Justin Mares has seen the power of some extra cash. His brother, Nick, was in high school when COVID-19 hit, and he could tell he was bored.
“So I saw him kind of struggling with his classes, struggling to feel intellectually engaged or care about what he was doing,” Mares explained. “And I said, ‘Hey, you can have my laptop and you should teach yourself a skill or take some (coding) classes and figure out what are the things that light you up and that that you feel like you're interested in.”
His brother then got into coding and design and launched his own app called question breaker. Through that process, he felt drawn to helping others. So last year, he and a couple of friends released what’s known as an Inflection Grant.
It’s $2,000 for anyone 25 or younger who wants to improve themselves and thinks that amount or less could make a difference in their lives.
“The ideal would be someone that really comes from a background that doesn't have access to a bunch of super-strong opportunities to wants to carve a different path,” Mares said. “Whether it's becoming an entrepreneur and artist, whatever it is, and who could use a little bit of funding to kind of help them take a shot on themselves, learn something, start something, do something, work with someone, whatever it is."
Last year had 17 recipients and the launch for this year’s applications, which are open to anyone in the U.S. or Canada, starts Thursday.
\u201c"If you\u2019re under 25 and $2,000 or less can meaningfully change your life, I want to hear from you."\n\nhttps://t.co/CIO3IstFKP\n\nLOVE that you\u2019re doing this, @jwmares.\u201d— Ryan Hoover (@Ryan Hoover) 1654532124
Mares understands chasing after goals as the founder of Kettle & Fire, a bone broth brand available at H-E-B, Whole Foods and other major grocers or by delivery. He first became interested in entrepreneurship in college and after that, he moved to San Francisco and later Austin in 2018.
One of the winners last year was an 18-year-old living with her parents and without access to tools, including a computer, Mares said. So the grant covered a laptop that had performance specs for her to run AI models. Working on those models helped her get a spot as a remote intern for an AI company in San Francisco.
Eventually, the company asked her to work there in a more full-time capacity as a full-fledged intern or junior person. So the grant then also covered her plane ticket to San Francisco and a month's rent.
“Now she's living in San Francisco in the Bay Area and working for this AI company that I don't think she would have been able to work with, reach out to or engage with at all were it not for our grant, which is kind of cool,” Mares said.
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Genetic engineering company Colossal Biosciences announced it has started de-extinction of the thylacine, also known as the Tasmanian tiger.
Partnering with the University of Melbourne and its Thylacine Integrated Genetic Restoration Research Lab on these efforts, Colossal says bringing the tiger back could “re-balance the Tasmanian and broader Australian ecosystems.”
“With our planet’s biodiversity at risk, we will continue to contribute scientific resources to preserving the species and ecosystems necessary to sustain life,” CEO Ben Lamm said.
Founded last year, Colossal aims to further develop technologies for marsupial conservation efforts and say they are the first to apply CRISPR technology for the purpose of species de-extinction.
The company has its headquarters in Dallas with Austin ties through its software and hardware team. Also with Lamm, who is former CEO of Austin AI company Hypergiant.
Ben Lamm and co-founder George Church
The Tasmanian tiger marks Colossal’s second de-extinction project. Before its work on the Australian marsupial that was eradicated nearly a century ago, Colossal announced its plans to resurrect the woolly mammoth.
Now, Lamm said they are thrilled about teaming up with the Melbourne lab, which is headed by Andrew Pask, a marsupial evolutionary biologist and Tasmanian tiger expert.
Pask said this is a “landmark moment” for marsupial research and that the technology from the project will influence the next generation of conservation efforts.
“Additionally, rewilding the thylacine to the Tasmanian landscape can significantly curb the destruction of this natural habitat due to invasive species,” Pask said. “The Tasmanian tiger is iconic in Australian culture. We’re excited to be part of this team in bringing back this unique, cornerstone species that mankind previously eradicated from the planet.”
\u201cIntroducing Texas #pumas reinvigorated the Florida panther population.\u201d— Colossal Biosciences (@Colossal Biosciences) 1655137149
Colossal points to the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone and the Tasmanian Devil to Australia as examples of the importance of rewilding species to their original habitats. Through that, Colossal says, damaged ecosystems can be restored and revitalized.
To achieve the successful birth of the Tasmanian tiger, Colossal says advancement of current marsupial assisted reproductive technology is required. The work goes beyond the Tasmanian tiger though and Colossal says this technology will be instrumental in the preservation of marsupials at large. The company notes this is especially important in Australia, which faces a fast rate of biodiversity loss and where marsupials are highly concentrated.
Colossal boasts investors like nature gaming group Untamed Planet and local Australian non-profit WildArk, as well as actors the Hemsworth brothers.
“Our family remains dedicated to supporting conservationist efforts around the world and protecting Australia's biodiversity is a high priority,” Chris Hemsworth said. “The Tassie Tiger’s extinction had a devastating effect on our ecosystem and we are thrilled to support the revolutionary conservation efforts that are being made by Dr. Pask and the entire Colossal team.”
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Construction on additional structures for Apple’s Northwest Austin campus could start in February.
The August filings with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation are the latest glimpse at the campus that was announced in December 2018. The campus is expected to be 3 million square feet with 12 office and amenity buildings, parking garages and other facilities once it’s finished.
Plans on the three structures in the filings are estimated to total $279 million and are expected to reach completion by February 2025.
One of the planned structures is a $100 million five-level building. International firm HKS Architects, which opened an office in Austin earlier this year, is listed as the designer.
Another multi-story building also designed by HKS is expected to be 298,977 square feet and cost $118 million.
The last structure in the filing is a $61 million parking garage with nine levels and 3,500 spots for cars.
The initial phase of the tech giant’s campus could welcome 5,000 employees and maybe even reach 15,000 upon completion, Apple has said.
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