IC² Institute supports research on demographic change and entrepreneurialism in rural Japan

IC² researcher John W. Traphagan recently published an article entitled “Empty Houses, Abandoned Graves: Negative Population Growth and New Ideas in Neo-rural Japan,” which is part of his ongoing research related to rural entrepreneurialism in northern Japan.

The article explores some of the ways in which individuals living in a depopulating environment have created innovative responses to a rapidly changing demographic climate. Specifically, the article looks at examples of religious entrepreneurialism and, when faced with significant depopulation, the approaches some social institutions such as Buddhist temples have taken to maintain parishioners and how these approaches can change religious practices. Traphagan also considers how demographic change in the form of negative population growth can stimulate a generative process in which people innovate and adapt institutions to take on new forms and practices that contribute to the emergence of new cultural patterns.

As part of the same IC²-supported project, Traphagan has also published an article entitled “Entrepreneurs in Rural Japan: Gender, Blockage, and the Pursuit of Existential Meaning” in the journal Asian Anthropology (2017), that explores rural entrepreneurialism as it relates to the desire among business owners to find existential meaning in life.

For more information:

Ema or votive tablets. Photo by John W. Traphagan
Ema, or votive tablets. Photo by John W. Traphagan

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XLr8 AP to move to Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh

XLr8 AP, the IC² Institute’s technology business accelerator in the South Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, will move in August to new offices in the coastal city of Visakhapatnam.

The move to Visakhapatnam will place XLr8 AP in an industrial port city of 2 million with a rapidly growing tech sector and active startup scene. XLr8 AP will be housed in the Sunrise Incubation Tower in the neighborhood of Rushikonda, home to many Indian and multinational IT, ITes, and fintech companies.

The move was announced by the Andhra Pradesh Innovation Society (APIS), the state agency responsible for XLr8 AP. XLr8 AP is a joint venture of APIS, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), and the IC² Institute of The University of Texas at Austin.

XLr8 AP opened in September 2016 in the city of Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh. In its first 16 months it completed the acceleration of 132 Indian startup companies in four cohorts. Companies in the XLr8 AP portfolio have achieved in excess of US$3.4 million in incremental revenue, in the process creating over 1,000 employment opportunities.

For more information

Sunrise Incubation Tower, Visakhapatnam - photo by APIS
Sunrise Incubation Tower, Visakhapatnam

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IC² hosts book launch for Kozmetsky biography

A Civic Entrepreneur: The Life of Technology Visionary George Kozmetsky By Monty JonesOn June 1, 2018, the IC² Institute held a book launch and signing for A Civic Entrepreneur: The Life of Technology Visionary George Kozmetsky by Monty Jones.

The signing was attended by members of the Kozmetsky family, IC² Institute Fellows and staff, UT Austin faculty, and associates of Dr. Kozmetsky including former UT president William H. Cunningham and Admiral Bobby Ray Inman.

The volume is the first book-length biography of George Kozmetsky, the founder of the IC² Institute. It is scheduled for publication in July by the Briscoe Center for American History. It is available for pre-order at UT Press and Amazon.

Throughout his career as an industrialist, educator, visionary supporter of new technologies, advocate for worldwide economic development, and philanthropist, George Kozmetsky promoted constructive interactions among the worlds of academia, government, and private-sector business. He personified these interactions as a founder of Teledyne, a dean of the business school at the University of Texas at Austin, an academic researcher at the university’s IC² Institute, a promoter of new technologies, and a consultant to entrepreneurs and government agencies.

Monty JonesIn this comprehensive biography, Monty Jones details all aspects of Kozmetsky’s life, from his childhood as the son of Russian immigrants, to his service in World War II, to his accomplishments in technology, education, and business. While Kozmetsky is most widely known for taking early steps to propel the business school at The University of Texas at Austin toward its current position as an internationally prominent institution and for playing a central role in the economic transformation of Austin from a sleepy college town to its present-day status as a center of high-technology research, development, and manufacturing, Jones also details Kozmetsky’s technology career, influence, and philosophy. Kozmetsky embodied the concept of “civic entrepreneurship,” which involves a merging of business acumen, a deep commitment to social responsibility, and visionary leadership for a community’s economic development. Inherent in Kozmetsky’s role as a civic entrepreneur was the broadest possible definition of “community,” beginning with one’s city and region but growing outward to encompass the globe.

Monty Jones is a former public affairs official at UT Austin and the UT System, and a former reporter on higher education at the Austin American-Statesman. He is co-author, with William H. Cunningham, of The Texas Way: Money, Power, Politics, and Ambition at the University.

Thanks to the generosity of the author, IC² had a supply of prerelease copies of the book for sale. Funds from the book sales will be applied to support student participation in IC²’s Aspiring Women Entrepreneurs program. The program will support 18 women student innovators from Indian universities to prepare to commercialize their innovations with the help of students from UT Austin and Luleå Technical University in Sweden. Students will meet this summer in Austin, India and Sweden to develop commercialization strategies for each technology on all three continents and compare the results to find the best path to market for each innovation. This unique program is a fitting legacy to the vision of George and Ronya Kozmetsky.

Monty Jones with members of the Kozmetsky family
Monty Jones with members of the Kozmetsky family

Monty Jones with William H. Cunningham
Monty Jones with William H. Cunningham

book launch

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BBR conducts survey of Texas housing needs after Hurricane Harvey

The Texas General Land Office (GLO) is partnering with researchers at IC²’s Bureau of Business Research to conduct a survey seeking feedback from homeowners and renters to assess the status of the remaining needs resulting from Hurricane Harvey, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush announced today.

The results of the survey will help the GLO identify the most appropriate type of housing assistance for those in the 49 impacted Texas counties that will be receiving Community Development Block Grant for Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds for housing assistance from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

“As the GLO continues to work with local leaders to provide long-term recovery assistance to the people of Texas, it is important to continue to reassess the remaining housing needs of individual communities,” said Pete Phillips, senior director for community development and revitalization. “The GLO remains committed to helping communities to effectively and efficiently recover from one of the most damaging storms in our nation’s history.”

“We are partnering with the Texas General Land Office on a survey to determine how we can best help Texans whose homes or apartments were damaged by Hurricane Harvey,” said Bruce Kellison, director of the Bureau of Business Research. “This survey is important to ensure that available relief funds are targeted correctly for the greatest impact.”

Researchers at BBR helped design the survey and, after responses are collected, will analyze the results and make recommendations to the GLO about how housing needs vary among the 49 counties affected by Hurricane Harvey. For example, some areas may have greater need for affordable rentals, while other areas may have a greater need for homeowner reimbursement for reconstruction and repairs. This analysis will help inform the needs assessments associated with many of the recovery programs the GLO plans to administer.

“It may go without saying, but in many places, economic recovery starts with repairing regional housing stock. If you can’t live there, you can’t work there, either,” Kellison said.

The GLO is responsible for coordinating with federal agencies and community officials to support Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts, including the short-term housing assistance programs in coordination with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the administration of CDBG-DR funds allocated by HUD.

The survey will be open for two weeks starting June 1. The results will be analyzed and submitted to the GLO in late June. Individuals whose housing was affected by Hurricane Harvey may participate in the short survey by visiting

For more information

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Aspiring Women Entrepreneurs program kicks off in New Delhi

The Aspiring Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) program convened participants in their first face-to-face sessions last week in New Delhi, in preparation for intensive work in Austin this summer.

The three-part training program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and implemented by the IC² Institute in conjunction with the Nexus Startup Hub at the American Center, New Delhi.

Aspiring Women Entrepreneurs at Nexus

Participants are students at Indian universities who have developed innovations that could form the basis of a new Indian enterprise.

Eighteen women from throughout India were selected for the program, from a pool of over 200 applicants. The participants came from Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Pune, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, and Jaipur and represented 15 different universities. The innovations spanned multiple target markets, including consumer products, clean air and water technologies, and apps for educational and social engagement.

Quotes from participants

“I had a really amazing learning experience and learned a lot more than just entrepreneurship—how to present, the importance of practice, and most importantly how broad our horizons are.”
– Nikita Agrawal, female urination device innovator

“The program team provided important feedback, and the weekend speakers were inspiring. I can feel a new confidence in myself after this experience.”
– Kanika Saxena, graywater treatment innovator

“The two-day workshop in Delhi was awesome. We got to know about how to make progress in any situation and how to describe our products effectively. I really look forward to coming to Austin and having more exposure to ideas, innovation and inspiration.”
– Snehal Jadhav, organic fertilizer innovator

During Part 1 of the program, participants took an online course on technology commercialization and worked with UT Austin student and staff mentors to characterize the potential value of their innovations.

Part 2, an intense weekend program at Nexus, occurred on May 18-20. Participants arrived ready to present the value propositions that they had developed with mentor support. Feedback from the audience of innovators and IC² and Nexus managers helped the students improve the clarity and impact of their pitches and to further refine market targets and commercialization strategies. Additionally, the weekend provided opportunities for the women to work in collaborative teams, to conduct interviews for market validation, and to hear the journeys of successful female entrepreneurs growing their businesses through the Nexus program and IC²’s XLr8 AP incubator in Andhra Pradesh.

During Part 3 of the AWE program, the Indian women will travel to Austin for two weeks to join students from UT Austin and Luleå Technical University, Sweden. Here they will build business models for the U.S., Asian and European markets. The students will learn about the impact of “context” on business models by building a model and a competitive matrix for their innovation for each of the three different markets. Finally, students will perform a competitive assessment of all three regional business models and make a recommendation of the most promising market in which to launch the business.

Stay tuned for exciting updates from this AWEsome program!

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New applications of operations research and data analytics to end modern slavery

BBR releases report from NSF workshops

Matt Kammer-Kerwick
Bureau of Business Research

Matt Kammer-KerwickLast year, the National Science Foundation’s Operations Engineering (ENG) and the Law & Social Sciences Program (SBE) funded the BBR and the human trafficking team at UT’s School of Social Work to hold an interdisciplinary workshop to explore the intersection of operations research (OR) methods and the problem of human trafficking (Grant # CMMI-1726895). The goal was to convene an interdisciplinary team of scholars to identify promising research directions for applications of OR and data analytics toward the disruption of illicit supply networks like human trafficking. The United States Department of State considers human trafficking a form of modern-day slavery and broadly defines it as when a person is deceived or coerced in situations of prostitution, forced labor, or domestic servitude. Human trafficking is but one of a number of illicit networks; others include arms trafficking, drug trafficking, animal trafficking, and human smuggling. By bringing together scholars from disparate disciplines, the workshop identified new research approaches and breakthrough strategies for disrupting the illicit networks commonly found in human trafficking.

The workshop enabled scholars from operations research, management science, analytics, social science, machine learning, and data science to exchange ideas and develop a research agenda for the development of disruptive interventions against illicit networks. The agenda developed at the workshop will help move understanding of such illicit systems from descriptive characterization and predictive estimation toward improved dynamic operational control. The workshop report is now available: “Disrupting Illicit Supply Networks: New Applications of Operations Research and Data Analytics to End Modern Slavery.”

OR and data analytics are fields ideally suited to bring this perspective to the study of illicit networks like trafficking. Few studies have approached such illicit networks from a dynamic systems theoretical perspective that allows the social justice challenge to be represented as a mathematical system that can be analyzed in terms of decision variables to help guide, control, and constrain behavioral dynamics toward desired goals. Solutions to remediate the effect of illicit networks like human trafficking are inherently interdisciplinary, typically involving the fields of criminal justice, social work, social science, economics, healthcare, and law. Such systems are dynamic and exploit and victimize members of the community. What is more, they involve both legal and illicit activities at the same time, which often obscures criminal activity from law enforcement. Such systems can be hierarchical, nonstationary networks of interconnected activities and participants that involve intersectional decision making by perpetrators, victims, and/or bystanders. Highly common among such systems is a paucity of data due in large part to the hidden aspects of the crime and the partial observability of the population of interest.

Professionally, I am proud to say that the workshop has already led to additional NSF funding to address specific data and algorithmically focused research streams that disrupt illicit networks like human trafficking. Personally, I have never been more excited about the opportunity to apply the totality of all of my education and experience toward the development of solutions to such a significant societal problem.

For more information:

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ATI welcomes new member company ICON, makers of a 3D printer for houses

The Austin Technology Incubator welcomes its newest member ICON, a construction technologies company which is revolutionizing homebuilding through 3D printing.

ICON logoJust in time for SXSW, ICON unveiled what they call the “first permitted, 3D-printed home in America” here in Austin. They are also partnering with non-profit New Story to build 3D-printed homes for communities in need in developing countries.

ICON will join ATI’s Clean Energy Incubator. The startup went through ATI’s rigorous application process, which selects only the companies with the most promise to benefit from ATI’s help. ATI only accepts about 12% of the companies which apply, and 75% of admitted companies successfully receive funding.

“We believe that ICON’s breakthrough 3D-printer technology has the potential to create an entirely new market for low-cost, energy-efficient housing both in the developing world and here in the US,” said ATI Director Mitch Jacobson.

ICON has been getting lots of press. Read all about it:

New Story Unveils First 3-D-Printed Home (Architectural Digest)

Austin startup catches SXSW’s eye with 3D-printed tiny home that costs less than a car (Austin Business Journal)

This House Can Be 3D-Printed For $4,000 (Fast Company)

Austin company is building 3D printed houses for less than $4,000 (Houston Chronicle)

Startup Creates 3D Printer That Can Build Homes in Less Than 24 Hours (My Modern Met)

This cheap 3D-printed home is a start for the 1 billion who lack shelter (The Verge)

The Quest to Bring 3-D-Printed Homes to the Developing World (Wired)

For more information:


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IC² and ATI at SXSW 2018

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 2018.

This year several of our events will be held in conjunction with our friends at the Arctic Business Incubator in Luleå, Sweden. A group of startups from Sweden, Norway, France, Germany and beyond will participate in what we’re calling the “IC² International Incubation Mash-up.” The mash-up will consist of rapid pitch training, a guided tour through the whirlwind of SXSW with a focus on internationalization opportunities for European startups, and a final QuickPitch event organized by IC² at the House of Scandinavia. You are welcome to join the fun in the opening and closing sessions on Friday, March 9 and Tuesday, March 13.

Another focus of our activities will be the SXSW Cities Summit, sponsored by the Austin Technology Incubator. The Summit will consist of two full days of programming on March 12 and 13, particularly featuring the SXSW Cities Summit Startup Spotlight presented by ATI.

See You at SXSW 2018

Wednesday, March 7
Celebrate Student Entrepreneurship with Blackstone LaunchPad
Pitch competition and reception featuring student entrepreneurs from UT Austin, Texas A&M, and UT Dallas.
Open to the public with RSVP
6 PM – 8 PM – Main Street Hub, 600 Congress Avenue, Suite 1200

Friday, March 9
IC² International Incubation Mash-up
QuickPitch training for startups from Sweden, Norway, France, and Germany provided by experts from IC² and the Austin community.
Open to the public with RSVP
2 PM – 4:30 PM at the IC² Institute, 2815 San Gabriel St.

Saturday, March 10
How to Get What You Want Out of Side Gigs
With panelist Art Markman, IC² Research Director
Requires SXSW badge
5 PM – 6 PM at Fairmont Manchester A

Monday, March 12 – Tuesday, March 13
SXSW Cities Summit
Sponsored by the Austin Technology Incubator
Requires SXSW badge
9:30 AM – 6 PM at the Four Seasons

Monday, March 12
Scandinavian Breakfast
Meet IC² collaborators from the Arctic Business Incubator, Luleå, Sweden
Requires SXSW badge
8:30 AM – 10 AM at House of Scandinavia (Café Blue), 340 E 2nd St.

Monday, March 12
TiE Austin India Meetup
Sponsored by the Austin Technology Incubator and Nexus Startup Hub
Requires SXSW badge
2 PM – 3 PM at JW Marriott, Room 209

Monday, March 12
SXSW Cities Summit Startup Spotlight
Meet the startups working to solve the toughest challenges that face cities around the world. Presented by the Austin Technology Incubator and Austin Energy.
Requires SXSW badge
4 PM – 7 PM at the Four Seasons Terrace

Monday, March 12
Health & Life Science Network Happy Hour
Organized by Capital City Innovation, sponsored by the Austin Technology Incubator
Open to the public with RSVP
4:30 PM – 7 PM – Austin Public Library, 710 W Cesar Chavez St.

Monday, March 12
Sustaining Creative, High Industries: Austin & Norway Talks SXSW
With Mitch Jacobson of the Austin Technology Incubator and David Gibson of the IC² Institute
7 PM – 9:30 PM at House of Scandinavia (Café Blue), 340 E 2nd St.

Tuesday, March 13
Health and Med Tech Roundtable at the House of Scandinavia
Featuring Dr. Gregory Pogue of the IC² Institute.
9 AM – 10 AM at House of Scandinavia (Café Blue), 340 E 2nd St.

Tuesday, March 13
QuickPitch organized by the IC² Institute and the Arctic Business Incubator
Pitches by Swedish startups from the IC² International Mash-Up.
1:30 PM – 3:30 PM at House of Scandinavia (Café Blue), 340 E 2nd St.

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BBR researcher speaks about human trafficking research at AAAS

Research Scientist Matt Kammer-Kerwick of IC²’s Bureau of Business Research participated in a January 18, 2018 panel on human trafficking and the research techniques used to fight it at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, held in Austin.

Also on the panel was Dr. Melissa I.M. Torres of the Institute on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault at UT Austin. Torres and the IDVSA are long-time collaborators with the BBR on topics related to human trafficking, sexual assault, and campus sexual misconduct.

The AAAS panel addressed the multiple and complex research methods needed to understand the scope of human trafficking, also known as modern slavery.

Because modern slavery in developed countries is an underground activity, ordinary survey techniques do not work to count its victims. Instead, researchers in many countries and US states are developing new techniques.

Human trafficking impact in Texas - infographicOne method, called Multiple Systems Estimation, measures it by cross-referencing existing data from multiple sources, such as health care provider and law enforcement records. Respondent driven sampling (RDS) is another technique, and is one being used by BBR and IDVSA in a current study in Texas. RDS used referrals from within communities at risk to develop more representative estimates from partially observable populations.

Preliminary benchmarks based on a systematic review and a meta-analysis were used in the 2017 report from the BBR and IDVSA entitled “Human Trafficking by the Numbers.” The study found that there are an estimated 313,000 victims of human trafficking in Texas, including approximately 79,000 minors who are victims of sex trafficking and approximately 234,000 adult victims of labor trafficking.

The scope of the problem uncovered by the BBR’s and IDVSA’s research is much larger than in previous studies that relied on identifying individual victims, necessitating a larger policy response. “We just need to expand greatly the amount of investment that’s needed for people to recover from these patterns of victimization,” said Kammer-Kerwick.

The AAAS panel addressed the wide variation of human trafficking in the world today. “Those faces [of trafficking victims] don’t really always look like what we think they look like. Trafficking happens in many forms. It’s a global issue that affects different populations in different ways,” said Torres. “There’s not going to be one response and one answer in addressing it.”

Watch the panel

2018 AAAS news briefing panel

For more information:

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U.S. Ambassador to India Kenneth I. Juster launches Nexus

With the arrival of the U.S. Ambassador to India, Kenneth I. Juster, IC²’s Nexus Startup Hub held its official launch ceremony on February 8th, 2018 in New Delhi. Well over 100 of the top innovation ecosystem stakeholders in India were present to witness the official launch, presided over by the Ambassador.

Ambassador Kenneth I. Juster at the launch of Nexus Startup Hub in New Delhi, 8 Feb 2018
Ambassador Kenneth I. Juster

The IC² Institute runs the Nexus Startup Hub in partnership with the U.S. Embassy to India. Nexus operates as an innovation hub and a business incubator. As part of the innovation hub Nexus conducts training programs, workshops, and master classes for entrepreneurs and ecosystem partners, while as a business incubator Nexus conducts 10-week intensive pre-incubation training programs and offers long term incubation of eight months to a few selected startups. This two-phased approach to incubation helps in developing the ecosystem for a larger impact while helping individual startups to scale up and commercialize their technologies through the business incubator.

To date, Nexus has received applications from well over 415 startups for its pre-incubation program while 20 selected startups have completed Nexus’ intensive 10-week pre-incubation program.

At the launch, Ambassador Juster also announced two new Nexus initiatives for 2018 – special mentoring and training for women entrepreneurs through the Aspiring Women program and extension of the Nexus hub concept to neighboring countries through the South Asia Connect program. “The American Center and the IC² Institute of the University of Texas, through Nexus and South Asia Connect, will help foster an increasingly dynamic, integrated, and innovative startup ecosystem across the region,” Juster said.

South Asia Connect Program

The South Asia Connect program was launched to boost regional cooperation by building entrepreneurial capabilities among startups from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Leaders of entrepreneurship organizations and entrepreneurs will receive training at the Nexus Startup Hub to access markets, build connections and increase intra-regional business activities.

Aspiring Women Entrepreneurs Program

With additional funding from the U.S. Department of State for a special pilot program called Aspiring Women Entrepreneurs, Nexus is reaching out to female university students throughout India to identify young women with entrepreneurial ideas. The program will provide training in both India and the United States to selected women, with practical tips and mentoring on how to launch sustainable businesses. Ambassador Juster acknowledged this program as furthering the spirit of the recent Global Entrepreneurship summit in Hyderabad with the theme ‘Women First, Prosperity for All’.

“An advantage of the hub concept is that Nexus can be a home for a variety of cooperating programs with different audiences and strategies, all with the common aim of strengthening the entrepreneurial ecosystem in India and South Asia” said the director of Nexus, Erik Azulay.

Ambassador Kenneth I. Juster at the launch of Nexus Startup Hub in New Delhi, 8 Feb 2018 Ambassador Kenneth I. Juster at the launch of Nexus Startup Hub in New Delhi, 8 Feb 2018


Women entrepreneurs face issues that males do not: US ambassador to India Kenneth Juster (Indian Express)

US government’s start-up hub to nurture Indian women entrepreneurs (Financial Express)

US Embassy launches ‘Nexus Startup Hub’ to guide India’s budding entrepreneurs (New Indian Express)

U.S. Embassy launches Nexus Startup Hub (Business Standard)

U.S. to Share Start-Up Tips; Hub Opens in Delhi (Navbharat Times Hindi daily)

New start-up hub to help women entrepreneurs (Hindu BusinessLine)


Remarks by Ambassador Juster at Nexus Startup Hub Launch at the American Center (U.S. Embassy)

US Embassy launches Nexus Startup Hub to guide India’s budding entrepreneurs (India Today)

U.S. Embassy launches Nexus Startup Hub (ANI online)

Nexus Startup Hub at the American Center (Yahoo India!)

US Embassy launches Nexus Startup Hub (United News of India online)

US Embassy launches Nexus Startup Hub in Delhi (India TV)

U.S. Embassy launches Nexus Startup Hub (

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