FASTForward welcomes 19 companies into 2017 program

The IC² Institute’s FASTForward program has welcomed a new group of 19 local Austin companies into the second year of its small-business entrepreneurship training program.

Participating business owners will spend 10 weeks working to grow their businesses with the help of IC² experts and an enthusiastic group of mentors from UT and the Austin community.

FASTForward 2017 companies and mentors

FASTForward was developed by the IC² Institute at The University of Texas at Austin and is supported by the Small Business Program of the City of Austin.

You can learn see the full roster of companies at

FASTForward 2017 company logos

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IC² Fellow Fred Phillips awarded Kondratieff Medal

Dr. Fred Phillips, Distinguished Professor at Yuan Ze University’s College of Management and Visiting Professor at SUNY Stony Brook’s College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, received the 2017 N. D. Kondratieff Medal (Gold) from the Russian Academy of Sciences. The Academy issues the prize every three years to a scholar who has made signal contributions to the social sciences. The medal, like the N.D. Kondratieff Foundation that administers it, is named for a pioneering Russian economist (1892-1938) who by identifying the “long wave” economic cycles inspired the later work of Joseph Schumpeter and Simon Kuznets.

Phillips accepted the medal and delivered the laureate lecture on September 25 at a ceremony in Moscow.

Phillips earned the PhD at The University of Texas at Austin and has been an IC² Fellow since 1984. He has enjoyed a global career, teaching at UT Austin, Oregon Graduate Institute of Science & Technology, Maastricht School of Management, Yuan Ze University in Taiwan, and Stony Brook’s program in Korea. He is editor in chief of Elsevier’s 50-year-old international journal Technological Forecasting & Social Change, which has published approximately 300 works by Kondratieff scholars.

Fred Phillips can be reached at

Fred Phillips receives Kondratieff Medal

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New guide to resources for startups and innovators at UT Austin

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

A Guide to UT Austin's Startup Ecosystem

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

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

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

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

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

The guide is available for download here.

See pages 7-8 for the IC² Institute’s programs including the Austin Technology Incubator, Global Commercialization Group and Southwest I-Corps.

You may also be interested in the Austin Technology Incubator’s ATI Startup Library, with practical information for Austin startups including funding sources, incubators, community organizations, and more.

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Austin’s Entrepreneurial Genesis

Dr. Elsie Echeverri-Carroll, IC² Institute

With generous support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the IC² Institute has documented the evolution of Austin’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. We present a summary of our findings in an infographic and short report below. The infographic shows Austin’s entrepreneurial trend between 1990 and 2016 and presents the five parallel stages of Austin’s entrepreneurial genesis. The short report summarizes the genesis of Austin’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

View the infographic
Read the report

Entrepreneurial Spawning - Tivoli

For more information

Austin Research


Related Research


Kauffman Foundation
The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is focused on education and entrepreneurship and is among the largest private foundations in the United States.

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IC² Institute student and faculty engagement

So far this year, IC² has engaged with 87 students and 30 faculty in 11 colleges at UT Austin.

As an interdisciplinary research unit at The University of Texas at Austin, the IC² Institute is proud to work with students and faculty all across campus and all around the world.

87 UT students from 11 colleges and schools participated in IC² programs in spring and summer 2017.

That number does not include some of our international activities such as our team teaching 21 students from 6 countries at the Peking University Globex Program, or the MCCT master’s program in technology commercialization led by IC² in Nuevo León, Mexico. All told, so far in 2017 the IC² Institute has engaged 198 students from UT and around the world in programs on four continents.

Further, we have actively collaborated in educational and research activities with 30 UT faculty members from nine colleges and schools around campus so far in 2017.

IC2 student engagement chart
IC2 faculty engagement chart
IC2 world engagement chart

Here are some of the specific ways students participated in IC² Institute programs this year.

  • Student researchers were active participants in the IC² Insight to Innovation research program. These awards stimulate research by tenured and tenure-track faculty across UT Austin and promote thought leadership in the disciplines informing entrepreneurship theory and practice. Students also participated at every level in other IC² research projects funded by the Kaufmann Foundation, the State of Texas, and the NSF.
  • Students participated in the 2017 Research in Entrepreneurship and Commercialization Challenge (REACH) summer program. In this program, 16 students were taught concepts related to technology commercialization, analyzing the market potential of a specific technology, and designing a social science research project to explore an aspect of commercialization of innovations. Six of these students furthered their research through site visits to Poland, Korea or India.
  • IC² Institute commercialization units – the Austin Technology Incubator and Global Commercialization Group – engaged students as interns to help innovators and startups turn their ideas into viable products and services.
  • Students investigated innovation and entrepreneurial policy and practice in Japan and Nepal in the LBJ School Policy Research Programs led by Drs. David Eaton and David Gibson.
  • Students served as entrepreneurial leads in NSF Innovation Corps Regional and National programs led by the Southwest I-Corps node housed in the IC² Institute and the Office of the Vice President of Research. The I-Corps program supports faculty innovators, entrepreneurial leads and community mentors as they investigate the commercial potential of a product or service emerging from NSF-sponsored research. These investigations yield new technology licensing or startup opportunities.
  • Student-led teams formed the core of the Austin Technology Incubator Student Entrepreneur Acceleration and Launch program. SEAL is a two-month accelerator program which offers startups just emerging from universities and other research institutions across the country a market-driven approach to vet the viability of a scalable startup. The program provides industry-specific mentors to identify potential obstacles to scaling and insights on how to potentially overcome those issues. SEAL culminates in Decision Day, where teams announce a Go versus No-Go decision. This year’s program hosted participants from UT and six other universities through competitive Kaufmann Foundation funding.
  • Student provided support for administration and operational activities at the IC² Institute where they practice interpersonal skills, organizational activities and support Institute researchers.
  • MBA students from the McCombs School of Business met with Indian startups and entrepreneurship leaders in Delhi as part of their international MBA program. The meeting took place at the IC² Institute’s Nexus Startup Hub, a collaboration with the US Department of State. The student group was led by UT Austin Professor Kishore Gawande.

The IC² Institute is energized to engage deeply with The University of Texas at Austin to provide unique educational opportunities for students and faculty through our programs in Austin and around the world.

To be informed about future opportunities for UT students and faculty at the IC² Institute, please subscribe to our mailing list.

IC2 student quotes

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All systems go for student-led startups at ATI SEAL Decision Day

The Austin Technology Incubator’s 2017 SEAL program concluded yesterday with 14 out of 17 companies announcing a full Go decision at Decision Day, hosted at Austin’s Capital Factory.

SEAL Decision Day 2017SEAL (Student Entrepreneur Acceleration and Launch) is a two-month accelerator program which provides startups just emerging from universities and other research institutions across the country a market-driven approach to vet the viability of a scalable startup. The program provides industry-specific mentors to identify potential obstacles to scaling and insights on how to potentially overcome those issues. SEAL culminates in Decision Day, where teams announce a Go versus No-Go decision. The program is led by Bart Bohn, a director at the Austin Technology Incubator, and Dr. David Altounian, a professor of entrepreneurship at St. Edward’s University and a partner at Capital Factory. Co-working space was provided on the campus of The University of Texas at Austin by the Blackstone Launchpad.

In SEAL’s 10th year it continues to be one of the few programs to primarily serve very early stage, predominantly student-led startups based on deeper engineering and science innovations. Historically, about a third of teams go on to raise funding to scale up their companies while about a third shut down at the conclusion or shortly afterwards. The No-Go decisions are equally celebrated as it takes special effort to recognize market-driven obstacles to an opportunity and realize that it is right not to pursue it.

SEAL Decision Day 2017In 2017, teams came from The University of Texas at Austin (7), Texas A&M (4), St. Edward’s University (2), The University of Texas at San Antonio, Southwest Research Institute, Clemson University, and Caltech. Of the 17 total teams, four gained funding traction during the program, three have revenue traction and several engaged new customers or partners. The participation of teams from beyond UT Austin was again this year made possible thanks to a two-year grant from the Kauffman Foundation.

The research connection

This year for the first time ATI SEAL became a living laboratory for the study of student entrepreneurship. Five faculty researchers from The University of Texas at Austin, Clemson University and The University of Texas at San Antonio investigated aspects of entrepreneurship theory and practice by engaging with the teams during the program. The IC² Institute supported five student researchers to deploy the studies and will support their subsequent work over the coming year.

Dr. Clay Spinuzzi of the UT Austin College of Liberal Arts used the SEAL program as an opportunity extend his long-standing research on the rhetoric of entrepreneurship by studying the developing communication skills of student startups. “Working with the SEAL teams was fascinating,” he said. “Over the course of the summer, we saw how the teams sharpened their arguments, identified their target markets, developed their product designs, and adjusted their business models so that they could turn their good ideas into viable firms with convincing pitches.”

The companies

Creating the hotel experience of tomorrow

Intraoperative disposable laparoscope lens cleaner

A UV Fluorescent dental cavity detector probe

Molecular solutions for environmental problems

Motion tracking for VR/AR, gaming, and smart appliances

Specializing in digital oil field management

Providing a new way to image cellular structures

Creating a friction-less world

Molecular Artificial Retina
A treatment to restore sight in dry macular degeneration patients

User-friendly parking marketplace

Changing proteomics one peptide at a time

The personal relationship manager

Sandbox Semiconductors
Accelerating manufacturing process development

Smarter showers for hotels

Next generation heat transfer enhancement additives

Xelpha Health
A simplified EMR built for providers by providers

Yotta Solar
SolarLEAF-Reliable energy storage that simply scales to your needs

Press coverage

From VR tracking to smart showers, these 6 Austin startups are all-in on their ideas, Austin Business Journal 8/2/2017

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IC² signs MOU with Indian state of Maharashtra

The IC² Institute has signed a memorandum of understanding with the State of Maharashtra Skill Development Society and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) to set up a world-class innovation ecosystem in the state of Maharashtra, India, and to boost grassroots innovations to benefit the people of the state.

This agreement follows the notable success of the IC² Institute’s XLr8 program in Andhra Pradesh and Nexus Startup Hub @ the American Center in New Delhi. The program seeks to develop an innovation ecosystem in Maharashtra that will drive the creation of new technology startups, jobs, and expanded economic impact in the state. The focus of the program is both high-tech and grassroots innovations with critical societal impact. It is envisioned to develop Maharashtra as an innovation hub of global repute, with a focus on enhancing the quality of life of its rural livelihood by increasing productivity in agriculture and allied activities and through accelerating innovations and startups.

Finally, expanded opportunities for research collaborations between The University of Texas at Austin and leading research institutions in India located in Maharashtra are expected to emerge to support development of new technology-based innovations, formation of startup enterprises and engagement in the incubation system set up by the program.

News coverage:

IC² Institute signs MOU with Maharashta and FICCI

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FASTForward program seeks mentors for Austin small businesses

The IC² Institute’s FASTForward program invites volunteer mentors from the Austin business community to help Austin entrepreneurs take their small businesses to the next level.

What is FASTForward?

The FASTForward program is a small business growth initiative developed and led by the IC² Institute at The University of Texas at Austin and supported by the City of Austin. It consists of 10 sessions of intensive training.

The program is offered to small businesses headquartered in Austin with existing products and services that hope to accelerate their growth by embracing innovation, i.e., who are ready to utilize new technology, offer novel business models, pursue fresh markets, and create enhanced value for their enterprise. The City’s Small Business Program is subsidizing much of the cost to make FASTForward available to 20 innovative businesses selected through an application and interview process. The next session of the program begins September 12, 2017.

FASTForward program information for mentors

The FASTForward program seeks to accelerate the commercial potential for a new [second] cohort of 20 traditional Austin-based enterprises led by a diverse set of entrepreneurs. This 10-week program takes place September through November 2017. Mentors are requested to attend one social event each month to interact with the entrepreneurs. FASTForward entrepreneurs will make quick pitches to mentors for feedback, advice and possible collaboration. The goal for the entrepreneurs is to engage with at least one new mentor at each event to help them as they build a more market-ready commercialization strategy. Mentors are also invited to attend monthly ‘aftercare’ social/community events with FASTForward companies continuing into 2018. At these events the entrepreneurs will report on their activities, progress and engage with a scheduled presenter for wisdom and assistance. The community mentoring events for Cohort 2 are scheduled on 9/28, 10/19, and 11/16 at the IC² Institute, from 6:00-8:00pm.

Information session for mentors on Wednesday, August 16

If you are interested in sharing your expertise with Austin small businesses, please come to our mentor information session on Wednesday, August 16 from 6 to 7:00 PM at the IC² Institute, 2815 San Gabriel St., Austin, TX 78705. Free parking is available.

To participate as a mentor please contact:

Coral Franke
IC² Institute, UT Austin
(512) 475-8947

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IC² staff teach course at Peking University

Greg Pogue and Bruce Kellison taught the course entitled: “Storyboarding Entrepreneurship: Lights, Camera, Action!” this summer to 21 students in Beijing, China. The course was offered by the Peking University College of Engineering through its Globex program, which brings students from around the world to Peking University for three weeks of intensive study.

The “Storyboarding” course originated from research funded by the IC² Institute with Dr. Clay Spinuzzi in the UT Austin College of Liberal Arts. The research investigated how entrepreneurs successfully frame their value proposition arguments to acquire market partnerships outside of their “home” countries (see for example these papers). The research produced a course “Entrepreneurial Writing” taught by IC² and Dr. Spinuzzi and offered regularly through the Department of Rhetoric and Writing at UT.

The UT course was adapted for the Globex format and emphasized the rhetoric of entrepreneurship: persuasion, argumentation, logic, and communication, all presented using a storyboard format. The students brought innovations to the course, identified market problems and described their own creative solutions in the form of a concrete value proposition. Further, the value propositions were infused with knowledge and fit into the economic ecosystems surrounding the potential products and then roadmapped through a “go to market” strategy with defined milestones, partnerships and funding.

Much of the students’ work took place outside the classroom in deep engagement with market stakeholders throughout China. The course concluded with an exciting pitch competition hosted by Peking University Science Park’s incubator, as part of its global Youth Tech Entrepreneurship Competition. The winning team received a funding award.

The course was an excellent opportunity to infuse entrepreneurship and persuasion into the culture and education of engineers. It is hoped that this collaboration with Peking University will continue and grow.

PKU Globex students

Taichi Yamamoto at PKU Globex competition

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Nexus incubator graduates its first cohort

First group of 10 startups completes training at IC² incubator in New Delhi.

The Nexus Incubator, a collaboration between the IC² Institute and the U.S. State Department, graduated its first group of 10 startups on July 21. The startups were chosen from over 113 applications from all over India and underwent an intense 10-week training program that featured workshops led by expert speakers and industry leaders from India and the United States. These startups represent a broad variety of industry sectors and have the potential to make a great contribution to an already thriving Indian entrepreneur climate.

Nexus cohort 1

“Nexus is really about demonstrating best practices in incubating startups and guiding entrepreneurs towards ultimate success in the business world” said Nexus director Erik Azulay, who moved to Delhi from Austin, Texas to set up and run the center. “We have brought the strongest players in the Indian ecosystem together to support startups on their road to commercialization – companies that we hope will contribute to economic prosperity in India and the United States. The Indian Angels Network, TiE, FICCI, Indian School of Business, The Department of Science and Technology, USAID and the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) are all coming together to show that a unified ecosystem is stronger and more productive for promoting entrepreneurial success.”

Several startups in the first group of startups have already been funded, including BigDeals, which is the first company to provide escrow services in the real estate market, and Dhakka Brakes, which invented a new regenerative brake system for rickshaw drivers.

“Nexus really helped us focus on our target customers and rethink our value proposition” says Big Deals CEO Ashwin Chawwla. “We revamped our pitch deck and got a great response from investors.”

The idea of an innovation hub and incubator originated with Craig Dicker, the Cultural Attache at the U.S. Embassy New Delhi. “America is known for its best practices in innovation and entrepreneurship and what better place to share that expertise than in India, which is in the midst of an explosion of entrepreneurial growth. Although India ranks 3rd in the world in number of startups, the innovation ecosystem in many cities, Delhi included, is very fragmented. Nexus is our way of bringing the various stakeholders together to work in a concerted way.”

U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires MaryKay Carlson addressed the graduates of the program. She stressed the U.S. commitment to collaboration with Indian innovators. “Whether we are talking about the U.S.-India Science and Technology Endowment Fund or USAID’s Millennium Alliance, we are committed to working with our Indian partners to continue to grow a dynamic, integrated, innovative entrepreneurial ecosystem here in India,” she said.

With the success that its graduate companies have already had, Nexus and its partners are well on their way to achieving their goal of promoting a successful entrepreneurial partnership between the U.S. and India that will bring economic growth to both nations.

News coverage

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