Capital Factory, the Austin-based startup incubator known for its coworking hubs throughout Texas, is partnering with Port San Antonio to expand its defense industry-oriented program.

The Center for Defense Innovation is a facility that already exists at Capital Factory’s campus in Austin, where uniformed service personnel work side by side with civilian engineers in T-shirts, in the words of one of its partners.  The public-private partnership helps create new technology for the U.S. military.

In San Antonio, that facility will have a new branch at the Tech Port Center and Arena, a $60 million venue scheduled to open in spring 2022 at the Port’s industrial hub in southwest San Antonio. The Capital Factory’s space will be a place for entrepreneurs, private companies, defense contractors, and military partners to host workshops and training, test new technology, and just rub elbows.

The partnership was announced by both organizations last week.

“It’s a win-win,” said Will Garrett, vice president and director of cybersecurity development at Port San Antonio. “For us, we get a partner that has developed a very effective ecosystem of connecting these nontraditional companies and startups with federal partners.”

And for Capital Factory, “they can access the most dense and actively growing cluster of defense innovation units in San Antonio, in arguably the most unique technology center in the entire state.”

The 1,900-acre Port campus hosts the national headquarters for the 16th Air Force, the Air Force Civil Engineer Center, and the Air Force Medical Operation Agency, among other U.S. Air Force agencies.

Capital Factory will also operate the Tech Port Center’s collaborative lab.

Construction continues on the Innovation Center at Port SA on Thursday.
Construction continues on the Tech Port Center and Arena at Port SA on Thursday. Credit: Nick Wagner / San Antonio Report

Port President and CEO Jim Perschbach said the Center for Defense Innovation will be “an integral part of a connected ecosystem” in the Port that has brought together “top talent, emerging technology, educators, thoughtfully built facilities and enterprise organizations to launch technologies that are making the world a safer and more productive place in the century ahead.”

Beyond its Center for Defense Innovation, Capital Factory calls itself a “center of gravity” for entrepreneurs in Texas. It operates coworking spaces with incubator services in Austin, Dallas, and Houston.

Joshua Baer, founder and CEO of Capital Factory, said in a prepared statement the Port has an “impressive and aggressive vision to build community and drive innovation that aligns perfectly with Capital Factory’s vision for connecting the major technology hubs of Texas.”

“There is a true synergy in this relationship that will help bring new opportunities to San Antonio while also helping grow startups based in Austin, Dallas, and Houston that want to plug into the activity at the Port.”

The Port’s innovation center also will host the San Antonio Museum of Science and Technology, or SAMSAT, as well as a gaming arena, meeting spaces, an innovation lab, and a food hall.

Waylon Cunningham covered business and technology for the San Antonio Report.