March 2018

Welcome to Spring!

And to the frenzy of March madness! This month has definitely given new meaning to the word “hectic”! In terms of the Capital City Innovation District, there has been a great deal happening, and this month we want to highlight all the things our partners have been doing to build Austin’s innovation sector.

We’re excited about the momentum that has been building! Between January and March, Capital City Innovation has grown its email subscriber list to more than 500 people, has had more than 500 unique visits to its website, has more than 130 followers to its twitter account, and has had more than 500 people attend Capital City Innovation programs! Want to join us? Follow us on twitter and subscribe on our website! And ask your friends to also!

South by Southwest Roundup

I want to thank Husch Blackwell who helped me as a “newbie” to navigate my first ever SXSW Interactive conference from March 9- 14! They also enabled me to represent Capital City Innovation on a health track review panel that also included leaders from J-Labs, IDEO, Ascension Ventures, Merck, Dell Medical School, and many others.

Among the fascinating conversations about how SXSW might continue to grow its stature as a place where creative interactions relating to health are explored, included the role of nurses (in my opinion an oft-overlooked source of innovation in the health sector), the lessons we can learn here on earth about how health is addressed in space, and the increasing need to consider equity at all levels – including representation at conferences – if we are going to achieve equity more broadly.

My favorite session at SXSW (and it seems that of many others) was probably the keynote by Esther Perel – probably because it was not a session I would have attended if left to my own planning – but the enthusiasm of my Husch Blackwell “Sherpas” swayed me – and I wasn’t disappointed (isn’t that the best thing about SXSW – the unexpected?)

I enjoyed the session partly because she was inherently engaging (she convinced the whole audience to blind-fold themselves at one point)! But also because she really got me thinking about the importance of our personal, social, and professional networks in our individual and community health. You can see her keynote here

In addition, I had the opportunity to engage in a number of terrific sessions, which I’ll summarize below:

The Eisenhower Fellowship Breakfast

Eisenhower Fellowships had a terrific breakfast event on March 9, arranged in partnership with DigiCities, and featuring a number of Eisenhower Fellows, including 2018 Fellow Whurley, who talked about his recent book with Chris Ferris, Quantum Computing for Babies. Whurley, an Austin native, was also a keynote speaker at SXSW. 

Did you know that Austin is a growing hub for Eisenhower Fellowships? With more than 2,000 fellows from more than 100 countries, Eisenhower Fellows include heads of national and regional government, university presidents, and CEOs of corporations and non-profit organizations.

There are at least six Fellows here in Austin (and I’m honored and proud to be one of them)! The organization’s mission is to inspire emerging leaders to collaborate and effect positive change. Eisenhower Fellowships are currently accepting applications for their 2019 program. Let me know if you’d like to learn more!

Amplify Philly

Philadelphia, like many other cities and countries around the world, has a special place on their calendar for SXSW! Amplify Philly, a collaboration of a number of Philadelphia-area organizations, including Startup PHL, Comcast, VisitPhilly, Innovation @Penn, and a lot of others, set up Amplify Philly House on 6th and Trinity to showcase Philly’s business, innovative, and cultural assets.

South Philly parking rules applied at Amplify Philly House at 6th and Trinity, during SXSW

South Philly parking rules applied at Amplify Philly House at 6th and Trinity, during SXSW

I was pleased to moderate a panel on March 11, featuring representatives from Penn, Comcast, the University City Science Center, and PeopleJoy, to discuss how new spaces and collaborative models are changing the modern definition of work – something that is very relevant to us here in Austin! The panel highlighted what can be achieved when academia, corporations, government, startups and non-profits work together – they were channeling our vision of Austin’s innovation district!

life science and health business incubator affinity network

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On May 12, we were proud to host a reception for our life science and health business incubator affinity network (ACC Bioscience Incubator, Austin Technology Incubator, Dell Med’s CoLab, the Drug Dynamics Institute at UT Austin, STAR Park at Texas State University, and the Texas Collaboration Center in Georgetown) at the new Austin Central Library.

Almost 200 people came to hear from three companies that are meeting their success here in Central Texas – Siva Therapeutics, Paratus Diagnostics, and Merck. We were excited by the turnout and enthusiasm for our region’s innovation network, and we’re looking forward to more networking events like this in the future!


Workforce Development with impact Hub Austin

On March 14, we were thrilled to announce our collaboration with Impact Hub’s Workforce Development Accelerator! This three-month program will mentor and network up to ten startup, non-profit, and corporate participants who are developing creative new approaches to pursuing goals outlined in the Master Community Workforce Plan developed consultatively by Workforce Solutions Capital Area. Capital City Innovation’s interest is to participate in creating pathways for long-term Austin residents across all skill levels to access opportunities of the sort that will arise with the emerging innovation district. Impact Hub’s workforce accelerator follows on the heels of a lauded accelerator last year (and to be repeated in the Fall) focused on housing.

The British are Coming! 

On March 5-6, the Association of British Health Industries (an industry organization similar to ADVAMED, but in the U.K.) led a delegation of medical technology and health companies to Austin as part of a trip to Texas.

Did you know the United Kingdom is the world’s largest single-payer health system? It has more than 4.7 million patient interactions every week.

In addition to a tour of the Dell Med Health CoLab (where a number of British companies already have a presence), and presentations from the Austin Healthcare Council and about Austin’s Innovation District, their trip was rounded out by a reception hosted by Norton Rose Fulbright in Austin.

In June, ABHI is planning to lead a second delegation of British companies to Texas, visiting Dallas, Houston and Austin, and is offering to take U.S. companies on a return mission to meet with British healthcare system and industry leaders, academic innovators, and regulators in London, Oxford and Cambridge.

If you are interested in learning more, email us and we’ll send you more information! ABHI has a special focus on the relationship between the UK and Texas for the health and med-tech industry.


Celebrating with Friends of the Innovation District

A number of organizations in the Innovation District’s network have reached significant milestones this last month, and we’re taking time to help them celebrate. They are reminders that the Innovation District is not something off in the future – it’s here!

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Happy anniversary to Austin Community College’s Bioscience Incubator, which celebrated its first year of operations on March 7! The Bioscience Incubator is home to about 15 companies and is a founding member of the Innovation District’s life science and health incubator affinity group. Austin Community College is a leading example of how community colleges are continuing to be a transformative force for America’s economy. ACC just opened a Fashion Incubator, and we’re excited to help connect the dots between healthy communities!

photo credit: Peter Mullan
If you’re interested in a birds-eye view of Waterloo Park as it emerges, including breathtaking vistas of downtown and the Texas State Capitol, I’ll let you in on a secret. Head to the seventh floor of the parking garage at the corner of 15th and Red River Streets (the old Brackenridge parking garage that continues to serve as the parking garage for the new Dell Seton Medical Center).

It’s been fascinating to watch the re-imagining of Waterloo Park come to life. Part of a unique public-private partnership between the City of Austin and the Waller Creek Conservancy, the heart of the park will include the Moody Amphitheater, nestled into the hillside on the western edge, and an elevated lawn, with a walkway at its perimeter, cantilevered over Waller Creek. Our friends at the Waller Creek Conservancy just poured the concrete on this cantilevered walkway.  Waterloo Park, along with the other parks in the chain along lower Waller Creek, will be transformative to the Innovation District and to our city, and a world-class example of urban public spaces! It is scheduled to open in 2020. We can’t wait!

On March 21, Capital City Innovation was a proud sponsor of the launch of the Dell Medical School’s new Health CoLab. Combining projects that include the original CoLab (a business incubator), Texas Health Catalyst (an early-stage accelerator) and an upcoming seed fund, the new CoLab is the “mash-up” of Dell Medical School’s product development and commercialization initiatives.


Out and About

I’ve been honored to represent the Capital City Innovation District at a number of events and programs throughout the month and am looking forward to engaging in many more! Let us know if you’d like to learn more about the Innovation District, by shooting us a quick note – we’d love to come and speak with your group or organization!

On March 8th, I was honored to speak at the Institute of Real Estate Management’s Austin Chapter monthly luncheon about the opportunity ahead of us for Austin’s Innovation District. IREM, which supports career development among management professionals across the spectrum of real estate sectors, welcomed its 300th member to the Austin Chapter in March! Congratulations! 

On March 19, I was pleased to attend Central Health’s Community Conversation at which people from all walks across Austin came together to hear about the recent performance review performed by Germane Solutions. Conversations were focused on various aspects of the report findings – I was pleased to hear views on how Central Health might consider diversifying its revenue sources via non-taxpayer fundraising efforts. You can get involved in planned follow-up community conversations about plans for 2019, by attending one of two events on April 3 in South Austin and April 5 in North Austin.  

On March 22, the University of Texas at Austin’s Office of Technology Commercialization invited me to speak about how faculty and students might take advantage of the U.S. federal Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs. These programs contribute more than $2 billion each year to small business product development – and I want to see Texas small businesses and university faculty and students competing to access this funding for all the great innovation here! I’ll be speaking again about these programs at Dell Medical School on April 26 (see below).

On March 22, I was excited to join Huston Tillotson’s Diversity Networking Event at Capital Factory. It was a packed venue as freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors, as well as faculty from H-T networked with many of Austin’s premiere companies, including Merck, Google, and Seton, among others! Thanks to President Collette Burnette-Pierce for a great reminder that if you’re a company looking to keep your perspectives fresh and diverse, you need look no further than our own backyard!

Did you know that Huston Tillotson, established in 1875, is Austin’s oldest institution of higher learning? The first historically black university was Cheyney University, founded in 1837 near my U.S. hometown of Philadelphia.


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