University requests additional funding for S.T.A.R. Park

News Reporter
Tony Zuniga, field service engineer, tests the strength of plastic Feb. 5 at a lab in Star Park.

Texas State has requested an additional $2.8 million annually for two years for the Science, Technology and Advanced Research (S.T.A.R.) Park from the state’s General Appropriations Act.

The university submitted a request for legislative appropriations last summer. The request is one of many “exceptional items” President Denise Trauth will present this month to the Senate Finance and House appropriations committees, said Eugene Bourgeois, provost and vice president of academic affairs.

“Universities are allowed to take forward items that are outside of their normal budget request to the legislature,” said Steve Frayser, executive director at S.T.A.R. Park. “One of the ones we’re taking forward is to add additional funding to further what we’re already doing in material sciences and commercialization.”

Frayser said work done at S.T.A.R. Park is not dependent on possible funding from the state’s appropriations act.

“We’re asking for the new funding so we can expand the activities and actually formalize this institute,” Bourgeois said.

S.T.A.R. Park would hire new staff with the additional funding, he said.

Bourgeois said S.T.A.R. Park currently receives research funds from the state as an emerging research university as well as revenue from outside companies using the equipment and labs at the facility.

The state Senate Finance Committee and the House Appropriations Committee will decide whether to include the university’s request for additional funding in the appropriations act given to the governor.

Bill Nance, vice president of finance and support services, said university officials will know if the funding request is approved after the legislative session ends on June 20

“S.T.A.R. Park just opened in November 2012, so this would be the first special item appropriation that helped them out,” Nance said.

Nance said the additional funding will be available to the university Sept. 1 if the request is approved.

S.T.A.R. One is a “business incubator” for technological companies providing whole lab suites, help with management teams, funding and accounting for start-ups, Frayser said. The facility does not offer any classes.

“We’re creating products and processes and services that benefit people,” Frayser said. “So we provide, in this facility, very specialized space for people to be in that’s typically too expensive for a small company to engage with.”

MicroPower and Quantum Materials Corporation are two of S.T.A.R. One’s five clients.

Frayser said MicroPower is working to convert electricity of waste heat from large stationary sources, and Quantum Materials Corp. works with quantum dots used in LED light panels, high-definition televisions and possibly a bio-marker.

Frayser said the five clients at S.T.A.R. One pay over $400,000 a year in funded research to the university.

“We’ve stepped in a niche that other folks are not addressing right now in Central Texas, and that’s providing lab space for material science and chemistry companies and life science companies,” Frayser said.

All companies at S.T.A.R. One are required to have a partnership with the university. Companies must have been formed by Texas State faculty and graduate students or use the university’s equipment along with either group, Bourgeois said.

S.T.A.R. One is undergoing building expansion from 14,000 to 36,000 square feet. The expansion will create six additional lab suites, Frayser said.

The spaces are in high demand, Frayser said. One is already filled, and the university has received letters of intent regarding three others.

“Four of the six will be gone before we even get them done,” Frayser said.