ATI celebrates 30th anniversary

ATI celebrates 30th anniversary

2019 marks Austin Technology Incubator milestone

The Austin Technology Incubator at The University of Texas at Austin celebrated its 30th year with recognition as one of the first and the longest active technology business incubator in the United States. On May 20th, ATI commemorated this milestone with an invitation-only anniversary celebration held at the AT&T Conference Center with over 350 in attendance. The celebration included a launch of its new branding and a rich program that covered the history, successes achieved to date, and future vision for ATI’s continued economic impact and contribution to Central Texas and beyond. 

Founded in 1989 by Dr. George Kozmetsky (co-founder of Teledyne, Dean of Business at The University of Texas at Austin, and founder of the IC² Institute) and Laura Kilcrease (founding executive director of the Austin Technology Incubator), ATI has worked with thousands of early stage technology companies coming from both UT Austin as well as the Austin community. To date, ATI has graduated over 300 member companies, contributed over $3B economic impact to Central Texas, laid the groundwork for 10 IPOs and over 50 mergers & acquisitions, and helped raise over $1.7B for member companies over the past 12 years alone.

The 30th Anniversary Celebration took place on May 20, 2019 at the AT&T Center at The University of Texas at Austin.

Distinguished speakers at the event included Texas Governor Greg Abbott, in a video address; Austin Mayor Steve Adler; UT Austin President Greg Fenves; UT Austin Vice President for Research Dan Jaffe; Greg Kozmetsky, CEO of KMS Ventures and President of the RGK Foundation; and Pike Powers.

"ATI plays a key role in developing meaningful solutions to today's global challenges. Their contributions have been a catalyst for greater investments and economic development across Central Texas."

Texas Governor Greg Abbott

"30 years may seem like a relatively short amount of time, but in tech years, it's an eternity. It means that ATI was and continues to be a visionary organization, founded with the belief that there was a deep need for tech innovation in Austin and a unique opportunity available here to partner with this great university and our brilliant faculty and students to help spur an economic revolution in Central Texas."

President Greg Fenves, The University of Texas at Austin

"ATI has had a significant impact on Austin - impact that goes well beyond their 10+ IPOs or 50+ mergers and acquisitions, $1.7B funds raised for their member companies or even their $3B economic impact. Beyond all that, ATI has been a part of the branding of Austin and ever increasing global awareness of Austin."

Austin Mayor Steve Adler

ATI’s economic impact for Central Texas over its 30 years

ATI 30th anniversary - metrics

ATI’s mission is to empower university and community entrepreneurs through a customized approach to effectively commercialize their breakthrough innovations to compete in the global marketplace. By mentoring innovators across campus and beyond, working with the regional business community to strengthen emerging technology sectors, and graduating high growth startups into the local, state and national economy, ATI has maintained its reputation as one of the nation’s finest models for technology business incubation.

ATI opened the celebration with a new video that highlights ATI’s past, present and future. 

“As part of our evolution, ATI is now focused on deep tech, which is often set apart by its profound enabling power, the differentiation it can create, and its potential to be a catalyst for change,” said Mitch Jacobson in his welcoming remarks. He went on to reveal ATI’s new branding by highlighting that “ATI’s first logo and our new logo include a delta symbol, which represents change and reinforces our commitment to support our startups’ exploration and commercialization of deep tech solutions that address global challenges – contributing to The University of Texas at Austin’s promise of ‘what starts here changes the world.'”

ATI founders panel

Laura Kilcrease, co-founder and original executive director of the Austin Technology Incubator, led a panel of contributing founders which included Lee Cooke (Austin mayor), Glenn West (Austin Chamber CEO), Ray Smilor (IC² Institute director) and Carol Thompson (Austin Chamber board chair and ATI board member). Their discussion painted the economic picture of Austin in the 1980s and the commitment to ATI from the City of Austin, the Austin Chamber of Commerce, Travis County and The University of Texas at Austin for a long term vision of Austin developing as a major technopolis which established the base for the Austin ecosystem that exists today. Watch the video.

Left to right: Glenn West, Carol Thompson, Laura Kilcrease, Ray Smilor and Lee Cooke

ATI student associates panel

By mentoring students across campus and working with the regional business community to strengthen emerging technology sectors, ATI embodies the core purpose of The University of Texas at Austin, which is to transform lives for the benefit of society. “The University of Texas is so critical to ATI, not just from the perspective of being a great supporter but from the other perspective of allowing the students to have experiential learning, to allow the professors to do profoundly new research,” noted Laura Kilcrease. Literally hundreds of students have gained real hands-on exposure to entrepreneurs and early-stage ATI companies. Many student associates have gone on to work for those companies and leverage their ATI experiences to change the trajectory of their own careers. Watch the video.

ATI student panel

Left to right: Bart Bohn, Ryan Barcza, Kristen Plymale, and Nisha Abraham

ATI alumni companies panel

Joseph Kopser, CEO and co-founder of ATI company RideScout, led other ATI company CEOs through a discussion about their involvement with ATI and more importantly their company successes. The consensus was that “ATI quite literally is in many ways the north star that has guided so many companies, spin-offs, people, and other entities that either started here with George Kozmetsky back in the day or they themselves were inspired by it to become a part of it,” said Joseph Kopser. Watch the video.

Left to right: Joseph Kopser, Amy George, Chris Ripley, Steve Smaha, Lu Yan

2019 graduating ATI member companies

ATI used the occasion to recognize its 2019 graduating ATI member companies.

ATI 2019 graduating member companies

Austin Technology Incubator 2019 awards

A special feature of the 30th Anniversary Celebration was the presentation of special awards to three individuals and organizations who have made unique contributions to the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Austin and beyond.

Laura J. Kilcrease Civic Entrepreneurship Award goes to Capital Factory

First awarded in 1998, the Laura Kilcrease Civic Entrepreneurship Award is given to community business leaders in recognition of their contributions to the Austin community. The award is named for Laura J. Kilcrease, founding director of the Austin Technology Incubator, who has dedicated her career to advancing Austin’s tech economy. Previous award recipients include Michael Dell, Pike Powers, Governor Rick Perry, Luci Baines Johnson, Bill Bock, Gary Farmer, Lee Walker, Manoj Saxena, and Matt Winkler.

This year’s award goes to Capital Factory, in recognition of both the organization and its founders. Capital Factory is a well-known Austin ecosystem partner, a close collaborator with the Austin Technology Incubator, a certified b-corporation founded in 2009. Their economic impact, their entrepreneurship, and guiding their business is a force for good in Central Texas and now in Houston and Dallas as well.

Capital Factory receives Kilcrease Award

John S. Butler Distinguished Student Entrepreneur Award goes to Katherine Allen

First awarded in 2014 at ATI’s 25th Anniversary, the John S. Butler Distinguished Student Entrepreneur Award recognizes a UT student who has had an exemplary impact through entrepreneurship, academia, and contribution to society.

This year’s award recipient is Katherine Allen, a graduating senior from The University of Texas at Austin. Katherine attended UT Austin on a full-ride, merit-based scholarship for a Plan II and Mechanical Engineering degree. In her sophomore year, she co-founded Genesis, UT Austin’s first pre-seed capital fund for student entrepreneurship. The startups funded by Genesis in the past 4 years have already collectively raised over $3,000,000 in follow on funding. She is also co-founder and CEO of Flo Recruit, a recruiting event management software startup based in Austin.

Pictured: John Sibley Butler and Katherine Allen

George Kozmetsky Lifetime Achievement Award goes to Admiral Bobby Inman and Pike Powers

The George Kozmetsky Lifetime Achievement Award was sponsored and presented by the IC² Institute for the first time at the 30th Anniversary Celebration for the Austin Technology Incubator. The George Kozmetsky “Lifetime Achievement” Award was established to recognize a person or people who have had significant impact on the world of innovation, entrepreneurship and economic development in Austin, Central Texas and beyond.

This year’s award recipients are Admiral Bobby Inman and Pike Powers.With legacies of significant accomplishment that reflect the IC² Institute and George Kozmetsky’s Technopolis model, Admiral Bobby Inman and Pike Powers were both recognized for their exemplary ecosystem contributions to the Austin tech economy which include a multitude of significant leadership roles. Presenting the awards along with Art Markman, director of IC², was Greg Kozmetsky, son of George Kozmetsky, CEO and president of KMS ventures, chairman and president of the RGK Foundation.

Bobby Inman and Pike Powers

Admiral Bobby Inman and Pike Powers

30th Anniversary event sponsors

ATI deeply appreciates the following companies whose sponsorship helped make this event possible.


Special recognition and appreciation to KLRU for providing historical video contributions from their recent Austin Revealed programming and live recording of the 30th Anniversary Celebration event program. The complete “Booting Up Big Tech” series is now available online. Watch the series.

The next 30 years

ATI is committed to being a global leader in deep tech commercialization addressing the world's most pressing problems. Going forward we will continue our foundational commitment to further build and expand the startup ecosystem that Austin is so proudly known for – as a city of innovation and entrepreneurship that fosters the best environment for its economy and citizens. Developing new technologies and enabling entrepreneurs to have deep impact in the marketplace for the benefit of our society is a proven ATI heritage.

"What we have today is a new beginning," said Laura Kilcrease, in her closing remarks. "Because ATI has never stayed the same from any one period. It has evolved, improved, and grown. And today is a new beginning under Mitch Jacobson's leadership for the next phase of ATI and the next phase of what we're going to do in the greater Central Texas community and beyond."

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