The Heart of the Texas Innovation Corridor

President Denise Trauth
September 25, 2018

Thank you, Mayor Thomaides.

I’m pleased to be here to welcome you all to this important event.

As the chair of the Greater San Marcos Partnership Board of Directors, I’m proud of the innovation coming out of our region, and very excited about what the future holds.

This Innovation Summit is important for several reasons.

We’ll take an in-depth look at the impact that higher education, research, commercialization, and innovation have on the future of our regional economy.

But the significance of this summit goes beyond economic impact.

Through innovation, we can solve real-world problems and ultimately improve quality of life issues, like health and public safety.

This summit also celebrates what’s possible through collaboration.

We’ve brought together some of the key leaders from the Texas Innovation Corridor who are at the forefront of this work.

These university experts will speak to the role of research universities in innovation and commercialization.

When the best and brightest in higher education, industry, and government come together, there is no limit to the innovation we can bring to bear on some of society’s greatest challenges.

I know many of you have heard of the Texas Innovation Corridor, which stretches along I-35 from Austin to San Antonio.

This region is home to rapid growth in industry, technology, research, and economic opportunity.

Texas State University’s research and degree programs, as well as our faculty and graduate student start-ups, are a catalyst for the transformation of this region.

Our pipeline of high quality, talented graduates is also attracting new companies in targeted industries.

At Texas State, we are innovating across disciplines in truly incredible ways.

Each year, we select an academic theme and organize events to engage everyone in our university community to share in what we call the Common Experience.

The Common Experience is a year-long conversation about the ideas that will shape the future, at Texas State and around the world.

It’s fitting that this year’s theme is Innovation.

Yesterday we kicked off Innovation Week as part of the Common Experience.

Researchers and experts in space exploration, health, GIS technology, product development, and many other fields have descended on Texas State for Innovation Week.

The schedule is packed with speakers, exhibits, performances, and panels about transformative innovation.

It’s an exciting opportunity for our students and community.

But of course, innovation at Texas State isn’t confined to a single week.

One of the best places to witness innovation rising to the surface is at Texas State’s entrepreneurial boot camps hosted by our Ph.D. program in Materials Science, Engineering, and Commercialization, or MSEC, and our Ph.D. program in computer science.

In it, students learn how to start their own business in a boot camp environment.

These Ph.D. programs combine STEM research and entrepreneurship education.

This ensures our students have the skills to make their innovative idea commercially viable.

Both our MSEC and computer science Ph.D. students complete two entrepreneurship boot camps -- and the programs have a phenomenal track record.

Since 2014 they have launched five Ph.D. student led companies that create groundbreaking products.

One developed lithium ion batteries that charge in minutes rather than hours, with double the battery power. 

Another created a tasteless protective coating for fruits and vegetables that triples their shelf life to reduce food waste.

Another Ph.D. student-led company uses rice husk to produce nanoparticles which can be used in environmentally friendly paint or cosmetics.

Another one developed a solar collector with optical fiber to provide indoor lighting.

And yet another of these Ph.D. student-led companies developed a water treatment product for water generated in the oil field.

These are just a few examples of the many innovative products and technologies being developed in the Texas State community, and in the Texas Innovation Corridor, every day.

An organizational innovation of which I am extremely proud is the Translational Health Research Initiative, which began two years ago.

Here’s why.

Estimates indicate that Texas spends as much as 166 billion dollars a year on chronic illness, such as diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, and conditions related to obesity.

This costs the state an additional 66 billion dollars in lost work productivity.

So in addition to being a quality of life issue, health clearly has an economic impact.

Through the Translational Health Research Initiative, we are improving the health of Texas by applying research findings to address critical medical needs.

By partnering with corporations and healthcare providers, we are translating research into practice.

We have 225 faculty actively engaged in health research and over 80 degree programs that include health-related instruction and research opportunities.

The initiative has garnered considerable support from major federal sponsors, such as the National Institutes of Health, and the National Science Foundation, as well as local sponsors such as the St. David’s Foundation.

As part of the Translational Health Initiative, we are researching:

Behavioral interventions that improve the skills of children with autism;

Communication barriers that prevent life-saving marrow donations;

And the impact of nutrition on cognitive function of breast cancer survivors;

Just to name a few.

The Translational Health Research Initiative is yet another way Texas State is working to make our state a great place to live, work, and thrive.

The final example of innovative excellence I’d like to share today is our work in smart civil engineering and smart infrastructure.

Technology is making it possible to monitor the performance of our infrastructure in new and exciting ways.

Through smart technologies and sensors, we can collect an incredible amount of data that provides insight into the condition of our bridges, buildings, roadways, water systems, and treatment plants.

These data enable us to enhance the public safety, economic value, and durability of municipal and private infrastructure assets.

Safer bridges and more efficient water delivery systems and power grids are just the beginning of what these new technologies can do.

As the profession of civil engineering is expanding to include smart infrastructure, the needs of our state’s workforce are changing.

To address this need, next fall we’ll launch a bachelor’s in civil engineering that will be the first in Texas with a holistic emphasis on technology-enhanced infrastructure.

We’ll educate the next generation of engineers with a focus on the emerging field of smart infrastructure technology.

In addition to studying all the things in a traditional civil engineering program, our students will work with monitoring sensors, advanced communication systems, predictive analytics tools, and infrastructure management technologies.

We have the power to leverage technology to enhance public safety, the environment, energy efficiency, and ultimately our quality of life.

From developing new products, to conducting groundbreaking health research, to leveraging smart infrastructure technology, we are proud to be at the forefront of innovation.

More importantly, we are proud to partner with all of you in industry, government and higher education.

Through collaboration we can magnify our impact.

There is no limit to what we can achieve, together.

Now, it is my pleasure to introduce our keynote speaker, General Paul Ostrowski.

He currently serves as the Principal Military Deputy to the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology -- and Director of the Army Acquisition Corps.

He is a key leader at the Army Futures Command, which is at the helm of the Army’s modernization efforts.

The Futures Command began operations in Austin in July.

It was established to assess the future operational environment, emerging threats, and new technologies in order to develop modern solutions to meet soldiers' wartime needs.

General Ostrowski has more than twenty-five years of experience in acquisition, operational, and joint assignments.

He previously served as the Deputy Commanding General for Support at the Combined Security Transition Command in Afghanistan.

He has received many awards, including -- the Defense Superior Service Medal, twice; the Legion of Merit; the Bronze Star Medal; and an Afghanistan Campaign Medal with a Campaign Star.

His work in the Army Futures Command will not only enhance the innovation and collaboration in our region -- it will strengthen our soldiers’ ability to identify and respond to serious threats, and make our nation safer.

Please welcome, General Paul Ostrowski.