Tag: San Antonio (Page 1 of 17)

Chris Burney with the San Antonio Angel Network Discusses Angel Investing on Ideas to Invoices

Publisher of Silicon Hills News

Chris Burney, Executive Director of the San Antonio Angel Network, courtesy photo.

San Antonio has always had angel investors but it hasn’t had a formal network for a while, but a year ago that changed with the formation of the San Antonio Angel Network.

“A group of local investors, visionaries, entrepreneurs got together and hatched the idea that San Antonio really needed an angel network to help with all the growth we are experiencing in our startup ecosystem and beyond,” said Chris Burney, executive director of the San Antonio Angel Network.

Previously, Burney worked as a manager and senior financial analyst for Rackspace, the San Antonio-based Web hosting company.

As the head of the San Antonio Angel Network, Burney evaluates deals, recruits new members and runs the organization, which is based in the RealCo Seed Fund Program offices at Geekdom in downtown San Antonio.

On this episode of Ideas to Invoices, Burney discusses angel investing in San Antonio and the details of the deals the San Antonio Angel Network looks for when evaluating a startup.

The San Antonio Angel Network’s 75 members consist of accredited investors or wealthy individuals, ranging from large family offices, successful entrepreneurs, business owners, doctors, accountants, and lawyers.

“The diversity of our network is one of its strengths,” Burney said.

The San Antonio Angel Network, a nonprofit organization, is still accepting members but plans to cap membership at 100. Individual members pay $1,800 and corporate members pay $2,500 a year.

“Those dues just really help us be sustainable,” he said.

The San Antonio Angel Network uses a pooled investment vehicle that allows angels to invest a smaller amount in lots of deals, Burney said. That allows them to write checks in a startup for as low as $5,000, he said.

“Angel deals are inherently risky even with the best due diligence and best entrepreneurs,” he said. “We expect a high rate of failure. But we also expect a high rate of return for our investors.”

Every six to eight weeks, the San Antonio Angel Network hosts pitch events with two or three startups pitching to investors. Entrepreneurs can apply directly on the San Antonio Angel Network website. It reviews applications on a rolling basis and it doesn’t require a fee to apply, Burnet said.

“We have no geographic limitations on the companies we will fund, or invest in,” Burnet said.

The San Antonio Angel Network has invested in three San Antonio startups and one in Austin so far. Its first deal was in HelpSocial, a social media software systems startup spun out of Rackspace and founded by Matt Wilbanks. The second investment was in Parlevel Systems, which is inventing new vending machine technology, and the third one was Dauber, a dump truck logistics, and technology company. And its Austin investment is Localeur, based in Austin, which is an app that provides recommendations from locals headed up by Joah Spearman.

“Almost every major city with a thriving startup ecosystem in the state has an angel network helping support the entrepreneurs,” Burney said. “San Antonio did not have that until we came around. We know for a fact that we were missing deals and that companies were either not getting funding or moving elsewhere because of the lack of investment resources here.”

The San Antonio Angel Network is part of the Alliance of Texas Angel Networks, comprised of 13 angel groups across Texas. Last May at the Hotel Emma at the Pearl, the San Antonio Angel Network hosted the annual summit of the Alliance of Texas Angel Networks with more than 100 investors from all the groups to discuss best practices and angel investing across the state.

The San Antonio Angel Network tries to be a very friendly entrepreneurial network, Burney said. It tries to get the application and due diligence process down to weeks, instead of months and to get the entrepreneurs that meet its criteria in front of its investors as quickly as possible, he said.

The San Antonio Angel Network will look at any deal with a scalable business model that will provide a good return to its investors, Burney said.

For more on the San Antonio Angel Network, listen to the entire podcast and please subscribe, rate and review Ideas to Invoices on iTunes. And support the podcast on Patreon for exclusive content only available to subscribers.

Open Cloud Academy Launches Cybersecurity Program for Veterans

David Gibson, a veteran enrolled in the Open Cloud Academy's first cybersecurity class.

David Gibson, a veteran enrolled in the Open Cloud Academy’s first cybersecurity class.

Reporter with Silicon Hills News

David Gibson retired from the U.S. Air Force as a cryptographic specialist after 18 years in 1995 in San Antonio and then worked construction jobs until he hurt his back.

Since then he’s been looking for steady work.

And that’s why he enrolled in the first class of cybersecurity training for veterans at the Open Cloud Academy downtown. His $16,000 tuition for the three-month program is paid for through Project Quest, a workforce development program, using a U.S. Department of Labor training grant with additional support from the City of San Antonio and Bexar County.

When he completes the course, he will be certified as a cybersecurity professional.

“Everybody wants that and it’s hard to get and it’s expensive,” Gibson said.

Once he finishes the Open Cloud Academy course, he goes into an internship with Rackspace. He is guaranteed $18 an hour during the course of his internship, he said.

“If I’m successful in that, then they’ll pick me up,” Gibson said.

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff at the Open Cloud Academy's event to launch its cybersecurity program.

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff at the Open Cloud Academy’s event to launch its cybersecurity program.

On Friday morning, the Open Cloud Academy officially welcomed its first cybersecurity class with 15 veterans. Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff attended the event along with Sister Pearl Caesar, Executive Director of Project Quest.

The academy has partnered with Coley and Associates, which will be providing the instructors for the class, said Deborah Carter, director of the Open Cloud Academy.

“Vets are great for this program because many of them have security clearance which makes them highly qualified candidates for cybersecurity roles,” Carter said.

Future classes in cybersecurity at the Open Cloud Academy will be open enrollment, Carter said. No information is available yet on when the next class will take place, she said. They are going to learn lessons from this program to tweak it and improve it for the next round, she said.

All of the veterans will be paired with a company for an internship upon completing the program, Carter said. The academy is working with seven companies that have agreed to employ them, she said.

The Open Cloud Academy had 20 openings for veterans in the class, but only 15 qualified in this round, Carter said.

The Open Cloud Academy has several open enrollment programs, Carter said. It hosts information sessions at 6 p.m. on the first and third Tuesday of each month on the fifth floor of the Rand Building at 110 E. Houston St., she said. Every summer, the Open Cloud Academy offers a Linux for Ladies scholarship program, she said.

Charles “Chuck” Rodriguez, a retired Major General, served for 33 years in the military, in active duty for eight years and Army reserves for 11 and the Texas National Guard for 14. He also spent 24 years in higher education and the last nine years at Texas A&M San Antonio.

Rodriguez graduated from the Open Cloud Academy in December of 2015. He now works as a support technician at Rackspace.

Military veterans are great candidates for cybersecurity jobs, Rodriguez said. In addition to the security clearances many of them hold, they are also punctual, disciplined workers with great temperament.

“They do whatever it takes to get the job done,” he said.

Techstars Cloud Selects 11 Companies to Participate in “Cloud 2016”

Blake Yeager, managing director of the Techstars Cloud in San Antonio. courtesy photo

Blake Yeager, managing director of the Techstars Cloud in San Antonio. courtesy photo

Techstars Cloud in San Antonio announced its latest class of 11 companies participating in its second program this year.

“We have a group of amazing founders from all over the world,” Blake Yeager, managing director of Techstars Cloud wrote in a blog post. In addition to the U.S., startups from Spain, Taiwan and Ireland are participating in the program.

This is the fourth Techstars Cloud class in San Antonio. It began on Monday with the companies working out of the newly-remodeled eighth floor of Geekdom. The program ends with a Demo Day on Feb. 11th.

imgresTwo of the companies are from San Antonio. Help Social, founded by Matt Wilbanks and Robert Collazo, former Rackspace employees, has received seed stage investment from Mark Cuban and the Geekdom Fund. Help Social, based at Geekdom, makes a social media platform for companies to do customer relations.

The other San Antonio startup is Slash Sensei, an online training platform aimed at teaching information technology skills to students. It is also based at Geekdom.

And the program includes three startups from Austin: Clyp, a platform to capture and share raw audio, HuBoard, a project management solutions for users of GitHub and GitHub Enterprise and Popily, a data storytelling site.

The foreign companies in the program include Imagenli, image centric app maker from Malaga, Spain, Jumble, email encryption startup from Dublin, Ireland and UXTesting, a toolkit for data visualization from Taipei City, Taiwan.

The other companies participating in the program include ilos, a video app from St. Paul, MN, Joicaster, a live streaming platform from Orlando, FL and Thalonet, a private network for better Internet performance from Atlanta, GA.

San Antonio’s MX Challenge Shuts Down Without Awarding Prize

imgres-5Without any fanfare or publicity, San Antonio’s MX Challenge closed in July without awarding its $500,000 prize.

Jesus Salas, the program manager, posted a message to the site: “Hey innovator,
Thanks for the interest that you showed for the MxChallenge. After evaluating the low demand on the competing participants we decided to shut down the MxChallenge. However, we are still welcoming Mexican tech-companies that are interested in expanding their operations at Geekdom. So, for more information about opening a tech-office at San Antonio, please contact info@geekdom.com.”

The competition officially launched in January of 2014. Salas was based at Geekdom.

In May of 2014, Salas said 30 teams had signed up for the challenge during a presentation at Geekdom.

The prize was worth $500,000 for the individual, team or organization that created a model to assist ten Mexican startup tech companies to open offices at Geekdom in San Antonio. The prize was supposed to go to the team with the best business plan, the most revenue generated and the most jobs created.

The MX Challenge was the first community-based project from HeroX, a platform for competitions to solve local and global problems. The founder of XPrize, Dr. Peter Diamandis co-founded HeroX in 2013.

BioMed SA Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Reporter with Silicon Hills News

Ann Stevens, president of BioMed SA, courtesy photo.

Ann Stevens, president of BioMed SA, courtesy photo.

Ten years ago, a group of leaders in San Antonio, led by former Mayor Henry Cisneros and the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, created an advocacy organization for the city’s biomedical industry.

They founded BioMed SA with the core mission to raise the visibility of San Antonio’s sizable biomedical industry locally, statewide, nationally and internationally.

“We’ve gained considerable traction in the last few years,” said Ann Stevens, BioMed SA’s president.

During the last decade, the organization’s mission has evolved to include economic development, Stevens said.

In 2009, Medtronic selected San Antonio for its new Diabetes Therapy Management & Education Center with plans to create 1,400 jobs. San Antonio beat out more than 900 other cities for the project and BioMed SA played an important role in convincing the company to locate here, Stevens said.

“EDF (The San Antonio Economic Development Foundation) had been working on it for more than a year,” Stevens said. “In the final stages, they asked BioMed SA to come into the project and help them land it.”

Since then, BioMed SA has worked closely with the EDF to bring new businesses here and to retain the ones that are here as well as foster new startups.

“We believe we are bringing real value by not only our promotional activities, but we’re beginning to attract outside investments to the city,” Stevens said.

In addition, the local startup scene in the life sciences industry is growing, Stevens said. The entrepreneurial side of the life sciences industry fosters new companies, attracts venture capital, brings seasoned executives to the city and helps the overall ecosystem to grow, she said.

Just recently, Targeted Technology, a locally based venture capital fund, brought Cytocentrics Bioscience, a Rostock, Germany-based biotech company, to San Antonio. The company agreed to relocate its corporate headquarters to San Antonio and create 15 jobs by the end of the year. In June, the City of San Antonio granted Cytocentrics $1 million in economic development funds to attract the company, which has pledged to create 285 additional jobs in the next eight years and invest $15 million. The company will be based initially at 18618 Tuscany Stone. Cytocentrics makes a medical device called a CytoPatch Machine. The company’s patch clamping technology evaluates drug interactions with human cells and analyzes data.

In addition to biomedical startups relocating here, one of the trends locally is to focus on technology transfer by taking academic research out of local institutions like the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and the University of Texas at San Antonio and spinning that technology out into startups, Stevens said.

On the startup front, Invictus Medical, which makes a cranial support device for the heads of newborn babies, is a prime example of a spin off coming out of the University of Texas at San Antonio, Stevens said. Other startups spinning out of the Health Science Center include Astrocyte Pharmaceuticals, which is developing drugs for brain injuries, and Rapamycin Holdings, a drug development company focused on disease prevention and treatment in pets and humans.

Randy Goldsmith, who heads up Rapamycin, also runs The Texas Technology Development Center, known as T3DC, and hosts a quarterly luncheon to keep everyone informed on what’s going on in the biomedical industry in San Antonio. About 200 people attend the luncheon, which features company presentations.

“By working together and raising visibility we have attracted more economic activity including a lot of activity in entrepreneurial startups and retained our hometown business,” Stevens said.

To continue to move the life sciences industry forward, BioMed SA plans to pursue new revenue sources from foundations, corporate grants and donations from individuals, said BioMed SA Chairman Ken Trevett.

Nobel Laureate, W.E. (William Esco) Moerner, Ph. D., to receive BioMed SA's 10th Annual Julio Palmaz Award. Photo courtesy of BioMed SA

Nobel Laureate, W.E. (William Esco) Moerner, Ph. D., to receive BioMed SA’s 10th Annual Julio Palmaz Award. Photo courtesy of BioMed SA

A few of BioMed SA’s key accomplishments in its first 10 years include the creation of the annual Julio Palmaz Award for Innovation in Healthcare and Biosciences. The next award, now in its 10th year, will go to W.E. Moerner, PhD, a San Antonio native and winner of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He will receive the award at BioMed SA’s annual award dinner in San Antonio on September 10th.

BioMed SA also recently completed a two-year Asset Initiative to identify “five key disease areas in which San Antonio has biomedical assets and expertise of national or world-class caliber.” That information is being used to promote San Antonio to researchers and companies in those areas and helped attract the World Stem Cell Summit to San Antonio last December.

San Antonio’s healthcare and bioscience industry employs nearly one of every six members of the city’s workforce and has an annual economic impact exceeding $30 billion, according to BioMed SA.

Parking Panda Launches in Austin

imageFinding a parking spot in downtown Austin can be a challenge especially during major events.

Now Parking Panda, a free app that lets drivers find, reserve and redeem parking in advance, seeks to make that task a lot easier. It has launched in Austin.

The service is now available statewide with service in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Fort Worth.

“What we’ve analyzed with our experience is that Texas has been a great market for parking innovation and we look forward to continue expanding our inventory, growing our partnerships, and providing the best experience for residents and visitors alike,” said Bryan Lozano, Parking Panda spokesman.

image-1Parking Panda’s free mobile app and desktop website lets drivers search and compare all available parking options for their destination in advance. The app provides filtering for daily, monthly or event parking. The driver gets an email confirmation to access their chosen location in advance.

“Currently we have 10 locations in Austin, mostly in the downtown, live on our platform, and like many cities, we’re planning to expand rapidly,” Lozano said.

Parking Panda launched in San Antonio last year. It’s building its partnerships and available locations in that city, Lozano said.

Parking Panda, based in Baltimore and founded in 2011, has raised $4.7 million in two rounds from two investors, according to its CrunchBase profile.

Ridesharing Under Heavy Regulation in San Antonio

imgres-7Ridesharing is in the hotseat in San Antonio.

Last Thursday, the San Antonio City Council passed changes to its code to allow services like Lyft and Uber to operate legally in the city.

But Uber and Lyft call the city’s regulations too costly and cumbersome. Uber reported it might leave the city altogether if the regulations passed. Uber even posted an online petition which has garnered 10,877 signatures, to oppose the regulations.

“The proposed ordinance creates extensive, unnecessary requirements for part-time drivers, creates barriers to entry for drivers and significantly deviates from the standards set by every other Texas municipality that has enacted TNC regulations,” according to a letter Uber wrote to the city council.

The new regulations require “transportation network companies,” also known to most people as ride-sharing companies, to train and vet their drivers and require vehicle inspections and insurance.

Uber already complies with the insurance requirements; mandating drivers carry $1 million in automobile liability coverage. It’s the other requirements that would require Uber drivers to pay up to $300 a year to comply with the regulations, according to Uber’s letter. Those regulations would require drivers to get a full physical and eye exam before driving, take a pre-scheduled drug test, complete a defensive driving course, and “have the vehicle subject to expensive, random checks even though they would also be required to have a third-party inspection by an ASE certified mechanic.”

The city leaders think the regulations will make ridesharing safer, according to its statement. But Uber reports that cases of DWI go down in cities in which it operates.

“I am pleased to welcome Lyft, Uber, and other TNCs to San Antonio. We look forward to the convenience and economic benefits this will bring to San Antonio and its residents,” Mayor Ivy R. Taylor said in a statement.

A spokeswoman for Lyft told Reuters that the San Antonio regulations were some of the most burdensome they had encountered. Lyft, founded in 2012, currently operates in 65 cities.

The San Antonio Express News’ Brian Chasnoff wrote a column about taxicab contributions to city council members suggesting money from the incumbent industry influenced the vote.

TEDxSanAntonio Sparks a City of Ideas

Founder of Silicon Hills News

Graham Weston, chairman of Rackspace and Susan Price, founder of TEDxSanAntonio

Graham Weston, chairman of Rackspace and Susan Price, founder of TEDxSanAntonio

San Antonio has evolved into the City of Ideas, said Graham Weston, chairman of Rackspace.

“The whole genesis of TED is about sparking ideas and spreading ideas and that happens every year at TEDxSanAntonio,” Weston said

This is a culture Rackspace wants to be a part of, Weston said. Rackspace served as the main sponsor of the daylong TEDxSanAntonio event at its headquarters’ event center on Saturday.

“The speakers for TEDxSanAntonio share new ideas with us and also give us a glimpse of some of the cool stuff people are doing across the city that often is unknown,” Weston said. “Every year that I come to TEDxSanAntonio it makes me very proud of our city and our region about all of the interesting things that are happening here.”

This is the biggest TEDxSanAntonio ever, said Susan Price, the event’s organizer. The event, now in its fifth year, has a core organizing committee of seven people and 40 volunteers, Price said. While the first event held at Trinity University had just a few hundred people, this one attracted more than 650 people. TEDx is based on the TED conference, an annual event focused on spreading ideas about technology, entertainment and design, but TEDxSanAntonio is organized locally under a license from TED.

“We try to feature ideas that are springing up, and around and about San Antonio,” Price said. “We fly a few speakers in every year with ideas that are relevant to San Antonio.”

One of those speakers was Trevor Muir, a teacher at Kent Innovation High School in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He received a standing ovation following his talk on changing schools to an environment of engagement in which students tackle projects and solve problems in the real world.

His students learned about World War II by interviewing veterans in the community and creating film documentaries, which they later showed to the entire community. His students also created websites and projects for immigrants new to their area so they would know how to do simple things, most people take for granted, like take a public bus or turn on the lights.

Susan Price, founder of TEDxSanAntonio

Susan Price, founder of TEDxSanAntonio

This year’s TEDxSanAntonio theme, “Ideas in Action” means the community doesn’t just want to discuss ideas, but they want to put them into motion, Price said.
“We’re giving them a call to action,” she said.

Jorge Amodio, an engineer, attends TEDxSanAntonio every year.

“It’s always inspiring,” Amodio said. “It’s a great community to share what you know and to learn from others.”

The speakers evoke emotions from the audience ranging from laughter to tears. Molly Cox and Victor Landa served as the emcees for the event and provided light-hearted transitions between some difficult subjects.

Sarah-Jane Murray, a professor at Baylor University, opened TEDxSanAntonio with a talk on how people are hardwired for stories through neural coupling. She recalled a story from her childhood in Ireland about her Poodle, who yearned to be a sheepdog.

“If you tell a story well, and you’re not just talking about language, you’re causing your brain to fire on all of its cylinders,” Murray said.

The brain of someone listening to a great story mirrors the brain of the person telling the story, Murray said. Stories affect people because they alter their chemistry, she said. When a story is well told, two major chemicals are released into the brain like cortisol for stress and duress and oxytocin for empathy, Murray said.

“Stories are the great levelers of this world not because they eradicate our differences but because they transcend them,” Murray said.

People are 22 times more likely to remember a story than fact alone, she said.

That’s why people have to be careful about the stories they tell, Murray said.

“We need stories that inspire us to greatness,” she said.

Throughout the day, the TEDxSanAntonio speakers did just that.

John Lambert discussed lessons from improv and how the theater taught him how to deal with life’s unscripted twists, turns and tragedies like the death of his wife, Maria Ivania from cancer.

Leezia Dhalla told a story of her life as an undocumented American. She learned just before her 21st birthday that she didn’t have legal papers to stay in the U.S., where she had lived since the age of six. Her family moved from Canada.

Dhalla received a degree from Northwestern University and got a work permit in 2012 that allows her to stay in the U.S. for two more years.

“We try to stay positive but it’s hard to keep your head down and your chin up at the same time,” Dhalla said.

Today, 11 million people are living in the shadows with papers, Dhalla said. Half came here without authorization; the other half came here legally including Dhalla’s family. They waited for their applications for citizenship to process but a series of mistakes happened and the documents never got approved.

She’s hoping immigration reform will give her and her family an opportunity to legally stay in the U.S. permanently. She asked the audience to help make that a reality.

Kori Ashton, founder of WebTegrity, created a painting with the big, bold letters “Inspire,” on stage while she told stories about her family and her mother’s struggle and triumph over Polio. She encouraged the audience to live a great story and inspire someone.

Steve Vrooman, a professor of Communications Students at Texas Lutheran University, encouraged the audience to share more information about themselves with others. That creates a connection that is more than just transactional, he said.

Studies show on social media, followers of a person, brand or company, share just 3 percent to 15 percent of all the content posted. Vrooman contends if the content was about people and not information, they would share more.

“Share more,” he said.

Joshua Singer and Abhinav Suri, cofounders of Apps for Aptitude and School's Out Hackathon.

Joshua Singer and Abhinav Suri, cofounders of Apps for Aptitude and School’s Out Hackathon.

And Joshua Singer and Abhinav Suri, two high school seniors, encouraged the audience to hack or create something new. They want to create a hacker culture in San Antonio. They’ve launched a company, Apps for Aptitude to encourage others and they host an annual School’s Out Hackathon for high school students.

Luz Cristal Glangchai, an engineer, wants to encourage more girls to become engineers. She founded VentureLab in San Antonio. The nonprofit organization runs a series of programs geared at kids as young as five to high school age to get them interested in entrepreneurship and experiment in the science, technology, engineering and math fields. Three student-run companies from VentureLab have raised more than $240,000, according to Glangchai.


The Central Texas Life Sciences Industry is Booming

Founder of Silicon Hills News

Scientific researchTeVido BioDevices, a startup in Austin, recreates nipples and other body parts with 3-D printers using human cells.

iTraumaCare in San Antonio has created a life-saving clamp that quickly and easily prevents blood loss.

WiseWear, based in both San Antonio and Austin, has created a patch-like fitness device to track vital signs and more while working out.

Those are just a few of the biotech startups you will read about in this first annual issue of Silicon Hills News focused on the life sciences industry in Central Texas. This is Silicon Hills News’ second print magazine. The first, a field guide to Silicon Hills, debuted at South by Southwest Interactive in March and our Kickstarter backers made it possible. This issue is possible thanks to our advertisers: BioMed SA, the Texas State University Small Business Development Center, bankSNB, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, Texans for Economic Progress, the World Stem Cell Summit, Geekdom and the University of Texas at San Antonio. Our next issue is on technology startups and will be published in October.

And thank you to the writers for this issue: Susan Lahey, Jonathan Gutierrez. Tim Green and Leslie Anne Jones.

It’s an amazing time to be in the healthcare and biosciences industry with all the innovation going on in treatments, drug development, medical devices and more.

In Austin, the life sciences industry generates more than $1 billion in economic activity, according to a recent report from the Austin Technology Council. Its strengths are in pharmaceutical manufacturing, research and development in physical, engineering and life sciences, research and development in biotechnology, surgical appliance and supplies manufacturing and biological product manufacturing.

The industry is expected to grow with the new Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin. The building is under construction now, and the school is expected to admit its first class in 2016.

A university-backed health science center can serve as a catalyst for a thriving healthcare and biotechnology industry in a city.

Look no further than San Antonio to see the impact of the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio on the city. The Health Science Center serves as one of the cornerstones and catalysts of San Antonio’s bustling biosciences and healthcare industry, which employs more than one in every six jobs in San Antonio and has an overall economic impact of more than $29 billion, according to BioMed SA.
The Health Science Center has more than 3,000 students enrolled in five schools, which award 69 health-related degree specialties and pre- and post-baccalaureate certification programs.

Research organizations, private sector companies and the U.S. military drive the bioscience industry growth in San Antonio, according to BioMed SA. In addition to the Health Science Center, other major contributors to San Antonio’s industry include the University of Texas at San Antonio, InCube Labs Texas, the Texas Biomedical Research Institute, the Texas Research Park, Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies, Cancer Therapy and Research Center, Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio Army Medical Center, South Texas Accelerated Research Therapeutics and the National Trauma Institute.
Central Texas is a powerful region. When both communities collaborate and cooperate the region grows stronger and even more powerful. Cities no longer compete against each other. Austin, San Antonio and San Marcos are all thriving. The region competes globally for the best talent, resources, companies and institutions. And it has become a global hotspot for innovation in the life sciences industry with a cluster of universities, research and development institutions, medical technology startups and established companies.

InCube Labs Plans to Expand Into Manufacturing

Reporter for Silicon Hills News

iStock_000024234516MediumSan Antonio has fostered innovative medical practices for decades. In June 2010, InCube Labs announced its plan to open a branch facility in San Antonio. InCube Labs originated in Silicon Valley and saw San Antonio as an attractive location to establish a branch.

“We could attract people here,” said Mir Imran, InCube Labs’ chairman and CEO. “One of the challenges for California is the cost of living is so high. It’s very hard to attract people from outside the state. We found in San Antonio it’s such a beautiful city to live in, and the cost of living is very low and manageable. From a family standpoint, there are also a number of attractions.”

InCube Labs is a multi-disciplinary research center for medical practices in therapeutic areas, drug delivery, and medical devices. Imran has created 20 companies with InCube in the past 25 years, and he plans to help establish more.

Phillip Morgan, Ph.D, vice president for InCube Labs in Texas, said InCube wants to make a major difference in areas of unmet clinical needs for patients.

“The way we approach it, is we try and understand the problem and we view technology agnostically,” Morgan said. “The process we use is if you really understand the problem, then the solution will come out of the problem.”

When InCube identifies a medical area it can improve, it begins the process of developing new approaches such as targeted drug delivery or interventional devices to solve clinical problems.

InCube’s research focuses on innovative solutions from basic research through pre-clinical development to clinical trials. The solutions it is developing include a unique mix of traditional device technologies such as electronics, software, mechanical engineering and material science, as well as pharmaceuticals, protein chemistry and cell biology.

When InCube Labs branched into Texas, the state invested $9.2 million from its Texas Emerging Technology fund into a trio of InCube’s spin-off companies.

The three companies – Corhythm Inc., Fe3 Medical Inc., and Neurolink Inc. – received this money to assist in the development and commercialization of their respective products.

Corhythm focuses on developing devices to detect atrial fibrillation and chronic heart failure, Fe3 Medical develops drug delivery technology to aid people with iron-deficiency anemia, and Neurolink develops an implantable device that predicts seizures and treats the underlying disease through intracranial drug delivery.

Morgan said it’s great for InCube Texas to be based in a place where there is a lot of support.

“One of the major factors in us coming to San Antonio is that there was a lot of support within the community ranging from the mayor, Julian Castro, and the city manager, Sheryl Sculley,” he said. “Both of them made trips to San Jose where InCube is based, and persuaded us to come to San Antonio.”

In addition to the city council support InCube has received, local universities have also committed to helping grow the life sciences sector in the city.

“If you look historically at where incubators are located, they’re nearly always located near academic institutions,” Morgan said. “I think it’s a major advantage being so close to the Health Sciences Center, UTSA and some of the other colleges around. They’ve been instrumental in helping us progress.”

In terms of investing in InCube either directly or indirectly, the city of San Antonio, the University of Texas Health Sciences Center at San Antonio, USAA, and UTSA have all made significant contributions for the development of InCube’s companies, Morgan said.

InCube Ventures, one of InCube’s venture arms, is a specialized fund focusing on breakthrough innovations in medicine.

Just like InCube Labs, its venture arm aims to grow and nurture companies with potential to dramatically improve patient lives.

Imran said the next move for InCube Texas is to expand its operations to include manufacturing.

“We also run a manufacturing company in California,” he said. “We will bring a branch of that to (San Antonio). We’d like to get to the point where we’re establishing two companies a year. But, it requires a lot of infrastructure to support that many companies.”

One thing missing in San Antonio is the lack of significant venture capital, Imran said.

“The challenge has nothing to do with San Antonio,” he said. “Since the 2008 crash, the recovery has been slow. What that does to (startup companies) is it impacts the availability of equity dollars from other sources of venture capital. We’re hoping the companies we are building will attract new investors to come and take a serious look at San Antonio.”

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