NTX Magazine Volume 3 - Page 22

feature story INNOVATION Housing Innovation Harold Strong directs UNT’s Discovery Park and Technology Transfer, which protects the intellectual property assets of UNT and the licensing technology developed by its faculty and innovators. 20 with private server space on public clouds, an approach that clients like for its flexibility, security and reliability. IBM, the world’s largest technology company, agrees that this Dallas-based firm is the next wave, though this company’s success might be one of the more quiet stories of innovation. For how much Texans have a “larger-than-life” persona, we’re not always the first to toot horns, says Harold Strong with the University of North Texas. That kind of humble mentality that Jack Kilby portrayed is found even today, as successes can fly below the collective radar. “This is the kind of thing you might not know about,” Strong explains. “The headlines that no one read over the past year – with the primary one being SoftLayer, acquired by IBM for how much money? Over the past six months, you can find at least one notable transaction a month that no one has talked about. It’s not that we’re not innovative; we don’t talk about how innovative we really are.” Strong sees these possibilities first-hand, in his position as director of UNT’s Discovery Park and Technology Transfer, a confluence of knowledge, people and resources for technological innovation, incubation and commercialization at the university. “In the lab, for example, researchers are doing all kinds of cool things and coming up with new technology. That is the seed that entrepreneurs try to plant to grow their companies. What we are doing is building that bridge, making that synapsis smaller between the researcher and the entrepreneur. Discovery Park will help get the technology in front of the entrepreneur to match the business model to the technology. For those who can break the secret on how to do that, their success will be incredible.” UNT is one of several higher education universities in the Dallas-Fort Worth area – including Southern Methodist University, University of Texas at Dallas, Texas Christian University, The University of Texas at Arlington and more – that are not only fostering students’ interest in research, but also entrepreneurship, growing the next phase of brilliant minds that will take these ideas from bench to business in a supportive North Texas environment primed to develop the next integrated circuit or cloud computing innovation. “Our culture is changing to accept innovation more openly,” Strong explains. “We are more of an emerging research university. For these innovators, it can be scary with no net to step out and look for a structure to support you. We provide that for them.” An approach to entrepreneurship from higher education institutions in North Texas has experts across the country taking notice. Jasper Welch, president and CEO of the National Business Incubation Association, notes that this books-to-bench-to-business approach is a hallmark of North Texas, an aspect that allows the area to compete with any other for that next big idea. “Your higher education and business schools are world class. MBA interns, graduates and programs are part of the underlying support for business in North Texas,” said Welch. UNT Discovery Park is establishing an ‘entrepreneurship in residence’ program involving an established network of alumni from UNT that will enhance the region, notes Strong. Mentors will provide direct honesty and opinions as professionals who have the experience and can offer the support and connections necessary to build a successful network. The program establishes memorandums of understanding to partner with communities like Flower Mound, Texas, which will assist entrepreneurs in that city. The community hosts the entrepreneurs and supports their ideas with funding, while UNT provides thought leadership, lab space, time with business leaders and more. UNT Discovery Park is already working with a handful of companies in the DFW area and more located virtually. “What we have going for us is that we are an individual community loosely organized around the DFW area,” Strong explained. “The great thing about DFW is that we work together, but we are also independent. As we begin to communicate, we foster a spirit of ‘friendly co-opetiton.’” North Texas Booming The anecdotal evidence only echoes the activity that the numbers support. Data from Research from Your Economy indicate that in the [\