Key for Houston’s Biotech Ecosystem? Building a Bench of Executives

(Page 2 of 3)

coming from all over and building their companies locally,” she says. “The hope is that they’ll have exits down the road and stay in Texas for the next (company) and the next one after that.”

“No, there are not a bunch of CEOs at the ready, but that community is growing,” Tanabe adds.

In the last year, the Texas Medical Center has put some considerable muscle behind efforts aimed at boosting Houston’s biotech ecosystem. Among those include its TMCx accelerator, which helps entrepreneurs in medical devices and digital health to commercialize their ideas. This year, the TMC also unveiled a new biodesign fellowship with the goal of giving researchers, doctors, and others in life sciences managerial experience, the type that is crucial to making research a marketable product.

Those activities have also enticed others to invest in Houston as well. Drug giant Johnson & Johnson is working to open a JLabs outpost in Houston, scheduled to open in early 2016.

“It’s always a big issue, finding the right entrepreneurial talent,” says Erik Halvorsen, who last month joined TMC as the head of TMC’s Innovation Institute. “It’s really going to take a coordinated effort and collaboration.”

Fannin’s Varadhachary says the firm has focused on the need for expert management since its founding as AlphaDev in 2005. (The firm changed its name to Fannin Innovation Studio last year.) The idea was to have a single management team in place that would lead the physicians and scientists seeking to commercialize their research.

In February, the firm raised money from outside investors for the first time, about $7.3 million from about 30 investors. (Previously, the firm operated from funds provided by founder Leo Linbeck, executive chairman of Houston construction firm Linbeck Group, and it solicited grants to help support portfolio companies’ operations.)

Rakesh Agrawal, founder and CEO of Houston technology firm SnapStream, is one of those Fannin investors. He says Fannin’s approach is designed to produce “visual signs of success.”

“You want people talking about winning because that incents other people to get into it,” says Agrawal, who … Next Page »

Single Page Currently on Page: 1 2 3 previous page