ATI Relationship with Wi-Fi Alliance® Reinforces Value of Technology Incubators for Startup Organizations

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Wi-Fi Alliance Legacy Includes Establishing Austin and ATI as Global Wireless Hubs

How does a globally-influential trade organization that counts 400 companies in its roster and is charged with driving the evolution of an entire industry get its start? Sometimes with the help of start-up incubators, like the University of Texas’ Austin Technology Incubator (ATI).

At the end of 2010, the Wi-Fi Alliance moved into new, expanded office space in Austin. Before this, it was housed, since inception in 1999, within the walls of ATI, where the Wi-Fi Alliance and ATI built a unique, collaborative relationship. The decision to make Austin the headquarters for the Wi-Fi Alliance helped establish the city as a world wireless industry hub.

ATI is a traditional incubator that helps form and grow up to 30 startup companies at any given time and counts over 200 successful launches over its 20+ years. An industry organization like the Wi-Fi Alliance did not fit into the traditional ATI portfolio model, but both organizations saw from the start the mutual benefit that would come from the Wi-Fi Alliance residing within ATI. The ATI staff, structure and entrepreneur-rich environment alleviated some of the logistical burdens present for a small organization and allowed the Wi-Fi Alliance to focus on growth.

In its decade-long trek to making Wi-Fi® a household name, the Wi-Fi Alliance has certified more than 9,000 products for Wi-Fi usage and cross-brand interoperability. Its impact: more than 760 million Wi-Fi-enabled products shipped in 2010, a growth rate of 29 percent. That number is predicted to surpass 2 billion by 2015. And today more than 700 million people around the world use Wi-Fi, and the term “Wi-Fi” is understood in most languages.

The organization was incorporated in 1999 when a number of visionary companies realized the tremendous opportunity for compatible wireless networking connectivity around the world. They thought the market could be significant if IEEE 802.11 device compatibility was established. Backed by initial member companies including 3Com, Lucent Technologies and Nokia, the organization soon came up with the term “Wi-Fi” for the technology – a significant milestone. Another milestone was the Wi-Fi Alliance option to locate the company headquarters in Austin, Texas. Already the home of many high tech leaders and a well-educated talent pool, Austin offered the right mix to fulfill the organization’s charter to test, certify and promote Wi-Fi technology throughout the world.

“The role the Wi-Fi Alliance plays in progressing Wi-Fi technology and facilitating industry growth has proven invaluable for our industry.” said Edgar Figueroa, CEO of Wi-Fi Alliance. “The industry-wide collaboration in the Wi-Fi Alliance results in innovative applications for Wi-Fi that the entire market can employ. The resulting consistent implementations of Wi-Fi across brands, provides consumers with the best, user-friendly Wi-Fi experience possible.”

Wi-Fi Alliance’s launch started a domino effect for Austin’s explosion as a wireless industry hub. Austin Wireless Alliance launched in 2004, Mobile Monday Austin started in 2005 and the ATI-Wireless Incubator opened in 2005 – all serving wireless industry entrepreneurship and contributing to establish Austin as a vibrant, technology community – one particularly friendly to wireless.

“Wi-Fi Alliance prospers today due to a combination of good choices that created a strong foundation for the organization,” continued Figueroa. “Having a partnership with ATI during the early days of the Wi-Fi Alliance was one of those good choices.”

Wi-Fi Alliance moved from ATI in December 2010 to expanded office space, allowing room for another startup company to join the incubator.

“The Wi-Fi Alliance decision to land in Austin, in particular at the ATI, set into motion an industry-igniting course of events not unlike that of MCC’s catalyzing role in creating Austin’s semiconductor ecosystem in the late 80’s,” said Bart Bohn, director of the ATI-Wireless Incubator. “Without the Wi-Fi Alliance taking a tremendous gamble on Austin, the city’s representation in the global wireless scene would be low and the ATI’s consortia-fostering capacity would perhaps still lie dormant. ATI is proud to have been such a key partner in the early years of the Wi-Fi Alliance and know that, although no longer close neighbors, we will remain close partners, always.”

About the Austin Technology Incubator
The Austin Technology Incubator is a nonprofit unit of The University of Texas at Austin that harnesses business, government and academic resources to provide strategic counsel, operational guidance and infrastructure support to its member companies to help them transition from early stage ventures to successful technology businesses. Since its founding in 1989, ATI has worked with over 200 companies, helping them raise close to $750 million in investor capital. ATI is a key program of the IC2 Institute at The University of Texas at Austin. For more information, visit http://www.ati.utexas.edu

About the Wi-Fi Alliance
The Wi-Fi Alliance is a global non-profit industry association of hundreds of leading companies devoted to the proliferation of Wi-Fi technology across devices and market segments. With technology development, market building, and regulatory programs, the Wi-Fi Alliance has enabled widespread adoption of Wi-Fi worldwide.

The Wi-Fi CERTIFIED™ program was launched in March 2000. It provides a widely-recognized designation of interoperability and quality and it helps to ensure that Wi-Fi enabled products deliver the best user experience. The Wi-Fi Alliance has completed more than 9,000 product certifications to date, encouraging the expanded use of Wi-Fi products and services in new and established markets.

Wi-Fi®, Wi-Fi Alliance®, WMM®, Wi-Fi Protected Access® (WPA), the Wi-Fi CERTIFIED logo, the Wi-Fi logo, the Wi-Fi ZONE logo, and the Wi-Fi Protected Setup logo are registered trademarks of the Wi-Fi Alliance; Wi-Fi CERTIFIED™, Wi-Fi Direct™, Wi-Fi Protected Setup™, Wi-Fi Multimedia™, and the Wi-Fi Alliance logo are trademarks of the Wi-Fi Alliance.

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Melissa Rabeaux

Laura Beck for ATI
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