Billionaire Oilman’s Heir Is Driving Dallas Innovation Push

(Bloomberg) -- A Texas oil heir’s quest to make Dallas a hub for biotech is showing signs of paying off, potentially paving the way for scientific discoveries ranging from reviving the woolly mammoth to treatments for cancer.

Lyda Hill, the 81-year-old granddaughter of wildcatter H.L. Hunt, has funneled millions of philanthropic and investment dollars into developing the industry in her hometown. In September, her marquee project, an office campus modeled after the Kendall Square innovation district near MIT, scored a big win when it was named one of the three headquarters for the federal government’s new health research institutes.

Hill is extending a family tradition in helping shape Dallas. Her grandfather and assorted relatives were instrumental in turning the city into a center for oil and gas, and she’s now seeking to usher in what she hopes is its next era.

Her biotech push is coming up against the city’s geographic sprawl and a relative lack of capital compared with hubs like Boston or San Francisco. But it echoes efforts by cities including Chicago and Salt Lake City, which are trying to cash in on a windfall of public and private funding for biomedical manufacturing and research in the aftermath of the pandemic.