New accelerator program focused on physical therapy, rehabilitation will invest in 10 early-stage startups a year

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The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth (HSC) has received $4.8 million in funding from The City of Fort Worth and Tarrant County to start a physical therapy-focused accelerator program with Techstars, a global investment business that provides access to capital, one-on-one mentorship, and customized programming for early-stage entrepreneurs.

The Techstars Physical Health Fort Worth Accelerator, a first-of-its-kind partnership between the City of Fort Worth, Tarrant County, HSC and Goff Capital, represents a collaboration to fill gaps identified by many in Tarrant County – access to physical therapy and the lack of a true early-stage accelerator program for innovative startup companies. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated disparities in access to physical therapy, and this partnership will take the first steps to alleviate that in the community.

The City of Fort Worth and Tarrant County are both allocating $2.4 million for the project. Equity investments into the startup companies will be made by HSC and Goff Capital to total nearly $10 million for the project over three years.

“As the 12th largest city in the nation in one of the fasted growing regions, it is critical that we support entrepreneurship and innovation in Fort Worth,” Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker said. “We knew that early-stage funding for local startup companies has been lacking in our city, and this effort will not only bring more startup funding to our area, but also will serve as a recruiting mechanism to bring the best and brightest minds in physical medicine and rehabilitation to Fort Worth for the accelerator.”

The city’s investment in technology and entrepreneurship was part of $19.7 million recently allocated by the Fort Worth City Council to support innovative community programs and small businesses.

As a part of the Techstars Physical Health Fort Worth Accelerator, 10 early-stage startup companies building innovative solutions in human movement will move to Fort Worth for the three-month program. The companies will be matched with mentors and undergo a rigorous program that will prepare them for a Demo Day, where startups will present their newly curated pitches to venture capitalists, angel investors, foundations and family offices.

Dr. Michael R. Williams, HSC President and Chancellor of the UNT System, said that HSC offers the right fit for this endeavor, as the university is a leader in innovation and research and home to the School of Health Professions and the Department of Physical Therapy. The campus’ Interdisciplinary Research and Education Building, IREB, is designed to encourage collaboration and facilitate innovation. The HSC Next team is focused on two main aims: collaborating to build a stronger innovation ecosystem in Fort Worth and filling a pipeline of innovations. The Techstars program will be a big step toward both of these goals.

“One of our top priorities at HSC is to invest in innovation and entrepreneurship, and partnering with Techstars, the City of Fort Worth, Tarrant County and Goff Capital brings incredible opportunity to our startup communities and accelerators,” Williams said. “This public-private collaboration will change our medical community and spark much-needed innovation through the ability to focus on human movement and rehabilitation as an industry vertical.”

The Techstars Physical Health Fort Worth Accelerator is seen as key to developing an innovative mindset among HSC students, faculty and staff, many of whom will serve as mentors or short-term advisors to each class of entrepreneurs. Innovation is a key element of scientific discovery, and HSC is fostering the thinking, planning and execution needed for innovation.

“When I was asked to lead the Fort Worth Now Initiative by former Mayor Betsy Price at the height of the pandemic, I knew that we needed a different approach to bring our economy back,” said John Goff, Founder and CEO of Goff Capital. “I believe this joint partnership with Techstars will bring innovation to our community, jumpstart the creation of additional accelerator programs and inspire our entrepreneurial community for years to come.”

Techstars offers a range of programming in support of entrepreneurs in more than 120 countries and is best known for their 13-week accelerator programs that provide deep network access and expertise to founders in 36 cities in 17 countries across the globe. Techstars has invested in more than 2,900 startup companies with a combined market cap of more than $189B. Through its accelerator programs, Techstars funds more than 500 early-stage startups each year.

“As Tarrant County looks at how to strategically allocate federal ARPA funds, we are investing in projects that will mitigate COVID-19 impacts in our community while paying dividends long into the future,” Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley said. “The Techstars investment provides an opportunity to attract new businesses here, especially those that focus on the continued health of our community.”

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