Posted by Jayme Blaschke
University News Service
October 3, 2014
The Science, Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) Park at Texas State University has received a $100,000 gift from the Wells Fargo Foundation in support of sustainability and alternative energy research.
The gift was presented Friday to Texas State University President Denise Trauth during the university’s annual Distinguished Alumni gala.
"This generous gift from the Wells Fargo Foundation provides essential startup funding to support new initiatives being launched at Texas State in renewable energy and environmentally sustainable water technologies," said Texas State Provost Gene Bourgeois. "These partnership efforts leveraged through resources at STAR Park will further Texas State's mission of providing research with relevance."
Renewable and green technologies are areas the university is exploring with its research partners, said STAR Park Director Stephen Frayser. The gift from the Wells Fargo Foundation will help further the development of these new technologies.
"Wells Fargo believes that, as a company and as a member of the community, it’s our responsibility to help protect and restore the environment. We embrace that responsibility in all we do," said Mark Curry, Wells Fargo Community Banking president for Austin. "In 2012, we created the Wells Fargo Clean Technology and Innovation grant program as part of our effort to donate $100 million for environmental projects across the nation by 2020. Texas State University’s STAR Park is a terrific fit for our program, as it supports and fosters the development of new and emerging clean technologies that can positive impact us all."
The 58-acre STAR Park is a collaborative effort of Texas State and research partners serving as a catalyst for continued public/private development of new or improved technologies. Anchored by the STAR One technology business incubator, STAR Park is currently home to five new and emerging technology companies, a soon-to-be-opened advanced polymers and nanomaterials center, Texas State's Small Business Development Center and the Office of Commercialization and Industry Relations.
The Science,Technology, and Advanced Research (STAR)Park received authorization for expansion projects from the Board of Regents on August 29, 2014. These projects include the purchase of a 20 acre track adjacent to the 38 acre site currently occupied by STAR One and a two phase building expansion. In Phase I the remainder of STAR One will be built out to house three new Life Science labs, three new Chemistry/Materials Science labs, and the new Polymer and Nanomaterials lab. Phase II will be a building addition of approximately 16,000 square feet. Currently in the design stage is a mulit-functional meeting space, additional labs, and office spaces. Phase I is expected to be completed by Summer 2015 and Phase II should be ready for occupancy in 2016.
STAR One was originally envisioned to continue to grow as more tenants became interested with partnering with the university, and the park continues to progress with collaborative research.
With now 58.28 acres, the park itself is small compared to other established research parks, but the expansion places the university in the stategic position to supply the growing need for space and resources required by Start Up companies and researchers ."This is a huge step by the university by publicly stating they're committed to advancing the research premise at Texas State," Stephen Frayser, Executive Director commented.
Stephen Frayser came to Texas State on November 5, 2012, just four days before the university opened STAR One, the first building in a 38-acre research park about five miles from the main campus. STAR One is a 20,000-square-foot facility that will serve as a technology incubator for early stage businesses and as collaboration space for joint research and development with industry.
Although Frayser is new to Texas, he is a veteran research park manager. He came to San Marcos from the Nebraska Technology Park, where he had served as president since 2003. During his tenure, 2,400 jobs were created or retained, more than 300,000 square feet of new facilities were built and more than $68 million in new capital investments were made.
Frayser recently sat down in the newly completed STAR One building to answer some questions about Texas State’s new research park.
What are the goals for the STAR Park?
A research park creates an environment that fosters commercialization and entrepreneurship. We've got a long- range view of the world. Our goal is to create new opportunities and new companies. We want to see the university more engaged in these activities that are added to its traditional mission of research and education.
What is the focus for STAR One?
STAR One is both a business incubator and a collaboration space. Phase I of the building is focused on materials sciences. Our initial facilities are built as chemical labs, clean rooms and supporting service areas.
What kind of resources do you offer STAR Park partners?
The Austin–San Antonio region has a current shortage of laboratory space for early stage companies and collaborative efforts. We are partially addressing that need; however, as an incubator the facility is only part of the picture. We will also provide firms with access to business mentors, specialized service providers, sources of capital, specialized instruments and equipment as well as our faculty and students. Less tangible but very real is the benefit of being identified as a resident of a technology incubator located in a university-affiliated research park.
What type of partners are you looking for?
We’re looking for high growth opportunity companies that can create scalable companies, higher skill job opportunities and higher wages. Creating a research park and business incubator is one important strategy for growing and diversifying a region’s economy while providing exciting career opportunities for our graduates.
We can also act as a place for a mature company or outside organization to interact with the University on joint R&D activities. By having access to our specialized research centers and faculty, companies are able to develop new products or processes in a timely and cost effective manner. Most small to midsized firms lack sophisticated equipment and instruments dedicated to R&D, which constrains their ability to compete in an innovation-driven economy.
When will additional buildings be added to the park?
Realistically it's going to be three years before we build the next building. We are engaged in a long-term change process. While STAR Park has a real estate component it is not driven by the need to obtain a short-term gain on a real estate investment. Over time, we will generate a critical mass of firms engaged in technology-focused activities who will become the next generation of companies occupying multi-tenant or even single tenant facilities.
Why did you decide to come to Texas State?
Texas State University is an institution that is experiencing rapid growth. Change is a part of the culture that creates new opportunities to explore alternative approaches to accomplishing our mission. Being located in the Austin Metropolitan Area and adjacent to San Antonio we have an area of approximately 3.5 million people. Both cities continue to be ranked among the top 10 in the nation for growth, which translates into greater access to skilled labor, suppliers, business resources and an enriched quality of life.
How do you see events unfolding here at the STAR Park?
It is often discussed that universities are going to be the engines that drive regional economies. The important thing to understand is that a university is part of an environment. The areas that are going to succeed in the future will be those with access to institutions of higher education that understand a cross-disciplinary approach to educating our future workforce is essential. With the new Ph.D. program in material science, engineering and commercialization, Texas State University is moving in that direction. We are training the future managers and entrepreneurs who will bring new products and processes to the market by translating basic research into relevant applications.