She will lead a new office to better organize Texas Tech’s existing research-based economic engagement efforts.
In a move designed to highlight the increasingly vital role of innovation and entrepreneurship in today's world, Gramm has been promoted to Associate Vice President of Innovation & Entrepreneurship. In this role, she is responsible for developing and coordinating an effective, dynamic and nimble team focused on innovation, engagement, knowledge transfer, commercialization, entrepreneurship and economic development, building on West Texas' tradition of innovation.
Gramm will work closely with Vice President for Research & Innovation Joseph A. Heppert, faculty and industry in developing a strategy in support of economic engagement for the Office of Research & Innovation. The new Office of Economic Engagement organizes the three areas Gramm will oversee: the Office of Research Commercialization, the Innovation Hub at Research Park and the Small Business Development Center. Focusing the three offices under one umbrella will deliver an integrated approach to the innovation ecosystem Texas Tech is building. It is expected to improve industry relations, support entrepreneurship education, increase sponsored research opportunities, provide regional business support and ensure the appropriate policies and operating processes are effectively supporting students, faculty and the citizens of West Texas.
"I am truly humbled and honored to be considered for this important role on behalf of Texas Tech University and the community it serves," Gramm said. "West Texas is positioned for greatness, supporting innovation and startups in our rural community. Together, we are raising the bar through research and innovation, creating opportunity for our citizens and building a competitive workforce. It is my passion to serve as a champion for the American dream."
Gramm has extensive experience in strategic planning, economic development planning, academic and workforce development and research commercialization activities, including economic and business development, technology venture startups, angel and venture funding, entrepreneur/innovation academic programming, public-private partnerships, government and external relations and strategic collaborations.
She has demonstrated success and leadership in leading the 501(c)(3) initiative for a Lubbock Innovation District and created 12 new programs in ideation, commercialization and acceleration to support the mission of the Innovation Hub at Research Park. Gramm has been a principal investigator for federal, state, industry and economic development grants worth more than $10.75 million since 2013 and has helped more than 266 startups get off the ground. Her recent National Science Foundation I-Corps and Department of Commerce EDA Regional Innovation Series grants have created new opportunities for faculty, students and the community to access resources to develop innovations and fund startups in West Texas. Hub Fuel Fund, the first Ag-Tech venture fund in West Texas, led by Texas Tech and 10 community partners, will bring investors to buy into competitive agriculture startups.
"Texas Tech is very pleased that Ms. Kimberly Gramm has agreed to provide leadership and vision for the growth of our innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem," Heppert said. "During her brief tenure at Texas Tech, she has advanced our entrepreneurship education and mentoring programs to a position of national prominence. In addition to building a highly effective team to manage the Innovation Hub, she has been a key link to local and regional economic development authorities.
"Like many public research universities in the Carnegie Very High Research category, Texas Tech seeks to greatly enhance its role in economic development through deepening collaboration with host communities and private-sector partners, and by creating a Texas Tech Innovation District in Lubbock, where partner companies can position innovation and workforce-development initiatives directly adjacent to Texas Tech and the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. We believe Ms. Gramm has the experience and commitment to help propel our innovation ecosystem to the next level. We are pleased to announce her expanded role in our leadership team."
The Innovation Hub – with its engaged alumni, faculty, students, investment and business community members – fosters organic growth to drive economic development in the West Texas region and beyond. It is uniquely situated to provide entrepreneurial support for Texas Tech students and faculty in all disciplines, and it reinforces all of Texas Tech's strategic priorities:
- Educate and empower a diverse student body. The Innovate Texas Tech (iTTU) Mentor Program serves as the cornerstone of entrepreneurship and innovation at the Hub. Mentors from diverse backgrounds are chosen for their experience, investment and technical know-how, authority and resources to aid in the launch of new enterprises, and willingness to support the west Texas entrepreneurial ecosystem.
- Enable innovative research and creative activities. Through its programs in ideation, commercialization, acceleration and incubation, the Innovation Hub not only encourages innovative research, but it also provides its tenants the tools with which to accomplish it.
- Transform lives and communities through strategic outreach and engaged scholarship. The Innovation Hub also hosts a variety of community outreach programs designed to build the entrepreneurial environment from the ground up, including the Young Entrepreneur Academy for middle- and high-school students, the Red Raider Startup High School Program and 1 Million Cups.
But more than just a resource for Texas Tech, the Innovation Hub is a resource for West Texas.
The Hub assists in the formation of technology startup companies, which are critically relevant to today's local and regional economy – they create more than 80% of net new jobs, new industries and new solutions. To date, the Innovation Hub has supported more than 40,000 entrepreneurs and innovators through its programs, leading to the creation of 89 startups.
Recently announced in the Innovation Hub's 2019 annual report, a record 21 companies called the facility their home in the past year. More than 16,000 people came through the doors looking for help with innovation and entrepreneurship goals. The Hub hosted 307 events, including board meetings, mentor meetings, research cross-collaboration meetings, competitions, poster showcases and more. A total of more than $1.1 million was invested to help entrepreneurs start their businesses. Its 43 iTTU mentors worked tirelessly to advise and provide guidance to all Innovation Hub companies by donating 8,226 hours in 2019, a gift that differentiates Texas Tech from most universities in the United States.