The University of Texas at Austin - Discovery to Impact

Strategic Plan

Bringing Research Discoveries to the World

The strategic plan for transforming research commercialization at UT

Our mission is to translate academic research into products, services, and treatments that benefit society while supporting entrepreneurial endeavors that lead to job creation and economic development, locally and nationally. It’s a bold purpose that requires us to set a new standard of excellence, agility, transparency, and service.

Four Pillars Guide Our Work

In 2021, we endeavored to create UT’s first-ever strategic plan for research commercialization with three goals in mind: fulfill UT’s mission of public service by improving the lives of the citizens of Texas and the world; accelerate discoveries at UT by bridging the gaps between academia and the private sector; and develop a competitive advantage for recruiting faculty and students as well as attracting corporate, federal, and philanthropic research funding. In other words, make it easier for inventors and industry to move discoveries from our campus out into the world where they can be put to use to make lives better.

To achieve these goals, the strategic plan requires a multi-pronged approach. No one element alone will lead to UT becoming the leader in technology commercialization. We are grateful to have the support of the UT System Board of Regents, the President of UT, senior administration, and the President’s advisory boards so that the complete plan can be implemented in an unprecedented amount of time.

1. Culture

Building the culture of innovation on campus

Fostering a campus culture that values,rewards, and celebrates innovation and entrepreneurship requires an institutional commitment, not just a departmental one. That advocacy proudly begins with our University President, deans, senior officers, and a team of trusted advisors who help us reimagine what research commercialization can be at UT.

2. Programming

Launching new programs that provide a continuum of support for UT creators, inventors, and entrepreneurs

Discoveries are generated in labs, studios, and research spaces across every college and school, but there are programs at the institutional level to support all colleges and schools. We’re launching new programs that, combined with the existing programs and resources, provide a seamless pathway from the lab to the market for innovators and entrepreneurs at every stage of the process, from funding and training to licensing and startup management.

3. Optimizing Outcomes

Minimizing challenges and maximizing deal flows

We’re overhauling how we do business. That means developing processes and building a team that accelerates timelines when possible, avoids unnecessary administrative delays, prioritizes transparency and collaboration, and serves as a conduit among UT, industry, and investor communities so that the ideas taking root on campus today become opportunities to serve society tomorrow. We value our commercial partners and take steps to ensure that every relationship we establish provides value to the partner, the University, and society.

4. Key Performance Indicators

Measuring success based on impact

Many academic institutions focus on measures of productivity, like number of patent applications filed, number of license agreements signed. While we track those traditional measures for operational purposes, our north star is enabling UT innovations to market launch as products and services that benefit the world. Success to us is transforming lives, creating high wage jobs, and attracting capital to the region to grow the ecosystem. As the flagship research university of the State of Texas, it is our duty to look beyond the standard measures of success to ensure we are maximizing impact.

“UT has an incredible combination of advantages, and we’re in a unique position. With those, how can we do more to change the world? The flag we’re planting is that UT should become the world’s highest-impact public research university.”

– President Jay Hartzell

UT Research Lab

Supporting Campus Innovation

To date, Discovery to Impact has launched nine new programs to serve and support campus creators with several others on the horizon. Expand each to learn more and get in touch with us if we can help you.

Researcher adding vile to chiller

These include:

  • NSF, DOD, NIH-focused workshops​ 
  • On-demand webinar library 
  • 1:1 proposal assistance

Competitive grant funding for faculty members or staff with PI status toachieve a commercially relevant inflection point in the development of a discovery. Standard Texas POC awards have a maximum value of $25,000. Texas+ Proof of Concept awards are up to $125,000 from the University, with a 1:1 match from an industry partner for a project total of up to $250,000. Rolling applications are reviewed quarterly.

Live point of contact who is the human counterpart to the Navigator and can help faculty, staff, and students find the right resource or group on campus. For assistance, contact Matt Sorenson.

As UT builds its innovation pipeline, we must be in a position to protect all commercially meritorious projects. With the increase in the patent budget in FY22, we were able to file patent applications on nearly 20% more technologies.

Addresses a gap in the capital markets by providing capital to early-stage startups. $10 million has been committed to the Fund. The Fund will invest, and often co-invest, in the most promising new startups emerging from UT Austin’s research enterprise. The maximum initial investment by the University in each case will be $250,000. To be eligible, a company must have a license agreement for University-owned intellectual property. The Seed Fund manager proactively evaluates the entire pipeline of UT startups as potential investment opportunities.

Provide fractional/part-time management services to early UT companies and startups. EIRs ahelp create business plans, financing strategy, SBIR/STTR proposals and more to accelerate company growth, attract external management, and establish the business foundation needed for the long-term viability of the company.

This non-dilutive grant funding enables federal SBIR/STTR Phase I awardees who are developing UT Austin technologies to attract SBIR/STTR Phase II funding. Awards are up to $30,000. Applications are reviewed quarterly.

Reduces the requirement for startups to pay past patent expenses in exchange for equity or other additional licensing consideration. Enables startups to dedicate more money, energy and resources directly into technology development. For assistance, contact Les Nichols.

Online search tool that captures more than 130 UT programs and resources across 13 colleges and schools that form our campus’ innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem. Enables faculty, staff, students, and alumni to identify the right resources at the right point in their innovation journey.

Future Programs

Longhorn Angel Network, Entrepreneur-to-Startup Program, Faculty Bootcamp, Pitch Rounds to Industry, and Consulting Service Center

If you’re a UT inventor or researcher with questions, let us help you. If you’re a company, investor, or startup looking to work with UT, reach out.