XLR8ing Economic Growth in Austin

New accelerator program aims to encourage collaboration and idea sharing among community leaders.
University of Texas Austin campus

The University of Texas at Austin campus.


THE UNIVERSITY OF Texas–Austin has launched a new initiative intended to help businesses in its region recover from the economic impact of the pandemic. In September, the university’s IC2 Institute launched Regional XLR8, an accelerator program that is part of its Regional Economic Recovery Initiative. The IC2 Institute is the university’s think tank dedicated to topics such as entrepreneurship, commercialization, and innovation.

Regional XLR8 has three components: research, education, and action. For the research component, the school conducted approximately 1,500 interviews and surveyed 7,500 residents—across 60 communities in the surrounding region—to get a clearer idea of the region’s strengths. In the educational component, it offered six-week workshops to help community leaders learn strategies to drive regional economic growth. Finally, it tasked student teams to develop strategies that address specific community problems discovered via the surveys and workshops.

More than 100 leaders from cities and towns across the state of Texas and southern Louisiana attended the first session of Regional XLR8. Throughout the workshops, participants discussed how the mindsets of community leaders can affect opportunities for growth. After these meetings, participants completed post-workshop assignments and shared best practices via small-group break-out sessions.

The institute will help participating leaders form regional cohorts that will make it easier for them to collaborate, leverage strengths, and develop growth mindsets. “Regional XLR8 encourages communities to work together to solve problems and enhance the resilience of their communities and economies,” says Greg Pogue, deputy executive director of the IC2 Institute. “I’m glad to see so many people really taking the opportunity to plan for the future.”