Feature: Texas Emerging Technology Fund

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Future Forward

Bringing a World of Expertise to Texas Through the Emerging Technology Fund

They come to Texas from around the globe — leading researchers and scientists from a broad range of fields: nanomedicine, robotics, energy, biotechnology, cyber security, semiconductors, software, aerospace and defense, just to name a few. Though diverse, these brilliant minds all share a common mission: to put their expertise to work in Texas, to create new products that change the quality of all of our lives, to develop new business opportunities in our state that will secure a bright future for generations to come.

It’s no coincidence the efforts of these researchers and scientists mirror the goals of the Texas Emerging Technology Fund; they are, after all, integral to its success and one of the reasons the TETF has become a national model for economic development. Created in 2005 by the Texas Legislature, the Emerging Technology Fund was developed to bring world-class talent to our state’s institutions of higher education and ultimately create new companies with global impact that accelerate the next generation technology economy in Texas.

“Attracting more top-notch research teams from other universities around the nation will help put Texas universities on the cutting edge of technology research and development,” says UT System Vice Chancellor for Research and Technology Transfer Keith McDowell. “This is an unparalleled opportunity to move potentially life-changing ideas from the university classroom into the marketplace where they can make a difference.”

Take the trajectory of success that surrounds Dr. Mauro Ferrari since he was recruited to The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston in 2006 with the help of a TETF Research Superiority Acquisition award. A pioneer in biomedical nanotechnology and world renowned for his research in applying the tiniest of sciences to some of our greatest health threats, Ferrari has a long history of being first in his field. The TETF provided $2.5 million to recruit Ferrari to Texas — an investment that has already seen a substantial return. Not only has Dr. Ferrari’s research team at the Alliance for NanoHealth contributed groundbreaking work in developing and applying nanotechnology tools in the battle against heart disease, cancer, diabetes, stroke and infection, but it has since seen four companies spin off in efforts to perfect and commercialize the team’s promising medical research.

At the University of Texas at San Antonio, a $3.5 million Research Superiority Acquisition award from the TETF enabled the university to recruit Dr. Ravi Sandhu, a nationally recognized leader in cyber security. Dr. Sandhu is the founding executive director and chief scientist of the UTSA Institute for Cyber Security Research. Expanding on the cyber-security work already underway at UTSA, the institute will partner with local, national and international scientists and engineers to forge some of the foremost research programs in the world, bringing new ideas, technologies and economic opportunities to the surrounding communities and the state at large.

Awards from the TETF are not grants but capital funds used to expedite the process of taking research from the lab to the marketplace. The awards are funded in three designated categories and all invested back into Texas to fuel progress and partnerships across the state:

  • Research Superiority Acquisition: Funding that enables institutions of higher education in Texas to recruit the best research talent in the world.
  • Commercialization Awards: Funds to help companies take ideas from concept to development to the marketplace.
  • Matching Awards: Funding to create public-private partnerships that leverage the unique strengths of universities, federal government, grant programs and industry.

To date, UT System institutions have received $30.3 million for Research Superiority awards, as well as another $25.8 million in TETF Research Matching grants. In addition, companies affiliated with UT institutions have received another $62.9 million, for a total of $119 million in TETF funding benefitting UT. Aggregate TETF awards have totaled a staggering $228.7 million.

“The TETF is the single largest pre-seed investor for emerging technology companies in the entire United States.” says Dr. McDowell. “This is an exceptional opportunity to create life-changing research developments that spur long-term economic growth for our state and nation.”

State of the System in PDF as published.

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