Tag: UTSA (Page 1 of 2)

Rackspace and Intel Open the OpenStack Innovation Center

Rackspace, Intel and UTSA officials and UTSA interns at the opening of the OpenStack Innovation Center at Rackspace's headquarters.

Rackspace, Intel and UTSA officials and UTSA interns at the opening of the OpenStack Innovation Center at Rackspace’s headquarters.

Reporter with Silicon Hills News

Officials with Rackspace and Intel Thursday officially cut the ribbon on the OpenStack Innovation Center at Rackspace’s headquarters.

“We are going to make this the launching pad to make OpenStack and the entire cloud available to everyone in the industry,” said Imad Sousou, vice president of the software and services group and general manager of Intel Open Source Technology Center.

“And, yes, we’re hiring,” Sousou said.

Rackspace and Intel officially announced their partnership for the OpenStack Innovation Center in late July. On Thursday, a few hundred people gathered in front of the new center at Rackspace’s headquarters in San Antonio to cut the ribbon on the facility where they will be working.

Rackspace has more than 200 employees working on OpenStack every day and they will occupy the OpenStack Innovation Center, which is in the fourth phase of development at the old Windsor Park Mall, which Rackspace refurbished into its headquarters, which Rackspace employees call “The Castle.”

In addition to the Rackspace employees, Intel will have developers at the center. Already, eight Intel developers have moved to San Antonio from Santa Clara, California, Arizona, Dallas and other Intel locations around the country to work here.

IMG_6515The OpenStack Innovation Center will add even more technology talent to San Antonio, said Darrin Hanson, vice president and general manager of Rackspace Private Cloud. And Rackspace’s partner in providing the tech pipeline of new talent locally is the University of Texas at San Antonio, he said.

Already, UTSA selected ten students to work as interns initially at the center and 30 more will be joining the program in the next year, said Mauli Agrawal, vice president of research at UTSA.

“By opening this innovation center, we’re creating the largest OpenStack development team in the world,” Agrawal said.

UTSA has developed a reputation nationwide as experts training computer and software engineers in open cloud computing and cybersecurity, Agrawal said. And this center further solidifies that reputation, he said.

“We are Cyber City and Cloud City USA,” Agrawal said.

The center will do research and development on OpenStack, which is an operating system that runs on the cloud and enables all kinds of software applications to run quickly and seamlessly from online banking to e-commerce. The cloud is a term used to described computer servers linked together in data centers that contain information accessible to anyone, anywhere through the Internet.

Intel has invested in the OpenStack project, which it calls “Intel’s Open Cloud for All” initiative although financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. It is also putting engineering resources behind the initiative. The New York Times recently did a story on Intel’s strategy to invest heavily in software that enhances cloud-computing capabilities. The idea is to create many competitors who offer cloud computing services, which ultimately creates many customers who demand servers that run Intel’s chips, and that way Intel will not get squeezed in price margins for its products by just a few giant companies, according to the article.

In July of 2010, Rackspace developed and launched OpenStack in cooperation with NASA. In the five years since then, OpenStack has grown considerably in popularity and other companies have exerted their influence on the software. HP, IBM and other big firms came in and contributed to the project. And the software got bogged down in bureaucracy and fragmentation as many companies contributed to it, Hanson with Rackspace said. This new initiative is about accelerating OpenStack development and adoption, Hanson said.

“We’re trying to create an environment where people are fully committed to improving OpenStack and doing it in a fully opened source way,” Hanson said.

“OpenStack is becoming the de facto cloud operating system for enterprises,” Hanson said. Enterprise is the name for large companies.

Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud are closed and proprietary platforms that compete with OpenStack, an open source alternatives to those services.

Intel and Rackspace’s collaboration seeks to make OpenStack the best operating system for the public and private cloud, Hanson said.

“For companies, the promise of OpenStack is that it gives them a platform that allows them to be much more efficient, much more nimble and it really improves speed to market for their customer facing and revenue generating applications,” Hanson said. “It gives them a really flexible and efficient platform where the IT department can go from being a call center to a center of strategy and to an enabler of revenue.”

Invictus Medical Sells a Device to Help Newborn Babies

Reporter with Silicon Hills News

Tom Roberts, Invictus Medical’s President and CEO

Tom Roberts, Invictus Medical’s President and CEO

Invictus Medical is a homegrown San Antonio biomedical startup focused on improving the lives of newborns.

In 2010, Daniel Mendez, Israel Cruz and Nicholas Flores, all engineering undergraduates at the University of Texas at San Antonio, invented a device, initially called the aqua bonnet, during an engineering senior design class. One of the engineer’s wives worked as a nurse in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and explained the problem about babies developing cranial deformities because of all the pressure on their heads.

So the students developed a soft helmet-like medical device to relieve pressure and help prevent flat-head syndrome in newborn babies. They won the UTSA CITE entrepreneurship and technology competition in 2010.

The students decided to assign their invention to UTSA, which filed the initial patent application. In 2011, the students formed a company and the university licensed the technology to the company and provided further funding for the patent process. For providing those services, the university took an undisclosed equity stake in the venture, said Jackie Michel, director of technology transfer and commercialization at UTSA.

“This turned out to be one invention that makes my heart happy because it fulfills the mission of the university which is to disseminate knowledge for the benefit of society,” Michel said. “It’s a remarkable story.”

In May, Invictus Medical received Food and Drug Administration clearance to begin marketing its medical device, now known as the GELShield, which provides extracranial pressure relief for babies. Invictus is now selling the GELShield to hospitals nationwide. The device, which comes in small, medium and large sizes, focuses on relieving pressure on baby’s heads. That pressure can cause plagiocephaly, a cranial deformity exhibited in infants resulting from repeated external pressure to one area of the head. The condition can result in a baby having a misshaped or flat head. In addition to cosmetic issues, studies have linked the condition to development delays in infants and toddlers.

Already, more than 100 hospitals have expressed interest in the GELShield, said Tom Roberts, Invictus Medical’s President and CEO. The market is large for the device, he said. Nationwide, hospitals run about 1,200 Neonatal Intensive Care Units. Invictus is also working on an application to expand international sales to Canada and eventually Europe.

“In the United States every year there are four million babies born and about 20 percent to 30 percent of all babies develop some kind of cranial deformity,” Roberts said. “It can appear along a spectrum from a flat spot to a more pronounced cranial deformation.”

The problem affects one million infants annually, Roberts said. It’s the problem Invictus Medical’s GELShield helps to solve.

The Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas just completed a validation study using the device in its neonatal intensive care unit with 42 babies. The test began in February of 2014 and finished in the fall of 2014.

“We evaluated the product for safety, fit and function,” said Chrysty Sturdivant, advanced clinical specialist and lead of the study at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas.

“We wanted to make sure it didn’t cause any other problems like skin irritation or temperature changes or something unknown,” she said. And they found it did not cause any problems, she said.

Right now, nurses in Neonatal Intensive Care Units manually rotate the babies in their care every three to four hours. In the past, they’ve used pillows and other aids to prop the baby’s head. With the GELShield, the device provides the cushioning and relieves pressure to the baby’s head to help prevent deformities.

Newborn at Baylor Medical wearing one of Invictus Medical's GELShield devices, courtesy photo

Newborn at Baylor Medical wearing one of Invictus Medical’s GELShield devices, courtesy photo

The Invictus GELShield eases the care for the baby because the nurses don’t have to fiddle with pillows any longer to make sure they are positioned correctly under the baby’s head, Sturdivant said.

“Now it’s easy to tell,” she said. “The medical device is either on or off the baby’s head.”

Before the Invictus GELShield, the market did not provide a device like this to help babies with this problem, she said.

“Our product relieves the amount of pressure being applied on the baby’s head by up to 85 percent,” Roberts said.

The GELShield still allows the baby to continue to move his or her head, Roberts said.

To date, Invictus Medical has raised $5 million and is in the process of securing an additional $4.5 million in Series B funding. That money will go to help market and sell the GELShield.

Roberts joined the company early on in 2011. He spent 30 years working for companies in the medical device industry including for Roche Diagnostics and Kinetic Concepts. He wanted to run a startup. Randy Goldsmith, head of the Texas Technology Development Center, known as T3DC, introduced him to Invictus Medical, which is in the T3DC incubator program.

“I was looking for something I could be very passionate about,” Roberts said. “I had an immediate connection with Invictus.”

Invictus, which means unconquerable in Latin, is a tribute to the young engineering students who started the whole thing, Roberts said. The students are no longer involved in the day-to-day operations of the company but remain shareholders in the venture.

Invictus now has 12 employees and it has outgrown its current space at 12500 Network Drive and is planning to move to larger headquarters soon, Roberts said. The company plans to add a few employees this year but expects its workforce to expand to 25 employees by 2018. It contracts with four separate manufacturing plants to make its GELShield devices.

Invictus has five distribution partnerships with 55 sales people nationwide, Roberts said.

But Invictus is not stopping with the GELShield product.

“We’re building a world class medical company,” Roberts said. “We’re not a one product company.”

Invictus_Logo_TagInvictus recently secured the worldwide commercialization rights from Northern Illinois University in Dekalb, Illinois for a second innovative technology focused on active noise reduction in the neonatal intensive care units. The company received a Phase I grant from the National Science Foundation for $240,000 to research and development the technology. It is also eligible to apply for a Phase II grant worth $750,000. George Hutchinson, Invictus’ Chief Technology Officer, is heading up the research, Roberts said.

The Open Cloud Institute Launches at UTSA

ociThe University of Texas at San Antonio on Thursday announced the creation of the Open Cloud Institute with $9 million in backing.

The Open Cloud Institute will focus on creating degree programs in cloud computing and big data. It will also work closely with companies in the cloud computing industry.

The 80/20 Foundation has pledged “$4.8 million to support four endowed professorships, up to two faculty research positions, 10 graduate student endowments and research funding,” according to a news release.

UTSA also received in-kind donations from Rackspace, AMD, Intel, Mellanox Technologies and Seagate. The university also received support from the Open Computer Project and OpenStack Foundation.

“By recruiting the nation’s most sought-after scholars, UTSA has developed tremendous expertise in cloud, cyber, computing and analytics. The Open Cloud Institute further builds on that strength,” UTSA President Ricardo Romo said in a news release.

“As adoption of cloud computing accelerates, the next industry that will get to harness this powerful and complex resource is academia. This will allow for increased innovation in scientific research and help to solve some of society’s grand challenges,” Graham Weston, chairman at 80/20 Foundation and Rackspace, said in a news release. “UTSA is emerging as a global leader in academic research built upon open technologies. The Open Cloud Institute will enhance UTSA’s capabilities, while boosting the supply of cloud engineers that all of our businesses need in order to power the technology companies of the future.”

Brewing New Tech Startups at UTSA

BsN7NIzCAAAGneuA can ban on the Comal River in New Braunfels prompted a University of Texas at San Antonio engineering team to create a solution.

They created the PalmKeg, a mini-keg sized insulated beer cooler to make transporting beer on the river easy.

“It’s the perfect eco-friendly beer container,” said Amber Ernst, senior at UTSA majoring in entrepreneurship and art.

The team created a prototype of the product and plan to launch a Kickstarter campaign in August, said Nic Villarreal, who graduates at the end of the summer with a B.S. in mechanical engineering. The device also serves as a vacuum-insulated growler and the team has talked with independent brewers about selling it, Villarreal said. The device is expected to retail at $99.

BsN7JQNCQAAIm9sThe PalmKeg team consists of Ernst, Villarreal, Peter Mancuso, who graduated with a B.S. in mechanical engineering earlier this year and Bradley Tanton, an entrepreneurship business major who graduates in the fall.

The team pitched their idea at Geekdom last Wednesday as part of the conclusion of a summer entrepreneurship class offered for the first time by UTSA. Anita Leffel, assistant director of the Center for Innovation and Technology Entrepreneurship, fashioned the six-week class after the popular 3 Day Startup program, spun out of the University of Texas at Austin. Nine students participated in the class.

“The best products come from a true need and a market and product fit,” Leffel said.

The UTSA Center for Innovation and Technology Entrepreneurship turns out about 15 to 20 entrepreneurial ventures annually, Leffel said. CITE, led by director Cory Hallam, creates a pipeline for students, faculty and businesses to develop new technology ventures.

The eight-year-old program recently landed $300,000 worth of funding from Rackspace’s Graham Weston’s 80/20 Foundation. And it received a $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. That NSF funding designates UTSA as an Innovation Corps Site. It’s the first university in Texas to receive that designation from the NSF.

That funding will allow CITE to provide each student startup in its program with seed stage funding to allow them to prototype their products and provide capital to get them to the proof of concept stage, Leffel said.

The $300,000 grant from the 80/20 Foundation spans three years and is focused on creating more startup companies for San Antonio, said Lorenzo Gomez, the foundation’s executive director.
CITE’s programs include the semiannual $100K Student Technology Venture Competition and the Technology Entrepreneurship Boot Camp.

One of the grand prizewinners of the 2014 CITE competition recently moved into Geekdom, the technology incubator and coworking center located in the Rand building downtown.

The support for CITE is about connecting the different parts of San Antonio’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, Gomez said. CITE is doing a great job of showing students how they can become entrepreneurs, he said.

“There’s a high likelihood the next Rackspace will come out of CITE’s program,” Gomez said.

Geekdom supports the CITE startups by providing them with a discount on membership and office space, Gomez said. But the grant from the 80/20 Foundation is for the CITE to use to support the program, he said.

UTSA appointed Teja Guda, biomedical engineering assistant professor of research, as another assistant director of CITE. The program also plans to hire a full-time program coordinator in the next few months.
So far, more than 500 students at UTSA have competed in CITE’s technology business competition. That has resulted in 80 new ventures.

“Several past competition winners have established startup companies, secured funding, hired CEOs and are on their way toward commercial success,” according to a UTSA news release. “The center also fosters the more than 100 student-owned businesses on campus in the Roadrunner Business Incubator.”

UTSA Hosts the Open BigCloud Symposium

Founder of Silicon Hills News

BnC9n-kCYAA9gdwSome of the biggest trends in technology today are the cloud, a fancy name for data centers, and big data, the massive bits and bytes of information flowing through those data centers.

At the University of Texas at San Antonio, more than 100 people met Wednesday to discuss hardware, software and networks around those topics at the first Open BigCloud Symposium.

“This is about the future of cloud computing and big data,” said UTSA President Ricardo Romo.

He compared the ideas and innovation around the Open Cloud environment to Detroit during its heyday of the automotive industry.

“A collision of ideas that’s what’s going to happen here,” he said.

Romo also cut the ribbon to officially open the UTSA Open Compute Project Certification and Solutions Laboratory. The only other lab of its kind is in Taiwan.

Frank Frankovsky, president and chairman of the Open Compute Project Foundation, praised the project.

“There are incredibly innovative people in the state of Texas driving the industry forward,” he said.

The two-day Open BigCloud Symposium features more than 20 speakers in the HEB University Center Ballroom at the UTSA main campus. Most of it is highly technical with sessions like “Using ZeroVM and Swift to Build a Compute Enabled Storage Platforms” and “Composable Rack Scale Archecture Storage.” But some of the sessions address universal issues facing the technology industry like the shortage of women in technology and fostering entrepreneurship.

In 2012, Rackspace hosted the Open Compute Summit and hosted more than 500 people involved in the Open Compute Project, which Frankovsky and his team launched at Facebook in 2011. The project’s goal focuses on creating the most efficient computer hardware and software for data center. Major players like Facebook, Rackspace, Hewlett Packard, Dell and Microsoft back the project.

The Open Compute Project is driven by collaboration, contributions and consumption or the adoption of the technology by industry, Frankovsky said.

UTSA is becoming a nationally recognized hub of innovation in the Cloud and big data technology, said Lorenzo Gomez, director of the 80/20 Foundation and Geekdom.

The 80/20 Foundation has donated more than $4 million in endowed partnerships in cloud computing technology to UTSA, Gomez said.

The research, the academia and industry coming together at UTSA is extremely important said John Engates, Rackspace’s Chief Technology Officer.

“We at Rackspace believe open is supercritical,” Engates said.

Open and collaborative environments help companies innovate faster, Engates said. It also means freedom. It also allows people to do their work remotely easily, he said. An open environment also allows companies to share the risks and rewards of research and development and innovation, he said.

“Getting people on a bobsled together and going in together I think that’s supercritical,” he said.

In 2010, Rackspace and NASA jointly created the OpenStack , an open source cloud software. Today, Rackspace runs the largest OpenStack cloud in the world today, Engates said.

Microsoft Expands its Data Center Operations in San Antonio

microsoftIn 2008, Microsoft opened a $550 million, 470,000 square foot data center in the Westover Hills area of San Antonio.
At the time, a Microsoft executive said that was just the beginning of Microsoft’s investment in San Antonio.
She was right.
This week, Microsoft announced a $1 million donation to the University of Texas at San Antonio and its Texas Sustainable Energy Research Institute. The company is also entering into a three year partnership with UTSA focused on creating generators that consume less energy to power massive data centers.
“As Microsoft embraces a more thoughtful approach to powering the cloud, we’re looking at how we can reinvent the datacenter to be more efficient and use more sustainable energy sources,” Brian Janous, director of energy strategy at Microsoft, wrote in a blog post. “Very few cities have embraced the clean energy economy like San Antonio and its mayor, Julian Castro.”
Microsoft is also investing $250,000 to expand its existing data center in San Antonio by more than 250,000 square feet.
For more on the partnership, read UTSA’s post.

The video below, by UTSA, is from the event held at UTSA on Wednesday.

First 3 Day Startup Program at UTSA

Reporter with Silicon Hills News

3DS GenericThe University of Texas at San Antonio held its inaugural 3 Day Startup event last weekend.
Friday afternoon, 35 students began working to create startups with viable business models within a 52 hour deadline.
At the final presentation Sunday evening, the students pitched six startups to a panel of judges, including Flashscan3D CEO Mike Troy, CEO and President of Liquid Networx Don Douglas, and Harvey Najim Center for Business Innovation and Social Responsibility Director Suz Burroughs.
“What we have done today here is begin to introduce entrepreneurship across the campus,” UTSA CITE Assistant Presenter at 3 Day StartupDirector and 3DS mentor Anita Leffel said. “All of you are in one way or another entrepreneurial. You will be more willing to take these risks, to stand up and fight and work for what you believe in and for improving our city.”
Leffel led the 3DS mentoring team along with entrepreneur and angel investor Michael Girdley. The mentoring team also included Cole Wollak of SA New Tech, Nathan Roach of RAM Law Firm and Greenhouse, Ev Kunetsov of Rackspace, Richard Ortega of TrueAbility, Andrew Trickett of the UTSA Texas Sustainability Research Institute, Jerry Wassum and others. UTSA’s CEO student organization helped organize and recruit for the event. The 80/20 Foundation sponsored the 3 Day Startup.
While it’s the first 3 Day Startup at UTSA, it’s not the first one in San Antonio. Rackspace hosted the first two 3 Day Startup programs at its headquarters a few years ago. Since then, Geekdom has hosted several 3 Day Startup programs. The program originated at the University of Texas at Austin and has since gone global as a way to easily teach entrepreneurship in a weekend.
Out of the 35 original students at UTSA, 28 made it to the final presentation. The others dropped out. The program is not easy. It’s demanding. And few of the participants sleep. Throughout the weekend, the students worked on creating business models with the lean canvas approach. They learned verbal strategies to explain their ideas concisely and court potential customers. They did primary research – talking to San Antonio businesses about their ideas and changing them if no one was interested. They practiced pitching over and over while getting constant input from mentors.
At the final presentation, some of the business models were completely different from the original idea, which is quite common in the 3 Day Startup process.
One of the startups, Smart Bar Technologies created a bottle-weighing pad that helped bar owners keep track of their most expensive spirits. They plan to design an app for the pads that will allow bar owners to monitor the bar in real time and find out if their bartenders are over pouring or giving away drinks. While the team knew they wanted to do something to help bars, their idea constantly changed throughout the weekend.
“We pivoted nine times,” said Luis Sauceda, the Smart Bar Technologies’ presenter. “We went from a machine that would pour drinks for you, to an application that will show you how to bartend, then we were going to do solar panels, and then we came back to this.”
Another team changed their idea completely. The resulting startup, Gift Gram, is a mobile app that sends personalized video messages along with a digital gift card. The app generates revenue by taking a portion of its gift card sales — possible because they can get a discount buying cards in bulk — and by selling premium video message templates.
Schedutary, which also had changes, is a mobile calendar app that – after some initial data input and use – can guess what appointments a user might have in the future and will reschedule existing appointments by notifying the user of free time in the future. The app will also be able to sync with existing calendar applications such as Google Calendar. The team also wants to tie the app to Facebook, so friends can find out if the user is busy and why.
Several original startup ideas withstood the three days of testing. Emergensleep designed an enclosed, rectangle-shaped sleeping pod, inspired by Japanese capsule motels, that can be quickly deployed when needed or stacked to gather like red solo cups when not in use. Nick Villarreal, who had the idea ready for 3DS, envisions the pods being used in disaster relief situations in place of traditional cots because pods are faster to set up and stackable as bunks.
“Ninety two million people are how many people were displaced worldwide by disasters last year. What do you do when that many people have no place to sleep?” Villarreal asked. “It takes a lot of time to set up a whole bunch of cots. You have to figure them out and put them in a spot. This one you can just pull out and place in that spot.”
Engineer-aiding startup Listo also got their idea through unscathed. Listo is a web application that combines parts catalogs for different construction industries into one list on one website, simplifying the process of finding and buying specific parts for engineers. Eventually, the Listo team wants to make the lists searchable by industry, part availability, price, and so on. The startup will make money from both ads and premium listing options from manufacturers.
The most popular idea at Fridays pitch meeting, Kommingle, also made it through to the final presentation. Created by Anton Moczygemba, Kommingle is a web based app that allows restaurants to push out special coupons at strategic times to get more traffic. The application is designed with a map so users can see what deals are available at what times. Additionally, however, the app helps friends organize group discounts at specific restaurants were the discounted rate increases with the size of the group. Kommingle will charge participating restaurants a one-time activation fee as well as a monthly fee.
While some presentations were rockier than others, panelist Susan Burroughs was impressed with many of the business concepts.
“I think a lot of them were very, very strong. In the first idea, I really enjoyed seeing somebody presenting from storytelling and from their heart rather than being an actor and having everything memorized,” Burroughs said. “I also felt like the last presentation was incredibly strong (Emergensleep – stackable sleeping pods.) I absolutely love social enterprise and the idea that you can do significant good in the world while still making a profit and paying your rent.”
Both Burroughs and fellow panelist Mike Troy have participated in several 3DS events. Troy believes 3DS is invaluable in showing students how the real world works.
“There is so much in school about being right. The real world operates on, ‘do the best job you can in a certain amount of time that you are given,’” Troy said. “Be okay with that, you know, and then come back and revisit it later if you really need to.”

UTSA Holds Biannual Entrepreneur Boot Camp

Reporter with Silicon Hills News

Dirk Elmendorf and Pat Condon, co-founders of Rackspace, speaking at an Entrepreneurial Bootcamp at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Dirk Elmendorf and Pat Condon, co-founders of Rackspace, speaking at an Entrepreneurial Bootcamp at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

To launch a business in college, students must master all kinds of skills.
They might have to make a business plan, find funding, do market research, sell products or services, stay on top of legal issues and intellectual property rights and sometimes figure out manufacturing.
This weekend, 150 University of Texas at San Antonio students got an edge on their competition. They covered these topics in less than eight hours in UTSA’s CITE Technology Entrepreneur Boot Camp. The camp featured ten speakers, including Rackspace Hosting co-founders Pat Condon and Dirk Elmendorf.
“Follow your own path. Don’t follow conventional wisdom necessarily,” Condon said. “Some of the conventional wisdom that we did follow that we shouldn’t of was: don’t serve your customers because you can’t make money doing it. Our history is littered with doing things because a lot of other people were doing it. It doesn’t necessarily mean you should be doing it that way too.”
Condon and Elmendorf discussed the triumphs and pitfalls of their experiences, speaking at length about a time when Rackspace’s customer support was more abysmal than fanatical. They encouraged the students to push forward with their ideas even if they didn’t feel qualified or smart enough to see them through.
“When you read hacker news, Techcrunch, all that stuff — it always feels like the founders are these anointed geniuses that are passed down from – well, there is founder worship,” Elmendorf said. “Because we give this presentation inside Rackspace, I never want someone who is joining to think it was founded by geniuses and they couldn’t contribute. We were idiots! We got lucky and we worked hard. If you can stick it out and do all those things you can make it.”
Other presenters included YUMIX founder Alex Garner, Jackson Walker Attorney William R. Borchers, and It’s 2Cool Ltd. CEO Deb Prost.
“I hope that I can inspire some of these folks to really take that nugget of an idea that they have and do all the blood, sweat, and tears that you have to do to get to where you really can market a product,” Prost said.
Held biannually, the CITE boot camp is open to students and faculty members and is designed to both inform and encourage students towards a life of entrepreneurship. The students came from a wide variety of situations. Some were getting ready to enter the $100,000 Student Technology Venture Competition with a team and a product. Others were part of the student CEO organization, part of the Certificate of Technology Entrepreneurial Management program, or simply entrepreneurship-minded students hoping to develop their skills.
“We’re taught in our program that whenever you have the opportunity to sit down and talk to people in the tech space that are from a different perspective, it’s always a good idea,” Business Senior Somer Baburek said.
Baburek is currently in the Business College’s entrepreneurship program and is preparing to enter the $100,000 competition with a medical device that wirelessly monitors fetal heart rates in labor and delivery. She attended the event to gain business knowledge and look for additional engineers for her team.
Engineering Senior Davis Richardson is also preparing for the competition, and attended to get better acquainted with the business side of startups. Richardson will be entering the competition with a device that trains students to design hydraulic systems.
“This is a really interesting opportunity because in the engineering college we spend all of our time looking at how to develop products internally,” Richardson said. “It’s not until here, or in electives, that we really get much insight into how this works outside the design process.”
Ramon Coronado and Tony Yuan at the UTSA Entrepreneurial Bootcamp

Ramon Coronado and Tony Yuan at the UTSA Entrepreneurial Bootcamp

Ph.D. Biomedical engineering students Ramon Coronado and Tony Yuan also attended the boot camp to buff their business skills. The two students are in UTSA’s Certificate of Technology Entrepreneurial Management program – an optional track designed to give Ph.D. students extra entrepreneurial training so they can launch their own businesses. Coronado and Yuan are currently preparing to launch Mobile Stem Care – which will help veterinarians take advantage of stem cell advancements.
“We have a lot of science in academia but no one around the department can teach us about business,” Coronado said. “Before this course we didn’t have the chance to see how to translate the technology [to market].”
The event also attracted younger students as well. Sophomore David Barrick is not involved in a competition or an entrepreneurship class, but he does have a few ideas for a tech company and attended to learn more about obtaining patents and talking to investors for seed funding.
“I saw this conference on a Tweet in Twitter for UTSA. I have been thinking of starting a tech company, so I saw this and said, ‘yea, this is for me’” said Barrick.
As of this weekend, 1,300 students have now gone through the CITE Technology Entrepreneurship Boot Camp at UTSA. CITE, short for Center of Innovation and Technology Entrepreneurship, is an interdisciplinary center for the colleges of engineering and business directed by Cory Hallam and Anita Leffel. While the boot camp is an achievement for the university, Hallam also sees the event as an essential part of an effort to grow the startup community, and the local economy, of San Antonio.
“We have to feed the pipeline of entrepreneurship in San Antonio, and these are students who will found companies now, found companies later, participate in three day startups, go be part of Geekdom,” Hallam said. “It’s great to be a contributor for San Antonio in that pipeline.”

UTSA’s New Dean of Business Focuses on Entrepreneurship

Reporter with Silicon Hills News

Gerard Sanders, the new dean of the College of Business at UTSA.

Gerard Sanders, the new dean of the College of Business at UTSA.

Last summer, Gerard Sanders became the new dean of the College of Business at the University of Texas in San Antonio. Sanders comes from the Rice University Jones Graduate School of Business and brings numerous credentials in management and finance, including a doctorate in management from the University of Texas. Working with Center for Innovation and Technology Director Cory Hallam, Sanders is pursuing some ambitious goals for student entrepreneurship.
In the next five years, the Business College wants to launch ten student tech startups annually. The school currently turns out two to three startups a year between its biannual $100,000 Student Technology Venture Competition and its faculty research.
Sanders and Hallam have multiple objectives in mind to accomplish this goal, starting with changes to the College of Business.
“There are a lot of good things happening here. There is a lot of potential. But we are spread a little too thin, and we need to focus,” Sanders said. “Entrepreneurship is one area that will receive that focus.”
Sanders said the college suffers from an overabundance of majors, minors, and concentrations that often overlap and drain administrative resources. By pruning and simplifying those degree plans, he hopes to allow students more class options with fewer concentrations so they can get more out of their education.
“Students can get all these same classes within a smaller program infrastructure,” Sanders said.
Administrative and financial resources will now be focused more than ever on student entrepreneurship training. The college plans to double its entrepreneur-focused faculty and all new faculty hires, regardless of discipline, will need to have an interest in entrepreneurship as well as some private sector entrepreneurial experience.
The Business College is also working on a new, more flexible curriculum structure that would allow students to learn several entrepreneurial skills required to start a business in the same three hour course.
“We want the educational experience to mirror closer to the actual entrepreneurial problems, and address the educational need there,” Sanders said.
Hallam also wants to open up graduate level Business College classes to students in other departments such as computer science – giving those students more entrepreneurial tools while also adding diverse perspectives to the classes.
“It actually builds the quality of the class because you end up with very good students from different disciplines which then expands the thought process of the class,” Hallam said.
Hallam hopes to create a similar approach with the CITE (Center for Innovation and Technology Entrepreneurship) program’s $100,000 Student Technology Venture competition, which pairs business and engineering students to create products. The goal is to expand the competition to include students in computer science, material science, physics, and other tech departments who could work with business students to launch a technology company as well. In the five years since the competition began, 650 students have participated and a total of 85 business plans have been presented. Hallam believes getting students from other departments in the mix will significantly grow the competition and result in more companies.
Of course, none of those startups will get off the ground without some financial backing. To that end, Sanders and Hallam plan to create an endowed student startup seed fund. The endowment — which is simply a large chunk of money in a bank that generates interest — would have to be several million dollars to be effective, but once established it would provide a better way to fund startups.
“Right now, if we have student startups that are struggling for money, Cory has to get on the phone and call someone and say, ‘Hey, $2000 would really help this little company,’” Sanders said.
“We need to grow that donor base and endow it so that you are not having to ask every year but now know you have built an endowment that funds this many companies a year,” Hallam said.
There are a few more ways the College of Business will boost entrepreneurship as well. This October, the UTSA student CEO organization will partner with Venturelab to hold a 3 Day Startup event on campus similar to other 3DS events held at Geekdom of San Antonio.
To facilitate long-term entrepreneurial collaboration between students, Sanders wants to create an entrepreneur-only dorm space in one of the current residence halls. The space will even be equipped with offices and a board room where students can hold meetings with clients. The Business College is still in the initial planning stages for the space but plan to have it set up in three to four years.
While UTSA’s future goals for student entrepreneurship are important, it’s also important to look where it has been. UTSA’s student CEO organization has more than 100 student owned and operated business. The Business College’s CITE program has seen more than 1000 students go through their tech boot camp. The biannual $100,000 Student Technology Venture Competition averages around 20 competing companies a semester and the exiting companies have applied for a total of 12 patents.
Multiple student startups exiting CITE have already gone on to hire experienced CEOs, create prototypes, and raise significant funding. Examples of such companies are Technophysics Solutions, Leto Solutions, Cyclosa, Lapara Medical, and Invictus – some of which have already raised hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Even if students do not move forward with their initial venture, Hallam is confident that they will be able to use their acquired entrepreneurial skills to start additional companies in the future.
“We are trying to unlock their inner entrepreneur,” said Hallam. “We would expect that the rest go out and work in companies and launch products or services – work five to ten years – and at that point they are in the right age bracket to understand the market niche they are familiar with, they understand the business they are in, and at that point they tap into their inner entrepreneur and spin off a company…and 10 years after that we ask them for a donation.”

Two San Antonio Researchers Get Seed Funding

Two San Antonio researchers have received $200,000 in seed stage funding to study new methods to optimize drug release.
Kelly Nash, assistant in the UTSA Department of Physics and Astronomy, and Dr. Benjamin Furman, a research engineering in Southwest Research Institute’s Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Division will use the funding to study “Photoresponsive Polymeric Composites Utilizing UV-Light Harvesting from Upconverting Nanoplatelets.”
Their project will focus on hydrogels for applications in drug release.
This is the third project to be funded under Connect, a collaborative program fostering research between Southwest Research Institute and UTSA.
“Drs. Nash and Furman’s Connect proposal will have tremendous value not only to industry and the university but to the nation,” Jim Massaro, assistant vice president for Research Development said in a news release.

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