Brent Sorrells, Manan Atit Join TechFW Board

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Brent Sorrells, Director of Clinical Operations for Allakos Inc., and Manan Atit, Global Head, External Opportunities, Deals and Partnerships, R&D at Alcon, have joined the TechFW Board of Directors.

TechFW is a non-profit organization with the mission of helping entrepreneurs commercialize innovative technologies.

Sorrells is no stranger to TechFW. Beginning in July 2006, he was its Director of Programs. ZS Pharma, a TechFW client, hired Sorrells as Director of Clinical Operations in October 2012. ZSPharma went public June 19, 2014 and was aquired by AstraZeneca in November 2015.

Allakos is a publicly traded, clinical-stage bio-pharmaceutical company developing first-in-class antibody-based therapeutics to treat allergic and inflammatory diseases.

“Brent will be a fabulous addition to the Board. He has an amazing talent for finding creative practical solutions for the benefit of TechFW and for the clients,” said Darlene Boudreaux, Executive Director when Sorrels worked with TechFW. “He is a dedicated problem solver and never hesitates to just jump in and make things happen. If he says he is going to do something, he does it, without fail, and he does it with complete integrity and transparency.”

Atit has been with Alcon in a variety of capacities since February 2013, including Strategic Advisor to Global Head of Alcon, Project Management Office Alcon-WaveTec and Project Head, Intraocular Cataract Lenses.

Alcon is a Swiss medical company specializing in eye care products. It’s U.S. headquarters are in Fort Worth.

“Manan brings a strategic mind and a passion for innovation to the Board that TechFW will gain from for years to come. We are excited for Manan to join the organization and we are eager to dive in to expand the value we create for entrepreneurs commercializing innovative technologies,” said Hayden Blackburn, the current Executive Director.

The members of the TechFW Board of Directors serve three-year terms and max out after two consecutive terms. The Board of Directors oversees the governance and aids in the strategic planning of the organization.

TechFW is a non-profit organization that helps entrepreneurs launch and grow emerging technology companies that have a high potential for success. It mentors, coaches and relentlessly pushes them toward success. TechFW has offices at the James E. Guinn Complex in Fort Worth and is supported by the UNT Health Science Center, the University of Texas at Arlington, and the City of Fort Worth. For more information, contact Hayden Blackburn at (817) 984-9841 or hayden@techfw.org.

TechFW Client Finishes 2nd in Business Plan Competition

Fort Worth, TX – Rdy4it, a TechFW client and founder / owner of the Aspen Tyke Traveler diaper bag finished second Thursday to Locavore in the eighth Fort Worth Business Plan Competition. The four-month competition is a program of the City of Fort Worth’s Office of Small Business and is presented by Capital One.

Aspen Tyke Traveler sells innovative, supportive diaper bags and packing systems that help prepare new parents for on-the-go adventures with young children. The owners are Glen and Sarinya Oliver.

 

Locavore is an all-inclusive resource for foodie entrepreneurs looking to affordably scale up their business, offering for rent commercial kitchens, office space and an event venue. It is owned by Cortney Gumbleton and Carlo Capua.

 

Third-place finisher Cache has developed a mobile app that allows consumers direct access to purchase tax foreclosure properties from anywhere in the world. Mateson Gutierrez is the founder.

 

The three took home cash and prize packages valued at more than $56,000, including $5,000 for Aspen Tyke Traveler. They were judged on their written business plans and their seven minutes of presentation and seven minutes of answers to questions from judges. The three finalists had emerged from the 10 semifinalists who competed during a Pitch Night presentation Oct. 11 at the Moncrief Cancer Institute.

 

The Olivers are engineers and after having a son, figured there had to be a better way to compartmentalize items in a diaper bag. So they developed it. Version two, based on responses and suggestions from users, includes laptop and drink pockets and is more of a “parent” bag.

 

“Parents who haven’t had a kid see a diaper bag and says ‘that’s cute,’” Glen Oliver said. “Parents who have had a kid see a bag and ask ‘how is this going to help me.’”

 

The competition, open to Tarrant County businesses and startups, began in July. Twenty five businesses from 50 entries were selected for five educational sessions and a minimum of two business counseling sessions. Each business also was paired with MBA students from TCU and the University of Texas at Arlington.

 

Robert Sturns, Director of the City of Fort Worth’s Economic Development Department, which oversees the Office of Small Business, said:  “All three presentations were strong and all three were very impressive competitors. This has been a long and satisfying journey for the three finalists -- training, coaching and mentoring during four months. All have gone through a comprehensive educational process to be able to formulate a business plan that will positively impact their business and potentially, the local economy.”

 

 

TechFW is a non-profit organization that helps entrepreneurs launch and grow emerging technology companies that have a high potential for success. It mentors, coaches and relentlessly pushes them toward success. TechFW has offices at the James E. Guinn Complex in Fort Worth and is supported by the UNT Health Science Center, the University of Texas at Arlington, and the City of Fort Worth. For more information, contact Hayden Blackburn at (817) 984-9841 or hayden@techfw.org .

TechFW client Nanoscope Technologies receives $4 million in grants from NIH

FORT WORTH, TX. – Nanoscope Technologies, a SmartStart client of TechFW, has received two grants totaling $4 million for two optogenetics technologies that could bring sight to those with damaged retina cells. The grants are from the National Institute of Health subsidiary National Eye Institute within the U.S. Health and Human Services Department.

“We are grateful and thrilled for the support. This will allow us to advance the development of our product pipelines for rapid clinical translation,” said Sulagna Bhattacharya, the CEO/COO of Nanoscope Technologies. “This means that if the next steps are successful, we could bring back sight to millions who currently have no other recourse for treatment. With these grants, we are able to recruit top talent to the region, and can be expected to enhance our strength in innovation and commercialization.”

Nanoscope Technologies was founded by Dr. Samarendra Mohanty, the President and Chief Scientific Officer. With the grants and additional research, it will grow to 14 employees.

In scientific terms, Nanoscope Technologies has developed a suite of synthetic multi-characteristic opsins (MCO) having high light sensitivity for sensitizing cells toward light so that the targeted cells can be optically activated.

One Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant for $2 million is to further develop the opsin research. The virus carrying MCO (VMCO) technique bypasses damaged cells and injects the MCO gene into working cells in the retina. The gene produces the MCO-protein that is light sensitive, helping the ganglion and bipolar cells regain sight. Market potential in the U.S. alone is several million people. This is a significant undertaking and could make a major breakthrough in the vision restoration strategy for patients with retinal degenerative diseases. What’s unique about the approach is that it does not require any implant or external devices, and can be effective in ambient light.

The other grant, also approximately $2 million, would take the MCO opsins a step beyond to allow them to emit light via Bio-luminescence (BMCO). The opsins allow stimulation of the cells and would produce the image the brain is transmitting from the emitted light via an implanted camera. It has treatment implications beyond the retina cells, including chronic pain, epilepsy and neurological diseases, such as Parkinson’s.

The BMCO grant is funded under the Bioengineering Research Grant program of NIH and Nanoscope Technologies is the first non-university, for-profit company to receive one.

In addition to its work with the restoration of vision, Nanoscope is testing its light-based technologies for non-invasive cancer detection and non-invasive chronic pain management.

“These grants are a testament to the innovative work that Nanoscope is undertaking to improve vision for so many in need. It is a day to celebrate whenever a startup is awarded NIH and Phase II SBIR grants and we are excited to see where Nanoscope goes next with its research,” said Hayden Blackburn, TechFW Executive Director.

Bhattacharya spent more than a decade in management consulting for large firms such as Deloitte and Hitachi, mostly concentrating on Business Intelligence Statistics and Risk Management. Dr. Mohanty has almost two decades of scientific, industrial and academic experience on bio-medical technologies. He is an expert in biomedical instrumentation and gene therapy.

Nanoscope Technologies’ science combines molecular biology, biomedical optics, neuroscience, and biomedical engineering. The company is located in Bedford, TX.

 

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TechFW is a non-profit organization that helps entrepreneurs launch and grow emerging technology companies that have a high potential for success. It mentors, coaches and relentlessly pushes them toward success. TechFW has offices at the James E. Guinn Complex in Fort Worth and is supported by the UNT Health Science Center, the University of Texas at Arlington, and the City of Fort Worth. For more information, contact Hayden Blackburn at (817) 984-9841 or hayden@techfortworth.org .

Blackburn promoted to Executive Director at TechFW

After 12 years, Boudreaux steps aside and will assist part-time

 

FORT WORTH, TX. – Hayden Blackburn has been promoted to Executive Director of TechFW, effective Saturday, Sept. 15. He succeeds Darlene Boudreaux, who will continue part-time as one of the coaches for TechFW clients, especially those in the life science industry.

TechFW is a non-profit technology incubator that is supported by the University of North Texas Health Science Center, the University of Texas at Arlington, the City of Fort Worth and the local business community. It helps entrepreneurs launch and grow emerging technology companies that have a high potential for success and works to strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem in North Texas.  Notable client successes in recent years have included ZS Pharma and Encore Vision.

Maxwell Lea, Chair of the TechFW Board of Directors, said, “We have all been working toward this day for the past couple of years.  Hayden has shown himself to be a thoughtful, capable and visionary leader who will enable TechFW to continue to be an effective catalyst for innovative technology companies in our area.”

Blackburn, a leading strategist, developer of programs and organizer among startups and entrepreneurs, has been the Assistant Director since arriving from IDEA Works FW in December 2016. He has been engaged in all TechFW programs, but most notably ThinkLab, Cowtown Angels, EpICMavs at the University of Texas at Arlington, TechNest and M-Crew, a new community/client mentor match that leverages outside talent in a volunteer capacity.

“I have been impressed with Hayden's knowledge, work ethic, and temperament. His ability to listen, understand and lead are qualities that are beneficial for TechFW, its clients and its partners,” Boudreaux said. “He has been a strong leader for the Cowtown Angels group and has enabled us to improve and expand our services for technology-based companies.”

Blackburn co-founded and was the initial Director of IDEA Works FW, which launched in 2014. He was responsible for developing and establishing a vision and future for IDEA Works FW, as well as overseeing the operations, delivery of services and facility management. Previously, he worked in strategic development, marketing, and business and economic development roles, including positions with the Funding Information Center and Business Assistance Center in Fort Worth.

Since 2011, he has been a founder or leading contributor to the Fort Worth Business Plan Competition, 1 Million Cups, Startup Weekend, Great Ideas conversations and the Entrepreneur Summit.  Recently, he was honored with a Mentor Award from the Fort Worth Business Press.

Blackburn is a 2007 honors graduate of the Rawls College of Business at Texas Tech University. He serves on the Near Southside Inc. and the Fort Worth Public Library Foundation Board of Directors.

Boudreaux was named TechFW executive director in August 2006. Recently, she was included on the list of the 400 Most Influential People in Fort Worth.  From 1994-2006, she was co-founder and CEO of PharmaFab, a pharmaceutical manufacturing and technology company in Grand Prairie, Texas. PharmaFab was on the Inc 500 list of the fastest-growing, private companies in America three consecutive years and on the Dallas 100 list five consecutive years. She helped grow its revenues to $28 million in 10 years.

Boudreaux was named a 2003 Healthcare Hero by the Fort Worth Business Press and the 2003 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in Life Sciences for the Southwest Region of the US.  In 2004, she was recognized by the U.S. House of Representatives as the only American named to the list of the nine Leading Women Entrepreneurs in the world, and the Fort Worth City Council proclaimed a day in her honor.

Previously, she was a partner with Arthur Andersen, a worldwide accounting firm, working in Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, and San Diego during her 18-year tenure.  She was one of the firm’s first female partners and a member of a five-partner team that began a tax software business, which developed and licensed software to other accounting firms and to corporations.  As an international tax partner, she focused primarily on medical device and pharmaceutical clients.

Boudreaux serves on the Tarrant County Board for the American Heart Association and on the advisory boards for the UTA College of Engineering and the UTA Department of Biomedical Engineering.  She has also been a member of the advisory boards for the TCU College of Engineering and Science, the UNT Murphy Enterprise Center and the UNT College of Arts and Sciences. Nationally, she has served on the boards of the International Business Innovation Association, the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration, the Generic Pharmaceutical Association, and DePauw University.

Boudreaux graduated from DePauw with a B.A. and a double major in mathematics and German.  She also holds an M.B.A. in accounting and finance and a minor in marketing from the University of Chicago, and is a Certified Public Accountant.  Boudreaux is an adjunct professor in the Neeley School of Business at Texas Christian University, where she teaches a course in Family Business.

 

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TechFW is a non-profit organization that helps entrepreneurs launch and grow emerging technology companies that have a high potential for success. It mentors, coaches and relentlessly pushes them toward success. TechFW has offices at the James E. Guinn Complex in Fort Worth and is supported by the UNT Health Science Center, the University of Texas at Arlington, and the City of Fort Worth. For more information, contact Darlene Boudreaux at (817) 984-9840 or darlene@techfw.org  or contact Hayden Blackburn at (817) 984-9841 or hayden@techfw.org .