News

Earth Day and Rural Entrepreneurship

Earth Day is a time to reflect and be thankful for everything the Earth does for us. It is also a time to strengthen our relationship with nature, to give back, and to think of ways we can work to better support the Earth for future generations.

The long-term goal of global sustainability lies at the root of Earth Day. Every day, we make decisions about what to consume, and how much of it to consume, and what to do with what we consume when we’re done. These choices, big or small, have an impact on our future. Acting sustainably implies that our decisions will ensure that social institutions, the economy, and the environment will be well-supported for future generations.

The IC² Institute is UT Austin’s think tank for exploring innovation and entrepreneurship. We have a unique opportunity to work with rural communities and entrepreneurs across the United States, and internationally. This earth day, we were curious to understand the link between rural communities and nature, and wanted to understand how nature plays a role in the creation of rural innovation ecosystems. We reached out to a few entrepreneurs and scholars to see their thoughts.

Sarah Goforth is the Director of Outreach at the University of Arkansas Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation. She is involved in many aspects of the Northwest Arkansas innovation ecosystem. She describes the mindset many business owners have in the region as follows:

Entrepreneurship is not separable from nature. Every business decision we make, from where we host data to how we market products, has consequences for the planet. In largely rural states like Arkansas, we have a special connection to the land, whether through farming or floating, biking or hunting. And more and more, I am seeing in our entrepreneurial community a motivation to consider environmental impacts alongside profit and other factors involved in starting and growing a business. The question, for many of us, is not why think about business this way, but why would you not?

Staying in the Northwest Arkansas region, we reached out to the Northwest Arkansas Council to see how their organization thought about the link between nature and entrepreneurship. The council is a nonprofit organization that aims to ensure a successful future for the region by working with partners to advance quality of life, improve the region’s workforce, create job opportunities, upgrade infrastructure and keep up with the region’s impressive growth.

Earth Day reminds those of us who live in Northwest Arkansas that we have the incredible advantage of access to nature that exceeds many regions of the U.S. Certainly, this is a region where entrepreneurs can thrive and hone their businesses in an urban setting, but every inch of our urbanized area is within 15 minutes of incredible outdoor amenities”. – Rob Smith, NWA Council

Thus, in this particular setting, the presence of a “special connection to the land” is enough for entrepreneurs and business owners to consider how their operations are impacting the land. The close proximity to nature allows members of the innovation ecosystem to design their company and their products in a sustainable way. For instance, a few companies have demonstrated their commitment to the environment in the region. Fayettechill makes the outdoors an essential part of their website and advertising. Further, they create “Goods for the Woods that are Good for the Woods” using built to last and eco-materials to reduce their impact on the environment. Another example is the company Livsn who also make nature and protecting the environment a large part of their company. Their core company values are intentional minimalism, hedonistic sustainability, and good corporate citizenship. Finally, a local beer company, Bike Rack, names their products based off the bike scene in the region.

In the Keene, NH region, there seemed to be a similar sentiment. Mary Ann Kristiansen, Executive Director of the Hannah Grimes Center for Entrepreneurship had this to say:

It is hard to say whether our proximity to nature affects our core values or whether people in the region self select because living in a region where you are always a short walk from the natural environment is an important core value. Or perhaps it is both, a self-reinforcing loop. Regardless, the longer I work with entrepreneurs in this region, the more apparent it is that rural is different from urban entrepreneurship. Living in the slower pace of a rural region, with plenty of opportunity for quiet recreation and reflection, I think generally produces businesses that are more rooted in place and focused on community benefit than on scaling, replicating and selling”.

Also in the Keene, NH region, Paul Bocko, Teaching Faculty in the Department of Education at Antioch University states:

Nature in southwest New Hampshire is vitally important. Being in it fuels artistic expression, business, and education. Educators here thirst for support to engage their students in exploring the natural, built, and cultural environment. One example is that Antioch University New England supports a group of teachers who self-organized the Place-based Education Committee. Check them out here.

This provides a great insight on the impact rural entrepreneurs can have in a community, not only with nature, but on all aspects of the innovation ecosystem as well. Brian Rushing, the Director of Economic Development Initiatives at the University of Alabama, offered some similar insight to how Alabama entrepreneurs are interacting with nature. He spoke to some of the common challenges facing Alabama such as maintaining population and providing employment opportunities among others. To combat these problems, he suggested the growing opportunity of nature-based tourism. He mentioned millennials, who value experiences rather than material possessions, as well as a large population of active retirees, are traveling to seek adventure. Brian spoke about why nature-based tourism could play a large role in economic development for Alabama:

The demographic trends are probably a big reason why the outdoor recreation economy now supports $887 billion in consumer spending in our country each year. And it’s only getting bigger! Such a large and growing demand for outdoor recreation creates a wonderful chance for rural communities to get in on the action. If these communities have a river, mountains, wetlands, or other intriguing natural features nearby, they have an opportunity to turn such natural assets into tourism assets – often requiring only modest investments in parking and trail infrastructure and signage. If these communities can get the word out about the unique experiences they have to offer, they can begin attracting nature-based tourists to their doorstep. As word spreads and people come, the door begins to open for entrepreneurs to invest in restaurants, lodging, equipment outfitters, guide services, and other small businesses…we at The University of Alabama Center for Economic Development believe that nature-based tourism has a lot of room to grow in our state and tremendous potential to benefit and sustain our rural communities”.

Another entrepreneur, Deb from OKC, noticed similar patterns. Additionally, she spoke of the great opportunity rural entrepreneurs have to implement new solutions.

I have seen a large push for appreciation of nature or environmental friendly products across the board. I do not see rural as the initiator, but I do see rural areas finding solutions that urban areas roll out. There is lots of opportunity to engage with rural entrepreneurs to roll out new ideas.

Additionally, I reached out to Mabel Vélez Aspiazu, an entrepreneur and engineer from Ecuador for her thoughts on the relationship between nature and entrepreneurs:

We need entrepreneurs with a high awareness of corporate social responsibility, a government that plays a good reference role, especially a citizen’s awareness that we are sharing the same place and that each of our actions affect others. In Ecuador, compared to decades ago, there is a greater awareness of the role of nature in our life, for example before they did not teach children in school to grow plants, we did not celebrate with fairs the day of earth, water, and so on. On the one hand, people are more aware of the use of their resources: water, energy, vehicles, but on the other hand, we increasingly enter an atmosphere of comfort, everyone wants to have their own vehicle, a house with more appliances, more technology is consumed that in the past and we are generating more garbage. Now that we know how to better manage our waste, which should be accompanied by lower consumption and better disposal of garbage”.

Finally, I spoke with Eliot Tretter, Assistant Professor in the Geography Department and Urban Studies Program at the University of Calgary. He offers insight saying that people in a non-urban context are more dependent on non-humans and appreciate natural processes in a different way. He also noted that “we all have strong links to the natural world… but, people are differently attuned to different aspects of non-human world, and so their many different ways it is appreciated.

Graham, Texas

These examples show rural entrepreneurs with a great appreciation for the environment. They have implemented their products in a sustainable manner, that not only preserves the environment, but showcases the importance, and beauty, of it. This holiday serves as a friendly reminder each year to respect the Earth, and show a little gratitude to Mother Nature. Further, these are only a few examples of how entrepreneurs are focusing more on the earth and sustainability, and treating every day like it is Earth Day.

Share your stories with us on Facebook or Twitter! We’d love to highlight initiatives from all across America.

Further sustainable initiatives across Rural America:

  • This article details a few sustainability initiatives from small town America: Bringing Sustainability to Small Town America
  • Through projects with the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO), the U.S. EPA, and others, International City/County Management Association (ICMA) provides technical assistance and knowledge resources to the small towns and rural communities that are engaged in regional sustainability planning. Further reading here.
  • Check out the Austin Technology Incubator for their sustainability initiatives
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Earth Day and Rural Entrepreneurship

Austin Revealed: Booting Up Big Tech: Story of Austin’s Rise to Tech Super-stardom featuring a special tribute to Pike Powers

The IC² Institute participated in an event sponsored by KLRU detailing the start of the Austin Technopolis, entitled Austin Revealed: Booting Up Big Tech: Story of Austin’s Rise to Tech Super-stardom. The event was led by Mr. Bill Stotesbery, CEO of KLRU, and featured a “sneak peek” of the upcoming series by showing three segments.  The series is set to debut next week on KLRU.

The documentary segments from the April 11 viewing featured participation by IC2 Institute Emeritus Senior Scientist Dr. David Gibson, IC² Institute Board Member Pike Powers, IC² Institute Fellows Dr. Meg Wilson, and other Austin luminaries. Mr. Pike Powers was honored as the “quarterback” of the collaborative team that supported the recruitment of the Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corporation (MCC) and Sematech programs to Austin. The segments detailed the historical context preparing Austin to compete for leadership in the integrated chip manufacturing space as well as the catalytic impact of MCC and Sematech on the Austin economy. Future segments will focus on the contributions of IC² Institute’s Founder Dr. George Kozmetsky, among other topics.

Following segment viewing, Mr. Powers led a discussion with the audience examining the specific role of community leaders, such as the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, The University of Texas at Austin and other key players.  The discussion highlighted their impact in the recruitment and support of MCC, Sematech and the growing entrepreneurial community stemming from this industry.  Austin leaders Adm. Bobby Inman and Dr. Ben Streetman were among those commenting on Austin’s technology genesis.

During the discussion, Mr. Powers asked Mitch Jacobson, Director of the Austin Technology Incubator (ATI), to discuss the role of ATI in Austin’s history and future steps. Mr. Jacobson described the support of the City, Chamber of Commerce, University and community mentors to create >$3B in economic impact in Central Texas through ATI over the past 30 years. ATI will be hosting a 30th Anniversary Celebration on May 20th at the AT&T Center on The University of Texas at Austin campus.

Austin Revealed: Booting Up Big Tech is a six-part documentary series from KLRU rolling out April and May (see schedule below). Head to klru.org to read how Austin Revealed Producer Louise Rodriguez approached telling this important story and watch the first segment.

Here is the schedule for all the segments:

Available online now – Building an Industrial Mainframe
April 24 – All for One
April 30 – Speeding Up Semiconductors
May 7 – Forging a Technopolis
May 14 – Powering Up the Economy
May 21 – Building Out The Tech Community

About IC²
The IC² Institute conducts research and programs to validate the impact of technological innovation on regional economic development with collaboration among the university, government, and private sectors. IC² is extending its research focus from urban ecosystems supporting entrepreneurship to exploring the shape and action of innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystems in rural and isolated-city regions of the world in order to support economic growth.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Austin Revealed: Booting Up Big Tech: Story of Austin’s Rise to Tech Super-stardom featuring a special tribute to Pike Powers

Roadmapping NW Arkansas’ Entrepreneurial Future

On March 27-29, the IC² Institute was pleased to host nine participants from the Northwest Arkansas area for an Austin Immersion Visit, involving over 25 Austin community members.  Arkansas participants included representatives from Walton Family Foundation, the University of Arkansas, the Northwest Arkansas Council, leading Northwest Arkansas companies, and The University of Texas at Austin.

This collaboration is part of a program[1] created by IC² Institute to help the Northwest Arkansas region develop an entrepreneurship ecosystem. The program is designed to 1) assess policies, player and programs in the Northwest Arkansas region, 2) engage in pilot collaborative programs in entrepreneurship between Austin and Northwest Arkansas, and 3) develop a nationally distinctive strategy for entrepreneurship for the region.

Specifically, the week revolved around four key ideas necessary for Northwest Arkansas’s entrepreneurial future:

  1. Forming Industry Clusters
  2. Enhancing Industry-University Collaboration
  3. Developing New Funding Access Strategies for Startups
  4. Recruiting and Retaining Workforce/Talent for the Future

Sessions also highlighted the IC² institute’s new emphasis on driving rural and remote city entrepreneurship.  During the visit, Austenites and Arkansans worked together to create a collaborative environment, linking ideas from NW Northwest Arkansas with those provided by Austin stakeholders.  Further, an action-oriented road map integrating the four key ideas was developed. In a final report, the IC² institute will use the road map to propose practical activities to grow and strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Northwest Arkansas.

The Walton Family Foundation, who is the program sponsor, creates access to opportunity for people and communities.  It is a family-led foundation that tackles tough social and environmental problems with urgency and a long-term approach to create access to opportunity for people and communities.  The foundation strives to live in a world where people can accomplish anything when they have opportunity and encouragement.

The IC² Institute conducts research and programs to validate the impact of technological innovation on regional economic development with collaboration among the university, government, and private sectors. IC² is extending its research focus from urban ecosystems supporting entrepreneurship to exploring the shape and action of innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystems in rural and isolated-city regions of the world in order to support economic growth.

[1] Economic Development: Generating Entrepreneurs (EDGE) Building NW Northwest Arkansas’ Future program.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Roadmapping NW Arkansas’ Entrepreneurial Future

BBR and IDVSA release new study on commercial child sexual exploitation

Building on their 2016 study that looked at prevalence and economic impact of human trafficking in Texas, the Bureau of Business Research (BBR) and the Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (IDVSA) have released a new study focused on child sex trafficking in the state. The report finds that victims are not adequately identified, enter and exit victimization multiple times, and spend much of their lives being exploited.

➤ Read the report

BBR and IDVSA report coverThe research – sponsored by the office of Gov. Greg Abbott – finds that the paths into and out of child sex trafficking are complex and that there is an enduring need for services among survivors in addition to a need for more effective prevention methods.

“Victims are not who we typically think of when we conjure images of the sex trafficked child or youth – that of a young woman taken by a stranger and locked away,” according to Bruce Kellison, principal investigator and BBR director, as well as co-director of IDVSA in the Steve Hicks School of Social Work.

Instead, said Kellison, these children and youths are among the most vulnerable kids in our communities: youths who are homeless or have run away; kids and young adults who have already been abused or neglected; and kids who for one reason or another have been identified by social service providers.

“Traffickers are drawn to vulnerable kids of all genders and exploit them,” added Kellison. “Sometimes it’s someone the child already knows and trusts. Other times, it’s someone who offers them a way to fill basic needs the child lacks, like food, housing and clothing.”

The report, which was officially submitted to Abbott’s office this week, provides guidance to policymakers, service providers and law enforcement officials as they seek to strengthen the safety net for at-risk youths and prevent trafficking with recommendations for specific prevention and intervention models. The study empirically supports the experiences of those who have been working directly with minor and youth victims.

The study finds that youths often enter and exit various levels of exploitation and trafficking numerous times and continually assess the price of leaving versus staying “in the life.”

“We recognize that law enforcement, legislators and advocates are all on the right side of this issue; they are working hard for victims and to hold offenders accountable. We have an opportunity with this study because it sheds light and provides context and nuance on the need to protect children who are at risk of being exploited for commercial sex from those who would take advantage of their vulnerability,” said Noël Busch-Armendariz, director of IDVSA and co-principal investigator. “By applying what we have learned in this study and expanding prevention and intervention models, we can put an end to tragic missed opportunities.”

“This research provides us with additional data about the experiences of child sex trafficking survivors in Texas,” said Andrea Sparks, director of Governor Abbott’s Child Sex Trafficking Team. “Listening to survivors is essential to improving the strategies we use to prevent victimization, recognize exploitation, and intervene to provide services and help bring justice.”

Other findings include:

  • The lack of healthy, trusted relationships along with economic instability create ideal conditions for exploitation.
  • Youths who lack support when leaving an institutional system such as foster care or juvenile justice are more vulnerable to exploitation.
  • The rate of victimization was higher among cisgender girls and young women and LGBTQ participants of all genders.
  • Minor and youth commercial sex trafficking does not vary much by region.

What differs among regions are the services available. Some have well-integrated levels of care that range from drop-in centers for homeless youths, to shelters and residential centers for identified victims. Other regions, such as the Rio Grande Valley, need more resources and greater cultural competency to understand the needs of at-risk youths in the area.

The study explores the life experiences of survivors of child sex trafficking in three regions of Texas: Houston, Lubbock and along the Texas-Mexico border. A total of 466 research participants were interviewed from among at-risk community segments.

From that group, 71 participants indicated they were exploited for commercial sex before the age of 18 — with the average age of first victimization being 15 — and 46 of them agreed to be interviewed in-depth about their experiences entering, exiting and during their exploitation.

A majority of the 46 children and youths had interacted at some point with social service providers and systems tasked with keeping them safe but had not been identified at the time as victims of trafficking and exploitation.

For more information, contact: Bruce Kellison in the BBR, 512-475-7813 or bkellison@ic2.utexas.edu

Further reading:

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Comments Off on BBR and IDVSA release new study on commercial child sexual exploitation

STEM in the Technopolis 2019

The IC² Institute will host a one-day conference on April 5, 2019, to examine how secondary STEM education models are opening schools up to businesses and organizations in their communities.

STEM in the Technopolis

The Power of STEM Education in Regional Technology Policy

Friday, April 5, 2019
8:00 AM to 4:30 PM
AT&T Executive Center at UT Austin
1900 University Avenue, Austin, TX 78705
Free – register now

Download the conference agenda

Conference Chair: Dr. Paul Resta
Ruth Knight Millikan Centennial Professor, College of Education, The University of Texas at Austin

Keynote speakers:

Major General Patrick Burden
Director, Combat Systems, Army Futures Command

Dr. Donna Kidwell
Chief Technology Officer, EdPlus at Arizona State University

U.S. cases, and international cases from Mexico, Colombia, Norway, more

Conference outcomes will contribute to development of the academic volume STEM in the Technopolis. Learn more at www.stem-tech.org.

Register Now

Special invitation to students: We are inviting students from the College of Education and from the LBJ School of Public Affairs to be recorders for our panel sessions and workshops. Students who are interested will be provided a short 1-2 paragraph book background on arrival at the conference, and they’ll be asked to record observations regarding successes, challenges, and barriers that they hear from presenters, and also their own reactions to the content. They will be provided a web page where they can upload their observations. We will use their observations in development of a conference publication and for the book.

STEM classroom

STEM in the Technopolis

When governments think about driving technology-based development, they usually think about partnerships among governments, academia and industry. These partnerships and issues are essential. Models like the Triple Helix (Etzkowitz & Leydesdorff, 2000) and the Technopolis Model (Smilor, Gibson, & Kozmetsky, 1989) focus exclusively or mainly on these concerns.

But what about the impact of the hundreds of millions of secondary students, taught by tens of millions of teachers, supported by hundreds of thousands of volunteers, who deliver STEM education to children around the world? One can argue that these large regional ecosystems, which exist in proximity to industry clusters, and which draw content inspiration from those industry clusters, and which feed their workforce pipelines, must play an important role in these clusters’ long-term development. If this is correct, then when regional STEM education policies are adopted, for better or worse, they interact with technology policies at work in the region. The Technopolis Wheel (Smilor et al., 1989) hints at this relationship through its state and local government spokes, but the relationship is rarely explicitly noted.

STEM in the Technopolis will examine the relationship of secondary STEM education to the long-term development of industry clusters – the same clusters that have led globally to wealth and improved quality of life. We will explore the hypothesis that a region’s policies for technology-based economic development should incorporate support for robust STEM education experiences for K-12 students. The policies should address the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in relevant careers, and they should encourage the framing of STEM education experiences within the context of local industry clusters and societal challenges. In doing so, regions can drive a virtuous cycle of education, economic development, and quality of life for citizens.

The conference will explore the following questions:

  • What does it mean to integrate STEM education policy into regional economic development and technology policies?
  • What is the specific role for K-12 STEM education policies in regional development?
  • What STEM policy elements should educators, political leadership, and the business community adopt to build a technopolis in their community?
  • How do we recognize STEM policy success?

Sponsored by the IC² Institute, the College of Education at The University of Texas at Austin, and the Society for Design and Process Science (SDPS).

For more information, please contact Dr. Cliff Zintgraff, cliffz@ic2.utexas.edu.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on STEM in the Technopolis 2019

Austin Technology Incubator receives AgTech grant from Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator

IN2 Channel PartnerThe Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator (IN²), a technology incubator and platform funded by the Wells Fargo Foundation and co-administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), today announced that IC²’s Austin Technology Incubator (ATI) has received a prestigious IN² Channel Partner Award. As an official Channel Partner of the IN² program, ATI was recognized for its efforts to advance sustainable technology solutions that can improve energy efficiency and is one of just 13 organizations nationally to receive the award this year.

Launched in 2014, IN² is a $30 million program that facilitates the commercialization and adoption of clean energy technologies in commercial buildings and in the agriculture sector. To help foster enhanced collaboration, IN² created a network of Channel Partners – a nationwide system of incubators, accelerators and university programs that refer startup companies to the program. Entering its third year, the Channel Partner Awards Program will disburse $1 million in competitive grants across 13 recipient organizations in order to help advance sustainable technology solutions that can catalyze new collaborations, capital flow and job creation.

ATI will spearhead a sustainable food system cluster in Central Texas that provides an incubation network and proving ground for technologies driving greater efficiency, access and affordability in production, distribution and logistics, point-of-sale, and waste elimination. The organization will leverage an existing Austin initiative built around the Good Food Purchasing Program (GFPP), which is transforming how public institutions purchase food. Funds will be used to identify challenges faced by GFPP stakeholders, match those challenges with technological resources that address them, and understand the energy and water implications of implementing the potential solutions.

“We are excited to have IN²’s support as we team with local public institutions, food organizations and entrepreneurs to highlight challenges in Central Texas’ food system and work to address them with innovative tech solutions,” said Mitch Jacobson, Director of the Austin Technology Incubator.

“The Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator is proud to provide additional support to the Austin Technology Incubator for their efforts to accelerate the development and commercialization of clean technology and support early-stage entrepreneurs,” said Ramsay Huntley, Clean Technology and Innovation Philanthropy program officer with Wells Fargo. “These are the folks who are really disrupting the industry and driving innovation.”

“Ultimately, the goal with our Channel Partner Awards Program is to create a strong, collaborative ecosystem of support across the country,” said Trish Cozart, IN² Program Manager at NREL. “We are funding these partners to continue their support of early-stage entrepreneurs and support of each other as they create partnerships and share knowledge.”

Since 2017, the IN² Channel Partner Awards Program has distributed approximately $2.1 million in competitive and non-competitive grants in support of more than 74 events, strategic meetings and trainings as well as 21 larger strategic initiatives between 23 organizations. In the pilot year of the awards program, funded projects engaged over 1,800 participants (entrepreneurs, industry, academia and others), created nearly 200 jobs, led to over $18.3 million in follow-on funding for startups involved and leveraged $812,000 in matching funds from outside organizations.

For more information on the awards program, please visit www.in2ecosystem.com.

About ATI

The Austin Technology Incubator (ATI) is the deep technology incubator of the University of Texas at Austin working with university and community entrepreneurs to commercialize their breakthrough innovations. For over 30 years, ATI has used a customized approach to support entrepreneurs addressing the world’s most pressing problems by connecting startups with the expertise, relationships, and funding sources they need to succeed in the marketplace. ATI is home to a number of specialized incubators which include Circular Economy, Energy, Food & AgTech, Healthcare, Mobility, and Water. For more information on the Austin Technology Incubator, visit ati.utexas.edu.

About the Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator

The Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator (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 (NREL) 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 and the Danforth Plant Science Center’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 began expanding its focus in 2018 to support innovation in sectors such as transportation, food systems, energy storage and others with the ultimate goal of fostering smart and connected communities of the future. For more information, visit www.in2ecosystem.com.

Read more

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Austin Technology Incubator receives AgTech grant from Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator

IC² and ATI at SXSW 2019

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 2019.

Saturday March 9
Gone to Texas: EU Startup Pitches
IC² Institute, Center for European Studies and Arctic Business Incubator
12:30-3:30 at EU House, Palm Door, 508 E. 6th St.
No badge required, RSVP here

Sunday March 10
The Sun Beneath Our Feet: Our Geothermal Future
Jamie Beard of Blackstone LaunchPad with Bob Metcalfe
3:30-4:30 PM at the Fairmont
Requires SXSW badge

Monday March 11
SXSW Future Cities Innovation Showcase
Austin Technology Incubator
With ATI member companies H2Optimize, Inovues, Smarter Sorting, Yotta & Z-Bikez
11 AM – 6 PM at the Austin Convention Center Exhibit Hall 1
Requires SXSW badge

Monday March 11
Central Texas Health Innovation Social
ATI and Capital City Innovation
4-7 PM at the Austin Central Library, 710 W Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX 78701
No badge required, request your invitation here

Monday, March 11
The Future of ______
Sponsored by ATI
8 AM – 6:30 PM at Galvanize, afterparty at Idean
No badge required, RSVP

Wednesday March 13
The Future of Eating
IC² Director Art Markman
12:30 – 1:30 PM at the JW Marriott
Requires SXSW badge

In addition, IC² and ATI team members will serve as judges and coaches at several events. IC² will coach EU companies for the Gone to Texas pitch event. ATI’s Lisa McDonald will be an on-site coach for the SXSW Pitch competition.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Comments Off on IC² and ATI at SXSW 2019

Innovation Business Acceleration Center presents first cohort at Bengal Global Business Summit

IC² program in the Indian state of West Bengal introduced its first class of participating companies to an international audience.

The Innovation Business Acceleration Center (IBAC) of West Bengal, led by the IC² Institute and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, presented its first business cohort at the Bengal Global Business Summit in Kolkata on February 7-8, 2019.

Jim Vance, director of the IBAC program and program manager at the IC² Institute, has spearheaded efforts to identify businesses throughout West Bengal that have strong product/service export potential. Using methods developed at IC², Mr. Vance and his team evaluated companies for readiness, provided expert training, and prepared company leadership to present their product and services to broader markets. From the first cohort of 39 companies, companies with highest potential will be supported in business development activities in their country and internationally.

IBAC at BGBS 2019
IBAC cohort and team at BGBS 2019. IC²’s Jim Vance is in the front row, third from the right; behind him is IC² Fellow Nirankar Saxena, Deputy Secretary General of FICCI; standing in the middle of last row is FICCI Senior Assistant Director Abhay Kumar Singh.

IBAC was established in 2018 by the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC), Government of West Bengal. IBAC serves as a model acceleration and incubation center to support innovators, technology, start-ups, enterprises and businesses which have the potential to grow, scale and contribute to the economy of the state of West Bengal. The center engages with incubatees and businesses for their technology evaluation and growth, with the goal to produce measurable impact. IBAC provides proven methodology to establish and grow sustainable market-driven businesses through technology and innovation. The center will support and promote exports, working closely with exporters in West Bengal to explore opportunities for expansion in existing markets or new geographies for product launches.

Bengal Global Business Summit is the annual flagship event organized by Government of West Bengal to showcase the business readiness and investment potential of West Bengal in front of the global business community. WBIDC arranged for a separate pavilion for IBAC companies to showcase their products while FICCI arranged meetings between visiting delegates and companies from China, Italy, Germany, Australia and Republic of Korea. BGBS 2019 attracted participation of over 4000 delegates from across India and 36 countries. The avenues of collaborations are spread over a wide spectrum of business sectors including agribusiness, IT & ITES, MSME & skills, hospitality & tourism, logistics & transport and infrastructure.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Innovation Business Acceleration Center presents first cohort at Bengal Global Business Summit

Gone to Texas: SXSW Immersion for EU Startups

The IC² Institute and the Center for European Studies at The University of Texas at Austin have partnered to bring innovative European companies to Austin’s SXSW Interactive Festival and help these young companies make the most of the networking and pitching opportunities that the festival offers.

EU nation flags against blue sky

With financial assistance from the EU’s Getting to Know Europe Grant and the U.S. Department of Education, the two UT Austin units have collaborated to build a program – now in its second year – that utilizes proven IC² Institute business-development methods, European relationships, and the platform of one of the world’s most prominent business gatherings to demonstrate how the innovation-rich climate of Austin can accelerate the progress of internationally driven startups. This project is funded in part by the European Union.

Center for European StudiesWorking with the Arctic Business Incubator of Sweden and other business-support organizations in Europe, CES and IC² selected thirteen promising companies for awards that include training, mentoring, and travel expenses for a week in Austin. Company representatives will receive mentoring from Austin-based business leaders and practice in pitching with experts at IC² Institute. They will also join the IC² Institute business network at events designed to help entrepreneurs make important connections.

Selected companies will present their pitches on Saturday, March 9, from 12:15-3:15 PM at the EU House in the Palm Door, 508 E. 6th St. No SXSW badge required – RSVP here.

European companies awarded funding for SXSW Interactive 2019 include:

The IC² Institute conducts research and programs to validate the impact of technological innovation on regional economic development with collaboration among the university, government, and private sectors. IC² is extending its research focus from urban ecosystems supporting entrepreneurship to exploring the shape and action of innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystems in rural and isolated-city regions of the world in order to support economic growth.

The Center for European Studies (CES) promotes the study of Europe in the form of: language study; providing courses on European culture, history, economics, business, and politics; creating opportunities for study abroad and internships abroad; and assisting students in pursuing work opportunities connected to Europe. CES also serves civic, nonprofit, and business associations with activities in Europe; academic leaders and institutions from Europe with collaborative agreements with UT; governmental and multilateral agencies dedicated to social and economic betterment in Europe; and the general public in Texas and the U.S. whose world outlook includes Europe.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Gone to Texas: SXSW Immersion for EU Startups

IC² Institute 2019 grant solicitation for research on rural entrepreneurship

The IC² Institute announces a grant solicitation supporting research by UT Austin faculty on the theme “Innovation and Entrepreneurial Ecosystems in Rural and Small City Environments.” The submission deadline is March 29, 2019.

The new IC² Institute grant solicitation provides funds supporting research collaborations to tenured and tenure-track faculty at The University of Texas at Austin to accelerate research in the areas of innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystems in rural or small city environments.

IC² anticipates funding six to eight research projects of $100,000 over 24 months in an ongoing effort to stimulate research by faculty across all disciplines at UT Austin focused on key topics of interest to the Institute.

Studies addressing this topic are encouraged from researchers in public policy, social science, engineering and solid science, business, technology, economics, education, arts and culture.

Results from these projects will be presented at an IC² Institute-sponsored conference in spring 2021.

Application procedure

Applications must be submitted online via InfoReady Review (https://utexas.infoready4.com/#competitionDetail/1782746) by Friday, March 29, 2019. Specific application procedures and submission and reporting requirements are detailed in the RFP.

Questions? Please contact Gregory Pogue at gpogue@ic2.utexas.edu.

Why rural and small city entrepreneurship?

The sociological and economic gaps between rural and urban communities have grown significantly in the United States and the world. As late at 1940, almost 45% of the U.S. population lived in rural regions. Urbanization has decreased this percentage to <20% as of 2019, exacerbating the existing social, economic and opportunity divide between rural and urban regions. The urban and rural gap may be described by population shifts, but the impact cuts across the fabric of society, creating sociological and economic divisions leading to political discord, technological inequity, disparity in economic participation/reward, disproportional disease prevalence, and poor allocation and use of natural resources. These issues are not just in the U.S. but are shared with the world. In 2018, >55% of the world’s population lives in urban areas. The hyper-urbanization trend is expected to continue in the coming decades increasing the urban living population to 68% by 2050, compounding current city challenges and introducing new ones in virtually all countries.

As noted in recent reports to the U.S. Congress and other published studies, the economic and opportunity gap has widened between rural and urban communities across the United States since the Great Recession. In the U.S., the economic shock of the recession hit rural counties and states harder than those dominated by urban communities with many rural areas having yet to fully recover. For example, employment in urban areas normalized to pre-recession levels by 2013, whereas rural job growth continued to lag pre-recession levels in 2017. Further, sluggish wage growth of 3.8% in rural areas is outstripped by the >5.5% growth in metropolitan areas. This can be dramatically observed in Texas when reviewing data from the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. According to the 2010 census, per capita income is also about $3,000 less in the 191 Texas counties classified as rural than in the 63 non-rural counties. Indeed, the 18 most heavily urbanized counties in Texas have a per capita income almost $5,000 more than the remaining 236 counties in the state.

The dramatic loss of jobs from 2008-2010, the income gap, and the slow recovery of high-paying jobs in rural regions have led many residents to migrate to urban environments to find new opportunities. This migration has exacerbated the decline in rural population and supported significant urban population growth since 2010 and attendant infrastructure overuse and overcrowding. Rural population decline is compounded by the geographic remoteness of communities and lack of online connectivity (39% of rural residents lack access to broadband compared to only 4% of urban residents). Further, underinvestment in rural infrastructure impairs travel as roads, bridges and water infrastructure require urgent repair to facilitate efficient transport across these regions. Limited virtual connectivity coupled with physical distance restricts business communications and increases the costs of logistics and transportation, reducing company investments in rural regions.

Most rural economies are structured to support a single or a small cluster of industries and are usually dependent on the value of natural and agricultural resources in the region. The lack of economic diversification makes rural communities more vulnerable to the impact of individual company decisions, macro-economic shocks and the growing trend of technological displacement. Recent natural disasters in the Coastal Bend region of Texas have further revealed the fragility of rural and isolated city economies to such perturbations.

The growing societal focus on technology, robotics, data and artificial intelligence of the new economy is expected to create further distance between rural and urban communities. The gap in higher education graduates, often viewed as a prerequisite for participation in the new economy, has grown by 25% between rural and communities from 2000-2016. Lower educational attainment and population decline combine to restrict the number of individuals available to respond to government grant applications, receive new federal funds or create new cutting-edge businesses at the same rate as in urban areas.

As rural society, agricultural products and natural resources contribute greatly to the U.S. culture and economy, action is required to remove these disadvantages from rural economies and create new models and incentives for rural communities to thrive and grow. This is especially true in Texas where rural regions make up a dominant part of its land mass and local governments. Economic development in rural regions is a high priority in Texas, as it is for many other midwestern and southern states – not to mention many other developing nations whose rural population far exceeds that of the U.S.

Entrepreneurship is a core backbone of economic development. The University of Texas at Austin has long been a home for scholars whose research explores business development and it continues to have strength in this area. The number of scholars across campus involved in the IC² Institute, the McCombs Entrepreneurship Minor, the Herb Kelleher Center, the RGK Center, the Bridging Disciplines Programs on entrepreneurship, and the many groups on campus that are part of the Entrepreneurship Coordination Committee all attest to the vibrant community of research around the topic of entrepreneurship on campus. The IC² Institute aims to galvanize this community of scholars to focus on the challenges and prospects for developing business ecosystems in rural areas and small, isolated cities.

Why the IC² Institute?

This research focus fits in with the IC² Institute’s long history of research and practical engagement in the economic development of urban, rural and small city environments. In the past 25 years IC² has conducted 29 regional economic studies across the world, including ten in Texas alone, reviewing the innovation and economic growth strategies of urban and rural regions and providing detailed case studies illustrating rural/urban challenges. Based on IC²’s groundbreaking research on the Austin entrepreneurial ecosystem in the 1980s and 90s, the Austin Model was defined and subsequently disseminated across the U.S. and 43 countries around the world. This model is based on the diffusion of knowledge from science and technology centers into economic practice of regions through technology transfer and entrepreneurship. The leadership of Austin as a technology and entrepreneurship hub is widely recognized and IC² will follow the pattern of its founder, Dr. George Kozmetsky, to identify new, unstructured problems of world importance to study and engage solutions. Toward this end, IC² has since completed numerous benchmarking studies in rural and isolated cities in Texas, including the Rio Grande Valley, San Angelo, and Waco, as well as other regions in the U.S., Europe, Latin America and Asia. In addition, IC²’s Bureau of Business Research has a rich legacy of economic research in all regions of Texas going back to the 1920s. A new model for economic development based on innovation is required for rural and small, isolated cities. Our new research initiative seeks to catalyze new studies to define improved and fitted strategies to improve the competitiveness of these regions.

This solicitation follows the successful Insight to Innovation Grant Program conducted between 2017-2018. Eleven grants were provided to UT Austin faculty which engaged over 10 student researchers at UT Austin, produced many peer-reviewed publications and a number of others in preparation or under review, and supported a wealth of scholarly presentations. Further, student-led investigations were conducted in Nepal and Japan through UT courses supported by Insight to Innovation grants.

References used:

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on IC² Institute 2019 grant solicitation for research on rural entrepreneurship