CPRIT Grants, TMC & Baird, Shipt & Drive.ai Expand, & More TX Tech

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

Forbius, an Austin biotech company (also known as Formation Biologics) has been awarded an $18.75 million grant from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas. The funds will be used to support operations and Phase 2a development of AVID100, the company’s anti-EGFR antibody-drug conjugate for patients with breast cancer, squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck, and non-small cell lunch cancer. Additionally, the cancer agency granted nearly $20 million to newly formed Magnolia Tejas, which is developing drugs to treat neurological side effects from chemotherapy.

—The Texas Medical Center announced a partnership with Baird Capital designed to bring “growth” venture capital to Houston’s biotech ecosystem, according to a press release. Such funding is crucial to medical startups as they navigate a long path to commercialization through clinical and regulatory milestones, the statement said. Baird, a wealth management and private equity firm that has U.S. locations in Chicago and Milwaukee, WI, plans to open a Houston office at the TMC’s Innovation Institute, which is also home to the medical center’s TMCx accelerator, J-Labs, and AT&T’s Foundry for connected healthcare.

Fuse Medical, a Dallas-area maker of orthopedic implants, has raised about $3.3 million in new funding, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The seven-year-old company’s products are used in joint reconstruction, to treat degenerative disc disease, and other procedures. Earlier this month, Fuse announced it had purchased Palm Springs Partners, which makes spinal-related devices and is also located in Richardson, TX. In San Antonio, Spinal Stabilization Technologies, which is developing a technology also focused on degenerative disc disease, raised about $11 million, according to a securities filing.

Revtech, the retail and hospitality accelerator based in Dallas, announced four startups have joined its latest program, according to Dallas Innovates. Two of the companies are based in Dallas and the startups are developing technologies for digital content publishers, retailers to track shoppers while in store or with their marketing, and organizations needing visitor engagement software.

—Insurance tech startup Bestow expanded its geographical footprint to 32 states from two when it raised $15 million in May. The Dallas-based startup says it has developed a proprietary underwriting engine that uses predictive analytics to assess an individual’s risk factor to determine which insurance policy that person qualifies for and how much it would cost—without the need for the outside medical exam typically required for such policies.

Shipt, an e-commerce delivery company that was bought by Target in December, has added 10 cities where its same-day delivery of grocery and other household products is available, the company announced. Deliveries from both HEB and Target stores will be rolled out starting on Aug. 30 and through Sept. 18. Birmingham, AL-based Shipt began delivery in Texas markets in 2015.

Drive.ai, an autonomous vehicle company, has launched service in Arlington, TX, in the city’s entertainment district, which includes AT&T Stadium, where the Dallas Cowboys football team plays, the company announced. The service starts on Oct. 19 and is the second such program the San Francisco-based company has in North Texas. Drive.ai started service in Frisco, TX, in May.

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