Wells Fargo gives funds to competition for green technology

Andrew Messamore

As part of a national effort to support green technology, Wells Fargo has announced that it will grant $125,000 to UT’s Venture Labs to support a green category in a business startup competition to be held on campus
next May.

In the 2012 Global Venture Labs Investment Competition, graduate students and their teams from around the world will present original business plans to panels of investors and judges who select the best new-venture opportunity. The competition is hosted by Venture Labs, a part of the McCombs School of Business that brings together graduate students from different UT schools to take part in startup and entrepreneurial programs.

Ten thousand dollars of the grant will go to the team that wins the clean energy competition, and the rest will be divided between funding for Venture Labs, the competition and the Energy Management and Innovation Center, said Venture Labs post-graduate manager Aaron Lyons.

“Because of Wells Fargo, we can award additional money that hasn’t been there in the past,” Lyons said. “It brings more exposure and credibility to the competition, which is already one of the largest of its kind in the world.”

The competition also benefits Wells Fargo, which invests heavily in clean energy research, Lyons said.

“It a reciprocal relationship,” Lyons said. “Many of the judges in the competition are from Wells Fargo, and the competition helps them network with students and business ventures interested in working in green ways. This grant couldn’t have happened at a better time for clean energy, especially here at the University of Texas where going green has become so important.”

Wells Fargo selected the competition for its grant because its purpose aligns with the company’s core values, said Michael Klein, regional executive of Wells Fargo’s commercial banking office in Austin.

“We have a clean tech practice at Wells Fargo and an investment in the green industry,” Klein said. “Green and clean tech is imbedded in what we do as a firm and we also have it as a focus in terms of our business practices. UT has been a leader in what they do and [the competition] reflects our interest in clean technology.”

The grant reflects well on the McCombs School of Business and the leadership of Dean Gilligan, said managementprofessor John Butler.

“What makes programs great at McCombs are its endowments and grants,” Butler said. “Venture Labs has been a fabulous idea, and it’s the best way to take students in the sciences and technology and introduce them to the real world and network them with professionals. It shows off our creativity and how we make research happen and also manage to bring it to the real world.”

The regional Texas Venture Labs Investment Competition will take place in February, when UT students can compete to qualify to take part in the global competition in May.