April 2018

April is here – and so is a heavy dose of pollen! But not even runny eyes and sniffles appear able to stifle our region’s enthusiasm for innovation!

Since the beginning of the year, Capital City Innovation has grown. Check us out by the numbers since the beginning of this year:

We’re excited that momentum is picking up! Want to join us? Follow us on twitter and subscribe to our newsletter updates! And ask your friends to also!

My conversation with the Association of University Research Parks

This month, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Mason Ailstock, President of the Association of University Research Parks (AURP). AURP is an industry organization that supports and accelerates innovation, commercialization and economic growth through university, industry, and government partnerships.

I was honored to be able to showcase the unique opportunity here in Austin. The emerging innovation district is a place that allows creative individuals to gain access to Austin’s special capabilities. These include: world class research capabilities, a burgeoning tech sector, a large talent base, and a global brand platform. It is a place where academic, commercial, creative, and social enterprise organizations blend together.

The big challenges faced by societies today – like health, urban sustainability, and economic equity – will not be substantively met by any organization on their own.

They will require collaboration and partnerships, and that’s the promise of the innovation district.


I believe Austin has the ingredients to become ground zero for at least two great movements with national impact – ensuring that communities get and remain healthy and driving economic growth inclusively (that means for all)!

The innovation district will be one of the tools that could help get us there. If we are deliberate and if we collaborate. I’m optimistic – and this months’ news helps make me more so!


Activity within the Network

Dell Medical School’s Texas Health Catalyst recently closed its 2018 application cycle

This time they received 80 proposals from innovators and startups from all across Austin! Applications included a mix of proposals for digital health, medical device, therapeutic, and diagnostic solutions that align with Dell Med’s mission of improving the value of care and helping the community get and stay healthy.

Clinical and industry experts evaluated the applications for commercial viability and likely impact on a significant unmet health need. A number of teams have been invited to a pitch session, and it is expected that over the summer finalists will be selected to participate in the partnership program that will provide guidance, strategy support, showcase opportunities, clinical or market validation, and connections to investors and key industry partners. Of these, up to five are expected to receive funding (up to $50,000) from the program.

Previous awardees include tattoos that act as medical sensors, scheduling solutions for multi-person health teams, and a dissolvable film for storing and transporting drugs!

Although applications are closed for the current cycle of TX Health Catalyst, Austin entrepreneurs and UT faculty are welcome to submit innovations to their projects form, to be considered for other related opportunities or future cycles.


New Companies Join the Network

There have been a number of new additions to the health innovation ecosystem here in Austin this month! 

Austin Community College’s Bioscience Incubator accepted three new startups at its Highland campus in April:

  • Delphi Diagnostics is revolutionizing how we diagnose and assess cancer

  • Kim-MD is coming up with new treatments for cancer

  • CATALYSTedu is focused on management solutions for STEM lab courses

The Workspaces @ Texas Health CoLab also accepted a new member – Genprex, a biotech company developing a clinic-stage gene therapy for lung cancer. Genprex has locations here in Austin and in Cambridge, MA.

And Ion Indicators became the latest new resident at Texas State University’s STAR Park. Ion Indicators designs, manufactures and sells fluorescent molecular tags used in biological and medical research.

These additions bring the total number of startups in residence among our Incubator Affinity Group network to 35! For more information about our network of health and life science co-working spaces and incubators, please visit our For Companies page.


Innovation at Work!

Impact Hub and Capital City Innovation Partner

Capital City Innovation is excited to be partnering with Impact Hub Austin on its first ever workforce development accelerator.

Following on the heels of its successful 2017 affordable housing accelerator, this workforce development accelerator aims to crowdsource and support innovative ideas to provide opportunities to the more than 99,000 families in Austin that are, today, not earning a living wage, despite more than 77% of them being employed!

Credit Impact Hub Austin

This month, from a very competitive field, nine companies were selected to join the inaugural class! They include a coding academy, an equitable mentoring platform, a collective for Austin’s creative industry workers, and a portal for building diversity for corporations.

Check out the full list of participants on the Impact Hub 2018 Cohort page. To date the cohort has had three workshop sessions focusing on product-market fit. The companies have had more than 35 mentor meetings, including a mentor speed-dating session. A community mixer was held on April 12.

If any of you are interested in getting more involved in this accelerator, as a mentor, or just to attend sessions and events (dinners and mixers), please contact us and we will make a connection!

Did you know that workforce development is a key component of the innovation district?

One of the key factors leading to companies choosing a location is their ability to hire!

Austin’s innovation district is committed to partnerships that create pathways for employment at all skill levels. This includes promoting STEM careers among our youth and supporting innovative approaches to re-skilling adults.

Merck Launches Huston-Tillotson Course

Merck has recently launched a course with faculty of Huston-Tillotson University which provides HT undergraduate natural science and computer science students with career-relevant training through project-based learning in digital health technology. Residents of the innovation district are ensuring the skills that will be needed among the next generation of Austin’s innovators!

Did you know that Merck and the startup companies in our incubator affinity group are engaging more than 25 students as interns and student workers?

These students are from Austin Community College, Huston-Tillotson University, Texas State University, and University of Texas at Austin.

ACC President Richard Rhodes (second from left) and ACC Bioscience Incubator Director Tyler Drake (third from left) are shown. Image by Austin Community College

ACC President Richard Rhodes (second from left) and ACC Bioscience Incubator Director Tyler Drake (third from left) are shown. Image by Austin Community College

Breaking News!

I wanted to give a special congratulations to our friends at Austin Community College!

The National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship honored them at their Chancellor’s and President’s Breakfast in Dallas for their phenomenal work in establishing their Bioscience incubator. I couldn’t agree more, and I can’t wait to see what their Fashion Incubator does!


Out and About

Blockhain Panel by Health Tech Austin

Health Tech Austin, for which Capital City Innovation is a sponsor, held a summit on Blockchain in health on April 18, including two panels featuring executives from IBM, Factform, Dell Medical School, and AMSYS. The event explored the basis of blockchain, its potential applications in healthcare, and a showcase of startups in the space. For the full account of this exciting event, checkout Health Tech Austin’s newsletter, and this story by the Daily Texan

Small Business Funding Learning Series by Dell Medical School 

On April 26, I was delighted to join Dell Medical School CoLab’s monthly learning series, along with Yash Sabharwal (CEO of NanoMedical Systems and CherryCircle Software) to discuss opportunities for obtaining funding from federal agencies via their small business innovation research programs.

These programs contributed more than $2.3 billion to small business product development in 2013. But despite its population and strengths in technology innovation, Texas lags behind other states in competing for these awards (at least in the health and life sciences sector).

I am on a crusade to change this by connecting more companies with knowledge and resources that will help them compete more effectively for their share of this funding source!



Upcoming Events In The CCI Network

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Christopher Laing, MRCVS, PhD Executive Director, Capital City Innovation
As Executive Director of Capital City Innovation, Chris leads an organization that is coordinating the stakeholders of the innovation district emerging around Austin’s new health complex. Previously, Chris was a member of the senior management team of Philadelphia’s University City Science Center, the country’s oldest and largest urban innovation hub.

Follow Chris on Twitter @chrislaing