TX Roundup: New Funding, MD Anderson, Carolyn Rodz, 1PlanetSol, Dell

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

—An Austin social venture company, 1PlanetSol, is among a group of ventures competing in the US Department of Energy’s Solar in Your Community challenge, which aims to bring solar energy to underserved communities. 1PlanetSol is partnering with Austin Habitat for Humanity and the Texas Energy Poverty Research Institute in a program to install 20 free solar energy systems for Habitat families over the next 18 months.

Lantern Pharma, a Dallas biotech company, announced it has raised $3.7 million in Series A round from BIOS Partners, GPG Ventures, and other private investors. Lantern works on accelerating the approval process for cancer drugs using big data and artificial intelligence. The company uses those processes to acquire late-stage drug candidates that show efficacy in a small number of patients and “rescue” and “repurpose” them by using molecular profiling to identify the patients that would most respond to the treatment.

—The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center has announced it will conduct a nationwide search for a new president to replace Ronald DePinho, who resigned in March. Marshall Hicks, who had been the institution’s division head of diagnostic imaging since 2015, was named shortly thereafter to lead MD Anderson in the interim.

In case you missed them the first time, here are stories recently published.

Dell Technologies Capital, an investment arm of Dell Technologies, plans to invest in about 20 startups this year, according to media reports. The fund is planning to invest about $100 million annually in venture funding and $2 billion annually for merger-and-acquisition projects, according to the LinkedIn profile of Scott Darling, president of the group.

—For breast cancer patients, one of the more difficult aspects of recovery is reconstructing the nipple and areola. A pre-clinical San Antonio life sciences company is using a decellularization process from cadaver nipples that could create more natural tissue. The process used by NovoThelium allows the nipple to act like a collagen scaffold that retains certain proteins and structures and allows the patient’s own cells to repopulate the nipple. NovoThelium plans to use prize money it’s made in two venture contests to fund animal studies later this year.

—This week’s “Five Questions For … ” is with Carolyn Rodz, founder and CEO of the Circular Board, an accelerator program aimed at women entrepreneurs in Houston. Rodz speak about what motivates her to help others, cocktails with Amelia Earhart, and how cookies are a late-night fuel (and support a female founder.)

Cytori Therapeutics is re-starting a San Antonio manufacturing facility it gained through its acquisition of Azaya Therapeutics, a maker of nanoparticle-encapsulated generic drugs. The San Diego company plans to find a European distributor for a drug the San Antonio facility makes called ATI-0918, which is a formulation of generic chemotherapy drug liposomal doxorubicin.

Taylor Rhodes, CEO of Rackspace, has left the cloud computing giant for a position in an unnamed tech company. His departure marks the latest change in the former San Antonio-based company since it was acquired by a New York private equity firm for $4.3 billion last August. Rhodes had led Rackspace since 2014.

Funding news out of Austin includes new investment for Everlywell and Bitfusion, which raised $2 million and $5 million, respectively. Everlywell makes “health and wellness tests” that can be taken at home measuring things like hormone levels or blood sugar. Bitfusion, which was part of the Techstars Cloud accelerator in 2015, makes software that aims to bring supercomputing capabilities to a variety of hardware devices.

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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