Fort Worth must recapture its entrepreneurial spirit

November 20, 2019

By Alex Branch

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Fort Worth must transform itself into a city with an entrepreneurial mindset — how it thinks and operates — to create jobs, increase wealth and solve complex problems in what is now the nation’s 13th-largest city, UNTHSC President Dr. Michael Williams told an audience of Fort Worth entrepreneurs Tuesday.

“Entrepreneurship is not new to Fort Worth,” Dr. Williams said. “Fracking was invented here and we have a long history of wildcatters. The Stockyards started as an entrepreneurial venture many years ago.

“Our city has known entrepreneurship for a long time. I think we just got distracted and now it’s time to come back to it with renewed focus.”

Dr. Williams delivered an address on the State of Entrepreneurship in Fort Worth as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week, which is celebrated in more than 100 cities. Dr. Williams’ address was held at the Fort Worth Museum of History and Science and was one of 50 Global Entrepreneurship Week events in Fort Worth this week.

Dr. Williams, an anesthesiologist and former hospital CEO, has led an ambitious campaign to invest in entrepreneurship and to develop an innovative and entrepreneurial mindset for UNTHSC students, faculty and staff. This effort reaches well beyond campus and into Fort Worth’s startup community where ideas form.

“Entrepreneurship is not just starting a business, it’s a mindset that solves complex problems,” Dr. Williams said. The Health Science Center, where about 2,400 students train in six schools, is integrating elements of entrepreneurship into school curriculums, an emphasis unique among health science centers.

An entrepreneur-in-residence collaboration with Bios Partners, a local venture capital firm, gives UNTHSC students, staff and faculty access to expert guidance on technology commercialization and entrepreneurship.

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“When I was in medical school, there was no training on entrepreneurship or thinking outside the box,” Dr. Williams said. “We think health care is in desperate need for people who think differently and with an entrepreneurial mindset to solve its most complex problems.”

There is a consensus in the business community that Fort Worth has the resources to help startups succeed, but those tools are siloed and fragmented, Dr. Williams said. That led the Health Science Center to collaborate with the Texas Christian University Neeley School of Business and the City of Fort Worth to launch Sparkyard, a free online platform that connects entrepreneurs to the right resource at the right time.

UNTHSC also launched Innovate Fort Worth, a podcast featuring conversations with some of the city’s brightest innovators, entrepreneurs and investors.

“We want to see Fort Worth create an integrated, well-funded entrepreneurial ecosystem that becomes known as across the country,” Dr. Williams said. “I want you to know that it’s starting to happen and the energy is there for us to succeed.”

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