New program is classic Kozmetsky

Visionary's gift to foster research

By Lori Hawkins
AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Thursday, April 17, 2003

Business visionary George Kozmetsky has spent the past four decades exploring ways to use technology for global economic development.

On Wednesday, Kozmetsky and his wife, Ronya, put $6 million toward the effort, announcing a gift that will support a program linking researchers at the University of Texas and Stanford University.

The research will involve finding ways to leverage technology to bring global prosperity. The co-directors will oversee the projects and disburse the money. Kozmetsky will be founding chairman.

The Kozmetsky Global Collaboratory will bring together students and faculty from both schools to conduct research on using interactive games in education and training, and to start programs to train entrepreneurs.

"Today we're celebrating the collaboration of two very strong institutions embedded in two of the most adaptive and innovative business climates in the world," said Larry Faulkner, president of the University of Texas.

Faulkner said the program was classic Kozmetsky.

"George has supported technology innovation and commercialization for so long," he said. "This is just the latest manifestation of his vision, but it's a large one."

Kozmetsky sat in the front row at a ceremony at the IC2 Institute held to announce the program, but demurred when asked whether he wanted to speak.

At 85, health problems have slowed him some, but he still is actively pursuing his dream of technology innovation.

An entrepreneur, scholar, investor and philanthropist, Kozmetsky helped lay the groundwork for Austin's high-tech boom in the 1990s. In recent years he and his wife have given millions of dollars to UT, St. Edward's University and a number of Austin art and civic projects.

He co-founded California defense electronics powerhouse Teledyne Inc. in 1960. He was dean of UT's business school from 1966 to 1982.

Through his influence, UT began offering classes in entrepreneurship, started looking for ways to commer- cialize its technical discoveries and assisted in the creation of the Austin Technology Incubator, which provides office space and assistance to young tech companies.

In 1977, he founded IC2, which stood for the Institute for Creative Capitalism. It is now the Institute for Innovation and Creativity. The institute operates the Austin Technology Incubator, the Clean Energy Incubator and sponsors research around the world on economic and technology issues.

Individual faculty from UT and Stanford have long collaborated on research, but this venture takes the relationship to another level, said Clifford Nass, a professor at Stanford's Department of Communications and Center for the Study of Language and Information.

"The effort to tie the universities together in this formal way is new, but when it comes to solving these big hard problems, no university can do it on its own," said Nass, who will be a co-director of the venture. "The goal here is not just to bring in faculty and researchers, but also students who are engaged in this mission of shared global prosperity."

Nass said world events, including the 2001 terrorist attacks, the conflict in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq, have highlighted the need to bring technological advances and training to all parts of the world.

"Others are just now learning what George has understood for a long time -- to create prosperity, we must work together to create new technological innovations," he said.

lhawkins@statesman.com; 912-5955

for more info

UT administration's coverage of the Kozmetsky Global Collaboratory