making moves

Houston biotech commercialization company tapped for prestigious federal program

Fannin Innovation Studio's substance use disorder drug will be evaluated by the National Institute of Drug Abuse. Photo via Getty Images

Fannin Innovation Studio, a Houston-based biotech company, is teaming up with a federal agency to test the company’s leading candidate for treatment of substance abuse disorders.

The Addiction Treatment Discovery Program within the National Institute of Drug Abuse will evaluate the drug, known as 11h. Fannin says it’s keeping all intellectual property, proprietary, and commercialization rights for 11h. Fannin’s Goldenrod Therapeutics portfolio startup, founded in 2020, is overseeing development of the drug.

The federal agency’s “active engagement will accelerate our program and provide an additional independent assessment of 11h as we advance it towards clinical development,” Dr. Atul Varadhachary, managing partner at Fannin, says in a news release.

Fannin’s 11h is part of an array of compounds developed by Corey Hopkins, a professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. Fannin licensed 11h in June 2020.

“11h has the potential to significantly supplement [the] current standard of care in a number of substance use disorders, some of which currently lack any approved pharmaceutical treatment options,” says Dr. Dev Chatterjee, managing director at Fannin.

Last year, Varadhachary told InnovationMap that “the one single thing” Houston could do to boost its chances for success in life sciences, particularly in therapeutics, would be to rev up the cultivation of entrepreneurial talent.

“By and large, I don’t think know that this community appreciates how important and how under-resourced that whole people-development piece is,” he says. “It’s not something that comes from taking classes or watching. It comes from doing.”

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Building Houston


The growth of the Hispanic entrepreneur and small business owner, whether through corporate or individual support, is a positive for the entire state. Photo via Getty Images

Texas’ demographics are changing. The latest statistics from the American Community Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau states Hispanic Texans are estimated to be the largest demographic group in the state at 40.2 percent. However, the U.S. Small Business Administration reports Texas Hispanics make up only 29.4 percent of business owners.

Many times, small businesses are a good barometer for an area’s economic health. When Texas’ Hispanic businesses succeed, so does the state’s economy. Therefore, it is imperative for Texans to support its Hispanic entrepreneurs and small business owners so the local economy can thrive. There are a variety of ways to show support, both large and small.

Support supplier diversity

Supplier or vendor diversity programs serve both businesses well. These programs, when founded with the intention to help foster and grow businesses with shared values and behaviors, breed innovation through collaboration. Businesses do not have to be large to implement vendor diversity programs, but it helps if they are established with strong processes in place.

Training can be a major benefit for the entrepreneurs involved in vendor diversity programs. This is the best opportunity for entrepreneurs to fine-tune business processes and to streamline their work to become a more efficient vendor, which is ideal for all parties. In turn, these learnings foster growth, preparing them for more new business opportunities, and it give them the ability to compete at a higher level.

Back innovation hubs

There are numerous innovation hubs across the state where entrepreneurs can come together to research and create. Encouraging Hispanic entrepreneurs to plug into these diverse communities can only help accelerate their business to a profitable state and bring it to scale.

For the Hispanic executives who have found success, it is important to encourage these entrepreneurs and participate in programming. When an entrepreneur sees someone who looks like them succeed, it gives a boost of confidence that success is within reach. Mentoring is another avenue that can lead entrepreneurs to further success. Studies show entrepreneurs who are mentored have more profitable and long-lasting businesses when paired with a mentor.

Support and recommend business

The simplest way for anyone to help a Hispanic entrepreneur, as is the case with every small business, is to patronize and recommend them to others. When an entrepreneur with an exceptional product or service is found, purchasing directly supports the entrepreneur’s dream, and word-of-mouth marketing is priceless. This can be as easy as telling another business owner about their service or posting about it on social media.

At a corporate level, consider these businesses for events. A popular Hispanic-owned catering company could become a preferred vendor for client lunches or sales meetings. Prizes and gift bags are popular at larger events and stocking them with products from local entrepreneurs can help them land another loyal customer. Taking it a step further, highlight these entrepreneurs and small business owners throughout the event, giving them your company’s stamp of approval.

When Texans support Hispanic entrepreneurs and their businesses, there is a significant impact on the economy through job creation, increased wages and tax revenue. The growth of the Hispanic entrepreneur and small business owner, whether through corporate or individual support, is a positive for the entire state.


Steve Arizpe is president and chief operating officer with Houston-based Insperity.

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