By K.C. Gonzalez/Public Affairs Specialist
The UTSA Center for Innovation and Technology Entrepreneurship (CITE) has received $300,000 from the 80/20 Foundation to continue its growth as San Antonio’s pipeline for young tech entrepreneurs. On the heels of becoming the first Texas university to receive distinction as a National Science Foundation Innovation Corps Site, UTSA’s focus on technology entrepreneurship is about to expand even further.
“UTSA’s entrepreneurship program has been the best kept secret in San Antonio for many years,” said Lorenzo Gomez III, executive director of the 80/20 Foundation. “It is these students that will end up creating the next Rackspace and we hope that with our partnership we can accelerate and expand their great momentum.”
Established in 2006 as an interdisciplinary center in the College of Business and College of Engineering, CITE fosters the growth of entrepreneurs and new technology-based ventures through education, experiences, resources and support. More than 500 UTSA students have competed in the center’s technology business competition resulting in more than 80 new ventures pitched to investors. Several past competition winners have established start-up companies, secured funding, hired CEOs and are on their way toward commercial success. The center also fosters the more than 100 student-owned businesses on campus in the Roadrunner Business Incubator.
“With additional resources in place, we expect to see a sizable increase in the number of students and faculty involved in San Antonio tech start-up companies over the next few years,” said Cory Hallam, UTSA chief commercialization officer, associate professor and CITE director. “We have built the foundation, now we are taking the next steps to create an even more robust entrepreneurial ecosystem at UTSA.”
UTSA has appointed biomedical engineering assistant professor of research Teja Guda as assistant director of CITE. Representing the College of Engineering, Guda will work alongside current CITE assistant director Anita Leffel, who serves as the College of Business representative in her role as senior lecturer in the UTSA Department of Entrepreneurship and Technology Management.
In the coming months, CITE will hire a full-time program coordinator, who will manage the center through its growth phase. With the addition of a full-time center administrator, the faculty who have been coordinating the programs will be able to focus more on enhancing the technology entrepreneurship curriculum and building the resources available to UTSA students and faculty.
“I’m very much looking forward to making the UTSA College of Engineering a more integrated part of CITE and ensuring that our engineering students target pressing real-world challenges and come to naturally think about their innovations as having a possible life beyond the classroom,” said Guda.
Guda specializes in the area of developing regenerative strategies for bone and skeletal muscle tissue engineering and works closely with the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research to translated these therapies to treat wounded warriors. He understands the important role engineers play in developing innovative products and technologies that could change the world and has developed an engineering course at UTSA on product development.
Guda earned his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay, India, and received his Ph.D. in biomedical engineering at UTSA through the joint program with the UT Health Science Center San Antonio. After completing postdoctoral research at Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, he returned to San Antonio in 2011 to join the faculty of the UTSA Department of Biomedical Engineering.
CITE’s signature programs include the semiannual $100K Student Technology Venture Competition and Technology Entrepreneurship Boot Camp. Additionally, CITE manages the Roadrunner Business Incubator for early-stage student companies and the New Venture Incubator for emerging technology and biomedical device companies. In May 2014, CITE was designated a National Science Foundation Innovation Corps Site, joining a national initiative to foster entrepreneurship that will lead to the commercialization of technology.