Keck center
Photos courtesy UTEP

UTEP Research Centers receive $1.5M to fuel high-tech business growth

The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) is poised to strengthen the Paso del Norte region’s manufacturing sector to benefit the U.S. aerospace and defense enterprise through a $1.5 million grant awarded to UTEP’s Aerospace Center and W.M. Keck Center for 3D Innovation through the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Build to Scale program.

“We are immensely grateful to the Economic Development Administration for this impactful award to our University community,” said Ahsan Choudhuri, Ph.D., associate vice president of UTEP’s Aerospace Center. “As we prepare our students to lead in the 21st century, our collaboration will enhance our students’ competitiveness and equip them with cutting-edge knowledge and skills in aerospace engineering, enabling them to meaningfully serve industries and communities across the Paso del Norte region.”

The pair of renowned UTEP research centers will work with the El Paso Chamber and the city of El Paso to bolster the competitiveness of El Paso’s manufacturing sector by creating the Aerospace and Defense Supply Chain Innovation Network for Manufacturers – an initiative known as El Paso Makes – to support rapid growth of small and medium businesses in El Paso.

The Innovation Network will provide access to applied research, engineering design services, equipment, software, technology, talent and business services, value-chain support, customer introduction and other resources, all to ensure that manufacturers can successfully compete for business in aerospace and defense.

“For two decades, we have utilized our expertise in 3D printing to foster a new economy in El Paso around additive manufacturing,” said Ryan Wicker, Ph.D., founder of the Keck Center. “UTEP and the Keck Center are committed to contributing to the economic development and well-being of our region and beyond, and we deeply appreciate that the Economic Development Administration — as demonstrated by this important partnership — believes in that commitment.”

UTEP was among 50 organizations announced as recipients of grants totaling $36.5 million to support programs that fuel innovation and tech-based economic development. The “Build to Scale” program, administered annually by EDA, aims to accelerate technology entrepreneurship by increasing inclusive access to business support and startup capital.

The 2021 awardees will leverage an additional $40 million in matching funds from a variety of private and public sector sources. The Build to Scale program was comprised of two competitions –– the Venture Challenge and the Capital Challenge. UTEP was an awardee in the Venture Challenge segment, which leverages regional competitive strengths to accelerate innovation and job creation through high-growth technology entrepreneurship, and foster inclusive access to proven entrepreneurship support models.

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