Tour of Texas: Surge Ventures, Dell, Fannin Innovation, CellRight

Let’s take a moment to pause in the building of our ark to deal with the torrents of rain and floodwaters here at Xconomy Texas’ Houston headquarters, and reflect on the last week’s innovation news:


Dell Computer purchased EMC hoping to benefit by being able to offer its hardware along with the Massachusetts company’s data storage, virtualization, and other data-related services. My colleague David Holley reports that EMC can offer an additional benefit: a former Austin startup that was acquired by EMC in 2014. Spanning by EMC is a data protection and backup company that was founded in Austin and now becomes based in Austin, again, in a way, through the Dell-EMC alliance.


—The Dallas entrepreneurial ecosystem hosted its second annual Dallas Startup Week, featuring hackathon prep courses, fireside chats with successful entrepreneurs, and Startup 101 advice for those looking to take the plunge.


Surge Ventures, which ran a cleantech/energy accelerator program for four years, has shut down. Founder Kirk Coburn said a lack of industry support, among other factors, prompted him to make the decision. Low oil prices have led to massive restructurings and job losses in Houston’s energy sector, and less money for innovative investments, according to some of Surge’s portfolio companies.

—Fannin Innovation Studio reported that two of its portfolio companies have received funding. Pulmotect, which is developing an inhalant that stimulates the lungs’ immune system against inhaled pathogens, has closed on $1.75 million in Series A funding and a $1 million grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health. A second company, BreviTest Technologies received a grant of just under $240,000 from the NIH’s National Institute on Drug Abuse to help develop the company’s “rapid robotic analyzer” into a curbside saliva test for cannabis intoxication. This test would be used by law enforcement in traffic stops, among other scenarios.

San Antonio:

—A San Antonio biotech played a role in the separation surgery of 10-month-old conjoined twins in Corpus Christi, TX. CellRight Technologies makes cadaver-derived bone and tissue grafts and its Matrix IQ Dermis product was used in the twins’ surgery to help repair their abdominal walls.

Students + Startups is a new effort with Trinity University to offer paid internships for students at startups this summer. The 10-week program will pay 30 students $4,000, cover the cost of on-campus housing, and will pay for some class time. The program is partly paid for by a grant from the 80/20 Foundation, which was started by Rackspace founder Graham Weston. Geekdom, a co-working space also founded by Weston, is vetting the applications.

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