U of H’s Quoz Capital Will Channel Foreign Investment into Startups

5/15/14Follow @angelashah

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campus, will lead a delegation in signing a memorandum of understanding with TCRC partners. Tao says he is traveling to Hong Kong right after the signing ceremony to visit with potential investors. In particular, investors are interested in companies with innovations in nanotechnolgy and material sciences.

The venture fund, which will be called Quoz Capital, will attract investments from foreign citizens as well as investors already residing in the United States. The plan, Franklin says, is to start out with a $3 million fund but eventually grow that to $10 million. The university will be able to co-invest in each deal, up to a limit of 20 percent of the deal size. Standard licensing and royalties apply to each project, Bose says.

TCRC is also permitted to invest in outside technologies, and university faculty are not obliged to commercialize their technologies solely through TCRC. An investment board, with appointees from both TCRC and the university, will choose which technologies will be funded. Mark Clarke, the university’s associate vice president for technology transfer, says initial investments will be made in increments to $250,000 to $1 million.

In addition to the venture fund, TCRC is investing $15 million in building a new Center for University Research at the university’s Energy Research Park, a 75-acre campus of research labs, classrooms, and office space near the school’s main campus. The university will lease the land for $1 a year in a 38-year contract, Bose says.

A new facility—which will be open to both university and outside companies—is needed, administrators say, because the Energy Research Park is nearly full.

The combination of a venture fund and a real estate deal makes sense, especially for foreign investors, who may want the security involved in a property transaction versus the higher risks in startup funding, Le says.

Bose says the project will also benefit the neighborhood around the university’s campus, the Third Ward of Houston, which historically has been economically disadvantaged. “We’re bringing new capital here,” he says.

Angela Shah is the editor of Xconomy Texas. She can be reached at ashah@xconomy.com or (214) 793-5763. Follow @angelashah

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