The Texas Emerging Technology Fund (TETF)

Last week Governor Rick Perry’s office announced a $3 million grant through the Texas Emerging Technology Fund (TETF) to create the Center for Cell and Organ Biotechnology in collaboration with the Texas Heart Institute (THI) and Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

In light of this announcement, we thought this would be an excellent time to discuss the TETF and explain how it works. NOTE: This post is largely a recap of the excellent information on the TETF website, which we urge to you read and bookmark the site if you are interested in applying for funds for an emerging technology project.

What is the TETF?

The TETF is a $200 million initiative created at the Governor’s request by the Texas Legislature in 2005. The initiative was reauthorized in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013. A 17-member advisory committee of high-tech leaders, entrepreneurs and research experts reviews potential projects and recommends funding allocations to the governor, Lieutenant Governor and Speaker of the House.

According to the press release from the Office of the Governor, the TETF has to date allocated more than $203 million in funds to 142 early stage companies, and over $216 million in grant matching and research superiority funds to Texas universities. Additionally, since the program began, more than $1.67 billion in additional investment from other non-state sources has followed on to the TETF investment, more than quadrupling the amount invested by the State through this program.

How does the program work?

ETF grants are awarded in the following three areas (click on an area heading to go to the application website):

Commercialization Awards help companies take ideas from concept to development to ready for the marketplace. Commercialization awards are granted when the State utilizes taxpayer funds to make an investment in a privately-owned entrepreneurial business that is seeking to bring a new or enhanced technology to the marketplace.

To be eligible for this award, a business must partner with one of the State’s institutions of higher education. Priority for funding is given to proposals that involve emerging scientific or technology fields that have a reasonable probability of enhancing the State’s national and global economic competitiveness.

Research Grant Matching Awards create public-private partnerships which leverage the unique strengths of universities, federal government grant programs, and industry. This program enables the State to secure additional research funds from outside the State in key technical and scientific areas that contribute to the growth of our emerging-technology economy.

Priority for funding is given to emerging-technology research and development that will have a significant impact on Texas’ future economy or may result in a major medical or scientific breakthrough. Preference is also given to research activities that involve collaboration among multiple Texas institutions of higher education and private entities.

Research Superiority Acquisition Awards are for Texas higher education institutions to recruit the best research talent in the world. The goal of the program is to bring the best and brightest researchers in the world to Texas, thus enabling our academic institutions to continue to build expertise in key research areas, attract and inspire students to pursue advanced degrees in STEM areas, and provide a resource to the community by fostering innovation and commercialization.

Priority is given to proposals that involve scientific or technical fields that have a reasonable probability of enhancing the State’s national and global economic competitiveness, as well as proposals that may result in a medical or scientific breakthrough. Added consideration is also given to proposals that are interdisciplinary, are eligible for federal and other outside funding for research superiority, and are likely to create a nationally or internationally recognized locus of research superiority.

To be eligible for a Research Superiority Acquisition Award, an applicant must

  1. be a Texas public institution of higher education,
  2. commit to acquiring new research superiority talent from outside the State, and
  3. be sponsored by the institution’s leadership

Who do I work with to apply for a grant? 

Regional Centers of Innovation and Commercialization (RCICs) were established by the Legislature to support the activities for a specified region. The RCICs work with the Office of the Governor and the TETF Advisory Committee to identify, evaluate, and submit promising proposals from their respective regions to the TETF Advisory Committee. The TETF Advisory Committee makes final recommendation on awards.

The RCICs also work closely with applicants to assist them with developing TETF proposals, post-proposal debriefings, and commercialization activities. In addition, RCICs are a good resource for increasing cooperation and spurring collaboration between industrial, financial, and academic entities.

A list of RCICs can be found on the TETF website here. You can also contact the ETF staff here.

If there is a topic you would like to see covered in the future on the Texas Business Blog, please leave a comment below and we’ll be happy to consider it.

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