May 16, 2022

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Techstars launches physical health accelerator in Fort Worth

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Operating with the University of North Texas Health Science Center, the Techstars Physical Health Fort Worth accelerator will support and rehabilitation and physical therapy fund startups.

A global investment firm announced Tuesday that it will support and fund startups in Fort Worth that create innovative technology in the field of physical therapy.

Techstars said it will operate with funding provided by the city of Fort Worth and Tarrant County to help 10 companies working in physical therapy technology get access to mentors and capital that will help them grow their businesses.

Goff Capital and the University of North Texas Health Science Center are providing $5.2 million to support the program and invest directly in the chosen companies. Both will have a seat on the selection committee that decides which 10 startups are selected.

Companies do not have to be local, but must be willing to relocate to Fort Worth for the three-month program.

The hope is that those companies will choose to stay in Fort Worth after their time in the program, said Cameron Cushman, who heads up innovation ecosystems for the Health Science Center’s business incubator.

The Physical Health Fort Worth Accelerator will support what it called “early stage startups” looking to innovate in the physical therapy field.

Each of the selected companies will get $20,000 from Techstars for a 6% ownership stake.

Once selected, they’ll go through three-months of training in things like marketing, business development and strategies for bringing products to market.

The companies will also have access to Techstars’ global network of mentors. This will help them network and navigate common pitfalls of running a business.

The program will end in December when companies will pitch to a panel of investors from Techstars’ global network.

Techstars operates nearly 50 accelerator programs across 36 cities in 17 countries. Companies participating in those programs raised a combined $20 billion, according to Techstarts Physical Health Fort Worth managing director Trey Bowles, who spoke to the City Council on Tuesday.

These could be companies that have already gotten off the ground, but are looking for funding and mentorship to help expand their business, Bowles said.

The City Council voted in October to allocate $2.4 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act to support the program. It also agreed to partner with Tarrant County, which is also contributing in $2.4 million, and the University of North Texas Health Science Center.

That funding is expected to support the program for three years, after which the city, county, and Techstars will decide whether to keep it running.

The effort to bring this program to Fort Worth stared with a post on Twitter from Cushman in February 2020.

Responding to a tweet from Techstars’ development chief Saba Karim, Cushman wrote that UNT HSC has an established physical therapy school with research labs that could benefit from the global network’s attention.

Cushman’s tweet also referenced the demand for physical therapy services in the United States and argued for the need to innovate in that field.

“We could have done this locally, but what sets Techstars apart is their global network that will attract both start-up companies and investors to come to Fort Worth to be a part of this business,” Cushman said.

The deadline to apply is May 11.

This story was originally published February 22, 2022 4:52 PM.

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Harrison Mantas covers the city of Fort Worth’s government, agencies and people. He previously covered fact-checking and misinformation at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida, as well as local, state, and federal politics in Phoenix, Arizona and Washington, D.C. He likes to live tweet city hall meetings, and help his fellow Fort Worthians figure out what’s going on. Reach him by email at [email protected], Twitter @HarrisonMantas, or by phone at 817-390-7040.