We are in the long game. We are looking 20, maybe 30 years into the future. The seeds we plant today and the small steps we take today will lead to transformation during the coming decades. Join us and be a part of our future.
Imagine a Fort Worth where innovation is happening across multiple innovation districts, where there are multiple seed funds for new venture creation, new venture capital firms launching from successful exits, fellowship programs for students that provide extensive experiential learning in startups, reverse-pitch competitions driving innovative solutions to corporate problems, and a “Made in FW” campaign that puts a spotlight on the products, services and startups built here. With the strides we’ve been making, these things are right around the corner.
TechFW is where innovators become founders and launch to the world. Every day, we connect with innovators giving birth to ideas and solutions that are solving burning problems. We need to create an environment where these innovators, risk-takers and creators are set up for success. A home to test, to create, to connect, to grow.
We believe we are that home. We are that environment … and we want you to join us.
Key Points from TechFW
- Bigger. Stronger. More Inclusive. More Diverse.
- Let’s build a bigger ecosystem for entrepreneurs and startup founders.
- Let’s build a stronger support network for innovators.
- Let’s expand on what TechFW has built and proved over its 20+ year history and scale to reach new heights.
- Let’s build!
Grow in the Fort. Launch to the World.
Momentum is on our side. During the past five years, TechFW has seen three health and biotech startups be acquired for more than $3 billion collectively. In the past year, we have seen Fort Worth startups make national news and two innovation districts launch and start to take shape (see the Alliance Mobility Innovation Zone and the iter8 Health Innovation Community.) And just in the past few months, we have connected to entrepreneurs and investors moving into Fort Worth from the coasts, one being CAGE Bio and its expansion into Fort Worth. The power in new venture creation, talent development and investing in innovation is visible and we are looking for those ready to jump in.
Think of what we have built as a “proof of concept”; proof that playing the long game makes for big wins. A proof of concept is a short realization of a certain method or idea to demonstrate its feasibility. Well, this idea has been realized.
Nothing in tech transfer and innovation is an overnight success. It takes energy over a sustained time period to become fully realized.
This long game, the game of looking into the future and delivering all that is needed today to make that future a possibility, is what every high-growth entrepreneur faces when launching a venture. We as a community have the opportunity to stand beside them as they build and believe in the possibility. It takes patience, perseverance and partnerships.
“In the realm of ideas everything depends on enthusiasm… in the real world all rests on perseverance.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Take, for example, the journey of Encore Vision. This story is one of my favorites as it displays the network effect and the outcomes of all the pieces coming together.
The story of Encore Vision includes corporate tech transfer out of Alcon, university wet lab space and Phase One trials at the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth, tech incubation at TechFW, investments from members of Cowtown Angels and an acquisition from Novartis.
The outcome of being acquired by Novartis for $365 million in December 2016 is a giant headline grabbing story, but only half the story The other major outcome was the creation of Fort Worth’s first venture capital firm, Bios Partners, when science and business came together at Cowtown Angels and members placed their bet on Encore Vision. The launch of Bios Partners put Fort Worth on the map for every therapeutics company across the flyover states.
This inter-connectedness and coordination among players in the ecosystem is a powerful example of why investing resources and energy into new venture creation is a key ingredient to value creation for our city. It should be on the minds of every leader in every sector. We’re here to help make this a reality.
A unique opportunity to diversify the economy
Economic development is made up of many component parts. It’s job creation through specific efforts in business finance, marketing, neighborhood development, workforce development, small business development and business retention. It is business recruitment and expansion. It’s real estate development. And it is technology transfer and new venture creation.
We need a balanced approach to our economic development plans. All of the component parts are needed for a healthy and thriving city. Think of it as a prudent investor would. It is better to be diversified than have all your eggs in one basket.
According to Pitchbook, 60% of new investments during the past five years in Fort Worth have been in energy. (Thank you Sparkyard for the stats.) We must work to balance the pie during the next five years.
We are in a position in Fort Worth to dramatically grow the support and infrastructure available for new venture creation, technology transfer and scaling high-growth ventures.
We are seeing this front and center when the City of Fort Worth Economic Development Department announces a first of its kind partnership with homegrown venture and TechFW ThinkLab graduate, Linear Labs. This is innovative economic development brainstorming put into action.
Universities, government, media, service providers, support organizations, investors, mentors and entrepreneurs have a role to play to scale. But as Brad Feld put it in his Boulder Thesis, the entrepreneurs lead. Everyone else feeds and supports.
At TechFW, we are here to bring it all together.
There is no escaping disruptive change. Know that no industry is immune.
We are excited to be on the front lines of investing, to show our ability to adapt to the next big thing. If you love a little outside-the-box thinking, join in. All of the innovative minds in this city welcome you. From paying attention and sharing stories to mentoring and sharing your expertise and perspectives, innovators across our community and region are building amazing things.
There is an abundance of opportunities to take action today, tomorrow and in the future. Continuous improvement (a core value at TechFW) is where we sit day in and day out and I encourage you to view everything we do for high-growth ventures and tech transfer as an evolution.
At TechFW, we envision a future filled with opportunities for all those taking the leap and launching new tech ventures to those on the journey of commercializing the solutions that will improve lives across the globe.
Those visions have a spot for you. Solutions to the big problems can come from anyone, anywhere. Let’s give the innovators, the risk takers, the creatives and the creators a home where they can thrive.
Join us. Bring your valuable talents and skill sets and be a part of helping our Fort Worth startups launch to the world.
Hayden Blackburn is executive director of TechFW.