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Nurturing Innovation: How Institutions Create Startup Ecosystems

“Don’t start a company unless it’s an obsession and something you love. If you have an exit strategy, it’s not an obsession.”
– Mark Cuban, entrepreneur and investor

StartUp

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 97% of all business establishments in North Texas employ fewer than 100 people. Many of these small businesses are young tech startups that need additional support to launch their businesses. They often require working space, capital funding, and networking opportunities in order to fully capitalize on their ideas. Connecting startups with private equity growth funds, venture capital, and angel groups has been a challenge until recently.

Over the last several years, a startup ecosystem has been developing in Dallas-Fort Worth that is helping provide access to these amenities for many of the area’s tech entrepreneurs. Local institutions have created a network of facilities, mentors, and capital investors that support local entrepreneurs as they work to build their businesses.

The growth of these institutions has been astounding: 18 accelerators, 17 business incubators, 10 innovation centers, 26 coworking facilities, 35 venture capital and angel investor firms, 15 networking organizations, and 11 programs run via area universities and colleges that support innovation and entrepreneurship. [For a visual of where these institutions are located throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area, visit the Dallas Regional Chamber’s Startup Community Map.]

Business incubators like the Dallas Entrepreneur Center serve local entrepreneurs by providing a location where they can receive training, education, mentorship, promotion, and access to capital. New coworking spaces are taking root and allowing young companies to enjoy lower operating costs by leveraging collective economies of scale. Multiple users share amenities while renting office space at places like Dallas Fort Work and The Common Desk.

In addition to these existing institutions, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office plans to open its permanent satellite office in Dallas by the end of the year. The office will employ up to 20 administrative patent judges and provide local entrepreneurs with expedited access to nearly 100 patent examiners. There are even plans to have a “bat phone” kiosk set up in the Dallas Entrepreneur Center with direct access to the patent office headquarters in Alexandria, VA where experts can field any conceivable question a young entrepreneur may have.

Startup ecosystems like these help generate additional demand for office space in two ways. Incubators and companies offering coworking opportunities have unique space requirements to house multiple startups, and if all goes well, the companies they help launch will require new office space in a region as those firms continue to grow.

The new ideas and technology that result from investment in entrepreneurial endeavors are subject to a multiplier effect that brings benefits to all sectors of an economy. Where the microprocessor gave rise to more advanced telecommunication and manufacturing technologies, today’s startups are creating products and ideas that will change the way we live, work, and play in the future. Entrepreneurial cities create a vibrancy that draws additional talent and resources to a region and helps spur long-term job growth.

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