In 2006, the UTSA College of Business, in collaboration with the College of Engineering, produced a program in which entrepreneurs and engineering students could work together on business and technology ventures.
Since its inception, the Center for Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship (CITE) has provided intercollegiate opportunities for students in multiple disciplines by offering internships, projects and competitions to individuals looking to materialize technological ideas and begin their business endeavors. Coordinating with UTSA faculty and the local business community, students are given the resources and support through CITE to learn and initiate projects.
Anita Leffel, Director of the Entrepreneurship Program at the College of Business began, “we started with the idea that there was not a large amount of young entrepreneurs coming into the city and staying.”
Leffel continued, “we felt it was important as a University to help feed that pipeline to young entrepreneurs so that when they are educated within the University that they’ll want to stay (in San Antonio) and build a business.”
As part of the CITE program, a biannual $100K Student Technology Venture Competition is held to provide senior undergraduate entrepreneurial and engineering students with the experience of product development and entrepreneurial commercialization.
“(This collaboration) makes perfect sense for helping the economy and for moving our city forward,” Leffel explained.
The success of the CITE program has sparked the movement of the College of Business expanding their program to students at other universities looking to acquire a similar curriculum in their personal education. Offered as an online resource, the Entrepreneur’s Academy will provide the tools for entrepreneurship and a similar education offered in the CITE program.
“My colleague and I wrote (an entrepreneurial) book just for UTSA students referencing our own library and San Antonio. So we’re putting that online and turning it into a program that is a little more general to the state”, says Leffel. Still in its infancy, the Entrepreneur’s Academy will first be made available for faculty development and eventually expand to students and classes.
Winners of the CITE competition are awarded with over $100,000 in resources and support to continue their winning enterprise. Funding is provided by various donors that grant students provisions such as free office space and legal advice, explained Leffel. Past winners of the competition include technology that monitors fetal development, mind controlled wheelchairs and improvements on prosthetics.
“We just took the idea and ran with it,” says Trent Berryman, senior entrepreneur major and winner of last semester’s CITE competition. “(Our) project was a medical device that is a mask that treats sleep apnea without all the inconveniences of a sleep apnea machine,” explained Berryman.
As part of the winnings, Berryman and his group will continue to receive support executing their product. “I think it is so awesome that UTSA pairs business students and engineering students to collaborate on an idea and build a product and business plan around it. The CITE competition allows me to learn how to commercialize a product without having to know to design and develop one,” Berryman said in a statement earlier in UTSA Today. As of now, Berryman and his team continue working toward organizing and preparing their product for the medical supply market.
“Our mission is to provide an experience and to give them the resources necessary. Any nascent entrepreneur who is really interested in moving forward we want to give them the tools they need in order to move forward with their business idea,” says Leffel.