Delivery Robots in Big D, Rodriguez Leaves the Station, & More TX Tech
[Updated 2:05 p.m. See below.] Let’s catch up with the latest innovation news in Texas.
—Dallas-based Neos Therapeutics (NASDAQ: NEOS) has licensed a drug candidate that would treat excessive salivation or drooling in patients with neurological conditions such as cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and mental disorders. The experimental drug has only preclinical data so far. Neos is calling the drug NT0501, and licensed it from NeuRx Pharmaceuticals, which is based in San Antonio and focuses on developing a pipeline of central nervous system drug candidates that it can develop and commercialize with pharmaceutical partners, according to a news release. Neos Therapeutics received FDA approval for its controlled-release version of an old ADHD therapy, methylphenidate, in 2017. NeuRx was registered as a taxable entity in Salt Lake City, UT, until its status expired Oct. 2, and its registration became effective in Texas on Oct. 11, according to the state of Utah and Texas websites.
—Dallas city leaders have approved a new pilot program to allow a fleet of robots to roam the streets making deliveries. The robots are operated by San Francisco-based Marble and use “light sensors to detect their surroundings so they don’t clang into stuff, such as cars or dogs or people,” D magazine reported. Marble, which in July raised $10 million in a Series A funding round from investors such as Tencent, Lemnos, Crunchfund, and Maven, contracts with national retailers to deliver their goods to consumers. The Dallas City Council’s approval of a Marble pilot program follows a similar agreement with the nearby city of Arlington, TX, which approved a similar resolution in July, according to Marble.
—The executive shuffle continues at Station Houston. Grace Rodriguez, who had been the only co-founder still working full-time at the two-year-old coworking space, is leaving to become CEO of Impact Hub Houston. Rodriguez had been Station’s chief experience officer. Her departure follows that of co-founder John “JR” Reale, who was replaced in August by longtime education executive Gabriella Rowe. Rodriguez is helping to launch the Houston branch of Impact Hub, which focuses on entrepreneurs developing social or civic tech innovations. Impact Hub, which opened an Austin branch in 2015, has more than 100 hubs in 50 countries. It says entrepreneurs founded about 6,400 startups through its programs between 2012 and 2016.
—Coder Technologies, which reportedly makes a platform to expedite software development, has raised $7 million, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The startup moved to Austin a year ago, Austin Inno reported.
—Alafair Biosciences has raised $2.3 million of a planned $6.8 million funding round. The Austin-based medical device company makes surgical products for soft tissue repair and protection. In 2016, the company closed on a $2 million Series A round of funding from investors such as the University of Texas Horizon Fund.
—A new ride-sharing service is coming to Dallas. Alto, which is set to launch next month, has raised $13 million from investors, primarily Switzerland-based Road Ventures, according to Dallas Innovates. Unlike market leaders Uber and Lyft, Alto owns and maintains its vehicles and charges a monthly membership fee. Alto is only serving select parts of Dallas currently, but the company reportedly hopes to expand its service area next year. Last week, Lyft announced it will roll out a $299-a-month subscription giving riders up to 30 rides that would cost $15 or less for non-subscribers.
—San Antonio-based Filestack has added a new product that aims to further automate the process of moderating and processing the troves of content—such as images and blog posts—uploaded by users of its customers every day. The company sells a tool for software developers that helps users more easily upload files, and the new product, called Workflows, makes it so other less technically savvy workers (people that aren’t developers) can help with content moderation, Filestack says. Filestack’s software can recognize attributes about files, such as its size, the file type, whether there is red eye in a photo, if it might be too risque to display, or other features. The Workflows product is meant to be a simpler user interface that lets a non-technical person designate what happens when the software recognizes something like that. If there’s a not-safe-for-work image, the worker can use the new system to designate the image be blurred, Filestack says. Filestack says companies like Washington, DC-based LearnZillion have effectively used it in the edtech space, and that it’s working with a travel website (which it can’t name) that lets users upload photos from their expeditions. [Added with update.]
Xconomy National Correspondent David Holley contributed to this report.