UT is caught up in the sweeping entrepreneurship program frenzy, ranking in fifth place for their graduate entrepreneurship program

Joan Vinson

Groups designed to help young companies get their feet off the ground are on the rise in Austin, and UT is in the mix.

The Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine ranked a UT graduate entrepreneurship program fifth in the nation after reviewing more than 2,000 schools. The rankings were determined by the amount of entrepreneurship work done inside and outside of the classroom, the quality of its mentorship programs and the numbers of students, faculty and alumni working together in entrepreneurship efforts. UT did not rank in the top 25 for undergraduate entrepreneurship programs.

Texas Venture Labs, a graduate entrepreneurship program at UT, has two missions: to help UT and Central Texas startups raise money and take their ideas to market and to help UT graduate students become entrepreneurs and business leaders.

Rob Adams, director of Texas Venture Labs, said they have a team of graduate students work with outside companies.

“One part of our goal with Venture Labs is to help graduate students see first hand how a company grows,” Adams said. “The other part is an investment competition and a course called New Venture Creation where students learn how to put together their own thing.”

Incubators — organizations that help businesses evolve their ideas — are creating a foundation for new companies by identifying fixable problems or completely changing business plans if needed. The Austin Technology Incubator is a program operated by UT’s IC² Institute, an interdisciplinary research unit, that has a goal to promote economic development in Central Texas with entrepreneurial businesses and to teach UT students practical entrepreneurship.

Isaac Barchas, director of Austin Technology Incubator, said ATI is the University incubator that helps early-stage technology companies, including student companies, grow by surrounding them with talent they could not afford to hire otherwise. Resources available to students through the incubator include business professionals from the surrounding community and other students and faculty.

“There are a lot of people in Austin who have been successful in technology and a lot of those people want to stay connected to the early-stage community,” Barchas said. “ATI at the University of Texas is a great way for them to do that.”

The Longhorn Startup Camp was established last March as a place for students to share ideas for the creation of new startups. It was designed to promote collaboration between startups and student entrepreneurs. Rhetoric and writing junior Nick Spiller helped start UThinkTank, a company that makes it easier for student entrepreneurs to turn an idea into a company by offering guidance and resources. Spiller’s startup was one of the first granted access to the camp.

“We used the networking potential at Longhorn Startup Camp to start UT Entrepreneurship Week with many of the entrepreneurial student organizations on campus,” Spiller said.

UT Entrepreneurship Week is a weeklong event in March created to encourage entrepreneurship and bring student entrepreneurs together with professionals in the community and UT entrepreneurship faculty. 

Printed on Thursday, September 27, 2012 as: UT entrepreneurship program helps kick-start new companies