William F. McKeon is the president and CEO of the Texas Medical Center.
William F. McKeon is president and CEO of the Texas Medical Center (photo: Mark Mulligan/Houston Chronicle)

Building Bridges

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William F. McKeon is the president and CEO of the Texas Medical Center.

Two years ago, I met the Australian Consul-General based in Houston. Interestingly, Houston has the third-largest number of consulates in the United States, behind New York and Washington, D.C.

I brought Australia’s Consul-General to the TMC Innovation Center, which is a transformed Nabisco cookie factory that is home to TMCx, an accelerator for startup companies; TMCx+, a coworking space for emerging companies; JLABS @ TMC, an incubator for life sciences companies managed by Johnson & Johnson; and the Center for Device Innovation, a place to prototype and test medical devices.

My Australian colleague was awestruck. Both of us immediately recognized the potential for the TMC Innovation Center to serve as an ideal port of entry into the United States for some of the top life sciences companies in Australia. It’s a relationship we knew would benefit both places.

Weeks later, I met with top leaders across Australia and learned that despite the country’s impressive research and entrepreneurial capabilities, it has a relatively small population (even smaller than Texas). Its market isn’t large enough to support many growing companies, so Australian firms need additional opportunities elsewhere. Meanwhile, Texas is eager to draw the best researchers, entrepreneurs and businesses from around the world to support our economy and better serve our patients. Helping Australian firms establish a presence in Texas is a victory for both places.

We launched Australia-TMC BioBridge, a program that encourages the best health care companies in Australia to apply directly to the TMC Innovation Institute, and, if accepted, join some of the very best startup health care companies in the world here in Houston.

Within a month of the press announcement, four outstanding Australian companies arrived at the medical center and joined the TMCx startup accelerator.

I recently returned to Australia to speak at AusMedTech, the largest conference for medical technology in the country. I presented a snapshot of each of the companies and the tremendous progress they have made in the past year.

We expect to soon announce similar partnerships between other nations and the TMC to support health, education and research in Texas. Australia-TMC BioBridge is an important model we can follow as we work to attract the best solutions from around the world to advance patient care.

William F. McKeon
President and CEO
Texas Medical Center

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