To help support entrepreneurs and small-business owners — key drivers of prosperity in rural Texas — the IC² Institute at The University of Texas at Austin is funding new research on entrepreneurship in rural and small city environments. To spur innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystems in rural and small city environments, the institute is funding nine research projects including those by Technology & Information Policy Institute (TIPI) director, Sharon Strover and other TIPI, Journalism and Sociology colleagues.
Rural communities must establish an infrastructure in order to allow new ventures to succeed. Sharon Strover will explore the relationship between broadband access and entrepreneurial outcomes in rural regions. One popular structure is the coworking space, which can provide a hub for entrepreneurs to gather to do their work and to share expertise. S. Craig Watkins (School of Journalism) will explore the effectiveness of these spaces in rural regions. John. S. Butler (Departments of Management and Sociology) will employ big data to map the influence of these coworking spaces on social networks.
To address the issue of attracting and retaining business talent in rural areas, Wenhong Chen and Joe Straubhaar (TIPI, Departments of Media Studies and Sociology, and School of Journalism) will investigate how local media in rural areas (especially digital media) can provide information that will attract entrepreneurs and make residents aware of opportunities for new ventures.