TECH GRANTS

Two Austin groups score U.S. Department of Commerce innovation grants

Money will go to commercialize water technology and foster investments in women-led startups.

Posted November 15th, 2016

 

Two Austin groups -- the Austin Technology Incubator and True Wealth Ventures --  have come out winners of the U.S. Department of Commerce innovation competition.

The awards were part of $15 million grant program aimed at creating and expanding commercialization programs and early-stage seed capital funds.

Recipients were announced on Tuesday by Jay Williams, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development, at Austin City Hall.

For its part, the Austin Technology Incubator will receive $500,000 to build out the Texas Smart Water Innovation Cluster.

Earlier this year, ATI, which is part of the University of Texas, launched a water technology incubator called ATI Water. The goal is to accelerate the development of innovative water technologies.

ATI Water is building a Texas-wide network of entrepreneurs and university-based water researchers to test and commercialize technology.

Through the Texas Smart Water Innovation, ATI plans to advance those efforts, said Isaac Barchas, ATI's executive director.

"The neat thing about water is there isn't any place in America that owns water technology, and Austin is really well positioned to do that," Barchas said. "This could end up planting a flag for a new technology area in Austin that would be interesting and important."

Through the grant and ATI's efforts, Barchas said, "We expect at dozens of companies to be created, at least 100 clean water technology jobs and millions of dollars in economic activity."

Meanwhile, the Gender Lens Impact Fund at the University of Texas received $250,000. The Gender Lens fund is led by True Wealth Ventures, an Austin-based venture capital firm that invests in women-led startups.

The two-year grant will be used for marketing, sourcing deals and doing due diligence. (The grant money won't be used to make investments in startups.)

In all, 35 organizations from 19 states will receive money. The other Texas recipients were the University of Texas at San Antonio's South-Texas Innovation Partnership, or S-TIPP, which received $499,997; and WERX Foundation in McKinney, which was granted $345,895.

Williams said the grants "will reach a variety of communities and help entrepreneurs gain the edge they need to succeed. The diversity in programs and regional representation proves that innovation and entrepreneurship are igniting all corners of the country."

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