The Hottest Pockets of Innovation
in Dallas-Fort Worth

Four icons in the innovation community share the hottest pockets of innovation in DFW — and what’s next.

Writer Danielle Abril connected with four of the top minds in the DFW innovation arena, and each offered their thoughts on where innovation is happening now—and where it likely will flourish in the future. Also, we present six organizations that are fostering innovation in the region, making them Ones to Watch. 


President, Capital One Financial Services


Downtown Dallas
The energy and development continues to grow with new attractions coming in all the time, Yajnik says, highlighting the Bomb Factory music venue and event space.

Collin County
Collin County is one of the fastest-growing areas in Texas and serves as the home to some of the largest companies in the region. Innovation is developing at The Garage at
Capital One Financial Services, USAA, Toyota, and beyond, he says.


“One of the key drivers in this area interestingly is the arts. Innovation and the arts go so close together. Inspired talent creates new products and new [digital connections] in a way that’s seamless. DFW needs to be known as the convener of talent and capital. If you want great innovation … you need to have events that bring together key corporations … and talent. We all need to come together to plan how we’re going to use our strengths to become the destination of choice.”


CEO and co-founder,  The Dallas Entrepreneur Center


West End, Dallas 
The Dallas Innovation District is developing, and more announcements will be rolling out soon. The West End Plaza will develop the “smartest park in the country.” More corporations and other companies will be locating their headquarters there, specifically innovation hubs, Bowles says.

Downtown Dallas, Deep Ellum —  and the Area “In Between”
As downtown Dallas renovations are completed, more opportunities will continue to present themselves, Bowles says. “Growth will stem innovation.” Deep Ellum has a lot going on, but it has a history of rising up and falling, Bowles says. But all signs keep him hopeful. “Now you’re seeing things formalize with Common Desk [being there] and more and more buildings being bought up. … It’s not all music venues as it was before. What they’re doing now is truly a multiuse initiative.” And, Bowles says the area “in between” Deep Ellum and downtown is ripe for growth. “If we could build something in an effective way under Woodall Rodgers, the connection to Victory Park would be seamless,” he says.

Dallas Design District
The area has been reviving in recent years. The $108 million Virgin Hotel will be built there. Mark Cuban bought land there that includes SoftLayer’s building and Community Brewing. 

Redbird Mall, Dallas
This area will be a “shining beacon for southern Dallas,” Bowles says. Peter Brodsky, HBC Investments founder and partner, is investing in its redevelopment and is thoughtful in his research regarding what should be built there, Bowles says.
It will be an innovative model for a mall, he adds.

Lake Highlands Town Center, Dallas 
The new development will have new innovative things spurring up, Bowles says. It’s a diverse community and has been part of the rejuvenation of Lake Highlands, he adds. Bowles is working with Dallas Councilman Adam McGough on “building something that supports the community there.”

Dallas Midtown
Scott Beck submitted the site to Amazon for its HQ2 call for proposals. Whether or not it’s chosen, what’s going on there is “exciting,” Bowles says. Among other developments there, a fitness and co-working combo is expected to move into that site.


“Right now Facebook, Google, and Amazon look at Dallas as a great place to get cheap land to build warehouses. They’ll begin to look at Dallas as a great place to build innovation departments. Entrepreneurs building AI companies are going to thrive because they have customers that can support their business here. Cryptocurrency and Bitcoin will thrive here. There are huge opportunities in cybersecurity.”


Executive director, Tech Fort Worth


The University of Texas at Arlington
The startup lounge the university built to spur student innovation   has kicked up, Boudreaux says. 

West 7th, Fort Worth
Older buildings are being repurposed by new and innovative companies from across industries. Restaurants, co-working spaces, and even a venture fund have opened doors in the area.

Clearfork area, Fort Worth
It’s an up-and-coming hotspot. Among newcomers to the area, WeWork is opening a coworking location there.

Texas Christian University
Every year the Neeley School of Business hosts the Values and Ventures Business Plan Competition, an international competition that’s one of the largest for undergraduates, Boudreaux says. “They’re getting some pretty amazing companies out of that.”


“[Fort Worth’s new economic development strategy includes] an emphasis on innovation and technology commercialization. It differentiates between tech entrepreneurs and small businesses, and says that the focus should be on entrepreneurs. You’re going to see some big things come out of Fort Worth.”


President and CEO, Tech Titans


Richardson-Plano-Frisco corridor
The companies operating there are both creating innovation and innovation hubs in the area, Sproull says. Between companies like Mavenir and Armor in Richardson to the AT&T Foundry, Toyota Connected, The Garage at Capital One Financial Services in Plano, and Blue Star Sports in Frisco, there’s a lot of innovation happening.


“AI is going to revolutionize business models, customer experiences, products, and services. I would keep my eye on the applications of AI. It’s an arms race. A key competency we have in North Texas is the deployment of 5G technology. The carriers and experts in the corridor … it’s strong here. 5G will revolutionize the mobile experience.”

Fostering Innovation: Ones to Watch

Here are some of the key organizations supporting startups across industries in Dallas-Fort Worth. 

Health Wildcatters
A mentor-driven seed accelerator, Health Wildcatters also provides access to advisers, mentors, office space, and strategic resources that startups will need to grow. “We’ve created what we call a health innovation hub,” says Co-founder Hubert Zajicek.

The Study, Irving
The Study is a new haven for entrepreneurs looking to nurture and advance their businesses. Director Tom Foley says the center is geared for open space — what he calls “converge, collide, and create.”

Tech Fort Worth
The organization has been helping startups launch and grow for nearly 20 years and continues to serve as a key component in the Fort Worth  innovation community, says Darlene Boudreaux.

Grow DeSoto Business Incubator
Developer Monte Anderson and the city of DeSoto teamed up to bring new life to a vacant Ace Hardware store with a business accelerator in 2017. “We have many special entrepreneurs who just need an entry point. They just need a lemonade stand, to stand in for a day,”
says Anderson.

The retail and restaurant industry accelerator and seed capital fund, operating since 2012, expanded to a location near NorthPark Center in Dallas in 2017. The space serves as an innovation lab where retailers and entrepreneurs can collaborate.

Dallas Entrepreneur Center
Launched in 2013, The DEC is a regional entrepreneurial support system that brings together resources, support, and other opportunities that entrepreneurs need to start, build and grow their businesses. Starting in 2017, members of The DEC now have access to the Capital Factory and 1776 mentor networks.
—Dallas Innovates

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 of technology in the digital edition.


[Photo: Michael Samples]

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