AP NEWS

TMC Innovation Institute taps Luby as new chief

March 19, 2019

Tom Luby, a healthcare executive with entrepreneurial and corporate experience, will be the next leader of the Texas Medical Center Innovation Institute. He replaces Erik Halvorsen who stepped down a few months ago.

The announcement on Monday comes as TMC Innovation eyes a period of growth and prepares to build the TMC³ research campus. William McKeon, president and chief executive of the Texas Medical Center, said Luby’s hiring could be its most important of the next several years.

“There is so much momentum right now, and to misstep on this would be terrible,” he said. “I’m 110 percent confident that (Luby) will go well above and take this program to the next level.”

Luby came to Houston in early 2017 to lead the Johnson & Johnson Innovation life science incubator, called JLABS @ TMC. He was previously in Boston helping Johnson & Johnson Innovation close deals with pharmaceutical and consumer companies.

His experience spans both the corporate and startup side of health care innovation, with 14 years in research and development and business development positions. Nine of those were at three biotech startups in the Boston area.

“I needed someone who could not only operate down at the startup level,” McKeon said, “but also could work really well at the strategic corporate level. And Tom has that in spades.”

Since its debut in October 2014, TMC Innovation has assisted 251 companies that have received — or committed to receive — more than $900 million in overall funding. This includes 10 investments from the $25 million TMC Venture Fund.

“That’s from zero to 60 in a very short amount of time,” Luby said. “It feels like we’re going to be able to add fuel to that fire now and really be able to scale.”

Luby said his initial priorities would include strengthening the ties between TMC Innovation’s various units, which range from Johnson & Johnson to the in-house TMCx accelerator program and the TMCx+ coworking space. He wants startups to understand all the resources available.

TMC Innovation is a “rare place for health care startups to find,” he said, adding that it provides a business incubator, accelerator, corporate partners, education and funding under one roof.

Luby will also work to recruit more corporations to TMC Innovation, and he would focus on selecting other countries for the TMC BioBridge program. That program currently works with Australia and the U.K. to help give their startups a foothold and landing pad in the U.S.

McKeon said he received applications from about 60 people, including those leading innovation spaces around the country.

He praised Luby for his humility and passion in helping companies succeed. He also believes Luby will build a great team of employees.

“He is so talented,” McKeon said. “I was not allowing Houston to lose him.”