Agora track

5 can't-miss innovation events at CERAWeek featuring Houston speakers

The Agora track of CERAWeek focuses on all things innovation in energy, from panels to pods and even "houses" like the one pictured. CERAWeek/Facebook

Hundreds of energy experts, C-level executives, diplomats, members of royal families, and more are descending upon Houston for the 2019 CERAWeek by IHS Markit. For the second year, the conference will have its Agora track, focused on innovation within the energy sector. The Agora track's events — thought-provoking panels, intimate pods, and corporate-hosted "houses" — will take place in various locations in the George R. Brown Convention Center.

Undoubtedly, many of the panels will have Houston representatives considering Houston's dominance in the industry, but here are five innovation-focused events you can't miss during CERAWeek that feature Houstonians.

March 11: Oil & Gas: Realizing value from digital transformation

In oil and gas, money talks, but justifying the value of integrating new technology or devices can be tricky and hard to navigate. Houston-based Justin Rounce of TechnipFMC and Michelle Pfluger of Chevron Corp. are among the panelists who will attempt to shed light on best practices and new ways of thinking.

Catch the panel at 4:30 pm on Monday, March 11. Learn more.

March 12: Sea Change: Autonomy, automation, offshore & the ocean

Offshore oil and gas rigs are a hotbed for new innovations and technologies — especially when it comes to automation. Two Houstonians join the panel that will discuss emerging tech in offshore E&P — Diana Grauer, TechnipFMC director, External Technology Engagement – North America, and Nicolaus Radford, Houston Mechatronics chief technology officer.

The event takes place at 9:15 am on Tuesday, March 12. Learn more.

March 12: Digital Ledgers: Oil & gas supply chain

Let's talk blockchain integration in oil and gas. The technology has a lot of potential in several aspects of the supply chain, but this panel — which features Andrew Bruce of Houston-based Data Gumbo — will weigh the pros and cons of the technology as well as go over the initial results of early adaptors.

The discussion begins on Tuesday, March 12, at 2.45 pm. Learn more.

March 12: Models of Innovation: Today & tomorrow

Inarguably, the energy's innovation ecosystem differs from that of other industries, but to what end? A panel of professionals — including Houston-based Chevron Technology Ventures President Barbara Burger — will debate the challenges within innovation in energy, innovative corporations, and the best strategies moving forward.

The panel is on Tuesday, March 12, at 2.45 pm. Learn more.

March 14: Urban Resilience in a Changing Climate

You can't have an energy-focused conference without addressing the elephant in the room that is climate change, and Houston-based Sunova CEO John Berger and City of Houston Chief Sustainability Officer Lara Cottingham are the right people to do it.

The panel will take place on Thursday, March 14, at 10:30 am. Learn more.

Can't-miss pods

While panels focus on a challenging topic of discussion, the Agora Pods are platforms for companies to showcase new tech or developments or present their successes. Here are some pods hosted by Houston companies you shouldn't miss.

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Building Houston

 
 

Houston saw the biggest year-over-year jump in tech job postings among the top 25 U.S. cities for tech job growth, according to this report. Photo via Getty Images

Houston is experiencing a boom in tech employment.

A recent report from Dice, a job platform for the tech industry, says Houston saw the biggest year-over-year jump in tech job postings among the top 25 U.S. cities for those postings.

From January through October this year, the number of tech job postings in Houston soared 45.6 percent versus the same period a year earlier. That compares with a 22.8 percent statewide increase during the same time span.

“Although sometimes overshadowed by the cachet of Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio, Houston is absolutely a tech hub in its own right, attracting a mix of major tech companies and VC-backed startups to join its already established base of aerospace, defense, and energy companies,” Dice says.

For the one-year period covered by the Dice report, San Antonio witnessed a 17.3 percent rise in tech job postings, with Austin at 9.6 percent and Dallas at 7.7 percent.

In citing Houston’s astronomic showing, Dice notes that the region benefits from the presence of tech employers like Asurion, AWS, Fiserv, Dell, IBM, and Siemens, along with a number of venture-backed startups.

Top tech occupations in the Houston area include software developer/engineer, business analyst, .NET developer, data analyst/engineer/scientist, DevOps engineer, network engineer, and full stack engineer, according to Dice. The region’s average tech salary is $100,341.

More broadly, the Greater Houston Partnership forecasts healthy job growth in 2023 while noting that a recession could temper the growth.

A “short and shallow” recession in the first half of 2023 would mean a net gain of 60,800 jobs next year, the partnership says. If no recession hits Houston, that number could climb as high as 79,200 jobs. However, a prolonged recession would limit job growth to about 30,400 jobs.

The partnership predicts 2023 job growth will be strongest in the region’s construction, energy, government, health care, professional services, and restaurant sectors. Within the professional category, which includes tech services, the partnership anticipates the addition of anywhere from 2,000 to 7,900 new jobs next year.

Through the first 10 months of this year, the Houston area added 144,000 new jobs, according to data from the Texas Workforce Commission. In November, the region’s unemployment rate stood at 4 percent, down from 5.1 percent a year earlier.

“As we look ahead to 2023 and what the future has in store, I’m incredibly optimistic about Houston’s prospects, despite a possible recession,” Bob Harvey, president of the partnership, says in a news release. “We have our challenges — from ensuring we lead on the energy transition to effectively competing for top talent — but each time Houston has been underestimated, we’ve come out on top. I believe that will be the case once again.”

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