Launched in 2020 under the new leadership of Van N. Truskett, executive director, the Texas Innovation Center guides entrepreneurs, faculty members and graduate and undergraduate students through the process of commercialization, which includes turning startup ideas into successful businesses.
The center’s collaborative, cross-disciplinary approach creates a centralized place where UT students and faculty develop startups. As an inventor and entrepreneur, Bob Metcalfe, founding director, who joined UT in 2011, started the center as a community space for advising and mentoring Longhorns exploring entrepreneurial endeavors.
Under Metcalfe, the center supported faculty and student discoveries and inventions — from an in-vivo laparoscopic lens cleaner to humanoid robotic technology — providing seed funding through Innovation Grants and other sources, offering expert advice and connecting UT entrepreneurs with the larger startup ecosystem. In his role with the Innovation Center from 2015-2019, he brought together Austin business experts with researchers and local entrepreneurs to advance startup activity across campus and throughout the city. Metcalfe has shifted to lead other priorities in the Cockrell School of Engineering, including the Geothermal Entrepreneurship Organization to develop technologies and launch companies to advance the geothermal energy industry, but his work to propel the entrepreneurial culture at UT laid the foundation for the future of the Texas Innovation Center, now led by Truskett.
“Thanks to Bob’s vision and the foundation he built at UT, we are taking the center in exciting new directions. We will be helping more faculty and students develop their product and company ideas and launch them successfully into the world.”— Van N. Truskett