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Wednesday, March 3, 2021

TechFW parnering with LaunchBio for health care tech accelerator program

LaunchBio, a national nonprofit network of life sciences innovators that recently expanded to North Texas, has announced a partnership with TechFW to provide its ThinkLab accelerator program to advance the commercialization of biotech, medtech and digital health technologies in the Dallas market.

Hayden Blackburn, Executive Director of TechFW, will lead the ThinkLab program, which has educated more than 100 diverse startups since it was first offered in 2008. “This will be the first TechFW ThinkLab cohort uniquely designed for biotech and life science companies, allowing the teams to learn from the curriculum and each other. ThinkLab is designed to help founders stay focused on long-term strategy while also doing the tough day-to-day work of getting a company off the ground. We are excited to join LaunchBio and its partners to add important resources to support company formation and growth in North Texas,” he said.

The first cohort of eight Dallas-based startup teams will graduate from the 12-week virtual intensive training program in April. “We are strengthening the support network for scientists in Dallas who want to take a game-changing idea from the research lab to the marketplace for the benefit of human health,” said Becky Beattie, CEO of LaunchBio. “ThinkLab has a successful track record with life science startups in Fort Worth, and we are pleased to bring this best-in-class offering to Dallas. It’s part of LaunchBio’s overall strategy to elevate the North Texas region’s standing as a top-tier biotech hub.”

The LaunchBio / TechFW partnership will provide business training free to first-time scientist entrepreneurs who eventually may locate their companies at Pegasus Park, a 23-acre mixed-use development. Under construction near the Dallas Design District and Southwestern Medical District, Pegasus Park will be home to the Biotech+ Hub, offering wet lab, training and office space that will serve as the go-to place for early-stage, life sciences companies to develop into high-growth ventures. The ThinkLab participants were selected in a competitive process that matched aspiring entrepreneurs with technologies that have a high potential for commercial success as well as bringing on aspiring biotech entrepreneurs and their new ventures. Five of the eight teams are associated with the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, including faculty, post-doctoral fellows, medical students and graduate students. They are:

  • AllergenIQ: Offering one of the first nationwide services providing in-home diagnosis and treatment for allergy patients. The business will offer a variety of services, including testing kits, online telemedicine consulting, and an online platform designed for allergists.
  • Cytolytics: An investigational gene therapy to treat fatty liver disease. The technology has the potential to end metabolic dysregulation associated with the disease and protect the patient from further metabolic disruptions.
  • Element Lab: Developing a process to reduce the time – once epitopes have been identified from a patient’s tumor cells – to derive and synthesize peptides used for personalized cancer immunotherapy. The prototype peptide synthesizer may lead to dramatic time savings in bio-manufacturing to treat cancer.
  • SiD Technologies: Developing a biochemical approach to advance drug discovery by improving the identification of small molecule targets. This approach may be applied to finding new therapies and improving existing treatments.
  •  SO!O: Developing an ultrasound probe holder that allows a physician to install the required ultrasound probe cover to perform guided procedures under sterile conditions.
  • Unnamed company: Licensing technology to develop vascular trapping sheaths and guide catheters for use in endovascular interventions and diagnostic angiography Unnamed company: Licensing technology to develop a novel nano-particle formulation for targeted gene therapy of lung disease to promote faster patient recovery through stimulation of lung tissue, leading to regeneration and re-growth/
  • Unnamed company: Licensing technology to improve the diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric patients, with the goal of integrating cutting-edge biomarkers into clinical trials to develop new therapeutics.

Brad Phelan, Director of Technology Commercialization and Blackstone LaunchPad & Techstars at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says the quality of the teams applying to participate in ThinkLab underscores the strong interest in entrepreneurship at the university.

“Students and faculty are looking for opportunities to use their academic research to solve real-world problems,” he said. “UT Southwestern has expanded its programs in technology licensing, entrepreneurship and mentorship to meet this growing demand. We hope to see more spin-outs creating jobs, economic growth and a better quality of life for our citizens.”

LaunchBio and TechFW plan to offer a second cohort for Dallas-based life sciences entrepreneurs this fall.

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