Cows have 4 stomachs? I had no idea but apparently they do and that comes in handy when they are being monitored by Vital Herd’s sensor based technology that measures temperature, heart rate and other indicators of animal health and well-being. It’s just one of a growing number of Austin-based, emerging health tech and life sciences companies I had the opportunity to meet at an intimate dinner series hosted by Xconomy.

The gatherings provided an opportunity for leaders, investors, innovators and academics to come together to discuss the challenges and opportunities of building an industry presence and profile in an economy deeply rooted in technology innovation, but lesser known in health.

Living in the Bay Area and working closely with start-up and established biotechs here and in Boston, it was interesting to hear about the exciting innovations brewing in Austin – as well as the Rodney Dangerfield “I get no respect” complex emerging as well.

Granted, the struggles are real – lack of adequate funding and investment coming into the economy vs major biotech hubs, recruitment challenges to lure the best and brightest away from Silicon Valley, Boston and Seattle and basic infrastructure hurdles.

Yet, I also heard an exciting and differentiated story waiting to be told. Rome wasn’t built in a day – nor were Silicon Valley, Boston or Seattle biotech. Listening to the incredible minds in the room – from Lumos Pharma’s Rick Hawkins, developing a potential breakthrough therapy for autism, to TeVido BioDevices’ Laura Bosworth, converging 3D printing with biotechnology for breast reconstruction, all I could think about was how can we package this, showcase the innovation and begin unveiling it? The first-ever MedTech Expo at SXSW was a great way to kick-start the dialogue but to break through some of the image and investment challenges, a sustained drumbeat is required.

Working collaboratively with Clay Johnston and his team at the Dell Medical School, along with Michele Skelding of the Austin Chamber of Commerce, this community has a great story to tell and my Austin colleagues and I are ready to help tell it. Of course, with the great help of the team at Xconomy.