A biotech company that was formed in a Fort Worth startup incubator is being acquired for $2.7 billion.
ZS Pharma launched at the Tech Fort Worth incubator but relocated to California earlier this year. It went public in 2014, hitting the market with a $100 million initial public offering. Now, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports, it’s being snapped up by London company AstraZeneca. The daily reports that investors will get $90 a share. ZS Pharma did its early research at the UNT Health Science Center at Fort Worth and received funding from the state of Texas’ Emerging Technology Fund.
D CEO business columnist Steve Kaskovich earlier this year used ZS Pharma as an example of the opportunities North Texas has in cultivating a healthy biotech industry.
The industry, with its well-paying jobs, is concentrated in San Francisco and Boston. But North Texas, known more as the home to oil titans and major airlines, has its share. According to Kay Tieman, co-founder of BioNorthTX, a new regional nonprofit trade association dedicated to supporting and promoting the industry, there are more than 200 life science (biotech, medical device, R&D, manufacturing) companies in North Texas, and around 1,200 regional firms engaged in the industry overall. “I think we’re kind of a sleeping giant,” she says.
Money and scientific research are critical ingredients for nurturing biotech companies, and North Texas has both. The region boasts strong academic institutions like UT Southwestern in Dallas and the UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth, Tieman says, as well as rich investment resources from angel networks to private equity to individual wealth.