One of the keys to Central Texas' future is the region's burgeoning tech industry. That was the refrain from the 2nd Annual Greater San Marcos Innovation Summit on Nov. 5 at the Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center.

The event brought together experts in the fields of technology, economic development, education and business to discuss Central Texas' rapid growth and how the region can better harness its assets.

"We live in a great time in Central Texas and have so many opportunities in front of us," Hays County Pct. 3 Commissioner Will Conley said. "We're very blessed that we have one of the great assets in the region and in the state and certainly in Hays County with Texas State University."

Much of the conference focused on Texas State's contributions to the region's economy.

In August, Texas State closed on a deal that will expand it's Science, Technology and Advanced Research, or STAR, Park from 38 acres to 58. Currently STAR Park's first building has five tenants, including Micropower-Global, National Nanomaterials, Quantum Materials, PetaOmics and SMRC.

An expansion slated to begin construction on Thursday will include additional laboratory space as well as a makerspace—complete with 3-D printers and laser cutters— that STAR Park Executive Director Stephen Frayser described as "a hobbyist's dream on steroids." The maker space will be used for faculty and staff research.

Quantum Materials, which manufactures tetrapod quantum dots, a material that can be used in a variety of commercial applications, was awarded the second annual Burdick Innovation Award at the conference. According to a Greater San Marcos Partnership news release, the award "highlights companies who are pushing this region past the status quo."

Texas State University President Denise Trauth touted STAR Park and the university's emphasis on commercializing technologies created at the park.

"If our faculty and staff get rich off of work they did while at Texas State, we think that's a good thing," she said.

In addition to representatives from STAR Park and Texas State University, the event featured panels comprised of representatives from companies such as Wells Fargo, R-Water, SioTeX, Broaddus & Associates and others.