Texas A&M provides $70,000 for Upcoming StartUp Texas Innovation Competition, in Partnership with BCIC and UTRGV ECC

PRESS RELEASE – Brownsville, TX, Monday, October 26 – The Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation (BCIC) and UTRGV Entrepreneurship and Commercialization Center, in partnership with the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES), are excited to announce the annual StartUp Texas Innovation Competition, set to take place on October 26, 2023, at the eBridge Center for Business and Commercialization. The event that will kick off at 5:30 p.m. marks a high point in the StartUp Texas program, designed to spotlight and fuel innovation and stimulate economic growth by providing entrepreneurs with up to $40,000 in seed funding.

Nathan Burkhart, Director of Business Development at BCIC, spoke on the program's evolution and Impact: "Startup Texas was born out of a necessity to level the playing field for entrepreneurs in Brownsville and the greater Rio Grande Valley. When we look at how venture capital is traditionally concentrated, it's easy to see why programs like ours are essential. We've evolved from an ideation summit into a comprehensive accelerator program that opens doors not just for tech startups but for diverse industries. This upcoming pitch competition is another opportunity to showcase and invest in our community's most promising innovators."

This year, contestants will pitch their startups in a dynamic showcase before a panel of industry experts in partnership with Texas A&M Engineering & Experimentation Station and UTRGV ECC. They will compete for a total of $70,000 in seed funding distributed in 3 awards, aiming to turn their innovative ideas into successful business ventures.

Meet the StartUps:

Aetherworks: Specializes in direct air carbon capture technology to reduce global CO2 emissions and serve indoor farms.

Embedded: Innovators in healthcare, offering fitted bedsheets with wireless RFID technology for non-invasive elderly patient monitoring.

DeCON Environmental: Their technology extends the lifespan of septic tanks without reliance on environmentally harmful chemicals.

Pishardi Electronics: Provides non-invasive vibration therapy devices designed for pain management.

MerLion: Focused on securing maritime operations and resources efficiently and professionally.

This iteration of StartUp Texas was designed to give participants a chance to secure government resources and contracts. Through an 8-week preparation and business acceleration cycle, the participating startups received specialized mentorship and the rigorous training needed to navigate the intricate landscape of federal SBIR/STTR grants. “Our commitment to empowering the entrepreneurial spirit in the RGV is as strong as our strategic alliances. In collaboration with the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station and the UTRGV Entrepreneurship and Commercialization Center, we've designed an ecosystem that offers more than just a chance—it offers a well-planned roadmap,” said Cori Peña, BCIC’s CEO and president.

Who Will Be Judging the Competition?

Dr. Lekha Gopalakrishnan: An expert in intellectual property law, Dr. Gopalakrishnan provides invaluable guidance on protecting business assets. She is a member of Winstead's Intellectual Property Practice Group.

Dr. Sylvia Robles: A visionary entrepreneur and educator, Dr. Robles has been honored with various awards for her commitment to sustainable entrepreneurship. She serves as an Assistant Professor of Practice at the UTRGV Robert C. Vackar College of Business and Entrepreneurship.

Jesse Martinez: Founder and CEO of LSA Global, a 501(c)(3) social impact nonprofit creating, developing, inspiring, championing, and supporting the Latinx tech ecosystem. His leadership is characterized by innovative thinking and a commitment to excellence. As a founding investment partner at Resolved Ventures, Jesse also champions diversity in the venture capital industry.

David Ortiz: TMAC Regional Director at UTRGV with over 15 years of cross-sector experience. Specializing in continuous improvement and project management, Ortiz has consulted with various entities, from cities to multinational companies. His work spans strategic planning, performance metrics, and operational excellence initiatives, making him a leader in facilitating industrial and governmental efficiency.

Lenae M. Scroggins, Vice Chair of the Texas A&M New Ventures Competition, added, "The Rio Grande Valley offers a diverse selection of opportunities for deep-tech innovation startups. One of the key components in assisting technology startups is to provide them with not only a forum of expertise in the form of the judging pool of the Competition and mentor network but also provide funding that helps startups bridge critical gaps."

The Innovation Competition will take place at the eBridge Center for Business and Commercialization located in Downtown Brownsville (1304 E. Adams St.) Take advantage of this showcase of the region's most promising entrepreneurial talent. Secure your seat now and be part of this transformative event and unique networking opportunity.

RSVP by following this link: https://rsvp.startuptexas.com


SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) and STTR (Small Business Technology Transfer) are U.S. government programs designed to foster innovation by encouraging domestic small businesses to engage in Federal Research and Development (R/R&D). SBIR focuses on individual small business initiatives, while STTR requires formal collaboration with research institutions. Both programs offer competitive funding to help bridge the gap between initial R&D and commercialization, supporting small businesses through three phases: feasibility study (Phase I), development and scaling (Phase II), and market entry (Phase III). These programs represent essential opportunities for small businesses to explore innovative ideas and bring them to market, reinforcing the nation's commitment to growth and technological advancement.

About StartUp Texas:

StartUp Texas is a seed fund and growth accelerator program under the Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation (BCIC) in partnership with the UTRGV Entrepreneurship and Commercialization Center, investing in visionary entrepreneurs and passionate leaders in Brownsville and beyond. The initiative offers a dedicated business-building curriculum and a pool of funding opportunities to catalyze local innovators and businesses. For more information, visit www.startuptexas.com.

StartUp Texas is made possible by the Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation(BCIC), UTRGV Entrepreneurship & Commercialization Center, Ruby Red Hospitality, The Mitte Foundation, and eBridge Center for Business & Commercialization.