AUSTIN – A $10 million fund has been authorized to bolster commercialization activities for startups at UT institutions.
Known as the UT Horizon Fund, the fund will be used to invest in ideas and scientific breakthroughs developed at UT institutions. Awards will provide venture capital to efforts aimed at commercializing the technology into the marketplace.
"This demonstrates the Board of Regents' commitment to further incentivize innovation and collaboration at UT institutions, and is one that shows an intensification of our efforts to be leaders in technology," said Regents' Vice Chairman James D. Dannenbaum , who is chairman of the Board's Technology Transfer and Research Committee.
Regents approved the $10 million fund at an Aug. 25 meeting as part of UT System Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa's  action plan for advancing excellence across UT System institutions.
By keeping both the financial investment and returns in Texas, the UT System can encourage greater commitment by UT institutions to help facilitate collaborations among the System's nine academic universities and six health institutions, and align awards to the various strengths of the individual institutions.
Although managed by UT System administration, third-party investors are a key component of the fund. A "ventures council" made up of external investors, business leaders and scientific experts will serve an important advisory role in the review process. Their involvement will help develop a stronger relationship with top‐tier venture capitalists as well as provide a source of entrepreneurs to help lead start-ups.
"Our aim is to help facilitate the development of our intellectual capacity at UT institutions, and this fund will go a long way toward achieving that goal," said Bryan Allinson, the UT System's executive director for technology commercialization. "We know that venture capital can be among the toughest obstacles for transferring discoveries into the marketplace, so we are positioning this fund to be another 'arrow in the quiver' to help our institutions and UT System as a whole to do just that."
The Office of Commercialization, situated side by side with the Office of Finance, facilitates access to capital and advisory support, among other scalable, shared services provided by the Business Affairs division. The majority of any returns from the fund will be reinvested and used for future growth. A portion of the gains also will be invested into programs designed to support further commercialization within System institutions, foster multi-institutional collaborations and reward performing institutions that have contributed to the success of the fund.
About the University of Texas System
The University of Texas System is one of the nation's largest higher education systems, with nine academic campuses and six health institutions. The UT System has an annual operating budget of $13.1 billion (FY 2012) including $2.3 billion in sponsored programs funded by federal, state, local and private sources. Preliminary student enrollment exceeded 211,000 in the 2010 academic year. The UT System confers more than one-third of the state's undergraduate degrees and educates nearly three-fourths of the state's health care professionals annually. With more than 68,000 employees, the UT System is one of the largest employers in the state.