Texas Roundup: TechStars Austin, Houston Hackathon, and More

Xconomy Texas — 

An Independence Day hangover notwithstanding, we at Xconomy Texas want to be sure you are updated with startup happenings.

Techstars Austin—The Boulder-based accelerator received more than 850 applications for its inaugural startup class in Austin, says Jason Seats, who is heading up TechStars Austin. In May, TechStars announced its expansion to Austin, its seventh city. Typically, about 1,000 startups apply for the 10 places available in each TechStars class. Maybe the slightly lower number in Austin is due to the record-breaking heat wave that swept through Texas the last week of June.

Houston Policy Wonks Rejoice—The city of Houston has adopted a hacker’s proposal to help demystify city finances, an idea that came out of its first citywide hackathon, held in May. “Budget Bootcamp” was created by Frank Bracco, who describes the site as an interactive way to play with budget numbers without having to dig through hundreds of documents. Bracco knows whereof what he speaks: His day job is analyst in the city’s finance department.

Startup seeking lab space?—A few miles west of City Hall, Platform Houston hosted an open house last Saturday evening for its new investment, Brightwork CoResearch, a co-working/lab space for life sciences startups. About 50 people mingled and munched on Torchy’s tacos in the yet un-renovated warehouse which hopes to offer wetlab stations by August to accommodate as many as 20 full-time scientists.

Platform Houston, a co-working space, is the largest investor in the project, which will take about $100,000 to complete. In addition to the wetlabs, Brightwork will offer a rapid prototyping lab. “We want to give more people the freedom to work on the projects and research they’re passionate about outside of the restrictive environment of an institution,” says Jacob Shiach, Brightwork’s founder

Igniting startups—Before the Internet bust of 2001, the north Dallas suburb of Richardson was the “Telecom Corridor,” home to a 10,000-plus cadre of telecom workers. A legacy of those days is hundreds of miles of high fiber optic cable sitting dark. Richardson’s economic development boosters, along with the University of Texas at Dallas, want to put that to use to attract startups to the area. That’s why it’s become the first Texas city to join the U.S. Ignite effort, which was started last year by the National Science Foundation and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to build ultra high-speed broadband networks in communities across the country. The network upgrade to an already existing municipal infrastructure could be useful to biotech and technology startups.