Tour of Texas: Savara, Brainspace, JLabs, InCube, Trinity University
Happy Monday. Let’s start the week with a recap of the latest innovation news from around Texas, including new funding and support for startups and entrepreneurs, artificial intelligence, and a treatment for cystic fibrosis patients.
—Austin’s Savara Pharmaceuticals has raised $20 million in Series C funding to further develop AeroVanc, what it says is the first inhaled antibiotic for the methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) lung infection in people who have cystic fibrosis. Savara says it plans to enroll patients in a Phase 3 study by the end of the year.
—There’s a lot of effort out there to help computers function more like the human brain. Dallas’s Brainspace says it has software that can “read between the lines.”
—JLabs @ TMC officially marked its opening last week at an open house for 700 attendees, with cocktails, passed hors d’ouevres, and an a capella hip-hop singing group. JNJ Innovation announced 21 resident companies that focus on biotech, medical devices, and health IT at the new Houston campus, which is adjacent to the Texas Medical Center’s accelerator, TMCx.
—Station Houston is the latest program on the city’s startup scene. Station, which will be a hybrid co-working and accelerator space, will focus on boosting early-stage technology entrepreneurs. It is founded by native Houstonian Emily Keeton, who last year sold her restaurant-recommendations app Flavour to Tasting Table.
—Wisconsin-based Exact Sciences announced it has terminated a partnership with the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center aimed at developing blood-based diagnostics tests for lung cancer. Exact CEO and Chairman Kevin Conroy said the uncertainty about regulatory approval meant they could not justify spending millions of dollars on the study.
—San Antonio inventor and investor Mir Imran has created more than 20 companies through InCube, a healthcare-focused research and development business intent on spinning out innovative startups. Among them is Fe3 Medical, which raised $11 million last week to help it develop a patch that delivers iron into a patient’s bloodstream better than current oral treatments.
—Trinity University, a small private school in the Alamo City, has joined the ranks of colleges seeking to foster entrepreneurship among its students. In addition to coursework, Trinity features the Louis H. Strumberg Venture Plan Competition, which has internships with local startups and connects students to entrepreneur-mentors in town.