Austin Makes Strides in Building a Robust Biotech Innovation Community

Xconomy Texas — 

Austin, TX, has made its mark as a tech hub but lately the city’s life sciences community is gaining some critical mass.

One of the primary factors? The installation of the new Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin. “I think the medical school is going to definitely drive momentum in our life sciences community,” says John Kinzell, co-founder of Xeris Pharmaceuticals in Austin. “It’s been a flyover town for pharma; that will change.”

In the last week both UT and the UT System have announced two initiatives that point to a prioritizing of life sciences commercialization. The Texas Health Catalyst program is designed to connect academic researchers in engineering, natural sciences, pharmacy, and the university’s office of technology commercialization with entrepreneurs and investors in Central Texas and nationally.

“We need to build the Texas life science ecosystem,” says Tim Sullivan, president and CEO of Mystic Pharmaceuticals in Austin. “The need for systemic collaboration will be a critical factor in driving the growth of our regional and state ecosystem.”

Sullivan joins such biotech entrepreneurs as Aeglea BioTherapeutics’ David Lowe, Gail Page of Vineyard Investment Advisors, and Paul Lammers of Myrna Therapeutics on the program’s advisory board.

The project makes some sense as the new medical school’s dean, Clay Johnston, was previously the associate vice chancellor of research at the University of California at San Francisco, where he led the university’s efforts in commercializing life sciences research.

As UT works to promote the development from within its academic ranks, the institution is also working with community partners. One such effort is designed to provide badly needed commercial lab space for fledgling life sciences companies. While UT does have these labs, there aren’t been enough facilities to accommodate the needs of the private sector.

“There has never been … Next Page »

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