Texas Roundup: TMCx, Katie Mehnert, UT System, Authenticated Reality

Let’s get caught up with the latest innovation news from Xconomy Texas.

—Often those in medical fields come up with innovative ideas during the course of their work. What they lack, however, is experience in running a business, namely, raising money to help pay for research and development. Fundraising strategies for young medtech entrepreneurs was the subject of a recent panel discussion in San Antonio. The upshot? Seek out non-dilutive funding such as government grants first before turning to venture capital.

—The Texas Medical Center’s TMCx accelerator announced its new, and largest ever startup class. Twenty-four health IT companies will come to Houston for the four-month program. In addition to the size of the class, another item of note is the fact that many of the participating companies are more mature than before—with three having already raised at least $10 million in funding, said Erik Halvorsen, director of TMC’s Innovation Institute.

—Austin, TX, startup Authenticated Reality launched a beta of its alternative browser this week. Founder and CTO Chris Ciabarra says the company’s authentication system prevents trolls and others from peddling fake news and “alternative facts.” Creating a verified experience in the Web is becoming an area of increasing interest for startup entrepreneurs.

—We have “Five Questions For …” Katie Mehnert, founder and CEO of Pink Petro, a social media startup aimed at supporting women in the energy industry. Mehnert talks about the pros and cons of having a strong entrepreneurial drive, her unplanned move into the energy industry, and lessons she’s learned—both as manager and employee—about managing people.

—Are you an Austin founder with a big startup idea? If so, a group of prominent Austin entrepreneurs and investors are offering the chance to win $100,000 to help launch your company. “We want to see Austin entrepreneurs thinking bigger and shooting for the stars,” explains Brett Hurt, CEO of data.world and the founder of Bazaarvoice, Coremetrics, and Hurt Family Investments. “If you’re really trying to change the world, we will help you get started.” To be considered, apply here.  Those that are selected will be asked to pitch at a “Funding Day” on February 24.

—For U.S. technology workers worried about President Trump’s efforts to restrict immigration, the Mexican state of Jalisco has a message: “We want you.” Jalisco, which is located in the center of Mexico on the Pacific coast, took out a full-page ad in Politico last week saying it welcomes the talent of the immigrants that make up the tech community, Foreign Policy reported. “To our colleagues in U.S. tech companies who are adjusting to policy changes affecting your 85,000 foreign workers, the Mexican state of Jalisco hears you,” the ad says.

—Austin social media management software maker Spredfast is terminating 47 jobs in Wisconsin, a year and a half after it had acquired the Madison, WI-based Shoutlet. The Wisconsin firm sold cloud-based software to help measure the impact of online marketing campaigns.

—The University of Texas System’s commercialization office has a new name that it says more accurately reflects its mission, the Office of Innovation and Strategic Investment. The new name was presented, along with a new strategic plan, to the UT System Board of Regents last week. The office is running two pilot programs aimed at boosting innovation: The Mentor Network is being used by UT MD Anderson Cancer Center and UT Houston to pair industry mentors with faculty entrepreneurs, and Talent Matching Pilot is designed to connect UT student talent to the small- and mid-sized businesses looking to hire them.

Angela Shah is the editor of Xconomy Texas. She can be reached at ashah@xconomy.com or (214) 793-5763. Follow @angelashah

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