Foundation capital

From Discovery to Impact at UT Austin Selected to Lead National Science Foundation Innovation Center with $15 Million Investment

AUSTIN, Texas — Discovery to Impact, the newly named University of Texas at Austin group leading the university’s research commercialization efforts, has been selected by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to lead a program of regional training in four states for researchers seeking to move their discoveries from the lab to the marketplace. NSF’s five-year, $15 million investment in the Innovation Corps’ (I-Corps) new Southwest Region hub will strengthen an already strong innovation ecosystem and bring more discoveries from the market research through startups.

Through this work, university researchers, graduate students, inventors and creators participating in the I-Corps Hub will increase the impact of their discoveries by advancing new products, services, solutions and remedies that improve the world.

The new I-Corps Southwest Region Hub is one of five new hubs across the country announced today by the NSF. Along with UT Austin, the new Southwest region hub includes Louisiana State University, New Mexico State University, Oklahoma State University, Rice University, Texas A&M University, University of Texas at El Paso and the University of Texas at San Antonio.

“Across the Southwest region – and in Austin in particular – we are seeing remarkable growth in technology development, startup formation, and access to seed-to-middle-range capital,” said Christine Dixon Thiesing, Associate Vice President of Discovery to Impact at UT. Austin and I-Corps Southwest Region Lead Investigator. “The Southwest Hub will have a measurable and lasting economic and societal impact within and between our communities. We are excited to lead this effort and work with NSF and our Hub collaborators to drive more research breakthroughs around the world.

The primary mission of the new Southwest Region Hub is to develop a systematic and comprehensive regional network of programming that accelerates the translation of federally funded research into innovations that support the long-term success of university startups, the high-tech workforce development and economic growth.

With a diverse community of faculty members, graduate students, postdoctoral researchers and other innovators, the new hub will implement standardized training programs, as well as the first program delivered exclusively in Spanish, with the goal of reduce the time and risk associated with translating promising projects. ideas and technologies from the lab to the market. It aims to provide assistance in a wide variety of endeavors, from creating and implementing new tools, resources, and training activities, to analyzing and evaluating participant startup results.

“I am thrilled that the I-Corps hubs we are awarding today will expand the footprint of the National Innovation Network, tapping into the innovation potential that exists across the country by establishing clear pathways for researchers to engage with NSF’s Lab-to-Market platform. said Erwin Gianchandani, NSF’s deputy director for technology, innovation and partnerships. “Each regional I-Corps hub provides essential training in entrepreneurship and customer discovery, leading to new products, startups and jobs. In this way, the I-Corps program will open up new economic opportunities across the United States.

The NSF I-Corps program was created in 2011 to support the commercialization of deep technologies, which grow from discoveries in basic science and engineering. Since its inception, approximately 2,800 NSF I-Corps research teams have participated in the program.

In 2014, UT Austin was selected to lead a regional NSF I-Corps node, which at the time administered the I-Corps program and program activities. The regional node has assisted UT researchers in the evaluation and development of many innovative technologies, such as an in vivo laparoscopic camera cleaner that can be used by physicians during surgery. Clearcam, the startup launched in 2018 as a result of this research, has since developed two products and raised $4.8 million in funding.

The new hub model covers a wider geographic and institutional area and represents an expansion and restructuring of the I-Corps program to support more researchers at more academic institutions.

Learn more about the NSF I-Corps program here: