Our capital, Austin, has a reputation for attracting businesses at the cutting edge of the sciences, but it is hardly the only bright spot for innovation in the Lone Star State. In fact, venture capital funding is flowing into Dallas-Fort Worth at a faster rate than any other area in the nation. When it comes to the biotech industry, our region is leading the U.S. in key metrics of job growth and investment.
This success in North Texas is not a coincidence, but the result of strategic collaborative efforts and a shared ambition of key players across this region’s biotech ecosystem. The collective efforts of government, nonprofit, academic, and industry partners have brought together the necessary ingredients to enable sustainable long-term growth.
The quality of innovation emanating from our nationally ranked hospital systems and research centers can be credited in a large part for growing investor interest. But good science alone isn’t enough. DFW produces, attracts, and retains the skilled workforce our industry partners need to scale up operations. This has paved the way for companies like Taysha Gene Therapies and Caris Life Sciences to make the strategic decision to headquarter and innovate here.
Emblematic of this collaboration is the forthcoming Texas Instruments Biomedical Engineering and Sciences Building, a joint partnership between UT Southwestern Medical Center and The University of Texas at Dallas. By integrating biomedical engineering with advances in related fields such as artificial intelligence, molecular imaging, robotics, and genetic engineering, this collaboration will further solidify North Texas’ reputation as a hot market for biomedical innovation.
North Texas long-term stability
Another indicator of our region’s long-term stability is Biolabs’ selection of Dallas as its ninth location in the U.S. This brand-new 32,000-square-foot flexible lab, training, and office space at Pegasus Park has addressed a previously critically deficient element of our healthcare innovation ecosystem. DFW’s historic lack of available commercial laboratory space has been a recognized hindrance to the growth and retention of the early-stage startups that are the lifeblood of this industry. This available lab space is in high demand and is on track to achieve full occupancy in the short term.
North Texas delivers innovation assets
Kendall Square (in Cambridge, MA), South San Francisco, and La Jolla (north of San Diego) are all power clusters that have pulled away several of our region’s innovators and their startup companies through the undeniable allure of easy flow of venture capital dollars and access to a highly skilled workforce. These same regions are now facing their own challenges, from unaffordable housing to urban congestion, that are causing real reductions in quality-of-life metrics. In that respect, our timing couldn’t be better to support critical elements that will enable continued biopharma and healthcare innovation growth.
In fact, we possess another enormous asset that those other innovation hubs do not. Dallas Fort Worth International Airport’s cold chain logistics capabilities enable the distribution of fragile biologic and pharmaceutical medicines to anywhere in the world in a matter of hours while maintaining essential and highly specific conditions. Only one other airport in the U.S. possesses logistics close to this scale.
DFW further benefits from fantastic state and local government partners in driving sound economic development choices that are supporting our growth as a biotech hub. These capabilities and our famously business friendly environment attracted McKesson, the nation’s largest pharmaceutical distributor, to relocate to North Texas four years ago.
The rapid rise of Pegasus Park as the center of our region’s life sciences hub now equips North Texas with its own hugely scalable version of the clusters found on the coasts. Similarly, plans have been announced for Texas A&M to expand their Fort Worth presence with a research campus that will advance medical innovation and drive business development. In order to maintain this momentum and realize significant industry growth, we must continue to build and improve access to ready capital for investment in all stages of biopharma innovation.
Ecosystem impact through access to funding and resources
Other national partners like MassChallenge have begun to make an impact by creating the environment needed to promote and attract access to funding and entrepreneurial resources. BioNORTHTEXAS is also developing our own Investor Forum that will soon attract national funding partners as we match them with researchers and startups.
With government, industry, and academia working together, there is not a problem that we cannot solve. This is an exciting time for our industry and region as we drive towards a more innovative and prosperous future.
Views and opinions expressed by Voices contributors are their own.
Kathleen Otto is the CEO at BioNORTHTEXAS. She previously served as executive director of New York City’s Science and Technology Center at the Brooklyn Army Terminal, and as Vice President of Business Development and Programs at Bio New Jersey.
George Goodno is a Senior Advisor for the ENTENTE Network, providing communications and management consulting services to biopharma and healthcare clients. Previously he served as the Director of Industry Relations for UT Southwestern’s Office for Technology Development and Director of Communications for the national trade group Biotechnology Innovation Organization. Goodno presently serves on advisory councils for BioNTX and Healthcare Think Tank.
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