GUEST VIEW: Innovation in the Permian Basin: Destination UTPB

Posted on February 18, 2021

The Permian Basin is blessed with valuable natural resources and an entrepreneurial spirit that makes it home and a destination for people who are willing to take a chance and do something big. The University of Texas Permian Basin has the honor of working with people and businesses in this region to bring big ideas to fruition: ideas that continually better this great community and future-proof our economy, always building on our solid foundation in the energy industry. At UTPB we embrace the wildcatter’s spirit!

To this end, the support of the Midland Development Corporation (MDC) and the Odessa Development Corporation (ODC) are being leveraged to make the UT Permian Basin campus the center for entrepreneurial and advanced workforce skill development for our region. The ultimate goal? To nurture ideas that grow the economy in a stable, sustainable way. We’d like to share how our partnership with visionary leadership in the Permian Basin allows us to deliver on one of our University’s four strategic pillars: Serve the Region.

UTPB is serving the region with innovation and workforce training through multiple projects. On UTPB’s Odessa campus, any emerging entrepreneur can access these programs:

Innovation Center – stocked with 3-D printers, Computer Aided Design (CAD) tools, and more for developing product prototypes

Gaming and performance stages – supports competitions, presentations, and pure fun, all while providing platforms for students to develop computing, performance, creative, or project management skills

Blackstone LaunchPad by Techstars – programming to support budding entrepreneurs and next-generation leaders in our student body

Academic centers – these include the Cyber Security Lab, Biomedical Research Center, and Natural Resource Center

Only eight miles away, on our Midland campus at the Center for Energy and Economic Diversification (CEED):

Incubator and Makerspace – access to managerial training, office space, and support for startup businesses to have low-cost access to the tools they need. This is a place where entrepreneurial spirits will push the envelope with innovative projects

Texas Water and Energy Institute – dedicated research to deliver methods for efficient use and reuse of produced water

Advanced Manufacturing Center – combining workforce training and applied research to provide technologically advanced manufacturing and machining to the Permian Basin

Small Business Development Center – which last year helped raise $28.7 million for small businesses in the Permian Basin, supporting more than 3,000 jobs

UTPB Engineering and MBA programs – bringing technical and managerial talent together, where big ideas get launched

What distinguishes the Incubator at UTPB is the availability of technological, scientific, and management expertise through UTPB faculty and services. This convenient collaboration helps the incubator function nearly at the level of a research or technology park, which is how these projects will eventually converge.

The MakerSpace provides a location for people with good ideas to mingle and access tools that help them produce prototypes. This is how big ideas come from small interactions. MBA students and engineers, and folks walking in with a novel idea, can bring those concepts to market, the commercialization process.

Any entrepreneur coming to the Incubator or the Innovation Center will benefit from a coordinated set of services that start at the beginning of the entrepreneurial process. The Office of Innovation and Commercialization (OIC) will direct entrepreneurs to the correct next step in their business adventure: to the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for startup business planning and funding advice; to the faculty of UTPB in engineering and the sciences for technical and scientific support; and to the faculty of the College of Business for production, marketing, and capital funding consulting. The Office of Innovation and Commercialization can direct the entrepreneur straight to the research center with the tools needed to move forward. As ideas develop into proprietary and patentable concepts, the OIC has the expertise to help the business go to market with the legal protections needed for the inventor and businessperson’s ideas.

Locating these related services in the meeting point of the two largest communities in the Permian Basin improves access to the technological tools and industry connections that are necessary for entrepreneurial innovation in the modern age. The physical spaces provide opportunities for the scientists, the creatives, the managers, essentially all the entrepreneurs of the Permian Basin, to interact and leverage their talents together – bringing new ideas to enhance the quality of life for all who live here. We look forward to seeing you on the UTPB campus, very soon.