By LAURA LOREK
Founder of Silicon Hills News
Austin has lost one of its greatest proponents of the technology industry, Laura Kilcrease to Alberta, Canada.
Last week, hundreds of people turned out at the Four Seasons Hotel downtown for a going away happy hour to honor Kilcrease, who has been a pillar of the Austin tech community for three decades.
Kilcrease is leaving to head up the Alberta Innovates Corporation.
“This is just a unique opportunity to connect people from Austin, Texas to people in Alberta’s Edmonton, Calgary and other areas, ” Kilcrease said. “We were an oil state here and still are and they are an oil state there. It was just an opportunity to change the landscape of innovation and entrepreneurship.”
Kilcrease was one of the major players in Austin’s transformation from a sleepy college town dependent on the oil and gas industry to one of the nation’s top technology centers.
From 1989 to 1997, Kilcrease served as executive director of the University of Texas IC2 Institute’s Center for Commercialization and Enterprise. Kilcrease is the founding director of the Austin Technology Incubator at the University of Texas at Austin. Kilcrease, along with George Kozmetzy, also founded the Austin Software Council, which became the Austin Technology Council, and the Capital Network, which became the Central Texas Angel Network.
She is an expert at collaborating between businesses, universities, government and private and public institutions.
Born in London, Kilcrease has been a permanent resident of the United States since 1984. She received her certification as a Chartered Management Accountant in the U.K. in 1980 and an M.B.A. from The University of Texas at Austin in 1992.
In Alberta, Canada, government officials expect Kilcrease’s leadership will work her magic to help that region develop into a major globally competitive research and innovation center.
“Laura Kilcrease has demonstrated that with the right supports innovative researchers and entrepreneurs can diversify an economy and create new jobs in both emerging and traditional sectors. Alberta’s world-class researchers, entrepreneurs and academic institutions can be proud their international reputation has attracted world-class talent to take on this exciting new role,” Daron Bilous, minster of Economic Development and Trade, said in a news release.
Alberta Innovates enables and funds provincial research and innovation – ensuring entrepreneurs and researchers have expert support in responding to challenges and opportunities – building on Alberta’s strengths in the health, environment, energy, food, forestry/fibre, and emerging technology sectors.
The new CEO will report to the Alberta Innovates board, comprised of 11 prominent innovators and business leaders across a variety of sectors.
Most recently, Kilcrease served as the director, professor of practice of the Center for Entrepreneurial Action at Texas State University. Before that, she served as Entrepreneur in Residence at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin. And Kilcrease was one of the founding members of Women@Austin, a group that meets to support women founders. She is the founder and managing director of Triton Ventures, a venture capital fund investing in spinout and early-stage technology companies.
Kilcrease plans to keep her house in Austin. She plans to keep in close contact with her contacts here.