IC² Institute student and faculty engagement grows in 2017

The impact of the IC² Institute on startup success and regional economic performance has been well documented and recognized in Austin and from our international programs. The IC² Institute is also deeply engaged in student and faculty success at The University of Texas at Austin.

Through UT courses, internships, and collaborative programs, in 2017 the IC² Institute engaged with 233 students across 11 colleges and schools at UT. These include over 50 UT students who participated in IC² international entrepreneurial programs. Outside of UT, in 2017 IC² worked with an additional 125 international students across four continents through graduate degree programs, courses and internships.

In addition, the IC² Institute has supported research and teaching activities of 35 UT faculty in nine colleges and schools. These collaborations have contributed to the over 118 research publications produced by the IC² Institute since 2016.

IC² Institute student engagement 2017

IC² Institute faculty engagement 2017

IC² Institute student engagement worldwide 2017

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Austin Technology Incubator named recipient of IN² clean tech award

ATI will share award with Rice, Texas A&M and Texas State to accelerate clean tech companies for IN² incubator.

IC²’s Austin Technology Incubator is among the recipients of awards under the 2017 IN² Channel Partner Awards Program, announced on January 16, 2018, by the Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator (IN²).

IN2 Channel PartnerIN² awarded more than $1 million in support of eight projects and nineteen organizations to address gaps in clean-energy technology development and commercialization.

The Austin Technology Incubator grant was awarded to ATI in conjunction with Rice University, the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station Clean Energy Incubator, and Texas State University to collaborate on a series of programs and initiatives that will help catalyze the next generation of cleantech entrepreneurs and serve as a feeder to the IN² program. Referred to as “The IN2Bound Cleantech Accelerator Program,” these programs will educate entrepreneurs and accelerate startups, and connect them to a network of experts to provide technical support and mentorship.

Other IN² Channel Partner Awards recipients:

The California Institute of Technology, partnered with Clean Energy Trust: to establish the Rocket Fund Mid-West (RFMW), an interstate partnership bringing together sustainability- focused accelerators, utilities and universities in a community consortium, to help guide vulnerable Very Early Stage (VES) ventures through critical early stages. Pioneered in California, the Rocket Fund will offer a solution for one of the most intractable problems preventing cleantech innovations from reaching the marketplace – the lack of funding and necessary commercial partners for building, demonstrating and validating ‘pre-products’ in the real world.

Carnegie Mellon University, partnered with Northwestern: to launch a new Center for Cleantech Entrepreneurial Excellence (C2E2). The goal of the center is to better understand how cleantech/energy innovation and entrepreneurship differ from other technology sectors. At a regional level, C2E2 will examine key success factors in early-stage company development and how societal outcomes can be enhanced as a result.

Cleantech Group: to leverage its annual Cleantech Forum to capture key discussion points and indentify themes to help further inform the direction of the IN² program as it considers expanding into the food-systems space.

Activation Energy, in support of the Cyclotron Road program: to disrupt the current partnering and investment model for bringing new technologies to market – which relies heavily on human networking – by developing a network leveraging Artificial Intelligence (AI) to identify a comprehensive list of strategic partners for emerging clean energy technologies. Working in partnership with Moxley Holdings and Rho AI, their model will identify future partners based on current investments, partnering trends, and natural language analysis of public statements.

Innosphere: Colorado’s leading non-profit technology incubator will embark on a multi-year plan called Scaleup Colorado to systematically address three specific problems holding back Colorado’s science and technology ecosystem from growing at a higher rate and creating greater economic impact. These challenges include the need to grow Colorado’s technology GDP by growing startup support capacity, early stage companies achieving startup success and achieving more than $50 million in revenue per year, and limited access to capital.

Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI), partnered with ACRE, Clean Energy Trust, Greentown Learn, and NextEnergy: to establish a standard for measuring and reporting the economic, environmental and social impact of the portfolio companies within their network. The team will leverage LACI’s Just Impact 2016 report and framework, and conduct individual research within organizations to evolve a common framework for training their staff and portfolio companies, and measuring and reporting on their individual impact results.

NextEnergy, partnered with Prospect Silicon Valley: to ensure that the cleantech potential of CASE (Connected, Autonomous, Shared, Electrified) mobility solutions are fully realized, by entering into a sister city partnership between Detroit, MI and San Jose, CA, to address two main challenges – connecting a cleantech innovation pipeline to industry players and market opportunities, and bringing private sector/industry partners together with government and NGO service providers to encourage a focus on serving low- to moderate-income market segments.

The IN² Channel Partner Awards Program is designed to foster the development of a robust cleantech ecosystem by funding innovative incubators, accelerators and universities, and promoting a collaborative network of knowledge sharing.

“The Channel Partner Awards Program supports IN²’s ultimate goal of building resilient, smart and connected communities by encouraging the development of a strong, multi-stakeholder cleantech ecosystem that will collectively support and drive innovation to enable greater urban sustainability,” said Ashley Grosh, Wells Fargo vice president and IN² co-lead. “Each of the recipients of the 2017 IN² Channel Partner Awards Program has displayed a talent for innovation, disruption, and commitment to clean technology.”

“IN² has engaged stakeholders from universities, incubators and accelerators in an effort to give a voice to local community challenges and solutions and to create a strong, collaborative ecosystem of startup support across the country,” said Richard Adams, director of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center (IEC) at NREL. “Our mission is to nurture an ecosystem where more startups and innovators receive the technical and financial backing, as well as business mentoring and encouragement they need at their earliest stages in order to advance toward commercialization of their technologies.”

The IN² Channel Partner Awards Program was established with $5 million of committed funding to be distributed over four years. In 2016, the program supported more than 33 Channel Partners, encouraging them to engage with their local communities, attend IN² events, and play an active role in helping develop the IN² ecosystem, which currently includes stakeholders across the U.S. In August of 2016, IN² convened a Summit comprised of Channel Partners, IN² stakeholders, investors and subject matter experts for in-depth discussions on promising clean technology developments and disruptions, strategic expansion of the IN² ecosystem, and future initiatives for the IN² Channel Partner Awards Program. For more information on the awards program, please visit

About the Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator (IN²)

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

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Watch the FASTForward 2017 graduation presentations

Meet the 17 Austin small businesses that completed the 2017 FASTForward entrepreneurship training program conducted by the IC² Institute for the City of Austin.

Read more about FASTForward or visit

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ATI’s Mitch Jacobson named Economic Development Volunteer of the Year

Mitch JacobsonThe Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce has named ATI Director Mitch Jacobson the Economic Development Volunteer of the Year for 2017.

He was one of 12 outstanding business volunteers named by the Chamber. The 12 honorees will be recognized during the Chamber’s 140th Annual Meeting scheduled for February 6, 2018.

Jacobson has a long history of community service, including advisory board membership for the Nature Conservancy, the UT Environmental Science Institute, and EcoRise. In 2016 he was named “Mentor of the Year” by Austin Under 40.

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Second cohort of Austin small businesses graduate from FASTForward program

17 Austin small businesses have completed the second annual FASTForward small business accelerator program. The program was developed and led by the IC² Institute and supported by the City of Austin Economic Development Department’s Small Business Program.

FASTForward participants made their final presentations and received a Completion Certificate issued by the IC² Institute on December 4, 2017 in City Council Chambers.

FASTForward 2017 graduation

Participating companies were Elevated Evolution LLC; Austin Language Learning School; Emoji’s Grilled Cheese Bar; The Maximus Box; Fandindo Textiles LLC; Got Dirty Blinds? LLC; Your Smart Closet, Inc.; Melissa Borrell Design; Lua Brazil LLC; Tamale Addiction; Garbo’s; Stitch Texas; Sweet Ritual Vegan Ice Cream; Skybridge Academy; Spirit Pieces; Crushing Tigers; and Bright Production Development.

Learn more about the participants on the FASTForward companies page.

The small businesses, recruited through the minority chambers of commerce and other small business resource organizations, enjoyed the assistance of dozens of experienced community mentors, including MBA students from The University of Texas. Having student involvement has the two-fold benefit of providing the students with real world experience while giving the business owners a fresh, new vantage point.

The FASTForward initiative was created to help address the growth disparity in Austin. On average, women- and minority-owned small businesses do not achieve the same annual revenue and overall growth as the average majority-owned business in Austin. The City’s Economic Development Department is committed to closing that disparity gap.

For more information see:

FASTForward 2017 graduation

FASTForward 2017 graduation

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FASTForward startups appear on Foodie Friday

Emojis Grilled Cheese Bar and Garbo’s ATX were featured on two segments of Foodie Friday, the KVUE series exploring the Austin food scene.

The two food trucks are among several culinary startups in IC²’s FASTForward entrepreneurship program for Austin small businesses.

FASTForward is a 10-week training program for Austin-based small businesses designed to accelerate business growth and maximize profit. FASTForward was developed by the IC² Institute and is supported by the City of Austin.

Watch the videos, and then explore the full range of companies in the FASTForward portfolio.

For more information you may visit the Emojis and Garbos websites.

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New Austin Technology Incubator leadership featured in the Austin Business Journal

New ATI Director Mitch Jacobson highlights ATI’s focus on “deep tech.”

Today’s Austin Business Journal featured a story on new leadership at the Austin Technology Incubator.

Mitch Jacobson, who has led the ATI Clean Energy Incubator since 2009, was named in October as director of ATI.

Highlights of the article:

“We’re doubling down on this type of ‘deep tech,’ where we’re trying to solve really hard problems with tech solutions” — something Austin’s other incubators and accelerators aren’t doing, Jacobson said. “And we intend to be a better and more influential partner in the community’s startup arena.” …

“We also want to improve our efforts working within UT, across all disciplines, to find technologies developed here that we can commercialize to tackle challenges like carbon capture, city-utility water leaks and the reuse of water in fracking.” …

Linking the inherent expertise that spans so many spheres within UT itself — and with the greater Austin community — is key to what differentiates ATI among the rest of the incubators and accelerators in the Texas capital, said Gregory Pogue, interim executive director of UT’s IC² Institute. ATI operates within the institute.

“Taking advantage of that allows us to work more solidly toward solving the most difficult problems with deep tech,” Pogue said. …

New people in charge of ATI’s focus areas:

Dr. Lisa McDonald, biological and health sciences
Richard Amato and Dr. Michael Webber, clean energy
Dr. Mark Sanders, transportation and mobility and water
Dr. Charles Upshaw, who specializes in the internet-of-things within water

ABJ subscribers can read the full article.

Read more about the ATI team on the Austin Technology Incubator website.

ATI team

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Southwest I-Corps accepting applications for winter 2018 regional program

Researchers are invited to explore the commercial value of their innovations and qualify for a $50K NSF commercialization grant.

Southwest I-Corps Winter 2018 regional programSouthwest I-Corps is now accepting applications to its next regional program, running January 25 – February 22, 2018.

The NSF I-Corps regional program will facilitate the commercial evaluation of academic research and innovation, and develop potentially eligible teams for the national NSF I-Corps program and a $50,000 I-Corps team grant. During the program, teams will be introduced to the fundamental I-Corps principles, helping teams explore the potential value of their research or innovation, and quickly and effectively validate their commercialization strategy.

The NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps) enables teams of scientists, researchers and engineers to explore the commercial potential of their research or innovation. By learning how to assess commercialization opportunities, teams gain a better understanding of their market, customers, competitors and industry.

The IC² Institute hosts the headquarters of the Southwest I-Corps Node, which serves universities and research centers in Texas and adjacent states.

For more information, download the flyer, see the announcement on the Southwest I-Corps website, or contact Aprille Busch, Southwest I-Corps Assistant Director, at

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Hear ATI’s Mitch Jacobson on Austin’s collaborative incubator/accelerator scene

Austin Technology Incubator Director Mitch Jacobson spoke with KUT about Austin’s wealth of resources for startups and ATI’s commitment to “deep tech.”

“Whoever is an entrepreneur in Austin is lucky, because of the amount of resources we have in the city for entrepreneurs, between the accelerators and incubators and events like South By Southwest and events that go on any day of the week,” said Jacobson. He said Austin now has many options for entrepreneurs, and organizations cooperate to find the best fit for each startup.

Regarding ATI’s role, Jacobson said the incubator now focuses on what they call “deep tech.” “We’re working on technology that solves big problems with big solutions, so, energy technology, water technology, infrastructure technology and the biosciences: drugs, medical and diagnostic equipment.”

Listen the full story at

Mitch Jacobson on KUT

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Richard Amato at HATCH! FAIR in Hanoi

In September, IC²’s Richard Amato served as a judge and panel moderator at HATCH! FAIR, Vietnam’s largest entrepreneurial conference and start-up exhibition. The panel discussion focused on entrepreneurship within universities and featured several leading university professors and investors from Hanoi who are driving incubation and entrepreneurship for the students.

Richard’s participation was an outgrowth of his work at the Vietnam Climate Innovation Center. VCIC is one of seven similar centers funded by the World Bank in order to develop sustainable industries in developing nations by commercializing locally relevant technologies in the clean-tech/climate space. Richard and the IC² Institute have been actively engaged since 2015 in supporting CICs in four of the seven countries in the program: Vietnam, Ghana, Kenya, and South Africa. Now in its second year, the Vietnam CIC has incubated 39 companies to date.

For more information:

Richard Amato at HATCH! FAIR 2017 in Hanoi

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