Tour of Texas: Austin Tech in Politics, Watershed, Scaleworks & More

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

Ottobock, a German prosthetics company with North American headquarters in Austin, has acquired Boston-based BionX Medical Technologies. BionX makes a prosthetic foot and ankle product that uses robotic technology. Financial terms were not disclosed for the deal that was announced earlier this month.

—Austin’s technology community is undergoing a sort of political awakening these days. With entrepreneurs like Joseph Kopser considering running for U.S. Congress and Shion Deysarkar starting an organization for techies to lend their skills to political campaigns, they say ensuring Austin remains a top innovation hub means the tech community must pay attention to the workings of city hall or the statehouse. These efforts began last May after Austin residents voted in a referendum to uphold the city’s ride-hailing regulations, which led Uber and Lyft to leave the city.

Tenfold, an Austin startup that aims to help businesses manage sales pipelines, has raised $15.8 million in venture capital in a round led by Andreessen Horowitz, the Austin Business Journal reported. Geekdom Fund and Rackspace co-founder Pat Condon also participated in the round. Founded in 2014, Tenfold moved to Austin in 2015 after completing the now-defunct Techstars startup accelerator program in San Antonio.

—The Dallas Innovation Alliance has announced the launch of the DIA Smart Cities Living Lab in collaboration with AT&T. Dallas is one of eight cities in AT&T’s Smart Cities initiative. Among the technology tools that will be installed in Dallas include intelligent LED lighting; an “interactive digital waypoint” that can give pedestrians and commuters information on public transit and free USB charging access points; and sensors that can measure pollutants, temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, and allergen levels.

—Several Houston biotech companies have new CEOs at the helm, including Pulmotect, Saranas, and Bellicum Pharmaceuticals. These leaders bring expertise from coastal hubs. For Ann Tanabe, CEO of life sciences trade group BioHouston, the hires are a sign of growing momentum and development of the city’s life sciences ecosystem.

“We’re starting to get people from other hubs and ecosystems coming to Houston, and that’s going to help us,” Tanabe says. “There is that buzz with [people] like this making the career move to come here. People are taking notice.”

Hesam Panahi is in the hot seat for the latest edition of “Five Questions For.” The entrepreneurship lecturer at Rice University and the University of Houston talks about what success means to him, entrepreneurship lessons learned from his parents, and his unusual fascination with some cold-weather creatures.

—And, in case you missed it the previous week, we had five questions for Kim Bond Evans, co-founder and CEO of Houston health IT startup Seremedi. A former Microsoft executive, Evans talked about her road to entrepreneurship, what motivates her to be in healthcare, and her admiration for “women who persist.”

San Antonio:
Watershed Idea Foundry, a life science incubator operated by a San Antonio venture capital firm, has acquired Additive Innovations. The Encinitas, CA-based Additive focuses on startup services, such as medical device manufacturing, product development, and business consulting. (Watershed sells its business customers regulatory, legal, and prototype-design services.) Additive’s founder, Nick Cordaro, will become CEO of the combined company.

—Like many entrepreneurs who successfully sell their business, Lew Moorman became an investor—but he found he disliked the pace and superficiality of the typical venture capital process. So, he and another entrepreneur-turned-investor, Ed Byrne, founded Scaleworks, a $60 million fund they say is a mix of venture capital and private equity. Their “venture equity” fund focuses on software-as-a-service firms with between $2 million and $10 million in revenue. Scaleworks buys its companies outright and invests additional capital, if needed.

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