Global investment platform Techstars is bringing its first accelerator program to North Texas, focusing on physical therapy solutions from Fort Worth.
The move—brought together through a public-private partnership between the city of Fort Worth, Tarrant County, the UNT Health Science Center, and Goff Capital—is aimed at bolstering the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem by bringing early-stage startups to the city.
“As the 12th largest city in the nation in one of the fastest-growing regions, it’s critical that we support entrepreneurship and innovation in Fort Worth,” Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker said in a statement. “We knew that early-stage funding for local startup companies has been lacking in our city, and this effort will not only bring more startup funding to our area, but also will serve as a recruiting mechanism to bring the best and brightest minds in physical medicine and rehabilitation to Fort Worth for the accelerator.”
Applications for the accelerator program opened on Tuesday to startups everywhere. The application deadline closes in May. In September, 10 companies will be chosen to take part in the 13-week program, which includes networking and mentorship, and ends with a “Demo Day” showcase. In addition to entrepreneurial programming, companies taking part in the cohort will be eligible to receive up to $120,00 in seed funding capital provided by the HSC and Goff Capital.
Heading up the local effort is local serial entrepreneur Trey Bowles, who will serve as local Techstars’ managing director. Bowles has been active in the North Texas scene, founding a number of companies and organizations, including the Dallas Entrepreneurial Center, InnoCity Partners, and the Dallas Innovation Alliance, in addition to co-chairing the North Texas Angel Network.
“I’ve learned throughout my journey as an entrepreneur that every company and every founder has something to learn,” Bowles said. “Surrounding yourself with the right team, the right mentors, the right partners, and the right investors is essential to success.
PHYSICAL THERAPY FORWARD
In an interview with Techstars, Bowles went into more detail about the specific types of startups the organization is looking to have apply (listed below in Bowles’ own words):
- Rehabilitation and Therapy: Physical Therapy and rehabilitation are core to the process of addressing physical health. There are numerous challenges and opportunities around providing care and cures for physical hardship. This includes companies intersecting with osteopathic care and musculoskeletal conditions.
- Software and Platform Technologies: We are looking for companies who are building innovative software or platform technologies that empower and maximize the approach to Physical Health. This could include AR/VR, AI-driven solutions, software for enabling more efficient data, results, impact of physical health therapies, and products/SaaS solutions that assist in the Physical Health vertical.
- Hardware and Wearables: This includes actual devices and apparatuses that work to enhance the overall health and wellness of the patient or customer and provide innovative solutions to address in both preventive or diagnostic care scenarios.
- Performance Enhancement and Exercise: We are looking for solutions that provide improvements and efficiencies around exercise and physical improvement. Addressing the field of Physical Health is not simply about curing conditions and health issues that patients are currently facing, but also creating optimal effectiveness of the physical body and introducing preventative solutions to injury before it occurs.
- Covid-19 Long Haulers: COVID has created some serious physical and neurological conditions for the “long haulers” who spend months fully recovering from the various aspects of coronavirus. This program will help identify and treat patients with this relatively new set of symptoms and ailments.
“Ultimately,” Bowles said, “we’re looking for solutions that are scalable and sustainable and move forward the field of Physical Health.”
That includes ancillary technologies or innovations that improve the effectiveness of any element of the supply chain— such as billing, reimbursements, regulatory approvals, military integration or other governmental solutions—and more.
“Innovation is a very broad term, and we’re looking for founders and teams who are creatively and effectively finding ways to innovate in and around [these themes],” Bowles said.
BUILDING THE LOCAL ECOSYSTEM
While the recent announcement marks Techstars’ first entrance to the North Texas ecosystem, the organization has maintained a Lone Star presence since 2013 with the launch of its Austin accelerator program.
The Fort Worth program joins 11 others around the globe, including locations in the U.S., Europe, Australia, and the Middle East. Over the next three years, its aiming to invest $10 million.
Overall, the health care and life sciences industry is booming in North Texas. According to data from the Dallas Regional Chamber, the health care industry makes up around 15% of the regional economy, representing a value of $52 billion and employing nearly a quarter of a million people.
“My hope is that this seeds additional accelerators in Fort Worth moving forward…that other people will try to replicate it,” said Cameron Cushman, assistant VP of Innovation Ecosystems at HSC.
“It’s a different way to do economic development,” he said. “We’ve shelled out millions of dollars for existing companies and corporate relocations: What if we shifted some of those funds to recruiting really early-stage companies that have high promise and that can grow here, find investors here, find customers here?”
To apply to the accelerator or for more information, go here.
Quincy Preston contributed to this report.
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