Chad Swiatecki
Houston Business Journal, Morning Edition
August 26, 2014

Rice University has partnered with the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University to take advantage of a $3.75 million grant from the National Science Foundation to help academic researchers adapt their work to the commercial world.

Through the NSF’s Innovation Corps program, the three universities will act as an “innovation node” for the southwest portion of the country and encourage researchers of federally funded projects to venture into the business world. Rice is located in Houston, while Texas A&M University is in College Station, Texas.

The program partners researchers with a business mentor and a graduate student and provides a $50,000 grant for six months of commercial development work. Participating teams also receive training sessions to further the commercialization process and evaluations to determine the viability of the project in the business world and figure out the next steps such as funding, licensing and marketing.

“Having an I-Corps Node established in Texas represents a unique opportunity for researchers and institutions across the state and region to leverage existing research efforts into new business initiatives that will benefit society at large,” Juan Sanchez, vice president for research at UT, said in a statement announcing the partnership.

Brad Burke, managing director for the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship, and George McLendonHoward H. Hughes Provost and professor of chemistry and biochemistry and cell biology, will be the main points of contact in Houston for those looking to take part in the program.

“This new NSF I-Corps initiative is a paradigm shift that will facilitate a cultural change in universities and research centers designed to take researchers’ creativity and innovation to the commercial level. It will be a driver for higher education and university research to become much more entrepreneurial.”

Chad Swiatecki covers Austin’s creative industries, health care and education.