Texas Tech University

Innovation Conference Will Provide Thousands in Funding to Local Entrepreneurs

Glenys Young

March 23, 2018

The second annual Spark Conference is April 23-24.


The Texas Tech University Innovation Hub at Research Park will host its second annual Spark Conference on April 23-24 to showcase innovators and startups while encouraging investment in West Texas.

During the two-day conference, attendees will have the opportunity to see new technologies and intellectual properties displayed by the Texas Tech Office of Research Commercialization (ORC) and browse the poster showcase featuring research in fields such as computer science and arts in medicine.

This yearly event provides cash prizes, funding and important network opportunities. During the conference, teams and startups will present to industry experts and investor panels for a chance to win more than $150,000 to further their ideas or launch their businesses. This high-energy, fun event gives attendees the opportunity to see the ideas being developed at Texas Tech and from entrepreneurs in the community.

Scheduled events include:

Monday (April 23)

  • 9 a.m. to noon, Technology Huddle: Participants can visit with license experts, learn how to engage the ORC for a Technology Assessment Report and receive access to the list of Internet Protocol addresses available to license for industry or startups.
  • 9 a.m. to noon, Innovation Poster Showcase: Students and faculty from the J.T. & Margaret Talkington College of Visual & Performing Arts (TCVPA) will showcase research that integrates the arts in sectors of health, wellness and medicine. Students and faculty from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Cloud and Autonomic Computing Center will display new research and technologies in computer science. Each poster is eligible for judging to win a $1,000 prize.
  • 10-10:45 a.m., Panel Discussion, How to Commercialize University Research: Faculty, students, license and university program experts will share their experiences and success in monetizing great ideas. Participants also can learn about the new in-house resources Texas Tech offers to take ideas from the lab to the market.
  • Noon to 1:30 p.m., Women's Leadership Panel – EmPOWERment, Rise to the Top of Your Industry: This luncheon will provide a platform for an in-depth discussion on how women overcome hurdles typically faced in male-dominated industries. In coordination with the Women in Wind movement, the Innovation Hub has identified five female leaders who have proven success in wind, renewable energy, entrepreneurship and business. The panel discussion is designed to leave participants with practical strategies, insights and guidance on how to position themselves to take full advantage of the opportunities emerging in these industries.
  • 2-2:45 p.m., Where Are They Now?: Entrepreneurs who have gone through Innovation Hub programs share their stories and journeys of success from Red Raider Idea Competition, Red Raider Startups, iLaunch Competition, NSF ICorps and the Texas Tech Accelerator. Aspiring entrepreneurs can learn their secrets and tips and ask questions about launching a startup or commercializing technology.
  • 3-3:45 p.m., “Shark Tank” – Texas Tech's Success Story: Junior Desinor, a Texas Tech alumnus, will share his “Shark Tank” successes with Innovation Hub managing director Kimberly Gramm in a fireside chat. His startup TOOR was funded by investors on the television show “Shark Tank.” He has operationalized the business and wants to share the evolution to manufacture and launch a product in today's market.
  • 4-5:15 p.m., Lightning Round Reception: This fun networking event will feature the top 10 iLaunch Competition finalists. Each startup will have a “minute to pitch it,” after which the audience will vote for their favorite idea, and the people's choice will be awarded $1,000.
  • 6-7:30 p.m., Keynote Speaker and Performance: Noel Zahler, TCVPA dean, will moderate a fireside chat with 2018 Spark Conference Keynote Speaker Roger Dannenberg. He is a musician, computer scientist and co-founder of Audacity, a free open source digital audio editor and recording software. Attendees can hear his entrepreneurial story and watch an exciting computer accompaniment and innovative musical performance by Dannenberg and Texas Tech's own musicians.

Tuesday (April 24)

  • 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., iLaunch Competition: This investor pitch event helps identify, grow and launch startup companies to support entrepreneurship and innovation in all disciplines. The top 10 finalists work with Innovation Hub mentors to prepare them for the big day, then pitch to investors in Texas Tech's “Shark Tank”-style competition. The winner will be awarded $10,000.
  • 12:45-2 p.m., Awards Reception: The winners of the iLaunch Competition and Innovation Poster Showcase will be recognized.
  • 6-7:30 p.m., National Academy of Inventors (NAI) Awards Dinner: The NAI Lubbock Chapter will recognize Texas Tech University System faculty for their inventions. This is the only event during the Spark Conference that requires a fee for registration. Tickets are $27 in advance or $37 at the door.

The conference is free and open to the public. More information and event registration are available on the event's website.

The event is sponsored by the National Academy of Inventors, Texas Tech's National Wind Institute, the Jerry S. Rawls College of BusinessArea of Management, the Lubbock Economic Development Alliance, the College of Arts & Sciences, the J.T. & Margaret Talkington College of Visual & Performing Arts and the Innovation Hub.

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