President Now and Next

Team,

UNT Health Science Center invests in innovation.

We invested in our new Interdisciplinary Research and Education Building, ready to open in October – ahead of schedule and under budget. We invest in seeding and funding innovative research projects. And we invest in our students, educating and training them to become providers of the future.

We also invest in entrepreneurship, an increasingly necessary skillset for physicians in a changing health care environment and scientists in a changing funding environment.

In just a short time, we’ve made progress under the leadership of two of our team members: Robert McClain, PhD, Associate Vice President for Research and Innovation, and Cameron Cushman, Director of Innovation Ecosystems.

Rob and Cameron have been leading conversations with key members of the community representing the Tarrant County College System, Neeley School of Business at TCU, City of Fort Worth, Texas Wesleyan and some of our local startups, coworking spaces and business incubators.

Entrepreneurship is important to our city. It creates new wealth. It brings new products and services to market that make our lives better. And it brings new jobs – almost all new job creation occurs in firms that are less than five years old.

We need more of that in Fort Worth. Nineteen percent of our residents don’t have a high school diploma, a figure that corresponds almost perfectly to our poverty rate. And just 13 of the 5,000 fastest-growing companies nationwide are located in Fort Worth, according to an annual survey from Inc. Magazine. That represents just 7 percent of the number of fast-growing companies in the DFW area. Fort Worth can do better.

As a former hospital CEO, I know there is tremendous value in physicians thinking like entrepreneurs. That value is clear on the research side as well. With federal funding becoming increasingly difficult to obtain, our researchers have an opportunity to pivot to conducting translational research with a more entrepreneurial mindset. I am confident they will find both support and money for their efforts.

We already are moving in that direction. For example:

  • UNTHSC and Cerenis Therapeutics have begun a collaborative partnership to develop new pharmaceutical technologies based on the nanoparticle research of Andras Lacko, PhD.
  • We’ve launched new startups to fight ophthalmic diseases and cancer.
  • We established a Research Development Office that focuses on seeding research projects with higher potential to generate commercialized technology and partnerships with local companies.
  • We’re immersed in two research projects to determine the impact of job creation by entrepreneurship in Fort Worth and to assess the network of Fort Worth investors who support startup efforts. Both projects are the first of their kind for Fort Worth.

In 2017, UNTHSC’s economic impact on the Dallas-Fort Worth community measured at nearly $700 million. With that kind of fiscal footprint, we don’t have to “own” entrepreneurship in Fort Worth. But we will take a leadership role.

I once again want to thank you for the work you do on behalf of the Health Science Center.

My best always,

president signature
Dr. Michael R. Williams
UNTHSC President
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