Two UT Professors Get Startup Grants from the Innovation Center

Luis Sentis, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at UT Austin

Luis Sentis, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at UT Austin

The focus of the Innovation Center in the Cockrell School of Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin is to help professor led startups.

To that end, the Innovation Center formed a grant fund and Wednesday announced its first two grant recipients. The center awarded grants to Professor Luis Sentis, who runs a robotics startup Apptronik and Professor Richard Crawford, who runs nVariate, a software design startup. Both are in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

The Innovation Grants, which range from $10,000 to $100,000, are open to all UT Austin faculty members with early stage startups. More grants will be awarded throughout the year, according to the center.

Richard Crawford,  professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Texas at Austin

Richard Crawford, professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Texas at Austin

Sentis will receive a $40,000 grant to commercialize robotics technology and Crawford will receive $20,000 to make better Computer Aided Design software, according to Professor Bob Metcalfe, faculty director of the Innovation Center and professor of innovation at the Cockrell School.

“The Innovation Center encourages and supports faculty and students in using startups to change the world with their research,” Metcalfe said in a news statement. “The center provides entrepreneurial tools, expert advice, entrepreneurship courses, mentorship and other commercialization resources.”

Raising funds to support the Innovation Grants is a major focus of Louise Epstein, entrepreneur and managing director of the Innovation Center.

“One of our key objectives in the Innovation Center is to identify and support the faculty who are eager to commercialize their research,” Epstein said in a news release. “We envision that promising research will progress into a startup, move off campus to recruit staff and leadership, raise additional capital, scale up and impact society.”

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