February 2018

CCI website

We would like to officially celebrate the launch of CCI’s website. It’s simple, we know – but we like it! We hope you do too!


Today, the goal is to provide some simple information about Austin, and the Innovation District, a portal for our startup affinity group network, and a page for news and events. We’re looking to build this out further as we grow our network and activities. How about a notice board where people can leave their ideas about healthy communities?

We’d love to get your thoughts – hit us up on twitter or email me!


Texas Healthcare and Bioscience Institute Economic Development Committee (and SBIR/STTR performance) 

On February 1, I participated in the inaugural economic development committee meeting (via teleconference) of THBI. The committee, which also included THBI members from several area pharmaceutical companies, focused on a number of items, including the Texas pavilion at the BIO International Convention in Boston in June which THBI is organizing, and in which CCI intends to participate.

Another key area of focus was on legislative interim charges that would be of interest to the committee – including workforce, state economic development incentives, and manufacturing.

On behalf of CCI and our network, I proposed that we include a push to emphasize programs that improve state performance in leveraging SBIR/STTR (and other federal small business) programs.

Did you know that according to SBIR.gov, over the last five years Texas ranks about #7 among states in the amount of SBIR or STTR financing won by its states small businesses? Texas small businesses secured about $420M during that time, putting us about equal to Pennsylvania and Colorado.

By comparison, California small businesses secured more than 5x that amount (~$2.2 billion) and Massachusetts small businesses secured about $1.2 billion.

Del:Smart economic development investments by our state could be made in leveraging this federal financing for our innovative small businesses – perhaps using the sort of smart programming, such Phase 1 Ventures in Philadelphia, which strategically combines state and federal funding to bridge startups to private investment.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, so send me a tweet, or email me!


Travis County Comprehensive Economic Development Plan

Thanks to our friends at TC Economic Development and Strategic Investments, on February 2, I participated in the small business roundtable discussion for the county’s first Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy. They are currently in the discovery phase (which is expected to last through March), with opportunity and implementation phases expected to extend into the spring and summer. Other small business committee members included representatives from University of Texas at Austin, The People Fund, several minority chambers, the City of Austin, Austin Technology Alliance, and St. Edward’s University, among others.

A lot of the discussion revolved around connectivity between the County and the City in terms of service and the potential to focus on parts of Travis County not already being served by the City.

On behalf of CCI, I expressed a desire to see programs that could help bridge a gap between small businesses and large entities, and also improved connectivity between the county center and outlying commercial districts. In addition to the small business roundtable, the county held roundtables focused on economic inclusion, transportation, real estate, and resilience and sustainability.


San Marcos, Texas State University, and a Potential Texas Innovation Corridor

On February 12, Adriana Cruz (Greater San Marcos Partnership), President Trauth (Texas State University), and Stephen Frayser (STAR Park), hosted De Peart (Downtown Austin Alliance) and I on a visit to San Marcos.

Texas State has a strong engineering program, particularly in sustainable macro materials and micro/nano- materials capabilities. Its new engineering school is rising out of the ground even as we speak!


Did you know that Texas State has been moving its nursing and health science activities to Round Rock? This puts Austin between their main campus and their new health science campus. A quick 30- minute drive down I-35, San Marcos is tightly bound to the Austin region. Our successes are linked. There has been a lot of talk over the years about the Austin – San Marcos – San Antonio corridor.

There is a real opportunity to think about a Texas Innovation Corridor that could be a significant player on a national level. After all, who decided Research Triangle should be a household name?

Health and Life Science Start-up Affinity Group

Thank-you to Austin Community College Bioscience Incubator for hosting our second life science startup affinity group meeting on February 13, which included representatives from Austin Community College, Austin Technology Incubator, Dell Medical School Health CoLab, Drug Dynamics Institute at UT Austin, Texas Life Science Collaboration Center in Georgetown, and Texas State University’s STAR Park.

The group is currently focused on common messaging (see our first web portal here), collecting (and sharing) common metrics of performance, and representing one another at conferences and events. There is a great deal of interest in forming a working group focused on international business attraction, and Steve Frayser from STAR Park is taking the lead on this effort, which will work with the City economic development office, the Austin Chamber, and others. The life science sector here in the Austin region is more robust than we might at first think.

Did you know that there are more than 100,000 s.f. of turnkey workspace for life science startup companies in the region, and that since 2009 life science startup companies among our network have raised almost $1 billion in risk capital and created about $700 million in “exit” value?

Our next meeting will be hosted by STAR Park. We’re also interested in expanding the group.


Brackenridge Campus Update

Some of you might have already heard that there is an update on the Brackenridge campus redevelopment. As you know, this 14-acre site, owned by Central Health, is a significant anchor of the Capital City Innovation District. As of 2/22, it was announced that the developer, Wexford Science + Technology, which was in discussions with Central Health had withdrawn from negotiation on re-development of the site. A non-profit, the 2033 Fund, has entered into discussions with Central Health, and this will likely lead to significant involvement by UT Austin.

I won’t repeat any of the information already provided in announcements here, and here, but I will comment by saying that I am excited that progress is being made toward a plan for redevelopment of this critical site for Austin and for the Innovation District. All parties continue to be committed to the principles of mission, stewardship, and partnership for the site, and are pursuing a mixed-use, high density development that, as a key part of the Capital City Innovation District, will focus on creating healthier communities.  More to come!


News from our partners

Austin Community College Biosciences Incubator

ACC Bioscience-based company Macromolteck (www.macromoltek.com) received a phase II supplement award from the National Science Foundation to support their ongoing collaboration with ACC faculty and students. Macromoltek is a computational drug discovery company developing tools to aid pharma and biotech companies designing better antibody therapies.

Another ACC member company, Environmental Quality Operations was accepted into the inaugural class of MassChallenge Texas! The 2018 cohort was selected from among 520 applicants. The four-month accelerator program will offer them world-class mentoring from industry experts, tailored programming, and complimentary office space.  EQO uses molecular solutions for environmental problems, like controlling invasive aquatic species.

ACC Bioscience Incubator welcomed its ninth member company, 16S Technologies, in February. 16S Technologies delivers precision control of microbial pests for oil and gas companies.


upcoming events in the CCI Network

Chris headsht.png

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