Texas Ventures Lab Exposition showcases innovative technologies

Megan Strickland

Innovative technologies that promote more fuel efficient engines, prevent cancer, improve advertising platforms or just connect gaming systems were start-up ideas showcased at the third Texas Venture Labs Exposition Thursday.

Texas Venture Labs is a UT program under the direction of the McCombs School of Business that helps entrepreneurs find funding for their ideas, said director Robert Adams.

Keren Kang, chief operating officer at Digital Harmony Games, said partnering with the program will allow her company to pursue funding that will contribute to developing real-time multi platform technology that allows interactive gaming between currently incompatible devices such as iPhones and Androids. Kang said her company hopes to gain a foothold in the gaming industry that earns $52 billion annually.

“[The expo is] an opportunity to see what’s happening, what’s ready for commercialization and what’s ready for funding,” Adams said.

In the past 18 months, 15 of 30 companies seeking funding through Texas Venture Labs have received a total of $20 million in investments from venture capitalists. The group aids 10 entrepreneurial start-ups each semester by helping companies, many that were started by UT faculty, students or alumni, research the market for their ideas and find pathways to investors. Adams said because Texas Venture Labs does not provide funding for the start-ups, teams within the program are able to give unbiased advice .

“We look like a venture capital firm, except we don’t have a checkbook,” Adams said. “That keeps us really objective.”

For entrepreneurs not chosen by Texas Venture Labs, the UT Austin Technology Incubator can also help companies find resources for their ideas, said director Robert Reeves.

“Over the past three years we’ve had over 50 companies join [Austin Technology Incubator], and that’s resulted in $75 million for start-ups,” Reeves said. “That $75 million translated into over $100 million in economic benefit to the city of Austin.”

Reeves said 75 percent of the firm’s start-ups receive funding. Among them are Magis Isotopes, which uses technology developed by UT researchers to reduce the amount of uranium needed to run nuclear power plants. This technology could represent billions of dollars in profit annually, said biomedical engineering senior and Magis team member, Mariel Bolhouse.

Sociology sophomore Osvaldo Castellanos said students who aren’t currently planning to start their own businesses also could benefit from the expo.

“Basically every field nowadays is going to be integrated with entrepreneurship, especially with technology, so any knowledge of it will be beneficial to a career,” Castellanos said.