UT Arlington’s entrepreneurship center celebrates ‘excitement in the chaos’ | Fort Worth Report

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The Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology Development at the University of Texas at Arlington knows what it means to be a startup. It’s a small staff working on big ideas in an office on the ground floor of a parking garage.

“There’s nothing that can tear us down, drag us down or limit our excitement,” said Paul Corson, executive director of the center. “We’ve turned our bottom floor of the parking garage into a little bit of an art museum.”

And Corson has turned his office into a space for innovation — for all. It’s not just for business and engineering students, but art students taking an entrepreneurship class and grade schoolers to high schoolers working to refine “big ideas” with local partners. Inside the space, UTA faculty and students can develop plans to license their technology with the center or evaluate their potential to get a patent.

That’s just at the campus level. Corson and his team want to create innovation districts in personalized medicine, which uses a patient’s characteristics to treat disease, and obtain federal grant funding to create a regional semiconductor tech hub in North Texas and Oklahoma.

We have “a very wide range of responsibilities, from student gigs to ‘how do we transform the economy of a region?’” said Corson.

The list of programs is long. Since Corson started in his position last fall, his office has been developing or revamping around three dozen initiatives. Corson has experience in the field. Prior to coming to Arlington, he led a center for innovation at the University of Utah and managed a federal office for innovation and entrepreneurship in Washington D.C.

Central to its mission on campus, the center has organized and planned open houses for faculty, students and the community. And they’ve found willing partners in the Arlington business world, leading to a series of workshops on entrepreneurship-related topics with the Arlington Latino Chamber of Commerce and a sponsorship of the “What’s Your Big Idea” workshop with the Greater Arlington Chamber of Commerce.

The center recognizes the importance of collaboration. It helped organize the university’s Research and Innovation Expo in April, where participants learned how to find external funding, from federal grants to industry leaders who need technology advancements for their businesses.

In partnership with a local organization, the center is looking to set up a local chapter of 1 Million Cups, a space where entrepreneurs give weekly presentations about their businesses and get feedback from the participants in the audience.

With the help of the center’s large and small efforts, Corson hopes that the steps to founding a startup won’t be completely foreign territory.

“What we do is absolutely terrifying, but there is massive excitement in the chaos and the potential,” said Corson.

Shomial Ahmad is a higher education reporter for the Fort Worth Report, in partnership with Open Campus. Contact her at shomial.ahmad@fortworthreport.org.

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This article first appeared on Fort Worth Report and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Shomial Ahmad is the higher education reporter at the Fort Worth Report and works in partnership with Open Campus. She’s reported on higher education issues at the City University of New York, where…
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