Follow the Money: Southlake Biotech Raises $14.9M, American Airlines Invests in Innovative Engine Maker, and More

Plus: 7-Eleven acquires last-mile delivery startup; American Heart Association invests in $43M healthcare innovation fund; Fort Worth real estate investors raise $32.4M for new fund; Dallas College Lands $8.8M to boost biotech workforce; UT Southwestern researchers land funding for hypothermia therapy study; and more North Texas deals.

What companies are finding funding or having a big exit? From startup investments to grants and acquisitions, Dallas Innovates tracks what’s happening in North Texas money. Sign up for our e-newsletter, and share your deal news here

Southlake Biotech Raises $14.9M Amid Clinical Trials


Southlake clinical-stage biotech firm Renibus Therapeutics reported raising nearly $15 million in SAFE funding from 17 investors out of a $20 million offering, per an SEC filing.

Founded in 2015, Renibus focuses on cardio-renal diseases and currently has three drugs in its pipeline in various phases of trials. Earlier this year, the company reported raising a similar amount, saying the funding was part of an extension to its $35 million Series A funding round. At the time, Renibus announced that co-founder and CEO Al Guillem would be transitioning to a role as executive chairman of the board. Frank Stonebanks, a former venture partner at health care-focused VC firm Wavemaker Three-Sixty Health, took over the top executive role.


research heartAmerican Heart Association Invests in $43M Health Care Innovation Fund

⟫ The American Heart Association is looking to emerging technology to help in its fight against one of the leading global causes of death—cardiovascular disease.

The Dallas-based organization, alongside global health technology giant Philips, announced re-upping their investment in Cardiation Capital, a venture capital fund managed by Aphelion Capital, for its second fund, which reported raising nearly $43 million in an SEC filing.

As with Cardiation’s first fund—which closed at $30.1 million—the latest will invest in health care technology and medical device startups addressing heart disease, strokes, and diabetes. The fund will leverage the AHA’s scientific expertise in the field, Philips’ research and development knowledge, and Aphelion’s strategy of targeting businesses reducing health care costs and wellness products designed for patients.

The newest fund also saw Arizona venture capital and commercialization firm Research Corporation Technologies join as a backer, providing professional and technological development support to companies Cardiation invests in.

Exline Capital leadership, left to right: Ty Smith, principal; Hunt Woodruff, principal; Beck Miller, director; and Matt McLeod, Portfolio Manager [Photos: Exline Capital]

Fort Worth Real Estate Investors Raise $32.4M for New Fund

⟫ Fort Worth real estate investment firm Exline Capital reported raising $32.4 million in equity and limited partnership interests from 103 investors out of a $75 million offering for a fund titled Exline Industrial Fund III, LP. Formed in 2009, Exline says it focuses on mid-market and institutional-quality assets ranging in size from $2 million to $60 million. Currently, Exline says it’s portfolio of projects is valued at more than $1.1 billion.

[Photo: American Airlines]

American Airlines Invests in Innovative Engine Developer

⟫ Fort Worth carrier American Airlines joined competitors United Airlines and Alaska Airlines in backing California-based hydrogen-electric engine developer ZeroAvia’s Series B funding round. According to the Dallas Business Journal, American invested at least $5 million in the round, which brings ZeroAvia’s total funding to more than $150 million. In addition to the funding, American said it plans to order 100 engines from ZeroAvia to power its regional jets. American CFO Derek Kerr said the move will help the airline in its sustainability efforts.  

[Image: Courtesy The Capital Factory]

Local VC Helps Launch Houston Startup’s Open Beta

Capital Factory, the Texas venture capital firm and accelerator that’s setting up a Center for Health Innovation at Dallas’ Pegasus Park development, joined Hearst Lab in investing in a $1.2 million pre-seed funding round for Houston digital marketplace startup Clutch. The round was led by Precursor Ventures. The funding will help kick off the company’s open beta testing, connecting student content creators with emerging brands for digital marketing. Founded in 2020 by Madison Long and Simone May, Clutch has previously raised around $350,000 from DivInc, as well as from friends and family.

Photo: NuZee

Coffee Manufacturer Announces $3.4M Underwritten Public Offering

⟫ Plano-based NuZee, a maker and co-packer of single-serve coffee products, announced an underwritten public offering, listing 4.2 million shares that are expected to generate $3.4 million. With Maxim Group acting as the sole bookrunner, the offering is expected to close on August 10. NuZee, which relocated from California to North Texas in 2019, went public later that year in a $12 million IPO that sees it trade on the Nasdaq under the ticker NUZE.

CBRE Chief Financial and Investment Officer Emma Giamartino [Photo: CBRE]

CBRE Increases Revolving Credit Facility to $3.5B

⟫ Dallas real estate giant CBRE announced entering into a new five-year revolving credit agreement that increases the firm’s revolving credit facility from $3.15 billion to $3.5 billion. The company’s Chief Financial and Investment Officer Emma Giamartino said the move will aid CBRE’s ability to make new investments. Incentives tied to the facility include expanding CBRE’s offices by more than 10,000 square feet, expanding spending with sustainability suppliers, and converting its North American vehicle fleet to electric vehicles. Arrangers and bookrunners for the transaction include Wells Fargo Securities, BofA Securities, and The Bank of Nova Scotia.

Darling Ingredients Acquires Brazil’s Largest Independent Rendering Company

⟫ Irving-based Darling Ingredients, which focuses on repurposing animal and food byproducts, is now the owner of Brazil’s largest independent rendering company, after finalizing its acquisition of FASA Group for around $542.6 million. As part of the deal, Darling now owns 14 rendering plants, with two more under construction, that can process more than 1.3 million metric tons annually.

The acquisition will add “more than 1.3 million metric tons of beef, chicken, and pork annually to our raw material processed and augments our supply of low-carbon, non-food based feedstocks for Diamond Green Diesel,” according to Suann Guthrie, Darling’s VP of Investor Relations, Sustainability and Global Communications.

Darling’s history goes way back to 1882, when the Ira C. Darling company was formed in Chicago. It evolved from a small rendering company into the world’s leading developer and producer of sustainable organic ingredients. A Texas investor group purchased the company in 1986 and moved its headquarters from Chicago to the Dallas area. It has continued to grow through acquisitions since then.

[Photo: 7-Eleven]

7-Eleven Acquires Last-Mile Delivery Startup

⟫ Dallas convenience store giant 7-Eleven has acquired San Antonio-based last-mile delivery startup Skipcart. While the amount of the deal was not disclosed, Skipcart was valued at approximately $65 million two years ago, The Information notes. The publication adds that 7-Eleven has been one of the leaders in implementing last-mile delivery, being the first convenience store partner for Instacart in 2020. The timing also comes as other competitors in the space have been investing in delivery and logistic startups.

Photo: ronniechua/iStock

Dallas Oil & Gas Services Firm Merges with Environmental Solutions Company

⟫ Dallas-based Purity Oilfield Services, an oil and gas equipment and services firm, has merged with One Equity Partners portfolio company OMNI Environmental Solutions. Purity will continue to operate under its brand name, with an expanded presence the Gulf of Mexico and Northeast regions. OMNI president and CEO Courtney Brackin will lead the combined company, which has a workforce of around 1,400 employees serving more than 500 customers.

[Image: Dallas College]

Dallas College Lands $8.8M to Boost Biotech Workforce

Dallas College—in partnership with several other North Texas higher ed institutions and biomedical businesses—received an $8.8 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) that could keep the region’s biotech boom growing for years to come.

The college and officials call the award “groundbreaking” in its power to help train much-needed workers for scores of local biotech businesses. Moreover, the program will create opportunities by training underserved community members for living-wage jobs in one of the region’s hottest, most fast-growing sectors.

The award will help the college “establish the critical economic and workforce development infrastructure needed to fill those jobs, increase economic mobility for underserved communities, and create additional jobs,” Ben Magill, associate vice chancellor of economic opportunity, workforce, and advancement at Dallas College, said in a prepared statement.

UT Southwestern Medical Center Researchers Land Funding for Hypothermia Therapy Study

⟫ Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center was approved for a five-year, $7 million funding award from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute led by Dr. Lina Chalak, professor of pediatrics at UT Southwestern and interim division chief of neonatal-perinatal medicine at Children’s Health. The funding will be used to research the effects of hypothermia therapy, which uses cooling blankets to treat infants with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy—a brain injury cause by a lack of blood and air flow to the brain. The study will include 460 infants at 15 sites across the U.S.

David Seeley contributed to this report. 

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