Capital Factory, an Austin-headquartered venture capital firm that helps technology innovators scale their growth via strategic partners and investors, has signed an agreement with Port San Antonio to open its latest location in the Port’s Tech Port Center + Arena.
The Port’s 130,000-square-foot innovation center is located at the corner of General Hudnell Drive and 36th Street and is slated to open in April 2022. The new facility will be home to the expanded San Antonio Museum of Science and Technology, a 24-hour state-of-the-art e-gaming arena, and a collaborative technology research and development (R&D) laboratory for innovators.
In addition to its office space, Capital Factory will also operate the Tech Port Center’s collaborative tech R&D lab. Capital Factory members working on defense innovation will also have access to Tech Port Center + Arena’s other assets.
Capital Factory launched its Center for Defense Innovation (CDI) in 2019 as a way for Capital Factory member companies to provide emerging technological capabilities for the U.S. military, according to Jorge Manresa, Capital Factory’s vice president for federal and Department of Defense (DOD) programs.
Collaborations power CDI’s public-private partnership with the Army Applications Laboratory, Air Force Special Operations Command’s technology accelerator AFWERX, and the Defense Innovation Unit. In its first year, CDI has connected 31 Capital Factory startups to government and defense innovation programs worth more than $63 million.
Capital Factory’s newest location at the Port can help strengthen the connections between Austin and San Antonio innovators with federal agencies seeking advanced technologies and capabilities, Manresa said. Not many startups have experience with government contracting and need support from federal contracting subject matter experts and other specialized mentors.
Capital Factory has developed specific programs to help startups understand DOD innovation programs and the process to sell advanced technologies and capabilities to the federal government. CDI’s SBIR accelerator, for example, connects startups to investors and the defense industry to maximize DOD grant funding for selected innovation projects.
The goal is to replicate Capital Factory’s defense innovation programming used in Austin in San Antonio, Dallas, Houston, and beyond to recreate the networks that have contributed to Austin’s success across Texas.
“We’ll leverage our expertise in San Antonio and over time, in Dallas, Houston, and other cities in Texas, to identify and help founders who can contribute to federal innovation,” Manresa told Startups San Antonio.
Port San Antonio’s technology campus has numerous military defense contractors and is home to the 16th Air Force, which oversees the U.S. military cybersecurity mission. The Port is also attracting the attention of more military commands as the opening of the Tech Port Center + Arena gets closer.
“Personnel from the U.S. Cyber Command, Air Force IMSC [Installation and Mission Support Center, responsible for managing Air Force properties] and the Army’s installation command have told me they are all waiting for the Tech Port to open,” Manresa said. The Air Force Research Laboratory, based in Rome, N.Y., also is interested in “plugging into the innovation landscape in San Antonio,” Manresa added.
Capital Factory has office locations in Dallas and Houston. The venture firm has been focused on its Texas Manifesto goal of helping all Texas-based startups scale their innovations for the market. The Port San Antonio location will be the first of what Capital Factory envisions will be many places where the CDI team can connect to San Antonio founders.
Capital Factory’s chief operating officer Joelle Risolo Vail said the long-term objective is to connect with more of San Antonio’s innovation landscape, given the city’s strengths in bioscience and biomedical advances, software development, robotics, and cybersecurity.
“There is so much synergy in what the Port and we are doing,” Vail said. “Our presence at the Port is only the beginning, as we want to identify more opportunities to plug into other parts of San Antonio’s ecosystem as well.”
Discussions between Port San Antonio and Capital Factory have been ongoing since early summer. The signed agreement between the two was announced at Capital Factory’s Fed Supernova 2021 federal innovation conference late Wednesday afternoon.
“We’re excited to provide Capital Factory members with an unparalleled place in which they can channel their hard work to deliver the latest innovations that will sharpen the preparedness of our nation’s defenders while continuing to raise San Antonio’s profile as ‘Military City, USA,'” stated Port president and CEO Jim Perschbach.
The featured image is of Capital Factory vice president of federal and defense innovation Jorge Manresa (left) and Port San Antonio vice president of cybersecurity development Will Garrett (right) announcing the new Capital Factory location at the Port during this week’s Fed Supernova 2021 event in Austin. Courtesy photo.