University of Texas at Austin Introduces Venture Labs Campus-wide Program to Accelerate Business Creation

The University of Texas at Austin has announced a campus-wide program, Texas Venture Labs, to make it easier for student and faculty entrepreneurs to start businesses by providing a faster, step-by-step method to bring their innovations to market.

Thomas Gilligan, dean at the McCombs School of Business, said Texas Venture Labs arose from the school's entrepreneurship strategy.

"We have a wealth of resources at the university to support entrepreneurship, innovation and company formation," he said, "while giving our students and researchers direct experience with launching companies, many of them based on new ideas and technologies developed on campus."

Rob Adams, director of Texas Venture Labs, has helped more than eight start-ups through an early-stage version of this program in the last five years, with each successfully raising multi-million dollar rounds of financing. Two of the companies were recently acquired, generating venture class returns for their investors despite the weakened economy.

"We've been running a skunk-works version of this approach for years, and we know how to do it consistently," Adams said. "This is the model we are expanding."

Venture Labs works closely with other schools, including the Cockrell School of Engineering and the School of Law, and campus-based organizations, such as the Austin Technology Incubator and the Office of Technology Commercialization. It will guide entrepreneurs to the business, technology and legal resources available on campus and in the Texas entrepreneurial community. Students, faculty and researchers will also draw upon these resources as they mentor, guide and evaluate innovative ventures.

In addition, Texas Venture Labs has finalized its first business relationship with the Central Texas Angel Network (CTAN). Under this relationship Venture Labs will help CTAN identify start-up companies that have outside investment potential.

"This is an exciting example of the networking power Venture Labs can bring to the business community and the university" said Randall Crowder, the Master of Business Administration student president of Venture Fellows and CTAN's executive director, who spearheaded the partnership. "With this beginning we can easily add other capital providers to the Venture Labs network, opening the door for even more opportunity for campus entrepreneurs."

More details on Texas Venture Labs, including its process and how to apply, can be found online.