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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Texas CEO Magazine on “The Genesis of Austin’s Brand”

Texas CEO Magazine has published a look at the origins of Austin as a tech center, focusing on George Kozmetsky and the founding of the IC² Institute and the Austin Technology Incubator.

Austin Mayor Lee Cooke was on his way to give a speech when the mobile phone in his car rang. It was George Kozmetsky, the dean of the business school at the University of Texas. He asked Cooke to swing by.

“He came downstairs and I rolled down the window and asked, ‘Dr. Kozmetsky, what can I do for you?’” Cooke said.

“I need $300,000 from the City, and I need $300,000 from the Chamber and I’m either going to find $300,000 from the university or from the Kozmetsky Foundation,” Kozmetsky replied.

Cooke knew he didn’t have the authority to do it without the support of City Council, and he didn’t have authority from the Chamber of Commerce, although he had been its president a few years earlier. Nonetheless, “I said, ‘You have the $300,000 from the City and you’ve got the $300,000 from the Chamber.’” Cooke rolled up the window and drove off, and the Austin Technology Incubator (ATI) was born — the first technology incubator in Texas.

Read the full article:

The Genesis of Austin’s Brand, Texas CEO Magazine, July 10, 2017

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IC² Institute research awards

The IC² Institute will support 11 “Insight to Innovation” projects with seed research funds in the 2017-2018 academic year.

Designed to stimulate research by tenured and tenure-track faculty across UT Austin and to promote thought leadership in the disciplines informing entrepreneurship theory and practice, most projects involve direct collaboration with IC² Institute researchers. Some projects involve specific IC² Institute programs, such as the Student Entrepreneur Acceleration and Launch (SEAL) program. These “Insight to Innovation” grants are designed to accelerate research around innovation and entrepreneurship in topics of key interest to the Institute in the fields of science and engineering, economics, business, arts and culture, and social sciences. Research outcomes will include collaborative research publications and cutting-edge additions to IC² Institute training programs.

IC² Institute 2017-2018 research awards

The research projects to receive financial support are:

The Prospects for Solar Scale-up in India

– Joshua Busby, Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law, LBJ School of Public Affairs
– Debra Dzwonczyk, Mitch Jacobson, and Greg Pogue, IC² Institute

Network Analysis of Entrepreneurial Ecosystems

– John Sibley Butler, Department of Management, Red McCombs School of Business; Department of Sociology, College of Liberal Arts, and Center for African and African American Studies, College of Liberal Arts

Mobile Media Entrepreneurship in China: A Glocalized Network Perspective

– Wenhong Chen, Department of Radio Television Film, Moody College of Communication

Promoting Rural Technology Entrepreneurship Abroad: Lessons from Field Experiments in Japan and Nepal

– David J. Eaton, LBJ School of Public Affairs; Department of Geography and the Environment, College of Liberal Arts; Department of Middle Eastern Studies, College of Liberal Arts; and Department of Integrative Biology, College of Natural Sciences
– David Gibson, IC² Institute

M&A as Entrepreneurial Exit: Motives, Decisions and Outcomes

– Melissa E. Graebner, Department of Management, Red McCombs School of Business
– Greg Pogue, IC² Institute

Evolving and Entrepreneurial Ecosystems in Emerging Economies
– Sirkka Jarvenpaa, Department of Information, Risk, and Operations Management, Red McCombs School of Business
– Elsie Echeverri-Carroll, IC² Institute

A Pilot Study on the Impact of Economic Development Incentives on the Texas Economy

– Nathan Jensen, Department of Government, College of Liberal Arts; and Business, Government and Society, Red McCombs School of Business

Identifying Opportunities in the Market: A Cognitive Investigation of Opportunistic Thinking in Emerging & Experienced Entrepreneurs

– Arthur B. Markman, Department of Psychology, College of Liberal Arts; Department of Marketing Administration, Red McCombs School of Business; and Human Dimensions of Organizations, College of Liberal Arts

Justifying Opportunities: Cultural and Discursive Resources Employed by Nascent Entrepreneurs

– Luis Martins, Chair of Department of Management, Red McCombs School of Business

Value Proposition Iteration Strategies Deployed by Student Entrepreneur Teams

– Clay Spinuzzi, Department of Rhetoric & Writing, College of Liberal Arts; Department of English, College of Liberal Arts; School of Information; and Human Dimensions of Organizations, College of Liberal Arts
– Greg Pogue, IC² Institute

The Distributional Effects of Economic Globalization on Political Risk

– Rachel Wellhausen, Department of Government, College of Liberal Arts; and Business, Government and Society, Red McCombs School of Business

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IC² to offer second FASTFORWARD small business training program


FASTFORWARD is a 10-week training program developed by the IC² Institute for Austin-based small businesses designed to accelerate business growth and maximize profit. Following the success of the 2016 edition, IC² and the City of Austin are excited to offer a second FASTFORWARD course starting in fall 2017.


Small business owners struggle to find the time, resources, and guidance to maximize growth opportunities. This hands-on program guides small business owners to:

  • Identify new business opportunities and revenue streams
  • Differentiate brand message, product, and delivery strategy for more effective reach
  • Develop financial models to enhance growth and funding opportunities
  • Increase the scale of their business

What makes this program different?

We understand your challenges! The FASTFORWARD Program brings entrepreneurs proven strategy for accelerating business growth, access to new sales channels, mentor resources, and peer-to-peer community. Watch a local business owner share her experience.

Information sessions

  • Monday, June 19 – 6:00 to 7:30 PM – please register
    Location: IC² Institute, 2815 San Gabriel St., Austin, TX 78705
  • Tuesday, June 20 – 3:00 to 4:00 PM
    Location: Economic Growth Business Incubator, 1144 Airport Blvd. Suite 260, Austin, Texas 78702
  • Wednesday, June 21 – 2:00 to 3:00 PM – please register
    Location: Greater Austin Asian Chamber of Commerce, 8001 Centre Park Drive #160, Austin, TX 78754
  • Wednesday, August 16 – 6:00 to 7:00 PM
    Location: IC² Institute, 2815 San Gabriel St., Austin, TX 78705

Important dates

  • Friday, June 30: application deadlineapply now
  • Tuesday, September 12: FASTFORWARD training begins

How to apply

See full program details on the City of Austin Small Business Program website, then apply online by the June 30, 2017 deadline.


“You’ll gain not only knowledge of your business and customer’s needs, but also a strong feeling of empowerment and enthusiasm. The FASTForward teachers and mentors are exceptional resources for business development, and I can’t speak highly enough of their commitment and support for your success.” – Lian Amber, BASSBOSS

“FASTForward is definitely worth the cost of the program. Honestly, I found this program to be priceless!” – Kristen Fields, mmmpanadas

“…the relationships that you build with your peers in the class, the additional mentors and other industry leaders are invaluable.” – Bianca Neal, ReRoute Music Group

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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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