UTSA has launched a chapter of Venture Mentor Service San Antonio, designed to match experienced mentors with newly minted business ventures led by the next generation of entrepreneurs in the city.
A joint collaboration between UTSA and UT Health SA, VMS-SA is managed by both UTSA’s Office of Commercialization and Innovation and UT Health SA’s Office of Technology Commercialization. Open to all disciplines, with heavy participation from the biosciences sector, the network facilitates entrepreneurial activity to build stronger entrepreneurs who can grow successful ventures in the region, while supporting both institutions’ collective educational mission.
Currently three companies have been introduced to 12 mentors. As part of an encompassing mentoring program that stretches across The University of Texas System, this program differs from others, since it is team-based and includes a strong statement of principles to which all participants adhere. It is designed for the ventures to be focused on action and accountability and to create a community for the mentors.
“It’s a way for senior business leaders who have the background, the time and the knowledge to help the next generation.”
Each month, UTSA and UT Health SA will host a one-hour lunch meeting at which mentors can network, share experiences and then be introduced to new ventures.
Based on the model developed by MIT that has been running for over 20 years, the program has been facilitated by UT System, which provided both best practice and networking support for this chapter, and backend support for all the chapters.
The UTSA and UT Health SA collaboration follows programs established at MD Anderson, Austin Technology Incubator at UT Austin, and North Texas, a combined effort between UT Dallas, UT Southwestern and UT Arlington.
“We embraced this program, since VMS is a world-class program produced by a world-class organization. It’s a way for senior business leaders who have the background, the time and the knowledge to help the next generation of entrepreneurs,” explained Christine Burke, director of commercialization and technology transfer at UTSA.
The network is open to ventures that have a tie-in to the university. While in its launch phase, the program is focused on ventures that are developing university technologies. The next phase will include student-founded ventures.
Once the network is fully running, UTSA students who participate in entrepreneurship programs, such as UTSA CITE’s business plan competitions and who decide to start a new venture, now have a trusted resource to accelerate their success.
Volunteering equates to millions of dollars in advice, network access and time. VMS is just one of the programs the Office of Commercialization and Innovations offers and supports, including regional I-Corps programs, Entrepreneurs-in-Residence, the UTSA New Venture Incubator and UT System’s SBIR/STTR Support Network.