Space race

Houston trails behind Dallas when it comes to coworking office growth

When it comes to coworking space growth, Dallas has the edge on both Houston and Austin. Getty Images

Houston's coworking space growth pales in comparison to that of Dallas, a new study finds.

A survey by commercial real estate company Colliers International finds that among 19 major markets in the U.S., DFW is No. 1 for coworking growth while Houston is No. 15.

In DFW, the amount of coworking space in downtown markets and core submarkets soared 250 percent from the fourth quarter of 2016 to mid-2018, winding up at nearly 370,000 square feet (roughly equivalent to the size of two Walmart supercenters). That figure excludes suburban markets. DFW's coworking expansion dwarfs that of Houston, which ranks 15th (27 percent increase, landing at just over 706,000 square feet), and even Austin's, which ranks 14th in the Colliers survey (30 percent increase, landing at almost 300,000 square feet in mid-2018).

While Houston might not have had much recorded growth over the past 2.5 years, the city expects to see some major projects deliver during the next 2.5 years. The Cannon's 120,000-square-foot space is expected to open in May of this year, while Rice University's The Ion that will be 270,000 square feet in Midtown will finish up at then end of 2020.

Stephen Newbold, national director of office research at Colliers, says tech companies are the dominant tenants in coworking spaces, which helps explain why coworking represented 3.4 percent of all office inventory in the tech-heavy Austin market in mid-2018, compared with 0.9 percent in DFW and 0.6 percent in Houston. Austin's coworking share also outpaced that of Seattle (2.6 percent) and San Francisco (2.3 percent).

Newbold points out that DFW's and Houston's shares of coworking space are lower than Austin's because they rely more on a traditional base of tenants consisting of financial services firms, professional firms, and major corporations.

Colliers notes that coworking made up just 1.6 percent of all office space in the U.S. in mid-2018, or 27.2 million square feet. However, JLL says coworking represented nearly two-thirds of the occupancy gains in the U.S. office market in 2018, and it predicts coworking will constitute about one-third of the office market by 2030.

"Our research, and our conversations with corporate executives across the globe, indicate that flexible work is not just a passing trend — it's woven into the fabric of the future of work," Scott Homa, senior vice president and director of U.S. office research at JLL, says in a release. "Even though some markets are better positioned for rapid growth, this still leaves significant runway for expansion across all U.S. office markets."

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This story originally ran on CultureMap.

Houston-based Moleculin has three different oncology technologies currently in trials. Getty Images

Immunotherapy and personalized medicine get all the headlines lately, but in the fight against cancer, a natural compound created by bees could beat them in winning one battle.

In 2007, chairman and CEO Walter Klemp founded Moleculin Biotech Inc. as a private company. The former CPA had found success in life sciences with a company that sold devices for the treatment of acne. That introduction into the field of medical technology pushed him toward more profound issues than spotty skin.

"Coincidentally, the inventor of that technology had a brother who was a neuro-oncologist at MD Anderson," Klemp recalls.

The since-deceased Dr. Charles Conrad slowly lured Klemp into what he calls the "cancer ecosphere" of MD Anderson. In 2016, the company went public. And it looks like sooner rather than later, it could make major inroads against some of the toughest cancers to beat.

Klemp observed that while Houston has the world's largest medical center, "the tragic irony" is that other cities have far more biotech money ready to be invested.

"The Third Coast is really starved for capital," he says. "What drew me into this was I was one of the few entrepreneurs that lived here that knew the ropes in terms of tapping into East and West Coast capital structures and could make that connection for them."

The company has three core technologies currently being tested with some success, but the most promising is called WP1066, named for researcher Waldemar Priebe, "a rock star" in his native Poland, according to Klemp, who works at MD Anderson. Though Priebe came to the U.S. in the 1980s, he is still an adjunct professor at the University of Warsaw and conducts some of his trials in Poland because it's easier to get grant money there.

WP1066 uses propolis, a compound of beeswax, sap and saliva that bees produce to seal small areas of their hives, as a base. The molecular compound that Priebe discovered affects STAT3 (signal transducer and activator of transcription), a transcription factor that encourages tumor development. In short, the active compound in WP1066 both downregulates the STAT3, a long-time Holy Grail in the cancer research world, and directly attacking the tumor, but also quieting T Cells, which allows the body's own immune system to fight the cancer itself. Essentially, it works both as chemotherapy and immunotherapy.

WP1066 is demonstrating drug-like properties in trials at MD Anderson on glioblastoma, the aggressive brain cancer that recently took the life of the hospital's former president, John Mendelsohn, as well as John McCain and Beau Biden. It is also being tested against pancreatic cancer, one of the most virulent killers cancer doctors combat.

Priebe also created Annamycin, named for his oldest daughter, a first-line chemotherapy drug that fights Acute Myeloid Leukemia without the cardiotoxicity that can damage patients' hearts even as they beat their cancer.

WP1122 uses yet another mechanism to fight cancer.

"Most people don't know that morphine is essentially a modified version of heroin," Klemp explains.

The difference between the poppy-based drugs? Heroin can cross the blood-brain barrier. It's described as the dicetyl ester of morphine. WP1122 is the dicetyl ester of 2DG (2-Deoxyglucose), a glycolysis inhibitor, which works by overfilling tumor cells with fake glucose so that they can't consume the real glucose that makes them grow.

"The theory is, we could feed you so full of junk food that eventually you'd starve to death," Klemp elucidates. It can cross the blood-brain barrier and is metabolized slowly, meaning that it can be made into a drug in a way that 2DG cannot.

What's impressive about Moleculin is its diversity of drugs. Most companies have one drug that gets all or most of the attention. Moleculin has strong hopes for all three currently in trials.

"It's essentially multiple shots on the goal," says executive vice president and CFO Jonathan Foster.

Moleculin has 13 total employees, five of whom are based in Houston. An office in the Memorial Park area serves as a landing pad for employees and collaborators from around the world to get their work done when in Space City. The virtual office set-up works for the company because experts can stay in their home cities to get their work done. And that work is on its way to saving scores of lives.