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October 2010
To The Dallas Morning-News

Recently, a series of articles about the Texas Emerging Technology Fund that was written by the Dallas Morning-News, carried by the Statesman and the subject of much political haymaking over the past two weeks, imply that ETF investments in Texas start-up companies are driven by politics rather than merit.

We, along with more than 30 others, believe this implication is inaccurate and ignores the hundreds of individuals around the state that freely devote their time, energy and efforts to the process to ensure that Texas is pushing the technological envelope that will lead to scientific breakthroughs and a stronger economy.

We have all participated in the extensive review process of the ETF, either as applicants seeking investments or as reviewers of those applicants. Others of us represent companies in which the ETF has invested. All of us represent an emerging technological revolution that is underway in Texas, much of it spurred by the vision of state’s leaders in the bipartisan creation of a seed-stage capital investment program like the Emerging Technology Fund.

It is legitimate to debate whether the state, or any city, should perform economic development activity to attract or create jobs. However, these articles do not address the policy, or the economic results of that policy. Texas is an entrepreneurial state, and has a small but growing life science and technology community that is working aggressively to compete with California and Massachusetts for venture capital. We have outstanding universities (and faculty driving research and scientific breakthroughs), and the ETF was created to keep their great ideas here, creating new jobs and economic spinoff.

We represent more than 30 executives from all aspects of the ETF process. We have not witnessed or experienced any political favoritism in the ETF review process, and few of us are politically active or have ever contributed to Bill White or Rick Perry.

In order to receive an ETF investment, each company submits to an extensive review by regional executives, each of whom devotes their time with no compensation. If an applicant is deemed of merit, the application is forwarded to another group of executives at the state level, with a second level of scrutiny. If, after both of these extensive reviews, your company is considered to have a sound technology with a reasonable prospect of commercial success, and the ETF believes there is a reasonable likelihood that the company will create high quality jobs in Texas, the state-level committee forwards the application to the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Speaker of the House, who must unanimously approve the recommendations of the dozens of reviewers who previously have endorsed the company. With this unanimous approval, the ETF then offers to make an investment. This is not a gift – the state owns an interest in the company the same as any other investor. And, the ETF investment has strings – you must keep the jobs here – in Texas.

Given the dozens of people who have to approve any company’s application in order to receive an investment, we find the process to be as fair and objective as reasonably possible. This is a high-stakes, high-tech competition between Texas and other states as we seek to be competitive in the 21st century. The ETF has nurtured new industries in Texas and created jobs.

If your newspaper wishes to debate the policy of economic development adopted by majorities in the House and Senate, we welcome that debate. If your newspaper wishes to critique the process of multiple levels of review by dozens of citizens with a final unanimous approval by the political leadership of the state, we can debate the process. However, we do not believe the tone of your articles is either fair or appropriate.

Brad W. Bartilson, President & CEO Photon8, Inc.

Atanu Basu. CEO & President DataInfoCom

Keith W. Brown, Executive Director BioDFW

Ellery Buchanan, President & CEO FibeRio Technology Corp.

Larry A. Crompton NTXRCIC Evaluator

Adam Deitz CEO, Ortho Kinematics, Inc.

Michael T. Dwyer, Board Member Azaya Therapeutics, Inc.

Scott Evans, President/CEOChipotle Business Group, Inc.

Bruce D. Given, M.D., CEO Leonardo Biosystems

Ashok Gowda, Ph.D., Founder and COO Visualase, Inc.

Alvaro F. Guillem, Ph.D., President and CEO ZS Pharma, Inc.

Bill Hoffman, CEOVisualase, Inc.

Mark Harward, CEO Syndiant, Inc.

Anouar Jamoussi, President and CEO itRobotics, Inc.

Vitali Khvatkov, Founder and CEO Smart Imaging Technologies Co.

David J. Lee, President & CEO Nano3D Biosciences, Inc.

Tom Levesque, General Manager, Americas NanoInk, Inc

Michael K. Lowe, CEO OrthoAccel Technologies, Inc.

Derek Maetzold, President and CEO Castle Biosciences, Inc

Kathy McEwen, CEO Iridescent Networks Inc.

Dennis L. McWilliams, CEO Apollo Endosurgery

Michael L. Metzker, Ph.D.,President & CEO LaserGen, Inc.

Jerry W. Mills, retired attorney and past Chairman of The Dallas Angels

Andrew A. Nat, Jr., Executive Director Texas Life Science Center

Linda J Paradiso, DVM, MBA Linda Paradiso, Inc.

Jogen K Pathak, Founder/CEO Varaha Systems

J. Donald Payne, CEO Nanospectra Biosciences, Inc.

James B. Poage, President and CEO South Texas Regional Center for Innovation and Commercialization

Phil Ralston. President and CEO MacuCLEAR, Inc.

John N. Randall PhD.,Vice President Zyvex Labs

Michael T. Redman, CEO Oncolix, Inc.

John E. Spencer, President and CEO Photodigm, Inc.

Phil Speros, Halsa Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Edward R. Teitel, MD, JD

Jim Von Ehr, President and Founder Zyvex Labs

Debra Wawro, CEO and Chief Scientist Resonant Sensors Incorporated

Jon A. Weidanz, MPH, PhD Chief Scientist and Founder Receptor Logic, Inc.

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