According to Instant Offices, there are approximately 35,000 flexible workspace locations across the world—but what if your coworking office was also a laboratory and a new business curator? Lubbock, Texas is home to just such a place at the Texas Tech Innovation Hub, where you’ll find a safe community environment that nurtures local startups and connects entrepreneurs with mentors to provide support and expand their network.
The Innovation Hub has propelled businesses forward that are addressing the environmental impact of soil health and creating software technology for data collection among others. Perhaps their most significant investments, though, have been towards reproductive and infertility research. Budding businesses such as Genysis Global and Reproductive Solutions Inc. have participated in the Hub’s Accelerator Program. This program is designed to aid faculty, students and entrepreneurs in launching startup companies and discovering licensing opportunities. We sat down to record our Hub City Spokes podcast with the founders of some of these ventures to find out what makes Lubbock the ideal environment for startups.
It’s said that in the past lanterns were hung on Lubbock’s windmills to mark where respite and help can be found. The community’s attitude of support still lives on today. In fact, a strong sense of community is perhaps the most cited feature that draws transplants to Lubbock and causes natives to return home. It’s certainly what’s kept John Smothers, CEO and COO of Reproductive Solutions Inc., here since 1958. After leaving for a year to launch one of several successful businesses, John found himself itching to return.
It was that same tight-knit community that birthed (pun intended) Reproductive Solutions Inc. Having been involved with research work for many years, John started hosting networking events for folks interested in various fields of research. It was at these events that he met his future co-founders who were just as passionate as he was about addressing the staggering infertility rates in the U.S.
One in seven couples in the U.S. struggle with infertility, and male fertility, specifically, has dropped substantially in recent decades. Experts have credited this decline to increasingly low sperm vitality. Reproductive Solutions Inc. utilizes a technology to collect samples in an environment that maintains the most viability of sperm life. This technology has completed human trials and with the help of the Innovation Hub, is in the process of commercialization to help couples across the country.
“Count your blessings, you’re in Lubbock!” John Smothers, Reproductive Solutions Inc. CEO/COO
On the podcast, John credits Lubbock as a major key to the success of this venture. Built on a pioneering spirit, Lubbock locals have continued to break new ground and cultivate a lifestyle that promotes an incredible work ethic while making the ever-elusive work-life balance a reality. Minimal traffic, an excellent cost of living, more music venues per capita than any other city in Texas and quite the restaurant boom make it easy to find time for work and play.
A Texas Tech undergrad at the time, Cara Wells was taking a quick flight when she happened to sit right next to the Associate Vice President of Innovation & Entrepreneurship at Texas Tech, Kimberly Gramm. The two only had a short time to get to know each other but it was a chance meeting that propelled Cara’s research work into a career opportunity.
As the two recount on the podcast, Kimberly had just moved to Lubbock from Florida to start her work with the Hub—something she’s deeply passionate about. She talks about growing and developing startups like children in a safe environment is at the heart of what the Hub does.
“[The Innovation Hub] surrounds a founder with the right people, the right information and the right resources at the right time.”
Kimberly’s largest motivator for the work of the Hub is not venture-backing or their return on investment but rather the impact these organizations make on the community. The Hub ensures that entrepreneurs are solving real problems for real people with successful teams and safety mechanisms that provide an “innovation pipeline.”
“Entrepreneurship is the American Dream and if you can’t chase the American Dream in Texas then where can you?” Kimberly Gramm, Associate Vice President of Innovation & Entrepreneurship at Texas Tech.
Cara cites the West Texas hustle mentality as her driving force. Outside of metro areas, “we figure out how to do things ourselves and depend on each other as a strong network.”
The Innovation Hub weaves together this strong network with highly-skilled, experienced mentors who provide great leadership. With this support, Cara has been able to take her research from animal to human embryo and is in the process of commercializing Genysis Global to take her groundbreaking technology from the lab out into the industry.
Whether you’re in the reproductive and infertility research fields or just about any other industry, the Innovation Hub is available for all community members to utilize. In Lubbock, you’ll find structured support from the Hub and a foundation of community involvement that seeks to help each other succeed. For even more reasons entrepreneurs love Lubbock, check out the latest episodes of the Hub City Spokes podcast.