The Texas Tech Innovation Hub at Research Park kicked off its second annual Spark Conference Monday at its 3911 Fourth St. headquarters.

The two-day conference is a way to highlight innovative work happening at Texas Tech and in the local business community.

“We’re showcasing innovation and entrepreneurship at Texas Tech,” said Taysha Williams, program director of the Innovation Hub. “We have a lot of students, faculty and industry people here today. We have different panels over the next two days.”

Monday’s sessions included presentations about local research projects, a women’s leadership panel and an update from Junior Desinor, a Texas Tech graduate whose startup Toor earned funding on the show “Shark Tank.”

The first panel discussion on Monday focused on how to commercialize university research, an area the Innovation Hub is specifically working in. Panelists included Tech experts in business and research and representatives from startups who office and work in the Innovation Hub.

Michael Ryan, a professor in the Rawls College of Business, said during the panel discussion that the commercialization of university research has come a long way in recent years. Research at Tech has lead to several successful business ventures, he said, with more projects happening now than ever.

For example, according to Tech’s Office of Research Commercialization, 35 patent applications related to university work were filed in 2013. That number grew to 84 in 2016, with invention disclosures, license/option agreements signed and revenue from licensing also increasing over the three years.

Entrepreneurs hoping to increase these numbers will share their business ideas on Tuesday at the iLaunch Competition. Ten startups will pitch their businesses to investors, with the first-place winner earning $10,000.

Networking opportunities and the National Academy of Inventors awards dinner are also on the roster for Tuesday. The awards dinner at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Ranching Heritage Center is the only part of the conference that is not free to attend. Tickets will be $37 at the door.

The Spark Conference is a free event and the public is encouraged to attend. To see a full schedule for the conference, visit the event’s website at



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