In its new downtown Dallas office, Health Wildcatters has all the staples of a startup hub: whiteboard walls, cozy nooks, plentiful outlets for laptops and a ping-pong table.
But the accelerator, which helps fund and mentor young health care companies, has gained a missing ingredient: room to grow. The accelerator's CEO and co-founder Dr. Hubert Zajicek (pronounced zy-check) said he hopes the larger office that includes an auditorium, conference room and offices available for rent, will help Health Wildcatters become Dallas' hub of healthcare innovation.
Health Wildcatters was founded in 2013 as a place to nurture early-stage healthcare startups that range from medical software companies to pharmaceutical companies. Each year, about 10 startups participate in its 12-week program. Each receives a $30,000 of investment in exchange for 8 percent equity, and they can qualify for up to $100,000 in follow-on investment.
Health Wildcatters initially shared the same roof and staff as Tech Wildcatters, a Dallas startup accelerator with a broader focus. The two accelerators are independent from one another.
Investors and entrepreneurs Carl Soderstrom and Dr. Clay Heighten helped co-found the healthcare accelerator. Soderstrom and Heighten built Dallas-based MedicalEdge Healthcare Group into a large health care provider with hundreds of physicians. It was acquired in 2011 by Texas Health Resources.
So far, 32 companies have gone through the accelerator program. The startups have raised more than $16 million, Zajicek said. Only three are no longer in business.
In late August, Health Wildcatters moved out of its office in Alto 211, where Tech Wildcatters is located, and into the top floor of a 20-story building at 1910 Pacific Avenue.
The new office is double the size of its old space or about 17,000 square feet. It has a dedicated area for startups in the accelerator's 12-week program. It also has co-working space and private offices that program graduates, investors or other healthcare-related companies can rent. It has conference rooms, casual bleacher seating and an auditorium with a capacity of up to 150 people. The auditorium, which will be used for events, has a fitting backdrop -- a wall with paint that resembles the jagged line of a heart rate monitor.
Soderstrom said Health Wildcatters now has room if it would like to add another 12-week program in the spring. It may also host new kinds of programs, such as an accelerator program specifically for healthcare startups with a focus on autism or special needs.
Zajicek said the time is right for healthcare innovation, especially because of the aging Baby Boomer population and demand for treatment that's tailored to an individual's genetic makeup. Health care has also lagged in technological advancement, he said. On a smartphone, it's possible to order a cab, deposit a check or buy a plane ticket -- but individuals can't look up their lab results or pull up medical records.
This week, the accelerator's fourth group of startups began the 12-week program. They include entrepreneurs who will take on some of those challenges.
AT A GLANCE: Health Wildcatters' startups
Ten startups are in this year's 12-week program at Health Wildcatters. About half of them are from Dallas. Three of them are led by women. There's also a significant number of entrepreneurs who are immigrants.
Here's a look at the companies:
Amity Cloud, Philadelphia: An app that trains healthcare professionals and brings healthcare services to individuals everywhere, no matter their location.
ClinicalSolutions, Dallas: A marketplace that connects potential clinical trial participants and medical researchers with just one-click.
Endogenesis, Rochester, N.Y.: A medical device that's used for real-time cancer imaging and diagnosis.
Friendly, Sam Ramon, Calif.: An electronic medical records-integrated platform that allows patients to report common health concerns and receive treatment in a timely manner and allows doctors to save time.
HealPal, Austin: An online community that connects cancer patients to each other and specialists.
HealthNextGen, Dallas: Software that uses artificial intelligence to personalize medical care.
KnKT'd, Salem, Ore.: A platform to track patients' behavioral health that can be easily shared with medical professionals.
MediBookr, Dallas: A Priceline-like online marketplace for medical imaging centers, where patients can compare price and quality to book procedures, such as MRI, CT, Pet, Ultrasound, etc.
Optologix, Dallas: Maker of non-invasive, light-activated genetic tools for use in biomedical research
Sentinel Diagnostic Imaging, Dallas: Developer of Oqulus, an imaging platform that uses retinal scans to identify a wide range of biomarkers associated with diabetes, hypertension, muscular dystrophy and stroke risk.
GO & DO: Health Wildcatters' opening party
The startup accelerator is throwing a party to show off its new office. The event is open to the public. It will be held on Sept. 15 from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. The office is located on the 20th floor of 1910 Pacific Avenue in Dallas. For more information and to RSVP, click here.
This content appears as it was originally published on the Dallas Morning News.