Q2 Investors Breakfast: DFW Continues to Rack Up Biotech Wins

Growth at Pegasus Park, Incoming Life Sciences Startups Signal Biotech 'Convergence'

By Dave Moore, Staff Writer

A startup biotech company, formerly located in Boston, just announced its new headquarters in Frisco. The BioLabs facility at Dallas’ Pegasus Park is nearing capacity, and the construction of a manufacturing facility for Evolve Biologics, an advanced plasma-derived therapeutics company, continues in Sachse.

Those were a few of the highlights discussed at the Dallas Regional Chamber’s Q2 Tomorrow Fund Investor Breakfast, which was held in the Toyota Board Room on Thursday, June 23.

Keynoting the breakfast was a panel hosted by DRC Vice President of Innovation Jorge Varela. He discussed DFW biotech trends with Kathleen Gibson, President and CEO of the Southwestern Medical Foundation, and Matt Crommett, Director at Lyda Hill Philanthropies, which is a primary driving force behind Pegasus Park.

Their consensus: The convergence of scientists, investors, and those who work in intellectual property capitalization is working at Pegasus Park, and across the region.

“What’s interesting is about half the companies are coming from the coasts,” said Crommett, referring to companies occupying the BioLabs facility in Pegasus Park, the only non-coastal BioLabs location in the United States. “They’re coming from the coasts for all the same reasons that we’ve heard companies are relocating to North Texas.”

As proof, Crommett cited the announcement that Aakha Biologics was moving from BioLabs at Pegasus Park to 5680 Frisco Square in Frisco. Aahka started in Boston but moved to the BioLabs facility in Dallas.

In a statement to the media, Aakha Biologics founder and CEO Hemanta Baruah said: “Our time at BioLabs Pegasus Park proved to be an ideal situation for us. We had excellent opportunities to interact with colleagues and like-minded entrepreneurs.”

He added: “With the premier facility and synergies available within Pegasus Park, we moved from concept to a solid preclinical stage company in the course of one year.”

Crommett in May spoke on a panel with biotech innovator Hua Tu, who said he chose to relocate his companies to North Texas because of its central location, available and affordable real estate, proximity to a major airport, and access to talent from local universities.

Southwestern Medical Foundation’s Kathleen Gibson estimated there are thousands of individuals involved in health sciences and biotech in North Texas. When speaking about the emerging health care sectors, Gibson said cancer research and brain health research hold the most promise.

“The cancer research and prevention sector in Texas is significant, and so is the public health need for cancer care,” Gibson said. “It’s unleashing a tremendous talent attraction, especially given the amount of [state and federal funding] support.”

Gibson said now that science can study the brain at the cellular level, major breakthroughs in neuroscience are possible — from autism to Alzheimer’s disease.

She cited UT Southwestern — which is supported by the Southwestern Medical Foundation —swiftly established its Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute with $500 million in philanthropic investments and another $500 million in institutional investments.

Biotech Pioneer Evolve Biologics Nets Building Tomorrow Together Award

Both Evolve Biologics CEO Jim Caggiano and CCO David Holliday were given the DRC’s Q2 Building Tomorrow Together Award for their work in building their U.S. production facility in Sachse. The Evolve Biologics facility will use an advanced process for deriving protein from human blood plasma.

“I had never heard of Sachse,” Caggiano said. “But sure enough, Sachse came to the top of the list.”

He added the City of Sachse has been extremely easy to work when obtaining permits and answering questions.

Holmes Murphy is the presenting sponsor for the Investor Breakfast series. The breakfast sponsor is Independent Financial.