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Dallas Startup Week Focuses On Health Tech Innovation

Lauren Silverman
Hubert Zajicek CEO of Health Wildcatters at Dallas Startup Week 2016.

Several buildings in downtown Dallas have been turned into makeshift conference centers, classrooms and deal sites for entrepreneurs and investors. It’s part of Dallas Startup Week. We caught up with one of key players in the local startup scene to find out what’s new.

So what is Dallas startup week?

“Dallas startup week is a one week celebration of entrepreneurship,” says Hubert Zajicek, founder of Health Wildcatters. From healthcare to fashion to architecture, the six days of free events celebrate startups in North Texas.

A few years ago, Zajicek says, it was the norm to see entrepreneurs leave Dallas, often setting off for Austin, in search of investors to back their ideas. Now, he says, that’s not the case.

“People are moving to Dallas for startups and moving to Dallas because the economy is doing better here, you can raise money here.”

The first two classes of startups that went through the twelve-week intensive Health Wildcatters program have raised more than $10 million dollars. So, what are they creating? Everything from medical devices like a non-invasive blood glucose monitor for diabetes, to pharmaceuticals for prostate and ovarian cancer, even 3D makeup.

“It’s called Silicon Arts Labs,” Zajicek says. “Basically its silicon based concealer that helps you camouflage or cover a recessed scar.”

Ideas for new medical devices and software are already flooding in from entrepreneurs hoping to make the next class of Health Wildcatters. Last month, MIT’s Seed Accelerator Rankings Project ranked the program as the top healthcare-focused accelerator in the Southwest.

“It’s like Christmas, you get to see all the applications and see all the trends,” Zajicek says. “I’d love to see some stuff in virtual reality in health care.”

Credit Lauren Silverman / KERA News
Entrepreneurs Mike Walsh (left), Julia Cheek, Richard Burghardt and Lauren Clarke at Dallas Startup Week 2016.

That’s right, virtual reality could be a valuable tool, perhaps in psychiatry, where patients could work on overcoming fears in a safe environment. For example, people with arachnophobia could enter a virtual reality where they are in front of a case of tarantulas.

For folks with big business ideas, but afraid of failure, Dallas Startup Week is a safe place to get help before taking the plunge.

Events go through Saturday. Check out the calendar here.

Lauren Silverman was the Health, Science & Technology reporter/blogger at KERA News. She was also the primary backup host for KERA’s Think and the statewide newsmagazine  Texas Standard. In 2016, Lauren was recognized as Texas Health Journalist of the Year by the Texas Medical Association. She was part of the Peabody Award-winning team that covered Ebola for NPR in 2014. She also hosted "Surviving Ebola," a special that won Best Long Documentary honors from the Public Radio News Directors Inc. (PRNDI). And she's won a number of regional awards, including an honorable mention for Edward R. Murrow award (for her project “The Broken Hip”), as well as the Texas Veterans Commission’s Excellence in Media Awards in the radio category.