UTSA has announced another growth spurt for its program that teaches students how to turn their hi-tech ideas into successful businesses.
The university has received a $300,000 grant to expand its Center for Innovation and Technology Entrepreneurship program. The 80/20 Foundation, who provided the funding, gave the grant in hopes that one day someone going through this program will create the next Rackspace.
UTSA’s Cory Hallam, director of the CITE program, said the 80/20 Foundation and Geekdom have helped grow the tech entrepreneur pipeline that will ensure San Antonio’s tech future.
"You can have investment money, you can have incubators, but if there are no new people going into it with cool ideas, then there's nothing to support," Hallam said. "So they see what we're doing here as that big source of young tech entrepreneurs in town who will feed into the pipeline, and they believe in our vision."
The program offers a boot camp each year where students can learn from successful tech entrepreneurs from the local community. Hallam said CITE has the only $100,000 competition in the UT system where students must develop a working prototype of their technology and pitch their business plan to local investors.
"You know, we get the fire burning in their bellies. They get some experience at, honestly, how exciting and how difficult it is to pitch a new idea, which is much like a Shark Tank environment," he said.
CITE enrollment has grown five-fold since its first year in 2006, sending new entrepreneurs into San Antonio’s aerospace, health care, biotech, cyber security, oil and gas and other technology fields.