On Thursday, April 9th, within the halls of TMCx—the accelerator program located within Texas Medical Center’s Innovation Institute—the pressure was on. Twenty-one of the companies populating TMCx’s inaugural cohort took the stage to pitch their solutions to an eager audience of media representatives and advisors from the medical center community. While the night provided a compact, three-minute distillation of each company and their technology, showing gratitude towards TMCx’s network of advisors was the main event.
“I have so much appreciation for all of our mentors and advisors, because the key to all of this is going to be you,” remarked Robert C. Robbins, president and chief executive officer of the Texas Medical Center. “Obviously your experience, your advice and your guidance to all of the companies is going to be what makes a difference in helping them with intellectual property issues, writing business plans, raising money and navigating through the myriad of challenges they will face. All of your successes, and more importantly all of your failures, will help guide our companies and help them not make the same mistakes that many of us have along this road.”
The Texas Medical Center Innovation Institute has carefully cultivated and expanded a network of advisors to provide that mentorship and finely honed expertise to all of the companies in the six-month TMCx accelerator program—it now adds up to around 200. Fifty of those advisors were present for the event.
“I also want to mention one of the really terrific things to come out of the Innovation Institute,” noted William F. McKeon, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Texas Medical Center, between introducing each of the companies to the stage. “We know that legal services and intellectual property protection are crucial elements to provide entrepreneurs. We have the second largest legal community in the United States right here in Houston. Our legal advisors have done some incredible things here. We met with all of our companies today, and their number one response was the affirmation that they’ve received outstanding legal advice.
“That was provided from people that came here, pro bono, to really help these companies understand their intellectual property and incorporation strategies,” he added. “Those things are so vital, and to have these legal advisors take time out of their already oversubscribed schedules is tremendous.”
Members of the media present at the event, including Kara Elam from BioNews Texas, Angela Shah from Xconomy, and Richard Stubbe from Bloomberg News, among others, were provided an opportunity to ask questions to the companies following their pitch. After the presentations, the entrepreneurs mingled with media representatives, TMCx advisors and community leaders, solidifying burgeoning relationships that will be instrumental in establishing a thriving ecosystem of innovation in Houston.
“The things that you want to surround companies with are really smart people—these are people that make this work successfully,” concluded McKeon. “This is the largest incubator and accelerator in the United States today—we have over 100,000 square feet of space dedicated. We’re in the early days here, but I’ve been so surprised by these experts that have just wrapped themselves around these amazing companies. We hope you just stay along for the ride.”
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