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Institute names three new IC² Fellows

The IC² Institute is pleased to announce three new IC² Fellows on the occasion of our 40th anniversary.

The new Fellows are Dr. Nikhil Agarwal of the Andhra Pradesh Innovation Society, Dr. Darius Mahdjoubi of the University of Tehran, and Shri Harkesh Mittal of the Indian Ministry of Science and Technology.

Agarwal, Mahdjoubi, and Mittal join Mr. Nirankar Saxena and Dr. A. Didar Singh, both of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), as the most recent additions to the Fellows.

Nikhil AgarwalDr. Nikhil Agarwal is currently serving as Chief Executive Officer for Innovation, Government of Andhra Pradesh. In 2014, India Prime Minister Modi urged Indian diaspora to return and serve their country. Nikhil answered the call, joining Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Naidu’s administration to kickstart the statewide innovation agenda. Following the 2014 bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh (AP), Hyderabad, responsible for three-quarters of its GDP, was no longer part of AP, leaving them with a mostly agrarian economy. With such a dramatic shift in economy, Nikhil has been aggressively developing large scale innovation projects and the state’s start-up ecosystem. The Government of Rajasthan just awarded Nikhil their Innovation Award for “Excellence in Promoting Innovation in Governance”. Formerly, Nikhil was President and CEO of Cambridge Global Partners, an alumnus and lecturer of the University of Cambridge, alumnus and researcher of the University of Edinburgh, and lecturer at Virginia Tech. He has published over 70 research papers. Nikhil is founder of Entrepreneur Café, providing an impressive array of education and networking to its 35,000 participants. He’s founded businesses, advised firms and his work has been extensively covered in Forbes, CNN, BBC, and the New York Times. He writes a column in the Economic Times and Times of India, the most circulated English newspaper in the world. Nikhil has been an advisor to international think tanks including the World Entrepreneurship Forum, United Nations Global Alliance on ICT & Development. He has an unwavering commitment that the knowledge accessed through the internet be made available to all citizens of the world.

Darius MahdjoubiDr. Darius Mahdjoubi is an adjunct professor in the Faculty of Entrepreneurship of the University of Tehran and at the Industrial Management Institute in Iran. A mechanical engineer by education, he became active in the different stages of setting up new factories, from design to startup. This experience led him to become interested in the nature of technology and how technology creates change at the same time as it undergoes change. He completed an interdisciplinary Ph.D. on Knowledge and Innovation under the supervision of Dr. George Kozmetsky at UT Austin in 2004. His research work includes “Organizing Design Capabilities in Developing Countries” (Tehran, 1985), “The Mapping of Innovation” (Toronto, 1997), and “Action Business Planning” (at the IC² Institute, 2009). His most recent research focuses on the New Renaissance and integrative thinking and methodology.

Harkesh MittalShri Harkesh Mittal is Advisor to the Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India, and head of National Science and Technology Entrepreneurship Development Board (NSTEDB). He has been instrumental in giving a new vibrancy to promoting the innovation and entrepreneurial acumen among a wide section of Indian entrepreneurs ranging from simple rural industries to high-end technological enterprises. His two-decade long association with the Government has coincided with the beginning of India’s economic liberalization initiatives. With his untiring efforts and personal initiative, Shri Mittal has made the innovation and entrepreneurship program of Department of Science & Technology a much sought after program by the individual entrepreneurs as well as by the industry and technological circles – not only in India but among the industrially advanced countries of the world. Shri Mittal has been instrumental in involving the private sector – both national and international – in the task of innovation and entrepreneurship development in India. Companies like Intel, TCS, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, P&G, The Economic Times, etc. have now been involved in this task and quite many of them are making matching contribution and are bringing world-class technology commercialization knowledge to India.

The IC² Institute Fellows are a network of established and emerging practitioners and scholars representing academia, business, and government regionally, nationally, and globally. IC² Institute Founding Director George Kozmetsky launched the network in 1977 and it has grown to include over 190 Fellows from a variety of academic fields and the public and private sectors. The Fellows are the intellectual center of the Institute’s transdisciplinary research and publications covering a broad range of scholarship to enhance the understanding of regional development at home and abroad.

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Over 80 years of Texas Business Review now available online

Bureau of Business Research announces new access to all articles going back to 1927.

In connection with the celebration of the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Bureau of Business Research (BBR) at The University of Texas at Austin, the Bureau is pleased to announce new digital access to the entire print run of articles published in Texas Business Review (TBR), one of the oldest and most influential business journals in the state.

The Bureau published Texas Business Review (ISSN 0040-4209) from 1927 until 2011, when it was discontinued for financial reasons. TBR articles were designed to turn academic business research into information that could be used by lay business owners and policymakers. TBR contained articles on a wide variety of issues but generally focused, in the last decade of its existence, on topics related to high technology, entrepreneurship, and international trade, especially with Mexico and Latin America.

TBR articles documented changes in the Texas economy over the decades and will be of interest to economic and business historians, students of Texas history, and others interested in the story of Texas.

To explore the Texas Business Review, please visit: http://ic2.utexas.edu/tbr/

Full-text issues of the entire run of TBR are available through Texas ScholarWorks, the digital repository of the UT Austin Libraries.

Colleen Lyon, Scholarly Communications Librarian with University of Texas Libraries, and her team arranged to scan the entire back catalog of TBR as part of the Libraries’ Digital Projects program. Library staff digitized over 13,000 pages to complete the project.

– Bruce Kellison, Director, Bureau of Business Research

Texas Business Review December 1945 Texas Business Review, August 1951 Texas Business Review, May 1962

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BBR contributes to important new study on campus sexual assault

Bureau of Business Research Director Bruce Kellison and Research Scientist Matt Kammer-Kerwick were co-Principal Investigators on a groundbreaking campus climate survey of students at 13 UT System universities released this month that explored the prevalence of sexual assault and misconduct. The project, a collaboration between UT Austin’s Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (IDVSA) and the BBR, is a multi-year effort to understand the prevalence of campus sexual assault and its economic effects on students.

For the initial climate survey, Dr. Kammer-Kerwick helped design the survey instrument, built the database of survey responses, and led the research team in analyzing the data. While the climate survey results contain some of the economic impacts felt by student victims, the more detailed series of on-campus interviews and focus groups and a four-year cohort study of UT Austin students are expected to reveal more qualitative and quantitative information on the costs borne by student survivors in the next phase of the research.

CLASE infographicThe Cultivating Learning and Safe Environments (CLASE) report is the most in-depth survey of sexual assault and misconduct ever undertaken by an institution or system of higher education in the U.S. Thirteen of the UT System’s 14 institutions participated in the survey in fall 2015 and early spring 2016. UT Health Northeast was exempted because it does not enroll enough students to protect their anonymity.

The full report, including an executive summary and an explanation of the study methodology is posted on the UT System’s CLASE website.

The survey is part of a $1.7 million multi-year study spearheaded by UT System Chancellor William H. McRaven and was conducted by UT Austin’s Institute on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault, led by Director Noël Busch-Armendariz, Ph.D.

The study is groundbreaking because it 1) uses both qualitative and quantitative research data to better understand, address and reduce acts of sexual harassment, stalking, dating/domestic abuse and violence and unwanted sexual contact on UT campuses; and 2) includes a longitudinal component in which researchers will repeatedly survey a select cohort of students to help understand their knowledge, attitudes and experiences over the course of their college careers.

“If we want to understand and continuously improve our campus culture in order to facilitate student success, then we have to be open and honest about our students’ experiences beyond the classroom, no matter how uncomfortable it is,” McRaven said. “I’m pleased that UT institutions have numerous, effective programs to serve victims of sexual assault and misconduct, and with new knowledge, we can and must do better. The findings of this study shine a brighter light on sexual assault and misconduct that affects UT students and give us a deeper understanding of how to address these problems.”

More than 28,000 students voluntarily and confidentially participated in an extensive online survey. Of those, 26,373 were enrolled in academic institutions, and 1,853 were enrolled at health institutions. Reports for individual academic institutions are posted on the CLASE website; data for the health institutions are reported in aggregate to ensure the results are scientifically valid.

Survey questions focused on three main areas:

  • Students’ experiences related to sexual assault and misconduct on and off campus since their enrollment at a UT System institution.
  • Students’ perceptions of their institution’s responses to these issues.
  • The impact of these forms of violence on students, such as missed classes or work, depression or increased use of drugs and alcohol.

Students were asked to respond to questions based on their experiences since they became a UT student. Questions provided specific criteria for behaviors that constituted an act of sexual assault or misconduct.

Because sexual assault and misconduct often go unreported, particularly among college students, it’s critical to understand the extent of the problem, said Busch-Armendariz, an expert in interpersonal violence who also serves as UT Austin’s associate vice president for research.

“This research helps lift the cloud of silence that exists around these issues across the nation,” she said. “The CLASE findings equip UT institutions with a deeper understanding of all students’ experiences as well as how to take action around these complex issues, regardless of where these incidents occurred. The goal is to arm institutions with information so they can continue to improve the safety and well-being of students and remove barriers that stand in the way of educational goals.”

According to the results of the CLASE survey, the prevalence rates of various types of victimization are comparable to rates at other institutions nationwide. However, there is little comfort in being comparable in this context, Busch-Armendariz said. In fact, the CLASE survey is intended to do more than report prevalence – it is intended to provide greater insight into the dynamics of these incidents in order to drive meaningful change that leads to a reduction in incidents.

Across eight academic institutions and five health institutions (which enroll mostly graduate and professional students) key findings of the CLASE survey include:

  • At academic institutions, 10 percent of female undergraduate students and 4 percent of male undergraduate students reported being raped. At health institutions, 4 percent of female students and 2 percent of male students reported being raped.
  • Of the four types of sexual harassment perpetrated by faculty or staff, students most frequently reported harassment such as sexist remarks or being shown sexist material. At academic institutions, 15 percent of undergraduate female students and 10 percent of male undergraduate students said they experienced sexist gender harassment by a faculty or staff member. At health institutions, 19 percent of female students and 15 percent of male students reported sexist gender harassment.
  • At both academic and health institutions, the majority of victims of unwanted sexual contact and their perpetrators used alcohol and drugs at the time of victimization. In addition, the majority of victims of unwanted sexual contact had either a close relationship or were acquaintances with the perpetrator.
  • Most instances of unwanted sexual contact – which includes unwanted sexual touching, attempted rape and rape – occur off campus. For example, 84 percent of unwanted sexual contact incidents occurred off campus at academic institutions. At health institutions, 97 percent of unwanted sexual contact incidents occurred off campus.
  • The vast majority of both victims and non-victims reported feeling safe on their campus. At academic institutions, 76 percent of victims and 80 percent of non-victims reported feeling safe. The percentages are even higher at health institutions, where 89 percent of victims and 92 percent of non-victims reported feeling safe.

“The CLASE study demonstrates a commitment to understanding the dynamics of sexual violence while the results portray the reality and impact it brings,” said Rose Luna, deputy director of the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault. “Sexual assault advocates have long contended with the misconceptions and the lack of survivor justice as a result. This research project will help bridge the gap of misinformation to positively affect outcomes for survivors, college campuses, and society as a whole.”

UT institutions already have numerous, well-established programs and services in place dedicated to preventing sexual assault and misconduct and responding to victims when an incident does occur. Every institution also proactively works to educate members of the campus community about the policies, procedures and resources related to victim support and the reporting of offenses, and each campus engages in a full array of training, awareness and prevention efforts.

Institutions are also diligent in ensuring justice and due process for those accused of sexual assault, misconduct or harassment, handling reports and investigations in a legal and appropriate manner that protects the rights of everyone involved.

The CLASE reports for each institution include a summary of existing programs as well as further commitments for action, based on the results of the survey.

“I am so pleased that the marvelous research capabilities of the University of Texas are being brought to bear on these issues,” said David L. Callender, M.D., president of UT Medical Branch in Galveston. “We hope that this research will take us far beyond a focus on Title IX compliance to new understanding and meaningful actions that reduce risky and inappropriate behaviors.”

Looking forward, additional research will be conducted, including an in-depth empirical investigation at all UT institutions and the four-year longitudinal study at UT Austin, which includes 1,300 students who are freshmen this academic year.

For more information:

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A. Didar Singh named IC² Fellow

The IC² Institute is pleased to announce the newest IC² Fellow, A. Didar Singh. IC² recognizes his critical role in strengthening ties between the IC² Institute and Indian institutions and as an advocate for new and expanded collaborations between The University of Texas at Austin and India.

A. Didar SinghA. Didar Singh is the Secretary General of Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). FICCI is India’s largest and oldest apex business organization, articulating the views of over 250,000 companies with policy makers, and providing a platform for consensus building within industry sectors and between industry, government and society. In his current role, Dr. Singh leads FICCI where he overseas over eighty sectoral verticals and helps articulate the views and concerns of industry.

Dr. Singh’s dynamic guidance helped the DST-Lockheed Martin Indian Innovation Growth Programme, in which IC² is a founding partner, scale up to new heights. The Programme has generated an economic impact of over $800 million and benefited more than 1,000 Indian scientists, engineers, inventors and entrepreneurs across virtually every technology sector.

Under Dr. Singh’s visionary leadership, FICCI and IC² signed an agreement with the State Government of Andhra Pradesh to set up Xlr8 AP, a world-class technology accelerator in Tirupati. The accelerator leverages the best practices of the Austin Technology Incubator and over a decade of IC²’s experience working with Indian entrepreneurial community through the India Innovation Growth Programme.

Due to his efforts, the U.S. Embassy in India, FICCI and the IC² Institute have also partnered to set up Nexus, a world-class technology and business incubator program at the American Center in the heart of New Delhi. Nexus will incubate up to 30 enterprises annually as well as international business development support for selected companies. The U.S. Embassy will provide space within its American Center Library, two full-time managers to run the incubator, and funds to employ an incubation expert in-residence from the IC² Institute.

It was Dr. Singh’s foresightedness that led FICCI and IC² to jointly design an exclusive program with Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to commercialize technologies developed by ICMR in Indian and global markets.

Dr. Singh is a renowned author and former civil servant of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and took over as Secretary General of FICCI from November 2012. He retired as Secretary to Government of India in the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (2009-11). During his time in government, he also worked in the Ministry of Science and Technology dealing with commercialization of new technologies and later as member of several boards of state-owned enterprises where he was instrumental in ensuring technological initiatives for growth and sustainability of these enterprises.

For more information:

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IC² at SXSW 2017

See You at SXSW 2017

Once again the IC² Institute and the Austin Technology Incubator will participate at SXSW Interactive.

Here’s where to find us.

Portugal: Your Startup’s Gateway to Europe
Marco Bravo, IC² Institute & UTEN Portugal
March 10, 12:30 PM

SXSW Eco Startup Speed Pitches
presented by Austin Energy & the Austin Technology Incubator
March 10, 2:00 PM

Looking for Funds in All the Right Places
Bart Bohn, ATI Water
March 11, 9:30 AM

Contemporary Curation: How Imagery Shapes a Brand
Art Markman, IC² Research Director
March 11, 12:30 PM

Smart City Day
presented by Digi.City & the Austin Technology Incubator
March 12, 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Free, no badge neededRSVP required

A Wall or Not a Wall: Leading Mexican Tech in US
Sid Burback and Jim Vance, IC² Global Commercialization Group
March 12, 3:30 PM

Mentor Session: Art Markman
Signup required
March 13, 2017

In addition, Cindy WalkerPeach served as a Qualifier for the SXSW Accelerator.

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BBR study demonstrates economic value of Texas public libraries

A new report prepared by the Bureau of Business Research for the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) has found that Texas public libraries provide $2.628 billion in economic benefits to the state.

Texas Public Libraries: Economic Benefits and Return on InvestmentCollectively, in FY 2015, Texas public libraries were found to offer a sizeable return on investment. For every one dollar spent, libraries offered $4.64 worth of services, resources, and economic opportunity to communities.

The findings are consistent with a previous BBR study which found an economic return in FY 2011 of $4.42 for every dollar spent on libraries.

Dr. Jim Jarrett, BBR Senior Research Scientist, used a data-intensive process to document and quantify economic benefits. The findings showed that libraries produced $976 million in direct economic activity and more than 11,000 jobs in FY 2015 were dependent on public library expenditures.

Another major component of the study analyzed key services offered by most public libraries in the state. BBR found that libraries contributed an additional $1.652 billion worth of services, including educational programming, internet and computer access, electronic databases, circulation of materials, reference services, in-library use of books, volunteer opportunities, and wireless access.

The study used a conservative approach and valued public libraries purely as business and organizational entities. Researchers used extensive databases from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission in conjunction with input-out economic modeling software. The research found that, while Texas public libraries cost $566 million in FY 15, those libraries provided a return on investment of $4.64 for each of those dollars spent.

For more information:

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IC² Institute’s XLr8 AP accelerator graduates first cohort of Indian entrepreneurs

In January, the IC² Institute’s XLr8 Andhra Pradesh Technology Business Accelerator (XLr8 AP) completed its first four-month acceleration cycle for 33 Indian technology companies.

The companies have already created 35 jobs in Andhra Pradesh and are in the process of opening two new manufacturing operations.

XLr8 AP graduation cohort 1Led by Managing Director Glenn Robinson of the IC² Institute and a team of three Indian staff members, XLr8 AP is a joint venture with the Innovation Society of the Government of Andhra Pradesh and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). The vision for XLr8 AP is to establish the “Sunrise State” of Andhra Pradesh as a world-class technology innovation ecosystem and to create jobs and wealth in the state, working with technology startups in advanced capacity building, acceleration into the global marketplace, and mobilization of venture capital.

Beginning with a pool of 430 applicants from across India, XLr8 AP selected the cohort of 33 startups to receive training and mentoring from a team of US and Indian experts. Of these, 25 companies received technology validation and market assessment using the IC² Institute’s Quicklook® methodology, and nine participated in a formal technology and business model presentation competition before a binational panel of judges.

Four of the competing companies were selected to receive advanced commercial acceleration for a period of up to one year. The four winning companies were:

Oriental Aquamarine
www.nitrifying-bioreactor.com
Nitrifying Bioreactor technology for Recirculating Aquaculture Systems (RAS) achieving optimum levels of nitrogenous compounds in water, and prevents Nitrate buildup.

SLS Cell Cure Technologies
http://slscellcure.in/
Ethically and scientifically explore the full potential of Molecular Diagnostics & Regenerative medicine through cell therapies.

XCyton Diagnostics
www.xcyton.com
Syndrome Evaluation System is a gene-based medical diagnostic platform that identifies pathogens in life-threatening infections.

TJ Tyres
tycheejuno.com
Burst Preventive Puncture Curative (BPPC) tyre: puncture proof, burst preventive and self-balancing tire.

In addition, XLr8 AP will continue to mentor other selected company from the first cohort to continue their market entry initiatives.

A new cohort of 33 companies will enter the acceleration program on February 1. In the course of the 16 months making up Phase 1 of the program, XLr8 AP will train and develop at least 132 companies, accelerate at least 16 new ventures, train over 400 entrepreneurs and innovators, and provide innovation and entrepreneurship training to at least 232 university students and faculty.

XLr8 AP is the latest chapter in the IC² Institute’s long engagement with India, including the decade-long DST-Lockheed Martin India Innovation Growth Program (IIGP), which has helped over 1,000 Indian innovators generate more than $814 million in revenue. IC²’s portfolio of activities in India will expand again in April 2017 with the planned launch of an incubator at the American Center in New Delhi.

For more information:


Video: Innovation initiatives in Andhra Pradesh, India

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BBR team releases Texas human trafficking estimates

There are more than 300,000 victims of human trafficking in Texas, including almost 79,000 minors and youth victims of sex trafficking and nearly 234,000 adult victims of labor trafficking, according to a groundbreaking study by the Institute on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault (IDVSA) at The University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work, in collaboration with the Bureau of Business Research.

Read the report / View the infographic

Human trafficking impact in Texas - infographicHuman trafficking happens when one person is controlled through violence, deception or coercion in situations of commercial sex, forced labor, or domestic servitude. Although human trafficking is known to be prevalent in large states with big urban centers such as Texas, the scope of the crime has been difficult to measure. Existing data sets, which focus almost exclusively on identified victims, have shed light on only a fraction of the problem.

To address this gap, in 2014 researchers launched the Statewide Human Trafficking Mapping Project of Texas with the goal of quantifying the prevalence and economic impact of human trafficking across the state. This statewide research was a collaboration among IDVSA, the Bureau of Business Research at the IC² Institute at UT Austin, and Allies Against Slavery, with funding support from the Criminal Justice Division at the Texas Office of the Governor.

“This is our first glimpse into the scope and impact of human trafficking in Texas. Few states have this kind of insight into the number of people being exploited,” said IDVSA director Noël Busch-Armendariz, who led the study. “And more importantly, each count reflects a human being living among us in slavery-like conditions. Our findings certainly give us all a call to action.”

In addition to mining existing databases, researchers looked at risk indicators found in documented trafficking cases and used that information to define groups of people — community segments — considered to be at higher-than-average risk of trafficking. Some examples of these community segments are homeless individuals, children and youths in the foster care system, and migrant workers.

Researchers conducted interviews, focus groups and web-based surveys with professionals at social service agencies who provide outreach and relief services to trafficking victims and survivors to establish benchmarks on human trafficking prevalence across Texas. Main findings include:

  • There are an estimated 313,000 victims of human trafficking in Texas.
  • Approximately 79,000 minors and youths are victims of sex trafficking in Texas.
  • Approximately 234,000 workers in Texas are victims of labor trafficking.

Researchers also established benchmarks on the economic impact of human trafficking:

  • Traffickers exploit approximately $600 million per year from victims of labor trafficking in Texas in the most at-risk industries and economic sectors, including migrant farm work, construction, kitchen workers in restaurants, and landscaping services.
  • An estimated $6.5 billion is spent on the lifetime costs of providing care to victims and survivors of minor and youth sex trafficking in Texas, including costs related to law enforcement, prosecution and social services.

“The economic and social costs of human trafficking in Texas emphasize the importance of preventative solutions and help inform how to prioritize resources to support those who have experienced exploitation,” explained Bruce Kellison, director of the Bureau of Business Research.

“This is a watershed study for our state,” said John Nehme, the president and CEO of Allies Against Slavery. “This research helps bring human trafficking out of the shadows: the men, women and children who are victims of trafficking in Texas are no longer invisible. The report will be a significant resource for policymakers, professionals, survivor leaders and community members as we continue to work together to end human trafficking.”

For more information, see:

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Job openings at the American Business Incubator in New Delhi, India

New IC² Institute incubator in India seeks Director and Program Manager.

Prime Minister Modi’s Start-up India initiative centers around establishing business incubators throughout the country, yet successful in-country examples are hard to find. According to the Indian government’s own reports on entrepreneurship, the lack of effective business incubators is one of the three critical shortcomings that need to be addressed in order to evolve a dynamic ecosystem for innovation and entrepreneurship in India.

The American Center in New Delhi, in collaboration with the IC² Institute and a consortium of Indian organizations, is creating such an incubator by transforming a significant section of the American Center’s public space into a business and technology hub in New Delhi. Other collaborators include the Center for Entrepreneurship at Ashoka University, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), the Indian Angels Network and CoworkIn.

The incubator will support innovators through mentorship programs, link them to potential American and Indian investors, and provide multiple training and certificate courses on creating and administering incubators as well as marketing, design, IPR, accounting, clean energy, and social entrepreneurship.

The private-public partnerships that the American Center will bring are an asset that no other New Delhi incubator can offer, and its holistic approach, with international and Indian experts helping innovators from their proof of concept to successful entry into the marketplace, is a unique solution not to be found in the current ecosystem.

The Center is now in the process of hiring its Director and Program Manager, both of whom will be working under the guidance of international experts from the IC² Institute and The University of Texas at Austin. Erik Azulay of the IC² Institute, who will be moving to India in March to run the Center, said “This is a wonderful opportunity to get involved with this program on the ground floor. We are very excited about the Center and are looking for high energy, entrepreneurially minded people to work with us in creating the leading innovation and business hub in Delhi.”

Interested applicants are encouraged to review the two job positions below and submit their applications to: NewDelhiVacancies@State.gov. Applications are being accepted until January 27, 2017.

To apply, please review the following:

The incubator will be the second new incubation/acceleration program launched in India by the IC² Institute in the past year, following the XLr8 AP Technology Accelerator funded by the State of Andhra Pradesh. Plans for additional new IC² programs in India are under development.

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Two Guys on Your Head on creativity and business incubation

Two Guys on Your Head is a short KUT/NPR radio feature and podcast in which Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke of The University of Texas at Austin discuss how the human brain’s “hardwired” responses affect daily interactions in current society.

The IC² Institute asked professors Markman and Duke to discuss business incubation in relation to psychology’s four stages of creativity:

  • preparation — an idea or plan of action is conceived
  • incubation — the idea is set aside for sleep and other unrelated activities, while the subconscious mind re‑calculates the plan against the bank of personal experience and new sensory input
  • illumination — new answers appear spontaneously as new mental connections are established, resulting in an enriched, more viable plan
  • verification — the improved plan is put into action and is realized externally.

For this discussion, the preparation phase is proposed as parallel to establishing a business, while the incubation and illumination stages are considered iterative internal processes, such as occur during the business incubation phase; and verification is considered to be an external phase in which a business exits the incubator to seek success in the larger business realm.

This exclusive “off-the-air” discussion on business incubation and the creative process follows…

Art Markman and Bob Duke of Two Guys on Your Head
IC² Institute Director of Faculty Research Art Markman and Bob Duke of Two Guys on Your Head

The Interview

IC² Institute: Thank you for giving us this opportunity to talk with you today. Business incubation and the creative process are two things that you are both very familiar with. What are your thoughts on the stages of creativity and how they compare to (and are involved in) the business incubation process?

Markman: I think one thing to say up front is that when a lot of people think about innovation and the creativity that goes into creating a new company, they’re focused primarily on the development of whatever technology or services or the product that the company has.

But a company’s process also needs some amount of innovation, and development of culture also needs some amount of innovation in order for that company to develop both procedures and a culture that are ultimately healthy. I think the community underestimates the importance of that.

I know that the folks at the Austin Technology Incubator are well aware of the fact that a large proportion of the success of a new venture is the team, and the ability of that team to gel, and the ability of that team to find a way to create the right human interface to the market. And that takes time.

Duke: Not to dwell too long on the vision thing, but I think when Art’s talking about imagining the services or the technology, it’s worth taking time to imagine what everything would look like if it was up and running great. What would that look like?

Not just what jobs are people doing, but how do they interact with each other? How do they communicate with each other? How do you form a team that works in a way that benefits the goals of the company?

Markman: One of the important things about the theory of business incubation is the recognition that there’s time required, and that a company needs to be protected so that it minimizes the amount of money that it’s burning through, so the company can survive to the point where it really is mature enough to bring a product effectively to a market.

And you might say, Why does it require all this time?

But part of what you need to do is have the time to search through the space of ideas that will ultimately lead to the right gel of the product with the team and the market.

Another part of it is also giving you the time to lose your love affair with some of the initial ideas you had. Many new companies have a technology and an idea about how they’re going to approach the market that is not, ultimately, the one that’s going to be successful. But while you may be able to fall in love overnight, it’s hard to fall out of love overnight.

A lot of times, companies need a while to figure this out, and to listen to the advice which says you may need to re-think your overall strategy. So, putting yourself in a protective environment (in which you will both get that advice and be given the time to realize that, maybe, you weren’t 100% right to start with), that’s important.

Duke: And that requires creating a hierarchy of which features are central to the company. What are the defining features of who we are and what we do? And then, what other things elaborate those central features?

So, you’ve got this central idea which, without that, there is no company. But then there are these other surrounding things that support that idea, and those are the ones things that are the most amenable to either discarding or modifying in some way.

You’ve got to think about the whole thing. When Art says you can’t be too in love with your ideas and you need to let some ideas go, it’s because the path (from the first thought of all this, to a mature company) is not linear. It’s a mess in many ways.

And if you see every one of the diversions or digressions — when you have to back up and start again in this little part of what you’re doing — if you see every one of those as a catastrophe, you’re never going to get anywhere.

Because those are going to happen all the time.

When companies succeed, or any organization succeeds, it’s because they’re able to manage what happens at those times when, as a team, you realize, “We’ve been pursuing this path, but in actuality we now see that it’s a not good way to go.” And you come back and reset the goal.

Markman: And another parallel between creativity and business incubation is that, if you’re going to have creativity in an organization, it needs to be protected.

Part of the problem with being creative is that for large swathes of time, it doesn’t look like you’re getting anything done. Suddenly you have this idea and you go great guns on it, and then: Oh, it doesn’t work. Now you’re back to the drawing board.

And so you have to allow people who are engaged in creative pursuits to go through that horrible non-linear process, as Bob’s calling it. I think that’s a parallel with what’s happening with companies in the incubation phase. It would be easy if you could just give people a checklist. Something like: Have an idea (check); Find someone with business expertise (check); Determine the market value (check). It isn’t like that. I mean, people try to create these lists, but it doesn’t really work like that. There’s lots of fits and starts.

Sometimes the best thing that comes out of that exercise is a better idea of how to organize your team the next time you have a good idea. And that’s not a failure, necessarily.

I think the strongest entrepreneurial communities recognize that just because a particular venture failed doesn’t mean that you’re a failure. One of the reasons that Silicon Valley has been so successful (where many other areas haven’t) is in giving people the chance to learn from companies they were involved with that didn’t succeed. That makes them stronger the next time. Austin has done that effectively as well.

IC² Institute: Thus developing the serial entrepreneur…

Markman: …Who does not have only hits. And that’s true of creative people as well. As Bob likes to point out, the people who have the best ideas are the ones who have the most ideas, and a lot of those ideas are not so good.

[KUT producer Rebecca McInroy] and I were talking about Leonard Cohen, and Rebecca knows a lot of people who played with him. The thing is that I love Leonard Cohen, but he’s got some garbage. There are whole albums that are garbage. (Jazz Police? Really? I’ll forgive him, dear Heather, because he was just getting back into it!)

But he had a lot of ideas, and a lot of them were, of course, brilliant.

I think that’s true for creativity, but it’s also true for entrepreneurship. That’s why people need this protected space to do that in, and communities to do that in. It’s not just incubating in some region that has no entrepreneurial community.

It’s allowing those people to get involved in businesses, to then recycle themselves into the community, and make a contribution, even after a company fails or gets sold or reorganized.

Conclusions

In reflection, an important role of the business incubator is to provide sanctuary for the entrepreneurial team to “dream” if you will, and re-imagine the product, the roles of the team members, and both the internal and external “human interface” that will serve the market (and thus the company) best.

Accordingly, the task of the entrepreneur is to process new advice and new inputs against the original vision, and re-articulate the product so it is more meaningful to the market.

Writer, poet, and songwriter Leonard Cohen, said, “My ordinary state of mind is very much like the waiting room at the DMV… So to penetrate this chattering and this meaningless debate that is occupying most of my attention, I have to come up with something that really speaks to my deepest interests. Otherwise I nod off in one way or another. So to find that song, that urgent song, takes a lot of versions and a lot of work and a lot of sweat.”

The search for simple truths — stripping away the superfluous to find the essential — is a difficult task that, once accomplished, seems effortlessly apparent.

The business incubator provides the environment to help entrepreneurs focus on the essential questions as they creatively build a business case and an opportunity that speaks to the core of market need, but also inspires a team of people to pursue it to the end. This is a “lot of sweat.”

— Art Markman & Bob Duke with Greg Pogue & Margaret Cotrofeld

Listen to Two Guys on Your Head on KUT-FM or the Two Guys on Your Head podcast from NPR.

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