Texas Roundup: Comey at SXSW, CTAN, RealCo, Fannin, “Trump and Dump”

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

—The slow pace of a research environment—not to mention a couple of ER trips for “lab-related accidents,” sent Erik Halvorsen down a career path in technology transfer. Halvorsen, who now directs the Texas Medical Center’s Innovation Institute, speaks about that journey, how commercialization became personal with the birth of his daughter, and his views on managing people.

—FBI director James Comey will speak at this year’s South By Southwest Interactive Festival. He will be paired with Newseum CEO Jeffrey Herbst in a conversation on national security threats, cybersecurity tools used by the FBI, and whether encryption hinders law enforcement. The session is part of two days of programming labeled “Tech Under Trump” March 15-16.

Well Beyond Care, an Austin, TX-based health IT startup was the winner of a pitch contest hosted by the Austin chapter of the Rice Alliance. The startup will receive about $125,000 in equity funding and $25,000 of in-kind prizes from investors such as the Central Texas Angel Network, ATX Seed Ventures, Aquila Commercial, and Corsa Ventures. Well Beyond Care beat out nine other startups at the competition.

T3, a marketing agency based in Austin, has developed an automated software bot that scans President Trump’s tweets, the Austin American-Statesman reported. If it finds negative mentions of a publicly traded company, the bot will reportedly find the company’s stock ticker, use Google Finance to find the stock prices, and use E-trade to make a short transaction on the stock. A notification is placed on the messaging service Slack, and the “Trump and Dump” bot collects whatever profits are made. T3 then donates those profits to the ASPCA.

—A subsidiary of Evestra, a San Antonio life sciences company focused on women’s health, has received a $4.6 million grant to develop an experimental drug for endometriosis, a painful condition related to overgrowth of tissue in the uterus. Evestra Onkologia Sp., is based in Poland and is using the funding to push forward EC313, a treatment that’s a type of selective progesterone receptor modulator, or SPRM. Progesterone is a hormone that plays a role in the menstrual cycle when endometrial tissue lines the walls of the uterus, and endometriosis occurs when that tissue grows outside of the uterus, causing pain and potential fertility problems.

RealCo is a new accelerator in San Antonio for tech startups with a business-to-business sales focus. Its unveiling comes just three months after Boulder, CO-based Techstars announced it was leaving the Alamo City after four years. RealCo is offering a program that can last as long as 15 months and one that can be customized to participating startups. Founders can earn investment in a tiered way according to milestones achieved. The process is similar to the one Tech Wildcatters in Dallas is now using.

—Companies at Houston’s Fannin Innovation Studio have news. The National Institutes of Health has awarded Atrapos Therapeutics a $227,537 grant to continue developing its anti-asthma drug, which the company plans to be an alternative to steroids, the company said. Medical device firm Procyrion, another Fannin company, announced it will test Millar’s transcutaneous energy transfer technology with its catheter-delivered circulatory assist device. Millar’s technology allows implantable medical devices that need power to receive power without needing to pass a power lead through the skin. The companies received a grant of nearly $150,000 for the partnership.

EquipmentShare, a data analytics and software startup geared to the construction industry, raised $26 million in funding. The investment round was led by Insight Venture Partners and existing investor Romulus Growth, with participation from Y Combinator, another previous investor. The company began as a marketplace for construction firms with idle pieces of equipment to find others on EquipmentShare’s site that want to rent them. Now, the company offers customers what co-founder Wally Schlacks calls a telematics system for fleet management, called ES Track. The company says the system can help its customers use analytics to better manage their fleets.

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