Breaking the Mold: North Texas Companies to Keep On Your Innovation Radar

More than a dozen companies operate innovation labs, test centers, or teams in North Texas — add these to your watch list.

Farmer Brothers

More than a dozen companies operate innovation labs, test centers, or teams in North Texas — add these to your watch list.

Farmer Brothers
A coffee lab does exactly what it sounds like: Development, taste testing, quality control, and training. The lab came along with the 105-year-old coffee supplier’s headquarters move last year from California to Northlake. The lab is composed of five rooms, including a cupping room and a sealed flavor room.

The Cupping Room—one of five separate rooms that make up Farmers Brothers coffee lab—is where members of its product development team taste roasted coffee samples for quality. [Photo: Farmers Brothers]

The Cupping Room — one of five separate rooms that make up Farmers Brothers coffee lab — is where members of its product development team taste roasted coffee samples for quality. [Photo: Farmers Brothers]

NTT DATA Services
The global IT services company opened its first Collaboration Center in November at its new Plano headquarters. Employees work with clients to solve business challenges in an immersive, technology-focused environment. The company plans to add a “residency program” for experts and recent college graduates.

[Photo: NTT Data]

Opened in 1996, Sabre Labs in Southlake explores ways to apply emerging technology to travel. Ideas might move to Sabre Studios, which debuted in 2006, which tests prototypes with customers. An AI-powered chatbot is being piloted and research on augmented reality and blockchain applications is ongoing.


The Design studio if for UX or User Experience. Users can bring in test subjects or work out new plans on the whiteboard.

Uber-Bell Helicopter-Hillwood Properties
Three companies envision futuristic, on-demand transportation that will relieve traffic congestion and reduce pollution. Fort Worth-based Bell and San Francisco-based Uber are developing electric vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft. They plan to test at a vertiport being built by Fort Worth-based Hillwood Properties at its massive Frisco Station mixed-used development.

Texas Instruments
The chipmaker’s Kilby Labs Dallas, which opened in 2009, attracts a lot of attention. Named for TI engineer Jack Kilby, who invented the integrated circuit, it was the first of three Kilby Labs worldwide designed to incubate and rapidly develop disruptive technology. Employees vie to work at the prestigious Dallas lab.

TI Kilby Labs [Photo: Texas Instruments]

Under a new approach to innovation, Toyota Motor North America last year launched the Connected Technologies group at its Plano campus to develop hardware for drivers’ in-car experience. Within walking distance is Toyota Connected, a separate company started in 2016 to focus on software-related services for the car of the future.

This story first appeared in Dallas Innovates 2018, an annual magazine that showcases Dallas-Fort Worth as a hub of innovation. Read more about the region’s game changers, disruptors, creatives, and our new frontiers in the digital edition.


Smarter, Stronger, Savvier: 5 Companies Pushing Innovation Boundaries

From Dallas to Plano, large corporations are using technology to change how they serve customers and outplay competition. From Blue Cross Blue Shield’s C1 Innovation Lab to AT&T’s Living Lab, here are a few Dallas-Fort Worth companies in the innovation trenches. 

Invention: A Look Back at Historic Firsts With North Texas Ties

From liquid paper to the frozen margarita machine, delve into a list of inventors and inventions that have North Texas origins.


[Photo by Michael Samples]

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R E A D   N E X T

  • The U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, which passed in May, has the power to develop 20 tech hubs throughout the United States. According to Tech Titans' CEO Bill Sproull, Dallas-Fort Worth could be a strong contender for one of those spots.

  • The NTXIA is a founding member of the new National Smart Coalitions Partnership, now one of the largest smart cities networks in the country. The organization unites more than 100 governments across seven regional smart cities consortiums. The goal? To accelerate sustainability and resilience in communities.

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    Nonprofit BUiLT is hosting the event to highlight the success and possibilities of Black tech talent in the region. “There is no talent pipeline problem,” says Peter Beasley, co-founder of the Blacks United in Leading Technology International. “Black tech talent is widely available, especially in North Texas.”

  • Dr. Justin Lonon, vice chancellor of Dallas College, addresses the crowd at the recent Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Dallas Graduation. [Photo: 10KSB]

    “There’s no one tougher and stronger than DFW small business owners," U.S. Representative Marc Veasey said at the event honoring the North Texas graduates. Here's the list of the 105 graduates and a rundown of the event. 10,000 Small Businesses also released insights from a recent research report. The survey says, among other findings, adaptation will be key to survival.

  • Lee Bratcher Texas Blockchain

    The inaugural October 8th Texas Blockchain Summit could be a watershed event for making Texas "the jurisdiction of choice" for Bitcoin and other digital currencies. Lee Bratcher, president of the Texas Blockchain Council, will host a wide array of speakers including Texas Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz and Wyoming Senator Cynthia Lummis.