Concordia University Texas moves ahead with innovation center project

Research shows incubator program needed in Northwest Austin

Beginning this fall entrepreneurs in the northwest area of Austin may have a new resource to get their business ideas off the ground.

Concordia University Texas announced May 29 it will be moving forward with an incubator project to help accelerate the development of local business entrepreneurs, said Melinda Brasher, Concordia Communications Associate vice president.

"The Concordia incubator project, or innovation center, has great potential for supporting and promoting entrepreneurial spirit and small-business growth in this area," said Don Christian, future Concordia University Texas CEO and current dean of the College of Business. "We are excited to move forward in discussions with local entities for partnerships and space."

Incubator projects in the Austin area vary in the ways they help entrepreneurs—from providing seed money, expert resources and/or office space in exchange for equity or a percentage of ownership in the prospective company.

"The announcement of the Concordia University business incubator program is an important addition for Northwest Travis County to the Austin innovation ecosystem, well-known as one of the most vibrant startup ecosystems in the country," said Michele Skelding, senior vice president of global technology and innovation at the Austin Chamber of Commerce. "The Concordia University business incubator has the potential to further promote and drive economic activity, benefit businesses through access to academic resources, connect startups to capital and fuel job creation for Texas."

Brasher said the school based its decision on a study it performed with research firm Strategic Options Inc. during the spring. Concordia received a gift of $250,000 to fund the research and provide startup costs if the incubator project was determined to be a viable pursuit, she said.

The study focused on whether an innovation center, or incubator, was a viable option to help business entrepreneurs, especially Christian business leadership, in the community, she said. The study included suggestions for the best location for the program as well as potential partners, services, equipment and sources of revenue, she said.

"While there are a number of innovation centers in and around Austin, our research showed that the communities around Concordia are not necessarily being served by them," Strategic Options principal Kathryn Davis said. "Statistics show that small businesses have a greater level of success, nearly 80 percent, when started in an incubator."

Currently there are no business innovation centers located in Cedar Park or Leander, Brasher said.

"[Four Points, Cedar Park and Leander] would be able to take advantage of any [incubators] in the northwest corridor," said Kevin Lancaster, Place 3 member of Cedar Park's 4A Economic Development Sales Tax Corp. "There are all kinds of positives out there as far as where you are getting funding. It's just a matter of finding what's appropriate for you."

Concordia and Strategic Options conducted interviews with a variety of stakeholders, including city officials, area business leaders, high school instructors, directors of other incubators, and Concordia staff and students, Brasher said.

"The Concordia innovation center will provide direct opportunities for students to get hands-on experience with entrepreneurs and early-stage businesses," Davis said. "Students can assist entrepreneurs with the development of their businesses and can potentially commercialize their own product or service concept. The center will enable faculty to develop their own ideas or to work with entrepreneurs and bring the experience back to the classroom."

Brasher said staff will continue to refine the program's vision and location, with a final decision to be announced later this summer.


Abbott's order closes all state parks and historical sites effective 5 p.m. April 7. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Gov. Abbott closes state parks, historical sites due to coronavirus concerns

Abbott said the closure is to help prevent large gatherings and strengthen social distancing.

VIDEO: Texas Tribune interview with Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar about the coronavirus's effects on the state economy

At 8 a.m. April 7, The Texas Tribune will host a live interview with Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar, conducted by Texas Tribune Executive Editor Ross Ramsey.

Lakeway officials relax restrictions on certain city code violations in light of COVID-19 crisis

Lakeway officials discussed the relaxation of several restrictions within the city code during a special called meeting April 6.

Austin and Travis County adopted new guidelines, recommending local residents wear face masks or fabric covering when out in public. (Christopher Neely/Community impact Newspaper)
Coronavirus update: There are now more than 500 confirmed cases in Travis County, Austin

This post will include updates from Travis County and the city of Austin for the week of April 6, including daily case counts. For local updates from March 30-April 5, please click here.

The Texas Workforce Commission's phone and online systems to accept applications for unemployment benefits have been overwhelmed by hundreds of thousands of Texans who are out of work and looking for assistance. (Design by Shelby Savage/Community Impact Newspaper)
With Texas Workforce Commission overwhelmed by surging unemployment claims, Central Texas residents try to hang on

The Texas Workforce Commission received 1.7 million calls from individuals seeking assistance with unemployment benefits in a 24-hour period on March 26.

'OPEN FOR TAKEOUT': With Austin's restaurants in survival mode, one local sign shop is helping get out the message

Rocket Banners' "Open For Takeout" signs can be seen outside hundreds of restaurants throughout Austin.

(Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Survey finds Texas brewers losing more than 70% of revenue because of coronavirus

Brewers across the state are renewing calls for Gov. Greg Abbott to grant temporary waivers for shipping, delivery and tax relief.

A graphic mask-makign tutorial
Austin-Travis County health official answers cloth mask questions

As Austin and Travis County authorities recommend cloth masks in public, they emphasize the importance of continuing to maintain social distancing measures.

As of April 6, Travis County public health officials have reported 484 confirmed COVID-19 cases. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Live updates: Confirmed coronavirus cases in the Lake Travis-Westlake area

Out of the 484 confirmed cases, 63 have come from within the Lake Travis-Westlake area, which comprises nine ZIP codes in western Travis County.

Beginning April 6, Lake Travis ISD will offer a list of remote electives for students. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)
Lake Travis ISD set to offer electives through its remote learning platform

Beginning April 6, LTISD students will be able to access a number of elective courses, including art, music, physical education, foreign language, career and technical education, and more.

(Brian Perdue/Community Impact Newspaper)
April 6: 8 coronavirus stories Austin-area readers need to know

Catch up on some of the latest coronavirus updates for the Austin metro below.

Lakeway Resort & Spa is running a special for medical professionals in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Courtesy Lakeway Resort & Spa)
Lakeway resort works to create safe space for community medical workers, first responders

Lakeway Resort & Spa is offering reduced rates for medical professionals and first responders in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.