If you huddled up indoors away from all the cold, cold rain last weekend, and you weren’t 20 floors up next to the Majestic Theater in downtown Dallas, you missed one of the best entrepreneurial events of 2019 so far.
Last Friday night and all day Saturday, Health Wildcatters held the first Texas Healthcare Challenge, a hackathon with a fun premise. Instead of starting with a problem to be solved by participating teams, this event was an example of the best of the startup world—get a whole lot of smart people in a room (and in this case very credentialed. I’m not sure I’ve ever been around more M.D.s and Ph.D.s in one room) and turn them all loose on solving whatever healthcare-related problem they choose.
Oh yeah, and let them self-select into ad hoc teams to come up with the most cutting-edge stuff they want.
Full disclosure: I was honored to be a mentor for the event and get the chance to interact with the 131 people who came to the Friday night ramp-up and the 110 who braved the full day on Saturday. Between all the conversations I had at the hackathon, as well as the Dallas Innovates magazine party last Thursday, my brain is still abuzz and percolating with new ideas.
Editor’s note for tech nerds: At one count at the height of the hackathon, 146 devices were connected to the Health Wildcatters WiFi. That count does not include all the secondary devices connecting via VPNs.
The Texas Healthcare Challenge drew people from across the state—I met mentors who made the trek to Dallas from Austin and Houston along with participants from all over—but Loren Bolton, operations program manager at Health Wildcatters, estimated around 90 percent came from North Texas.
“Health Wildcatters has global reach and receives applications from all over the world. Overall, the majority of startups are from other states,” Hubert Zajicek, co-founder and CEO, Health Wildcatters, told Dallas Innovates. “We often get asked, ‘Why [don’t] more local startups participate in the program?’ The TXHCC19 showed that there are plenty of innovators in our midst. We’re delighted that so many came out—and ultimately created 18 approaches to solutions for important healthcare problems. It was a resounding success.”
Event sponsors included Spectrum Reach, Southwestern Medical Foundation, SignalPath, Cigna, and IBM.
He added that the two-day program included speakers with insights into healthcare problems, solutions, and trends around empowered patients. The event ended up with 18 teams and ten cash prizes—$1,400 each for the two winners and $400 each for eight finalists.
The winning teams and its members were Life Chain (with locals Alexander Sauza, Amy Loraiux, Ken Tabor, and Veena Somareddy) and Hemospike (with locals Asad Raza, Sureka Gattu, and Brad Bradshaw). Click through for a complete list of winners and the eight finalist teams, and to check out photos from the event.
“It was one of most intellectually stimulating hackathons I’ve participated in,” says Asad Raza, senior manager, business strategy, Data & Digital Solutions, of team Hemospike. “I saw great minds of diverse education, careers and social backgrounds come together to solve pressing US healthcare problems. The event provided a forum for individuals and teams to identify and validate a problem, develop a solution and assess business viability towards execution.”
Raza added: “I heard solutions that impacted patient access, provider effectiveness, and system-wide transparency with the primary focus of improving health outcomes and lowering cost. At the end of the event, I observed teams commit to progressing the solutions by either for-profit or not-for-profit startup means. The event has laid a strong foundation for both existing and future healthcare entrepreneurs to execute on ideas that I believe can truly alleviate existing healthcare burdens.”
Along with the cash prizes from the event, IBM awarded two teams—BD Watchdog and Aeromedic—each up to $120,000 in IBM credits.
Overall, the entire affair was probably best summed up by Lindsey Settles, operations coordinator at Health Wildcatters: “It was amazing to see so many people collaborating and working in our space to create solutions that not only directly impacted them but all healthcare consumers.”
Networking and connectivity is key to making the healthcare future, and everything else, too. But really, who wants to be in a future where quality of life isn’t a priority?
My take? It’s great that North Texas is on the forefront of the backend tech driving everything that was dreamed up at the Texas Healthcare Challenge.
StackPath makes headlines (again)
StackPath, a Dallas-based edge computing company, has recently announced its StackPath Edge Computing Containers and Virtual Machines, a service that helps cut the internet down to size by allowing customers to deploy their own workloads on any of the company’s 45 edge locations globally.
With edge computing, secure applications can move and process data back and forth without security requests or urgent data “hopping around the world,” says Founder Lance Crosby.
That allows organizations to analyze critical data in near real-time, an important factor for workloads requiring near-immediate response time such as security technology, media delivery, IoT, ad tech, and finance applications, StackPath said.
This week, the company announced its participation in the formation of the Kinetic Edge Alliance (KEA), along with Vapor.IO, creators of the Kinetic Edge, Federated Wireless, Linode, MobiledgeX, and Packet, as well as technical partners Alef Mobitech, Detecon International, Hitachi Vantara, New Continuum Data Centers, Pluribus Networks, and Seagate Technology.
The industry alliance is comprised of software, hardware, networking, and integration companies in the edge computing space. The KEA is “committed to driving the broad adoption of computer, storage, access, and interconnection at the edge of the cellular network, simplifying edge computing for the masses.”
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The mission behind the KEA is “basically why StackPath exists in the first place,” Susan McDonald, VP of corporate communications at StackPath, wrote in a company blog post. The alliance is working toward rolling out equipment and services across the top 50 major metro areas of the U.S., covering almost 50 percent of the U.S. population.
“Working together we’ll promote standards that will make it easier to build edge applications and deploy them to multiple markets,” she writes. “We’ll kick things off in six markets this year: Chicago, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, our home town of Dallas, Los Angeles, and Seattle. What this means for Texans, for example, is those in Houston, Austin, and El Paso will no longer all go through to Dallas to get to the internet. Again, making things faster and more secure.”
Dallas Innovates recently caught up with co-founder and CEO Lance Crosby and Chief Product Officer Ben Gabler for a Q+A covering everything from a dive into containers and virtual machines to how the 5G rollout is going to impact the connected world (hint: it’s going to be big).
IBM scales up its cloud systems
StackPath grew out of the brain trust of SoftLayer after the cloud computing innovator was acquired by IBM in 2013 for around $2 billion. IBM has a 60-year history of providing hosting and outsourcing services and the SoftLayer acquisition added 25,000 customers and more than 100,000 servers in 13 data centers, with Dallas as the home base. A recent report on The Next Platform highlighted that the tech giant is now scaling up cloud systems that are a blend of its Power8 and Power9 processors running its AIX version of Unix and its IBM I proprietary operating system.
Crypto bank Zabo has Dallas ties
Zabo, a newly launched cryptocurrency bank supporting Bitcoin and Ether, was co-founded by CEO Christopher Brown and president Alex Treece, both based in North Texas, and CTO William Dias in Toronto. The three have backgrounds in blockchain development, speaking, and consulting.
“We are going to be launching our website/brand next week,” Treece told FinTech Futures. “Importantly, we will be working with a U.S. licensed banking partner that will issue and underwrite the bank accounts within Zabo. From the user’s perspective, it will be a seamless integration and they simply see their Zabo checking account, Zabo Bitcoin account etc. It’s important from a compliance perspective to make this distinction and disclosure, because we don’t have a bank charter ourselves. We are not publicly disclosing our bank partner at this time, but suspect we will in late Q1 or Q2 of this year.”
Dallas’ Physmodo took part in Sports Tank Demo Day
Physmodo and its product that uses an infrared camera to analyze physical mobility, muscle activation, posture, and movement symmetry was showcased at the fifth annual Sports Tank Demo Day in Charlotte, N.C. held February 15. The announcement was made by Sports Tank Innovation Studio and the program was organized by TPG Sports Group and presented by FanAI, a sports monetization platform.
UTD teams up with Canada’s The Blockchain Research Institute
The Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Texas Dallas is collaborating with The Blockchain Research Institute on identifying the business, government, and societal implications of blockchain. The partnership is a first between an American university and the Canadian think tank.
“BRI has curated a wealth of resources, such as blockchain cases, data and networking opportunities,” Dr. Zhiqiang Zheng, professor of information systems in the Naveen Jindal School of Management, told BlockTribune. “This partnership is instrumental in facilitating the cutting-edge research and education that UT Dallas faculty and students are undertaking related to this innovation.”
Infomart owners gearing up for $138 million data center expansion
Equinix, the California-based owner of Dallas’ Infomart building, announced its plans to spend $138 million to expand the building’s data center operations in 2019 and 2020. Plans for the expansion include adding a four-story, 235,231-square-foot addition at Stemmons and Oak Lawn Avenue.
Equinix is also expanding its data centers in Chicago, Hong Kong, Melbourne, New York, Paris, Sao Paulo, Singapore, Tokyo, and Zurich. Plans for the Dallas Infomart building are the largest among Equinix’s U.S. properties.
Topgolf is moving into esports with its latest partnership—and these games aren’t just for the pros
Dallas’ Topgolf announced this week it’s partnering with San Diego-based Super League Gaming in an effort to enter the world of esports and provide a platform for gamers of all skill levels to compete just like the professionals.
Currently, the partnership plans to kick off its esports program with individual matches held in Topgolf locations, then progress to competitive tournaments. The company is still deliberating on its offering of video games but will probably offer ones with a broad appeal, rather than first-person shooter style games.
Making moves, part one
Blue Cross Blue Shield to pilot food delivery service in Dallas
The Blue Cross Blue Shield Institute along with Health Care Service Corp. launched the foodQ delivery service to improve health outcomes in areas described as “food deserts.” FoodQ will be available to anyone for a $10 per month subscription for free delivery of a lunch or dinner option and a buy-on-get-one option for each meal. The pilot already started in Chicago at 25 ZIP codes and will expand to 15 Dallas ZIP codes in April.
Zillow to launch Zillow Offers in Dallas by this fall
Seattle-based Zillow recently announced Houston as the first Texas market for Zillow Offers, and it also revealed plans to enter seven more markets around the U.S., including Dallas, by the fall of 2019.
MedVet opens hospital near downtown
A 28,000-square-feet MedVet Medical and Cancer Centers for Pets referral hospital located north of downtown Dallas is the company’s 22nd location. It opened February 11 in a renovated 50-year-old building on a 3-acre piece of land and includes 10 exam rooms, four surgical suites, and a lab and is staffed by board-certified specialists in internal medicine, cardiology, neurology, oncology and surgery.
“While veterinary specialists are available throughout the Dallas area, there was not a single location where specialists worked collaboratively under one roof and as part of one team,” Curt Boisfontaine, founder of real estate developer Meridian Veterinary Capital, told Today’s Veterinary Business. “We could not be more pleased with our unique partnership with MedVet. We hope to expand our relationship with them in other markets as they continue to grow.”
Making moves, part two
Virgin trains coming to Dallas?
Last year, Virgin began operating its Virgin Trains USA train service between Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach, and is expecting to extend that to Orlando and Tampa. Per an Irish Times report, the company is also considering adding three more lines to the service: a Dallas to Houston route, Los Angeles to Las Vegas, and Boston to Washington.
Love Field launches service for blind and low vision passengers
Dallas Love Field joined the Aira Airport Network with the launch of Aira Access. The service is a mobile app that provides blind and low vision passengers access to the eyes of a trained professional when navigating the airport, checking in, and making use of concessions. Although 30 airports nationwide offer Aira Access, Love is the first airport in North Texas to roll it out. AT&T Stadium is another North Texas venue with the service.
“Love Field is always looking for innovative ways to improve the customer experience,” Department of Aviation Director Mark Duebner told Aviation Pros. “Offering an accessible and welcoming facility for all travelers is paramount to accomplishing that goal. We are thrilled to join the Aira Airport Network.”
Texas Central bullet train still on track
California nixed a bullet train plan between Los Angeles and San Francisco this week, citing high costs and slow development. Per an NBC5 report, Texas Central said California’s move will have no impact on the planned 90-minute bullet train project between Dallas and Houston. The article referenced key differences in the two projects, such as the Texas train funded by private equity rather than by the state government and much lower cost—expected at $12 billion compared to the $98 billion estimated for the California plan—because the Texas train is shorter mile-wise and less complex.
Masergy wins BIG Innovation Award
Plano-based Masergy, a provider of secure hybrid networking, cloud communications, and managed security solutions, was named a 2019 BIG Innovation Awards winner for its Secure Hybrid Networking with SD-WAN.
“Masergy empowers businesses to achieve their digital ambitions,” James Parker, CEO at Masergy, told OA Online. “Our Secure Hybrid Networking with SD-WAN lays the foundation for digital transformation with an agile, flexible network to meet high-growth demands, underpinned with real-time analytics and intelligent security that streamlines threat detection and mitigation.”
The BIG Awards are presented by the Business Intelligence Group and judged by select business leaders and execs.
North Texans honored by Becker’s Hospital Review
A number of local health executives made Becker’s Hospital Review 2019 list of the “100 hospital and health system CIOs to know.” The honored individuals include: Pamela Arora, Senior Vice President of Information Services and CIO of Children’s Health; Julie Berry, CIO of Steward Health Care System; Matthew Chambers, CIO of Baylor Scott & White Health; Pamela McNutt, Senior Vice President and CIO of Methodist Health System; Joey Sudomir, Senior Vice President of Innovative Technology Solutions and CIO of Texas Health Resources; George Conklin, Senior Vice President and CIO of Christus Health; and Michael Mistretta, Vice President and CIO of Virginia Hospital Center (Arlington).
McKinney gets “Film Friendly Texas” designation
The Texas Film Commission bestowed its Film Friendly Texas designation on McKinney based on at least 21 movies, commercials, and TV shows filmed in the North Texas city. These include “Hoovey,” “Catfish,” “Real Housewives of Dallas,” “Prison Break,” “Walker, Texas Ranger,” “Benji,” and “Undercover Boss.”
“We have had several movies, short films, independent films, and believe it or not, even some reality shows that have been filmed here in McKinney,” Visit McKinney Executive Director DeeDee Guerra told Community Impact Newspaper.
What we’re reading
North Texas Shaping Airports Of The Future
DFW is flying into the future, and fast. To make the experience of taking a flight less stressful, the team at downtown Dallas-headquartered Corgan is creating high-tech projects for Dallas Love Field and Terminal D at DFW International Airport. An example of one of the projects is flying taxis, which Uber plans to start testing in North Texas soon.
According to Forbes, in order to more fully share career readiness information, Dallas County high schools are going to deploy an extended transcript program.
FOOD + BEV
Packaged Facts, a market research firm, released its four predictions of ‘disruptive innovation’ in the food industry that have the potential to spur growth in the near future. Cited under the New players challenging old guard, shaking up status quo prediction was Coolhaus, which you might recognize if you’ve ever ventured into the Dallas Farmers Market.
TELL US: What’s grabbing your attention right now? What should we be reading? Send your tips, links, and thoughts here.
BCBS Pilot Targets Chicago, Dallas ‘Food Deserts’ for Affordable Meals
Thanks to a partnership between the Blue Cross Blue Shield Institute and Health Care Service Corp., Dallas and Chicago residents living in “food deserts” will soon have easier access to nutritious and affordable food. Delivering in DFW in April, FoodQ will bring ready-to-heat lunch and dinner meal options to anyone in the designated zip codes.
Perusing the aisles without the help of drones or voice-activated assistants is so last year. Retail of the future is being lead by startups behind such technology, Pensa Systems and Birdzi, which are both portfolio companies of Dallas-based venture firm RevTech. These innovations should enhance the in-store experience in order to keep up with the speed and convenience of online shopping.
Tiny-home village breaks ground in town north of Dallas
Lake Dallas residents are quickly embracing a modern housing trend thanks to Developer Terry Lantrip, the mind behind a 13-lot tiny home community that filled up almost as soon as developers broke ground, CultureMap reported. The community is made up of homes between 200 and 350 square feet situated on lots that measures 900 square feet. Residents are expected to be settled in at the tiny home village by April or May.
Dallas entrepreneur, educator and philanthropist Bobby Lyle to receive 90th Linz Award
Bobby Lyle, a Dallas businessman, investor, educator, and philanthropist, was chosen to receive the 2019 Linz Award for his work in civic and humanitarian efforts in North Texas. The award is presented by The Dallas Morning News, Communities Foundation of Texas, and The Dallas Foundation. Lyle will receive the award on April 17, but he said his humanitarian work is far from over.
A number artists with ties to North Texas were honored with Grammy awards on and before Sunday’s televised award ceremony. Among those nominated for Grammys were Leon Bridges of Fort Worth, Post Malone of Grapevine, Kirk Franklin of Fort Worth and Arlington, and Kacey Musgraves of Mineola. Click to see the full list of nominated and award-winning North Texas musicians.
Dallas Innovates most-read stories this week
Things to Do
Events to inspire, connect, educate, and inform innovators
From nonprofit programs (MassChallenge Texas at Capital Factory) to training and networking (Business Growth Summit), browse our curated selection of events to plan your next week—and beyond.
Quincy Preston, Alex Edwards, and Payton Potter contributed to this report.
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