Texas Roundup: Pulmotect, Tech Wildcatters, Houston2035, & SynShark

Xconomy Texas — 

Here’s the latest innovation news for Xconomy Texas.

Pulmotect, which is making an inhaled therapeutic to prevent and treat respiratory infections in cancer patients with compromised immune systems, received a $3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. The Houston-based biotech company had previously received a $7.1 million matching award from the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas in 2012. Phase 1b/2a clinical studies are expected to begin in late 2015 at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Pulmotect is part of Fannin Innovation Studio, a Houston accelerator/incubator of biotech companies.

Tech Wildcatters in Dallas held its annual pitch day last week at the American Airlines Center, home of the Dallas Stars and one of the founding members of the accelerator’s Corporate Innovation Network. The fifteen startups that pitched—Wildcatters’ largest class—specialize in innovations such as a flash-sale voucher that targets a restaurant’s slow hours, a mobile app that helps charity raise money through fundraising competitions at sporting events, and software that digitizes business processes like a time sheet app.

—The inaugural Houston 2035 conference brought together some of the city’s and nation’s top voices to discuss how the Bayou City could remain innovative in the decades to come. Among the topics discussed were entrepreneurship in biotech; cleantech; infrastructure and design; and edtech and IT.

—And here is the conference in pictures, and Storified.

Hired, a job recruitment website based in San Francisco, opened an Austin, TX, office. The site specializes in highly sought after engineers, data scientists, and other tech workers.

—My colleague Frank Vinluan in our Raleigh-Durham bureau has a great tale of a Texas A&M University spinout company named SynShark that says it’s invented a synthetic version of the chemical squalene, which is used in cosmetics and pharmaceutical production. Right now, the chemical is sourced from shark livers. The company is working on a method that would make squalene through genetically modified tobacco plants and could help to save three million sharks a year.