²’s South Asia Connect program, working with the Nexus Startup Hub @ American Center in New Delhi, conducted an intensive week-long training program for 20 entrepreneurs from five South Asian countries in early December. The entrepreneurs from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka are founders of traditional or technology-driven enterprises, many solving local problems and serving their fellow citizens.

The focus of the training was to build market-fitted strategies and connect the entrepreneurs to Nexus networks and resources.

IC² and Nexus staff leading the training were joined by mentors from the South Asia Connect Leader Network, a group of ten leaders of entrepreneurial support organizations in the region.

Both the Nexus and South Asia Connect programs are sponsored by the US Department of State and carried out by the IC² Institute. The event was the second Entrepreneur Week held by the programs.

Participating leaders and entrepreneurs were selected through an extensive outreach program in the fall of 2018 with US Embassies and American Spaces throughout the region.

In an initial phase, SAC country leaders mentored a large cohort of entrepreneurs through IC²’s online course and selected the best-suited four entrepreneurs from their respective countries to join the SAC Entrepreneur Week activities in Delhi.

Training during the week focused on market research, value propositions, sustainable revenue models, conducting stakeholder interviews and preparing pitches. Advanced training sessions for entrepreneurial leaders were provided by Nexus and IC² leadership.

As a final phase in the SAC program, five entrepreneurs who exhibit high growth potential were selected to join an eight-week immersive training experience as part of Nexus’ sixth pre-incubation cohort beginning in January 2019.

South Asia Connect, December 2018   South Asia Connect, December 2018

South Asia Connect, December 2018   South Asia Connect, December 2018

South Asia Connect, December 2018   South Asia Connect, December 2018

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Nexus and three portfolio companies on CNBC

Watch this in-depth report from CNBC TV18 on IC²’s Nexus program in India and three Nexus startup companies: Roadbounce, Morphedo, and Escrowffrr.

Nexus on CNBC TV18

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IC² in the news: South Asia Connect, Earthly, ICON, Kriya, and Yotta

IC² programs and portfolio companies have recently been featured by TIME, NPR, the Austin American-Statesman, and several international publications.

Kriya on NPR  ICON in TIME  Yotta in Statesman  Earthly in Statesman

IC²’s South Asia Connect program, which links entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship support organizations in five countries in the South Asia region, was featured in the prominent Sri Lankan tech publication ReadMe.

Kriya Labs, a startup in IC²’s Nexus program in New Delhi, was featured on NPR’s Morning Edition. Kriya turns farmers’ agricultural waste into profitable fiber products.

Glenn Robinson, program manager for IC²’s programs in Andhra Pradesh and Bhutan, has become a regular columnist in several news and business publications in the region.

ATI member ICON, maker of a 3D printer for houses, was honored with a spot in TIME’s 2018 Inventions of the Year.

Austin Technology Incubator member company Yotta Solar was featured in the Austin American-Statesman for their ambitious plan to reach a wide markeet with their solar energy storage solution.

ATI member Earthly Labs was also featured in the Statesman. Earthly captures CO₂ from the beer brewing process so small brewers can reuse it to make better beer.

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IC² helps launch entrepreneurship programs at Alamo Colleges

Training sessions at IC² kick off expansion of programs at the San Antonio community college district.

Alamo Colleges District logoFor over two years, the IC² Institute has been working with Alamo Colleges District in San Antonio, the city’s community college district. Alamo Colleges administers education, training and degree programs across five college campuses in San Antonio. Growing in part out of discussions between Greg Pogue of the IC² Institute and Bruce Leslie, then Alamo Colleges Chancellor, the colleges started The Learning Company, a district-wide initiative bringing entrepreneurship skills to students as they bring their startup ideas to market.

On November 16-17, the IC² Institute trained college champions who will drive program expansion at each college location. Presenters in the two-day session included Greg Pogue, Cliff Zintgraff, Art Markman, John Daly, and Marco Bravo of IC², as well as Nina Means from the Austin Community College Fashion Incubator and Austin entrepreneurs from IC²’s FASTForward program.

Incidentally, congratulations to the Alamo Colleges District, the first community college district in the U.S. to receive a prestigious Baldrige Award!

Alamo Colleges training at the IC² Institute

Alamo Colleges training at the IC² Institute

Alamo Colleges training at the IC² Institute

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