AUSTIN, November 15, 2016 - On Tuesday, Nov. 15 at Austin City Hall, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development, Jay Williams, announced major U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) investments for Texas and other states. Through a collaborative effort, the UTSA Institute for Economic Development's SBDC Technology Commercialization Center and the UTSA Office of Commercialization Innovation (OCI) were among national awardees of the EDA-sponsored Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) i6 Challenge competition, securing a $500,000 matching grant towards their $ 1 Million project.
The national innovation competition awards nonprofits, institutions of higher education, and entrepreneurship-focused organizations to spur innovation capacity-building activities nationwide. Austin City Mayor Steve Adler joined Assistant Secretary Jay Williams for the announcement.
The i6 Challenge Grant is a leading national program designed to build globally competitive regions by increasing capacity for innovation driven entrepreneurship that results in new jobs and businesses, ideas, intellectual property, and applied research through the process of technology commercialization.
Chaired by Director of the SBDC Technology Commercialization Center, Bijo Mathew, and co-chaired by UTSA Chief Commercialization Officer, Dr. Cory Hallam, the awarded project is set to span three years and will facilitate university, industry, and government knowledge transfer and adoption of best entrepreneurship and technology commercialization practices in the regionally targeted areas of Austin, San Antonio, Corpus Christi and the Rio Grande Valley. The project leverages multiple UTSA community resources including its South-West Texas Border Small Business Development Center Network (SBDC), the Center for Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship (CITE), the Office of Commercialization and Innovation (OCI) and partnering regional colleges and universities of the South Texas region.
The SBDC Technology Commercialization Center, hosted at the Institute and a Center of the UTSA Southwest Texas Border SBDC Network, works to increase advanced science and technology based entrepreneurial capacity by providing outreach, enabling access to high risk investment capital, facilitating access to advanced science and technology innovations, management advisement and other support services.
"This highly competitive national award recognizes and amplifies UTSA's business community outreach and the SBDC Network Technology Commercialization Center's on-going regional entrepreneurship and innovation capacity building activities. This i6 allows us to strategically leverage federal and state resources with academia, university and collaborative business resources to build dynamic and regionally responsive innovation clusters to facilitate the commercialization of advances in science and technology and greater economic prosperity for our region," said Bijo Mathew, UTSA SBDC Technology Commercialization Center Director and Principal Investigator of the i6 grant.
Since 2014, after UTSA became the first university in Texas to become part of the infrastructure of the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Innovation Network, the Office of Commercialization Innovation (OCI) has both hosted and assisted with regional workshops to help developing entrepreneurs. By taking the resources, content, processes and training developed by the OCI and teaming up with the SBDC Technology Commercialization Center, this collaboration will assist the communities of South Texas.
"This is a perfect example of UTSA leveraging its academic resources for a broader base, diversifying its innovation ecosystem, and expanding its community impact. We are connecting commercialization with entrepreneurship for new participants who haven't had access to these opportunities," said Dr. Cory Hallam, UTSA Chief Commercialization Officer and co-Principal Investigator of the i6 grant.