by the numbers

New analysis puts Houston's leap in venture capital investment in perspective

A new report from the Greater Houston Partnership analyzes the city's startup ecosystem's banner year of VC activity. Photo via Getty Images

Houston-area startups raked in the cash last year, setting a record for the region’s annual tally of venture capital.

In 2021, Houston startups collected $2.02 billion in VC funding, according to a Greater Houston Partnership analysis of data from PitchBook. That’s up 175 percent from the $734.2 million raised in 2020.

Three startups (Solugen, HighRadius, and Lancium) accounted for more than $800 million of last year’s VC haul.

“This record year in venture capital funding for Houston companies is another important example of the positive momentum building around our innovation ecosystem,” says Susan Davenport, chief economic development officer for the Greater Houston Partnership.

“In just the last year alone, we saw the opening of The Ion, East End Maker Hub, Greentown Labs as well as the growth of other startup development organizations,” Davenport adds. “We also witnessed two of our startups — Solugen and Axiom Space — grow into unicorns, achieving a valuation of more than $1 billion. Add to this the expanded local presence of tech giants such as Microsoft, Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud, and it’s clear that Houston is rapidly building on its reputation as an innovation and technology hub.”

Here’s a breakdown of last year’s record-shattering year for VC in Houston.

Funding

  • $188.5 million in angel and seed funding, up 92.6 percent from $97.9 million in 2020.
  • $687.4 million in early-stage funding, up 361 percent from $149.1 million in 2020.
  • $1,144.3 billion in late-stage funding, up 134.9 percent from $487.3 million in 2020.

Deal volume

  • 219 deals, up 26.6 percent from up from 173 deals in 2020.
  • 122 angel and seed deals, up 9.9 percent from up from 111 deals in 2020.
  • 49 early-stage deals, up 58.1 percent from 31 deals in 2020.
  • 48 late-stage deals, up 54.8 percent from 31 deals in 2020.

Average deal size

$11.6 million average deal size, up 110.3 percent from $5.5 million in 2020.

Industries receiving the most VC in 2021

  • Information technology, $632.1 million.
  • Health care, $518.4 million.
  • Materials and resources, $426.5 million.

Serafina Lalany, executive director of Houston Exponential, told InnovationMap in January that tracking VC data offers her organization a metric for growth of the local innovation ecosystem.

“It gives us insights into the rate of capital that is deployed and how that’s growing over time and where it’s getting deployed. [It also] gives us the signal as to what our strengths are and the areas that we need to continue to build out infrastructure,” Lalany said.

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Building Houston

 
 

Fluence Analytics has exited to a multinational Japanese engineering and software giant. Image via FluenceAnalytics.com

A Houston company that provides analytics solutions within the chemicals industry has exited to a Japanese company.

Yokogawa acquired Fluence Analytics Inc. in a deal announced today. The terms of the deal were not disclosed and, effective immediately, the company operate as Yokogawa Fluence Analytics. Jay Manouchehri, who joined the company in 2022, will continue to serve as CEO of the entity.

“Combining forces with Yokogawa Electric enables us to capture the full value of our unique data sets, and we can't wait to deliver this added value to our customers," Manouchehri says in a news release. "Together, we will enable autonomous operations and digital transformation in the polymer and biopharma industries."

Founded in 2012 in New Orleans, Fluence Analytics moved to Houston in 2021 following a $7.5 million venture capital raise led by Yokogawa Electric Corp., which has its North American headquarters in Sugar Land.

The company's technology — automatic continuous online monitoring of polymerizations (ACOMP) product — provides real-time analytics solutions to polymer and biopharmaceutical companies worldwide. According to the company, its ACOMP product is the only commercially available system that can measure and analyze multiple polymer properties in real time, which leads to an improved system and less energy consumption and waste.

“Polymers are used in nearly every aspect of modern society in the form of plastics, rubber, paint, and so on," says Kenji Hasegawa, a Yokogawa Electric vice president and head of the Yokogawa Products Headquarters, in the release. "Combining Fluence Analytics' ACOMP system and other technology with our industry know-how will enable us to work with our customers to digitalize and automate polymerization processes that are currently monitored and adjusted manually.

"This will assist customers to improve worker safety, profitability, and environmental performance. We also plan to apply this technology to polymer re-use. We believe this is truly a game-changer for the industry,” he continues.

Fluence Analytics offices in Stafford, just southwest of Houston and has a team of 25 employees. Last fall, Fluence Analytics won in the Hardtech Category of the Houston Innovation Awards.

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