Louise Epstein Named Managing Director of Cockrell School Innovation Center

Louise Epstein, local entrepreneur, former Austin City Councilmember and alumna of The University of Texas at Austin, has been named managing director of the Innovation Center in the Cockrell School of Engineering at UT Austin.

photo of louise epstein

In this newly created position, Epstein will oversee the Innovation Center’s operations, including staffing, budgeting, fundraising and the development and incorporation of entrepreneurial curriculum and initiatives. She will work closely with Cockrell School professor of innovation Bob Metcalfe, the faculty director of the center, and with Steve Nichols, mechanical engineering professor and faculty director of Idea to Product. She will also work with Ben Dyer, entrepreneur-in-residence at the Cockrell School.

“From entrepreneur to elected official, Louise brings a broad range of experience to the Innovation Center. Her commitment to the university and her initiative, focus and determination make her an excellent addition to the Cockrell School,” Metcalfe said. “She will surely inspire students and faculty, and I know she will provide strong leadership in taking the center to the next level.”

Epstein was previously entrepreneur-in-residence at the McCombs School of Business in 2010-11. Since 2011, she has served as a fellow at the IC2 Institute, an interdisciplinary research unit at UT Austin that works to advance and practice entrepreneurial wealth creation, where she consults on projects and mentors companies.

She was one of the first women investment bankers in Texas and used her experience to create Charge-Off Clearinghouse, a distressed debt company that valued, purchased and sold $1 billion of charged-off credit cards. She led the company from 1997 to 2008 and, with expertise in debt valuation, served as an expert witness on behalf of major banks and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Epstein was one of the youngest people and one of the first women elected to the Austin City Council and served in the early 1990s. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Plan II and her MBA from UT Austin. Her father, Jeremiah F. Epstein, was a longtime anthropology professor at the university, joining the faculty in 1958 and serving as chair of the anthropology department from 1971-74.

“I could not be more pleased about joining the university in this capacity with the opportunity to contribute to the entrepreneurial efforts throughout the Cockrell School,” Epstein said. “I look forward to working with our talented students and faculty, helping them cultivate their ideas and inventions, and ultimately helping them form and grow successful businesses.”

The Innovation Center was created several years ago with the goal of growing and supporting entrepreneurship and innovation among students and faculty in the Cockrell School. Together with Metcalfe and Dyer, Epstein plans to build additional programs and initiatives to further develop business and engineering leaders and spur more collaboration and innovation across the UT Austin campus.

“The Innovation Center will be a nexus where the ideas, inventions and products that develop at UT begin to make their impact on society,” Epstein said.

Working with UT Austin and local organizations and incubators, the Innovation Center accelerates startups created by faculty, students, staff and alumni, and offers valuable resources that will propel these startups to success in the marketplace. The center will be housed inside the Cockrell School’s Engineering Education and Research Center (EERC), which is expected to open in 2017.

“From entrepreneur to elected official, Louise brings a broad range of experience to the Innovation Center. Her commitment to the university and her initiative, focus and determination make her an excellent addition to the Cockrell School,” Metcalfe said. “She will surely inspire students and faculty, and I know she will provide strong leadership in taking the center to the next level.”