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Pitch Day helps TXST students' innovative ideas turn into cash

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Pitch Day helps TXST students' innovative ideas turn into cash

Sunday, June 2, 2024

It’s said creativity is thinking up new things, but innovation is doing new things.

Students at Texas State University have been engaging in a dual pursuit, fostering their ideas and visions with the aim of sparking innovation. Over the past six years, a handful of these students have taken their aspirations a step further by presenting their concepts to a panel of judges from the TXST New Ventures Program. This program extends mentorship, services, and cash to the most promising finalists, providing tangible support to bring their ideas to fruition.

TXST New Ventures is a competitive incubator/ accelerator program that supports early-stage business ventures from faculty, student, or alumni ideas and innovations. Its program lead, Sean Bauld, says the program offers participants both personal and professional growth through mentorship and training from TXST network of faculty as well as industry experts, and external fellow innovators.

To spark the enthusiasm of aspiring entrepreneurs we provide the opportunity to vie for a portion of more than $100,000 in startup funding, as well as in-kind services, access to space opportunities at STAR Park, and other essential resources crucial for stimulating business from conception to clientele.

“There's cash prizes and non-cash prizes. We've partnered with Amazon Web Services. We give out hosting credits. We've partnered with Dell for Startups. We've partnered with UFCU. So, we give away services to help people start their businesses and grow,” said Bauld. “Finalists, teams presenting on Pitch Day, can win up to $20,000 each in addition to all the support every team receives.

Bauld said the rest of the group, referred to as the “Cohort,” are on hand as well.

“We want to introduce the innovators and great ideas from across campus and the TXST landscape,” Bauld said.

There’s no limit to the number of students or faculty that can participate but Bauld cautions that this isn’t the place for “hobbyist.”

“This is not for hobbyists. This is for people who really want to solve a problem, it takes work,” Bauld added.

But who should apply, Bauld said, are individuals or teams with a compelling solution to a problem. It may be a nonprofit, it may be something people can adopt or do differently, or it may be a business in need of concept testing or in need of prototyping, validation of product- market fit, evaluation of market potential, assistance with gaining customer traction, or other core business development area.

Bauld said the public is encouraged to attend the event on June 22 at the Alkek Teaching Theater on the campus of Texas State University. Doors open at 12:30 p.m. where attendees can meet teams and partners. “Pitching” begins at 1 p.m. with winners announced at 2 p.m. – parking is free.

“At the University, we want to embrace the public around us,” Bauld said. “We want to celebrate the entrepreneurs and innovators as well as showcase to investors, alumni, and partners the cool research and ideas coming from Texas State stakeholders, faculty, staff, and students. There are some interesting things going on and it's a great way to see that.”

This year’s VIPs from outside Texas State include Keynote speaker, Hugh Forrest, Chief Programming Office of SXSW; and judges include Dr. Nishi Viswanathan Head of Commercialization at Innovation Lab; Oji Udezue, Chief Product Officer at Typeform; and David Valentino, Managing Director at Austin Venture Association.

TXST has made tremendous progress on multiple fronts related to innovation in recent years: Under the leadership of Dr. Bill McDowell, a campus wide minor in entrepreneurship has been launched.

Vice President of Research, Dr. Shreek Mandayam, has named Dr. Yatin Karpe assistant vice president for Innovation and Commercialization.

The popular TXST Innovation Series which does deep dives in topics ranging from Digital Twins to Healthcare is open to the public and has been expanded from STAR Park to include the Round Rock campus now.

Bauld leads workshops introducing athletes to entrepreneurship or social workers to entrepreneurship and believes problem solvers come from everywhere. .

“Athletes, chemists, physicists, social workers… their perspective, resilience, and mindset make them some of the best employees and add to the vitality and economic development of our community,” added Bauld. “Come out and meet the next generation of problem solvers.”

This year’s four presenting finalists come from a diverse range of industries: sustainable energy, autonomous drones and robots, infrastructure/ construction, health and life sciences.

San Marcos Record

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P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666