Austin Innovation District Network News

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Around The District | Across the Affinity Network | Opportunities | Resources | What We're Reading & watching | Events

It finally is feeling like Fall in Texas! As we slide into the last quarter of the year see the latest news around Austin’s Innovation District and don’t miss out on some upcoming opportunities, events, and more.

Special Shoutout:
CPRIT Keeps Our State at the Forefront of Oncology Innovation

You can help keep Texas at the leading edge of the fight against cancer by voting on Proposition 6 this November 5th

Did you know that Texas is the home, and beneficiary, of the second-largest public investor in cancer prevention and research in the country? With a $3 billion public investment voted in 2007, Texans have been leading an effort to conquer cancer through the state’s Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT).

And what we especially like about CPRIT is that it is collaborative and inclusive. It is a framework within which diverse enterprises participate. Of the 1,450 cancer research and prevention projects, CPRIT has supported across Texas, 34 are at academic institutions, 38 are at community organizations, and 36 are at companies. And this work has, undoubtedly, contributed substantially to Texas’ position as a world leader in oncology.

Texas has three National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers – two of which were added due to CPRIT investments. Texas is ranked fourth among all states for federal funding for research by the National Cancer Institute¹. CPRIT funding has helped to recruit more than 180 world-class cancer researchers to Texas, one of whom was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology/Medicine in 2018.


CPRIT has been a critical driver of the commercial life science sector in Texas, and in Austin. At least eight companies in Austin got an early start with CPRIT funding. These include home grown companies, such as Aeglea Biotherapeutics, which was awarded $19.8 million from CPRIT in 2014 to advance an enzyme-based therapy licensed from The University of Texas at Austin, and which went on to list with Nasdaq in 2016. CPRIT has also helped to attract companies to Texas, including Curtana Pharmaceuticals, which moved to Austin from San Diego in 2014 and was awarded $7.6 million from CPRIT to develop its drug for brain cancer. Their drug is about to enter clinical development and they continue to work with a number of partners in Austin and throughout Texas.

Public programs like CPRIT are foundational elements of innovation ecosystems. They support discovery research, they facilitate community engagement, and they help new innovations to become products and services in the market where they can have real impact for patients. These public investments generate economic payback also. CPRIT projects were responsible for more than 10,000 permanent jobs in 2018. Every year $1.4 billion in direct economic output results from CPRIT operations and activities. And CPRIT-funded companies have gone on to attract more than $3.1 billion in additional financing – capital that is contributing directly to the Texas economy.

For Austin’s Innovation District, programs like CPRIT are a no-brainer.

You can help! The Texas Legislature overwhelmingly approved a statewide vote on November 5 for Proposition 6 to invest an additional $3 billion to continue Texas’ fight against cancer. If you’d like to see the full impact of CPRIT before you vote, you can check it out here.

¹ From 2007 – 2019, NIH Reporter (accessed October 27, 2019)

Message from our Executive Director:
Collaborating on Big Challenges in Health and Mobility

One of the big challenges Austin faces, as one of the country’s fastest-growing metro areas, is ensuring that all communities have mobility options to allow them access to public spaces, nutritious food options, and health services.

On October 9th, Capital City Innovation, the City of Austin’s Transportation Department, and Ford Mobility held an open workshop for potential applicants to the City: One Challenge. The City: One Challenge is an initiative through which Ford Mobility partners with cities to solve mobility challenges, and here in Austin, the focus of the challenge is how mobility impacts healthy living.

Photos from the workshop with Ford and the City of Austin

The City:One Challenge preparation workshop was the culmination of almost a year of work among Ford, the City of Austin, CCI, and various Austin community organizations focused on how mobility contributes to healthier communities. 

Our partnership with Ford started in November 2018, when they helped CCI to convene a conversation among key community partners including Central Health, the City of Austin, Community Care, Dell Medical School, El Buen Samaritano, Integral Care, Meals on Wheels, Seton, Travis County and others, to explore and share challenges experienced by patients accessing services for health. You can read about it in our annual review.

The group met twice more over the summer to highlight case studies of mobility solutions. Examples included the Groceries to Go program by Meals on Wheels of Central Texas, Central Health’s pilot Lyft ride-sharing program for patient appointments with physicians, and Cloud 9’s telehealth program for use by first responders in the field. While they are all facing different challenges and have access to different resources, common themes emerged: the importance of establishing trust, the need to address digital literacy and access, the challenge of scaling potential solutions, and the desire for data centralization. You can view the report that was created after these convenings. 

So when Ford Mobility and the City of Austin decided to partner on releasing a City:One Challenge here in Austin, it was a no-brainer what the focus should be. While other City:One Challenges in Detroit, Indianapolis, and Mexico City have been focused on transit accessibility and rider safety, Austin’s City:One Challenge focuses on the influence of mobility on the health of communities in our Eastern Crescent.

Ford has become even more engaged in Austin over the last year. At the end of September, it announced that Austin will join Miami and Washington DC as an initial test and launch market for its autonomous vehicle program. Sherif Marakby, CEO of Ford Autonomous Vehicles, cited Austin’s large university presence and its vibrant, growing downtown as significant considerations.

Collaboration among cities, universities, health systems, and companies is increasingly important to cross-disciplinary innovation and is a key goal of the Innovation District. The big challenges we all face, whether it be in health, the environment, or economic equity, will not be solved by any one organization – not government, not universities, not companies. They will require collaboration. Economic development is not just a simple equation of incentives and jobs – it must embrace the creation of new capabilities and real partnerships that address challenges that our communities care about.

We’re thrilled that Ford Mobility and the City of Austin have leveraged our networks in Austin to focus this public-private partnership on a challenge of particular interest to our communities and the Innovation District – getting and keeping our communities healthy. We hope that this partnership is just the first of many. 

- Chris Laing
Executive Director

If you have an idea for a mobility solution that will help keep Austin’s communities healthier, you can visit the City:One Challenge website here. The Challenge invites anyone in the community, whether you are an individual or part of an organization, to propose models for mobility that facilitate health.

Applicants have the opportunity to win up to $100,000 to plan or implement a pilot of their proposal. Applications close on Tuesday, November 5th.

Around The District

First signs of construction in the Innovation District 

Wander up past 12th and Red River, and you’ll see that things are starting to happen. In September, we shared the news that the flagship of the Innovation District, a 300,000 square foot Class A Office building, is due to begin construction by the end of the year. We’re happy to let you know that the work has begun. Immediately south of the hospital parking garage at the corner of 15th and Red River streets, the site known as Block 164 is being prepared for the construction of the Innovation District flagship.


With the initiation of this building, we expect the Innovation District to start taking shape quickly. Adjacent to block 164 are another ~10 acres of development opportunity on Central Health’s downtown campus. And immediately to the south is the former Health South building, a City-owned property, which is well-suited to become a part of Austin’s emerging Innovation District.

We’re excited because it’s all starting now on Block 164. Sitting right on Waterloo Park, the anchors for the new building will be research and administration teams from Dell Medical School and The University of Texas at Austin who will take up about one third of the building. The remaining two thirds will be occupied by companies, non-profits, and startups that share our vision for health for all and inclusive economic growth.


The developers are actively seeking residents for the building today. If you’re a forward-thinking enterprise with an interest in being part of the emerging epicenter for health and life science innovation, we want to hear from you.

For those wanting to learn more about possibilities in the flagship building, or elsewhere in the Innovation District, look out for some materials we’ll be sharing soon. In the meantime, visit our For Companies page or shoot us an email at

Austin’s Innovation District by the numbers


When the Innovation District's flagship building is expected to be open


When the nearby Waterloo Park will be open


Square footage of the Innovation District's flagship building


Number of acres in the first phase of Austin's Innovation District


Stories in the Innovation District's flagship building

Accelerator Program To Provide Growth for Austin Health Care Startups

Dell Med and McCombs School of Business announced a new opportunity for Health startup entrepreneurs in Austin with a partnership between Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs (JBTVL) at McCombs and the Texas Health CoLab at Dell Medical School in September. The partnership will be led by Mellie Price, a local veteran of the Austin entrepreneur scene and a co-founder of Capital Factory. Price will also continue her current work as executive director of commercialization and managing director of the Texas Health CoLab at Dell Med.

JBTVL describes itself as a “university-wide initiative to support technology commercialization, entrepreneurship, and innovation while providing a unique and directly applicable educational experience for participating students.” The program pairs graduate students with local startups from all industries, offering assistance in writing business plans, forecasting financials, performing competitive research, developing pricing and marketing strategies and more. JBTVL has a rich history at UT and boasts $645 million invested in companies affiliated with them currently. The collaboration between JBTVL and Texas Health CoLab is intended to accelerate the pace of health product innovation in Austin.

Jay Hartzell, Dean at McCombs said, “Health care is perhaps the most pressing need for business transformation in our country. Leveraging the joint power of the Health CoLab and JBTVL helps to support local startups and further advance Austin as a center for health care innovation.” 

Dell Med Dean Clay Johnston, M.D., Ph.D., agreed, saying, “This interdisciplinary effort combines innovation, collaboration, and community benefit, and is absolutely aligned with Dell Med’s interest in making Austin a model healthy city.”

The partnership currently manifests itself in the JBTVL Accelerator program which is hosting an expo to showcase its latest startup innovations. Save the date, the next expo will take place on Nov. 21, 2019. 

The Accelerator is now accepting applications for the Spring 2020 cohort and health startups are encouraged to apply. Get more details and apply before the upcoming deadline of December 8th.

Austin’s Impact Accelerator Cohort Visits Downtown 

Wednesday, October 16th we were happy to participate in a panel and sneak peek of the Impact Hub Austin Impact Accelerator 2019 cohort in collaboration with Blue Sky Partners and the Downtown Austin Alliance at Waterloo Greenway’s Symphony Square. The Austin Impact Accelerator is a free acceleration program that develops and brings to market a cohort of solutions focused primarily and purposefully on affordability(housing and transit) and workforce development. 

This was the first year that Impact Hub combined folks working both in affordability and workforce, a move that is meant to help break down silos and increase collaboration on the challenging and intertwined issues affecting Austin. 


We started the day around 3:00 pm with a panel for cohort participants. Panelist included: 

  • Julie Fitch, COO, Downtown Austin Alliance

  • Jenell Moffett, Research Director, Downtown Austin Alliance

  • Brian Kelly, Principal, Civic Analytics

  • And our very own Chris Laing, Executive Director, Capital City Innovation 

During the panel, cohort members go the chance to learn more about each panelists organization, downtown’s role in Austin, and how future changes, such as the emerging Innovation District, will impact Austin. 

Post the panel, cohort participants gave a quick pitch of their work and engaged in Q&A with panelists, providing an opportunity for connection with the hopes of increasing awareness of the cohort and panelists’ work to incite future collaboration and conversation. 

At 5:00 pm, we opened up Symphony Square to guests who attended a happy hour mixer event. There, community members were invited to meet and mingle with the cohort participants prior to their upcoming big community showcase day. Cohort participants include: 

  • Austin Justice Coalition

  • E4 Youth 

  • Diva-licious Brands, LLC

  • Equidad, ATX

  • Haven Connect

  • Integral Care

  • Level

  • My Brother's Keeper Scholars

  • Prowess Project

  • Red Salmon Arts

  • Survive2Thrive Foundation

  • The Other Ones Foundation 


One cohort organization that had an interesting solution was E4 Youth, led by Carl Settles. E4 Youth is a non-profit that is working on a new program called “Digital Docent”. Digital Docent provides professional-level training and employment for college-age youth of color that collect and curate the oral histories of any city in the world into the E4 Virtual Archive (E4VA) pronounced "Eva".  At his table, you could see the prototype of his work thus far, a VR headset that immersed you in an East Austin setting with oral history of a mural on East 12th Street. While at the event Carl even noted the history of Symphony Square itself. Originally the space was home to Jeremiah Hamilton, a former slave who had been freed, taught himself to read and write, and would eventually go on to serve in the Texas Legislature. 

With a quickly growing and transforming city, E4VA aims to collect the rich history, culture, and story that makes Austin Austin.   

Miss out on the mixer? Make sure that you’re RSVP’d for the Community Showcase on November 12th where you can see all 12 participants pitch. Register online now.

And In case you missed it, we were featured recently in the Impact Hub newsletter Check out the interview on the Impact Hub Austin blog.

Across The Affinity Network

Our Affinity Network is comprised of six of the region’s premier hosted programs for health and life science companies in Central Texas. They provide wet and dry lab space, office and coworking, access to specialized equipment, mentorship and access to professional services, workforce support, and a sense of community. 

Celebrating Three ACC Bioscience Incubator Member Company Successes

ACC Bioscience Incubator member companies have been on a roll! Join us in celebrating these recent wins in our ecosystem and say congrats if you see their teams around.

  • ACC Bioscience Incubator member company Catalyst Education, an EdTech company with a focus on delivering management solutions for STEM lab courses, was named as one of the finalists for Mass Challenge TX 2019. Though they didn’t walk away with prize money, they were among good company.

  • EQO, a company affiliated with ACC Bioscience Incubator and Austin Tech Incubator was awarded an NSF SBIR Phase I grant to pursue a bioengineered product for the control and eradication of zebra mussels. EQO describes itself as a biological survey and environmental remediation company bringing modern molecular techniques to the field of environmental biology. This is helpful since zebra mussels are an invasive species that have done substantial damage to Austin's aquatic ecosystems and infrastructure. You can read more about EQO in our Annual Review.

  • And finally, member company Kim MD, a company focused on nucleic acid-based therapeutics has had four IND's approved by FDA. 

Unfamiliar with the ACC Bioscience incubator? Check out one of three videos highlighting their member companies and capabilities. 

4eTherapeutics and Valtari Bio join the Workspaces @ Texas Health CoLab

The WorkSpaces @ Texas Health CoLab is excited to announce that 4E Therapeutics and Valtari Bio have joined!

4E Therapeutics is dedicated to developing innovative and novel treatments for neuropathic pain and has identified a novel, non-opioid target for treating pain. This target has not previously been associated with pain management and is expected to be devoid of many side effects associated with currently approved analgesics.

Valtari Bio is developing a blood test to aid in the rapid triage of suspected stroke patients. Their ReST™ (Rapid evaluation Stroke Triage) test will help clinicians with or without stroke expertise make a confident initial stroke versus no stroke (e.g. complicated migraine, bell’s palsy, vertigo, dizziness, etc.) determination in ten minutes or less. The team has an ongoing clinical trial with a Dell Med team and won the judges prize at the President’s Startup Challenge 2019 from Pistoia Alliance

Unfamiliar with the Texas Health CoLab? They host a monthly learning series at Dell Med and have been hosting office hours open up to the health care startup community!

High School Students Explore Life Science Careers at THBD

As part of its mission to grow twenty-first century jobs by fostering bioscience education, research and healthcare in Central Texas, Temple Health & Bioscience District (THBD) supports the work of startups and entrepreneurs, while encouraging future generations to pursue careers in the life sciences. The team at THBD routinely engages students and teachers to share one common message: when it comes to the future of bioscience, the possibilities are endless. 

In October, a group of bright young students from Temple Independent School District’s (TISD) International Baccalaureate (IB) program visited THBD to explore the facility. The Temple High School students who visited THBD, exemplary models of the IB program, gained hands-on experience and unrivaled laboratory education during their tour.

Ready to explore joining our network with one of these partners? Learn more on on ‘For Companies’ page. You’ll be in great company!


From leadership development to funding, don’t miss these opportunities.

Apply for the Texas Venture Labs Accelerator

The Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs Accelerator (JBTVL) pairs graduate students with local startups from all industries, offering assistance in writing business plans, forecasting financials, performing competitive research, developing pricing and marketing strategies and more. Graduate students from the MBA, law, engineering, pharmacy and natural sciences programs participate in semester-long consulting projects and work alongside the company founders to earn academic credit in exchange for high-quality consulting work and real-world experience.

Applications are accepted all year (rolling) but Spring 2020 cohort applications are requested by December 8. Late applications will be considered on a space-available basis. 

Get more details and apply with your startup here.

Office Hours for Health Care Startups

If you haven’t heard the news, the Texas Health CoLab has been offering complimentary office hours for health care startups. You can sign up for a confidential 60-minute session to get the advice that your health care startup needs. Upcoming dates with Emergo by UL on October 31 and Globiox on October 29. Get signed up.

Submit A proposal to the City:One Challenge 

The Propose Phase for the City:One Austin Challenge is live! The Propose Phase will be open until November 5th and we’re looking for proposals that address a central Challenge question: How might we make it easier for East Austin community members to live a healthier life through improved mobility and transportation?

Think you have a solution? Submit a proposal for the chance to get up to $100k in funding for a pilot. See details on the City:One website.

Pitch At SXSW!

SXSW Pitch showcases innovative new technology to a panel of industry experts, high-profile media professionals, venture capital investors, and angel investors.

The deadline is November 15, 2019. Get details on the SXSW website


Discover the latest findings from our community and beyond.

Check out the World Cities Report

JLL and The Business of Cities released a report that identifies cities in 10 categories. Austin is listed among the “innovators”. They classify Innovators as “cities that stand out because they have world-class capabilities in science and technology and business climates that foster innovation and entrepreneurship. Attracting among the greatest volumes of real estate investment relative to their economic size.”

View the World Cities: Mapping the Pathways to Success report from JLL.

What We're Reading & Watching

A round-up of articles and videos to spark insight and innovation.

  • Power Player: UT’s John B. Goodenough Wins Nobel Prize (American Inno)

  • Dell Medical School, Episcopal Health Foundation Join Forces to Advance Health Beyond the Clinic (Dell Med)

  • Lyft pilot ferries thousands to Central Health’s Southeast Austin clinic (Statesman)

  • Help Us Build the E4 Virtual Archive (E4VA) of East Austin Oral Histories (Austin Impact Accelerator Medium)


Opportunities to meet, learn, and celebrate with our network and the broader community.

You’re Invited to Demo Day with Texas Health Catalyst! 

The Texas Health Catalyst program at Dell Medical School is hosting their annual Demo Day on November 7! This exclusive program at Dell Medical School helps transform big ideas into technologies and systems that improve health outcomes and reduce costs. Alongside Dell Medical School leadership, clinicians, investors and executives, you’ll hear how innovators across the UT campus and startups in Austin are building new products to solve critical health challenges. 

Demo day may be a misnomer as instead of a 'grand finale' style event, this will be an opportunity for teams to get feedback and guidance from experts in the audience. Featured projects include a medical device that can reduce opioid prescriptions following surgery, a breath sensor for cancer, a digital solution for heart disease self-management, a cancer therapeutic and more. The event will feature quickfire pitches by innovators followed by a poster session/networking reception. Inventors, industry experts, clinicians, healthcare administrators and investors are invited to RSVP!
RSVP for Texas Health Catalyst Demo Day Here.

Texas Health CoLab Learning Series - Human Factors Engineering and the Medical Error Epidemic

The Texas Health CoLab Learning Series invites you to their October seminar on Halloween at the Dell Medical School. This month’s topic is Human Factors Engineering and the Medical Error Epidemic. The speaker will be Michael Wiklund who is the General Manager at Emergo by UL.

Join the CoLab Thursday, October 31st from 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm at the Dell Medical School - Health Discovery building. Live streaming is available at UT Health San Antonio, UTSA SBDC Technology Commercialization Center, and the Temple Health & Bioscience District. Learn more and register.

This is part of a free monthly series hosted by the Texas Health CoLab. View previous series recordings online

P20 Central Texas Workforce Readiness Conference

Register today for the upcoming P20 Central Texas Workforce Readiness Conference. The conference is a partnership between the Central Texas P20 Regional Council, Region 12 Education Service Center and Workforce Solutions of Central Texas, and will provide excellent resources for bridging the gap between education and the workforce. The breakout sessions are focused around how CTE courses help students develop the academic and soft skills necessary to be college and career ready.

THBD is proud to attend this upcoming event, and sponsor lunch for attendees and they hope to see you there! The conference is this Friday, November 1st at 8 a.m. Register online now

Impact Hub Community Showcase Day

The Austin Impact Accelerator is an acceleration program that develops and brings to market a cohort of solutions focused primarily and purposefully on affordability and workforce development.

On Community Showcase Day, accelerator participants will present their solutions to a room full of investors, subject matter experts, entrepreneurs and leaders from government, nonprofit and business sectors.

Community Showcase Day is on Tuesday, November 12th at 6 pm. Register now and let’s celebrate the cohort!

Health Tech Austin

Health Tech Austin has two events coming up! A new type of debate style event called Health Care Fight Club scheduled for Monday, November 18th and The Future of Health with a save the date for December 11th.

Fall bioBash

Join BioAustin for this Fall’s BioBash at MedtoMarket on Tuesday, November 12th at 6:00 pm. BioBash is a staple for life science networking in Austin. Expect food and drinks. Register on Eventbrite.

See more events from the network and greater community below!


Our work is made possible by our founders and supporting sponsors. See who is fueling Austin’s Innovation


Victoria O'Dell, Program and Communications Manager, Capital City Innovation
As program and communications manager of Capital City Innovation, Victoria facilitates channels for collaborative work around Austin's emerging Innovation district in downtown Austin and beyond. Previously, she was a freelance designer working with non-profits, small businesses, and startups across Austin.

Follow Victoria on Twitter @victoria_odell