Tour of Texas: Twyla, Firefly, Factom, DocSynk, Disruptors, & More

Let’s get caught up with the latest innovation news from Xconomy Texas.

Factom, a startup that uses blockchain technology to secure and verify data such as public records and business documents, has raised $4.2 million in a Series A round. Tim Draper, the venture capitalist who runs the investment firm Draper Associates, led the financing.

Firefly Space Systems has laid off all employees because an investor backed out of a planned funding deal, Space News reported. The company was developing vehicles to launch small- to medium-sized satellites to orbit and last year received a $5.5 million contract from NASA to execute a CubeSat launch by early 2018.

—HomeAway founder Brian Sharples is one of the founders of a new online marketplace for art called Twyla, the Austin Business Journal reported. Twyla has 30 employees and uses a licensing model with more than 80 artists to create a collection of more than 300 framed artworks, which range from $1,000 to $5,000. The startup has raised more than $19 million from investors such as GV, IVP, and Redpoint Ventures, according to Silicon Hills News.

—Microsoft Ventures has invested in Cognitive Scale, an artificial intelligence startup, filling out the Austin firm’s Series B investment round to more than $25 million, according to Cognitive Scale. The Microsoft investment will go towards developing AI software for the computing giant’s HoloLens and Azure products.

DocSynk, a startup that makes artificial intelligence software targeting the healthcare market, has raised a $1 million seed round of funding from Naya Ventures, which is also based in Dallas. The startup’s software can be used to see cost-savings and efficiencies in processes such as scheduling and reminding patients of appointments, complying with wellness and treatment plans, and taking a Pandora-like approach to finding the right doctor.

—Accelerator programs to boost startups have spread across the country. In Texas, some of these organizations are now examining how accelerators might evolve in the near future. Some of those efforts will be the focus of the “Startups Disrupted” panel later this month at Xconomy’s upcoming Disruptors conference. The daylong forum, to be held Oct. 27 at the Texas Medical Center’s TMCx accelerator in Houston, features some of the most innovative and forward-thinking technology executives, founders, investors, and scientists.

San Antonio:
—A San Antonio life sciences nonprofit is working with three other organizations to learn how to produce larger volumes of stem cells, and has received $7.8 million from a military-based nonprofit group to do so. BioBridge Global and its subsidiary, GenCure, plan to develop a methodology for increasing the amount of clinical-grade stem cells that can be produced in biomanufacturing, targeting corporate and academic researchers that may need larger levels of stem cells for regenerative medicine and cellular therapy research.

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