AT&T Formally Launches a Biotech-Focused Foundry at TMC in Houston

Houston—AT&T’s latest Foundry, an in-house corporate skunkworks, officially opened at the Texas Medical Center’s Innovation Institute Tuesday.

The ribbon-cutting marked the second outside company to establish a presence at the TMC campus. Earlier this year in March, JNJ Innovation’s JLabs opened a Houston outpost with 21 resident companies, a medical device prototype lab, and a 3-D printer.

The Houston Foundry is a smaller affair, tucked behind the main area for TMCx, TMC’s healthcare-focused accelerator. On Tuesday, various executives from AT&T came in from Palo Alto, CA, (another Foundry site) and Plano, TX, where the telecom giant is based, for a champagne-and-canapé opening. The space consisted of recreations of different scenarios within which AT&T’s expertise in mobile communications come into play in healthcare: at the bedside, a nurses station, a home’s kitchen.

For example, AT&T has developed a remote patient monitoring system that works via a tablet. That’s the sort of device that someone with a chronic disease might use at home, taking their medicine, logging in their weight, and perhaps, scheduling a video call with their doctors—all while sitting in their kitchen with their morning cup of coffee.

“Of course this is a good opportunity for business,” says Igal Elbaz, vice president for ecosystem and innovation initiatives at AT&T. “But this is also about doing good for life and society.”

In fact, the Houston Foundry is the first to be devoted to one subject, in this case, healthcare. Earlier this year, I visited the flagship Foundry in Plano to learn more about how the telecom company works with customers to create products from “smart” trash cans to a connected wheelchair. AT&T will continue to build healthIT projects in North Texas, but will test the prototypes in Houston at the myriad institutions housed within the TMC.

In addition to the TMC, the Foundry could soon have some willing partners this fall when TMCx’s new cohort of medical device startups begin their four-month rotation.

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