North Texas has emerged as an innovation region with a tremendous amount of potential.
25 Fortune 500 companies have headquarters in North Texas. The region has the 3rd largest population of STEM graduates in the country and, based on 2022 Census Bureau data, is the fastest-growing metropolitan area in the U.S. The presence of major corporations, venture capital firms, and cutting-edge research institutions create an ideal ecosystem for innovation.
Central to growing this ecosystem is Lyda Hill Philanthropies, an organization with a profound commitment to driving positive change in the region’s innovation sector. Founded by philanthropist and entrepreneur Lyda Hill, the organization operates on the belief that great ideas, when nurtured and provided with the right resources, can change the world for the better. At the core of Lyda Hill’s mission is its focus on promoting science, nature, and society, with an emphasis on bolstering advancements in healthcare, environmental sustainability, and social impact. By encouraging collaboration among industry leaders, entrepreneurs, researchers, and policymakers, Lyda Hill Philanthropies aims to accelerate the pace of innovation and create lasting solutions to some of society’s most pressing challenges.
It is with this shared mission that MassChallenge and Lyda Hill Philanthropies became natural collaborators. In January 2022, MassChallenge announced its expansion into the North Texas market. The expansion added to MassChallenge’s already established presence in Texas continuing the non-profit’s efforts to to expand Texas’ thriving innovation ecosystem.
The two organizations aligned in the exponential potential they saw for the North Texas region. For Lyda Hill Philanthropies, MassChallenge offered another branch of expertise in sourcing and supporting health and biotech startups. For MassChallenge, Lyda Hill Philanthropies offered the ability to connect MassChallenge to more innovation leaders in Texas and beyond. The collaboration is located at the future-focused Pegasus Park development, an innovation and social impact hub in Dallas designed to boost local biotech, nonprofit, and corporate innovation.
The Rise of Pegasus Park
The expansive Pegasus Park campus, spanning 26 acres, currently boasts over 750,000 square feet of office and warehouse space, comprising multiple buildings, including a remarkable 18-story office tower. Its origins trace back to 1970 when it was originally constructed for Zale Corp, later acquired by former Mobil Oil Corp in 1981. In 2015, J. Small Investments took ownership of the campus from Exxon Mobil and, in partnership with Lyda Hill Philanthropies, redeveloped the campus into a bustling center for business, social impact, and biomedical innovation.
The campus features 175,000 square feet of the main tower dedicated to the “Water Cooler”, a community of 35 nonprofit and social impact tenants. Tenants receive subsidized rent offering(s), access to philanthropic funds for furniture and infrastructure, and free or low-cost amenities and services designed to accelerate their respective missions.Pegasus Park’s evolution from a once-dormant oil industry campus into a vibrant epicenter for collaboration and innovation represents a symbolic transformation—embracing the city’s rich history while paving the way for an even brighter future.
Lyda Hill Philanthropies and MassChallenge Accelerating Collaborative Innovation
“Finding bold, long-term solutions from the science innovators that MassChallenge will attract and support in North Texas is more critical than ever,” said Lyda Hill, founder of Lyda Hill Philanthropies, in the initial partnership announcement. “Their presence is a signal of our region’s rich history of supporting entrepreneurs and will augment North Texas’ reputation for scientific and medical innovation.”
In 2022, the two organizations’ first external collaboration was an in-person pitch competition that showcased top entrepreneurs and their startups from the North Texas area. Startups who participated represented healthcare and life sciences industries and are innovating biotechnology, wearables, patented therapies for infants, ADHD solutions, and even health-focused sports drinks.
“The collaborative effort that has gone into this expansion and bringing MassChallenge into the North Texas market is an encouraging step for our innovation community,” said Trey Bowles in 2022 as the Co-Chair of The Dallas Mayor’s Task Force on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (he is now Managing Director of TechStars Physical Health Accelerator in Ft. Worth, TX). “MassChallenge has a global network and resources coupled with the dynamic ecosystem in the North Texas community to help startups scale and grow their businesses.”
MC |INNOVATE 2023
The inaugural MC | INNOVATE event occurred July 11-13th, 2023 in Pegasus Park.
Over the course of three days, innovators from across the globe benefited from various tracks that focused on the most critical breakthroughs in startup innovation, entrepreneurial community, and corporate partnership networking. Like all MassChallenge events, MC | INNOVATE looked to catalyze unexpected discoveries by convening cutting-edge innovators focused on solving critical challenges related to Health, Finance, Sustainable Food, Climate, and Dual-Use.
The event featured a Handshake Pitch Competition where attendees had the opportunity to pitch their startups to an invitation-only crowd of business executives, entrepreneurs, scientists, investors, and more.
Additionally, there were keynotes talks from Ash Maurya, Founder of LEANSTACK; Fahad Khawaja, Founder, and CEO, of Hue; Kirk Barnes, author, entrepreneur, speaker, Co-Founder, and CEO of TransPharMed; and Joshua Boger, Founder of Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc.; who shared their insights and expertise on innovation and entrepreneurship.
Learn more: Read a full event recap by Dallas Innovate here.
MC | INNOVATE marked the beginning of Pegasus Park’s designation as home for the new Health Tech Track within the MassChallenge U.S. Early Stage Program. The goal of the track is to serve as a catalyst for health tech innovation in North Texas and beyond, attracting top talent, fostering collaboration, and driving cutting-edge solutions to some of the world’s most pressing healthcare challenges.
“Lyda Hill Philanthropies is pleased to participate in the MC | Innovate experience as entrepreneurial leaders from various locations and industries convene to help solve some of our world’s most critical challenges,” said Tom Luce, CEO of Biotech Initiatives for Lyda Hill Philanthropies. “MassChallenge’s expansion to North Texas has helped fuel the region’s burgeoning innovation economy, and we look forward to having attendees connect in Dallas to drive innovation and entrepreneurship in the region.”
“This partnership not only strengthens ongoing efforts by investors, entrepreneurs, and academic partners to grow the health tech ecosystem in North Texas but also aligns with the values and vision of other esteemed partners committed to advancing the health tech sector more broadly,” said Jon Nordby, Head of Community and Ecosystems. “By joining forces, Lyda Hill Philanthropies and MassChallenge are building a robust ecosystem that nurtures innovation and accelerates the development of transformative health tech solutions in the heart of North Texas at Pegasus Park.”
A New Chapter for North Texas
The expansion of Pegasus Park is still very much ongoing.
“When we launched the BioLabs building a year ago at Pegasus Park, we were told we’d likely be 15% full at this point, a year later, and we’re actually more than 80% full,” said Matt Crommett, Managing Director for LH Capital, Inc. and Lyda Hill Philanthropies, at MC | INNOVATE. “We’re seeing biotech startups move from the coasts, and from other countries, in addition to the pent-up demand here in North Texas.”
New facilities are close to launching, like Bridge Labs opening in 2024. The 135,000 square foot “graduation” lab facility will house high growth and established companies.
And the collaborative spirit of both MassChallenge and Lyda Hill Philanthropies extends far beyond the confines of Pegasus Park. As North Texas continues to grow and attract new corporate headquarters and startups alike, a bolder vision of a more connected “Texas Triangle” from North Texas to Houston to Austin and San Antonio is in reach. The state offers a vibrant and diverse population, cutting-edge research universities, strengths across numerous industries, and one the most advanced medical campuses in the country.
The innovation future is bright in North Texas.
About Lyda Hill Philanthropies
Lyda Hill Philanthropies encompasses the charitable giving for founder Lyda Hill and includes her foundation and personal philanthropy. The organization is committed to funding transformational advances in science and nature, empowering nonprofit organizations and improving the Texas and Colorado communities. Because Miss Hill has a fervent belief that “science is the answer” to many of life’s most challenging issues, she has chosen to donate the entirety of her estate to philanthropy and scientific research.