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Health Startups Have New Home for Growth, Opportunity at UT Austin

Sept. 26, 2019

AUSTIN, Texas — Health product innovators and entrepreneurs in the Texas capital are getting a leg up thanks to a new partnership at The University of Texas at Austin between the Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs (JBTVL) at the McCombs School of Business and the Texas Health CoLab at Dell Medical School. The unique collaboration is intended to accelerate the pace of health product innovation in Austin.

Health-focused entrepreneurs, inventors, clinicians and researchers are already working with the medical school’s hub for innovation, known as the Texas Health CoLab, to create products and services that improve patient health outcomes and lower the cost of health care. Their startups can now get an additional boost by also applying to be part of the business school’s JBTVL, an accelerator that matches early stage startups with cross-functional student teams from across UT Austin graduate schools to help solve critical business problems.

“Health care is perhaps the most pressing need for business transformation in our country,” said McCombs’ Dean Jay Hartzell. “Leveraging the joint power of the Health CoLab and JBTVL helps to support local startups and further advance Austin as a center for health care innovation.”

Dell Med Dean Clay Johnston, M.D., Ph.D., agreed, saying, “This interdisciplinary effort combines innovation, collaboration and community benefit, and is absolutely aligned with Dell Med’s interest in making Austin a model healthy city.”

Veteran Austin Entrepreneur Mellie Price to Lead Partnership

Leaders from both schools also announced that veteran local entrepreneur Mellie Price has been tapped to be the new executive director of the JBTVL and to lead this unique cross-school partnership. Price will also continue her current work as executive director of commercialization and managing director of the Texas Health CoLab at Dell Med. John Sibley Butler, JBTVL’s past director, will now serve as its faculty director.

Dell Med created the Texas Health CoLab to enable a robust health innovation ecosystem in Central Texas, advance its mission to revolutionize how people get and stay healthy, and to support new business ventures focused on improving health.

“This partnership reinforces the commitment of both schools to foster an environment supporting creative business solutions within the health care industry — something I have been passionate about throughout my career,” said Price, an experienced investor, technologist and co-founder of Austin’s startup ecosystems Capital Factory and SoftMatch.

The JBTVL pairs graduate students with local startups from all industries, offering assistance in writing business plans, forecasting financials, performing competitive research, developing pricing and marketing strategies and more. Graduate students from the MBA, law, engineering, pharmacy and natural sciences programs participate in semester-long consulting projects and work alongside the company founders to earn academic credit in exchange for high-quality consulting work and real-world experience.

“Under Mellie’s leadership, the JBTVL is taking business ventures to the next level, serving as a unique forum for investors to engage with researchers and startups from within the UT Austin community,” said Luis Martins, Ph.D., professor and chair in the Department of Management and director of the Herb Kelleher Center for Entrepreneurship at McCombs.

At the end of each semester, the JBTVL hosts an expo to showcase its latest startup innovations. The next expo will take place on Nov. 21, 2019. Apply for the 2020 Spring Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs Accelerator Cohort.


Contact: Shahreen Abedin, Shahreen.abedin@austin.utexas.edu, o: 512-495-5062, c: 347-419-2657

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