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June 24, 2019 | Tom Ballard

COMMENTARY: George Kozmetsky had the plan that Austin embraced and we did not

There are a few of us still around who remember when George Kozmetsky, the Founder of the University of Texas (UT) at Austin’s IC² Institute, came to the region to offer insights on how we could take advantage of the assets that exist in the Knoxville-Oak Ridge region and build a start-up hotbed.

It made sense to listen to his ideas since Kozmetsky was the champion of the same concept in Texas where he saw fertile ground to grow a vibrant tech-oriented start-up community by connecting Austin’s academic, business and community leaders around this goal. The result was something called the Austin Technology Incubator (ATI).

For decades, the organization focused on three industries: hardware, software and semiconductors. Those companies  are now part of Texas’ global reputation. Looking forward, ATI is committed to developing more “deep tech” start-ups, a reference to companies that want to use technology to solve major problems faced by humanity today and in the future. ATI is currently supporting companies tackling global problems in circular economy, energy, food and agtech, healthcare, mobility and water sustainability.

Recently, ATI announced a new initiative focused on rural economic development (read here).

It’s been 30 years (see this brief article) since ATI was founded and look where where Austin is. Too bad there were not enough believers here when Kozmetsky visited. He gave us the recipe.


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