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

The University of Houston will announce today a deal with private investors to create a venture fund to boost its technologies and create a dedicated entrepreneurial center near campus.

“This agreement is not just about the technologies, it’s about the whole ecosystem,” says Roth Bose, the university’s vice chancellor/vice president for research and technology. “The university is going to benefit; the city is going to benefit.”

The agreement creates the Texas Collegiate Regional Center, or TCRC, which will act as a holding company that will manage a venture fund that will invest at least $3 million in technologies developed by Houston faculty as well as build a new Center for University Entrepreneurship. The TCRC is being formed under the EB5 visa program, which grants residency to foreign individuals who invest a minimum of $500,000 in job-creating projects in the United States.

The university’s partners in the deal are three Houston-based investors and entrepreneurs: Huan Le with medtech company Medifr; James Tao, co-founder of a local angel group, Houston Health Ventures; and David Franklin, executive vice president at Consumer Media Network.

“The university has some really amazing technology, and we want to be able to go through those and really give them a good shot at winning,” Le says.

Franklin says TCRC is still completing the paperwork with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services but expects approval to come through in the first quarter of 2015. The federal program, approved by the US Congress in 1990, requires that immigrant investor-funded projects create 10 full-time jobs within a two-year-period. A recent Brookings Institute study found that the number of such regional centers topped 400 at the end of last year, up from 16 in 2007.

In recent years, it has been particularly popular with Chinese citizens seeking entry into the United States. Brookings found that, in 2012, 76 percent of these visas went to Chinese investors.

At a lunch today, Renu Khator, chancellor of the University of Houston system and president of the main … Next Page »

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