Mover and shaker

Houston Exponential hires serial entrepreneur and investor as president

Harvin Moore, who has a 20-year career in tech and innovation, has been named as president of Houston Exponential. Courtesy of HX

There's a new leader at the helm of the city's startup and innovation nonprofit — and he has some familiarity with the innovation ecosystem.

Harvin Moore was announced to be the new president of Houston Exponential, replacing Russ Capper, the inaugural executive director of HX. Capper has served since April 2018 and will stay involved with the organization, according to a news release.

Moore, a Houston native, has a 20-year career in tech and startups in Houston. He is a principal at an early-stage investment firm, Frontera Technology Ventures, and before that served as COO for Space Services Holdings Inc.

"We are excited to welcome someone with Harvin's track record to lead Houston Exponential through the next phase of growth in the ecosystem," says Gina Luna, chair of HX, in the release. "The Houston innovation community has made great strides in the last couple of years, and with Harvin's leadership, HX will take our work to the next level."

Moore, who was re-elected three times as Houston Independent School District's Board of Education, is described as an active advisor, mentor, and angel investor for the likes of Houston Angel Network, Capital Factory and Station Houston.

"As someone who has been involved in Houston's digital tech ecosystem since its earliest days, I am inspired by the tremendous momentum generated in just the last few years," Moore says in the release. "We are at an inflection point, and I believe Houston Exponential will continue to be a catalyst driving Houston to become a leading innovation hub within the next two to three years."

Moore joins HX at a pivotal moment as many exciting innovation projects are expected to deliver the next few years, such as MassChallenge Texas' inaugural Houston cohort, the Texas Medical Center's TMC3 campus, Rice Management Co.'s The Ion, the close of the HX Venture Fund and more.

"The pace of the wins and major announcements in our innovation space is rapidly accelerating, and I am pleased that HX has played a role in many of these, including being an enthusiastic champion for the work of many of our partners," Luna says in the release. "In this next phase of work, I expect we will continue to build valuable partnerships and will activate the venture capital firms that are showing tremendous interest in the Houston ecosystem and the startups here."

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Building Houston

 
 

5G could be taking over Texas — and Houston is leading the way. Photo via Getty Images

Based on one key measure, Houston sits at the forefront of a telecom revolution that could spark a regional economic impact of more than $30 billion.

Data published recently by the Texas Comptroller's Office points out that as of last November and December, Houston led all cities in Texas for the number of so-called "small cells." Small cells are a key component in the rollout of ultra-high-speed 5G wireless communication throughout the Houston area and the country.

As the Texas Comptroller's Office explains, small cells are low-powered antennas that communicate wirelessly via radio waves. They're usually installed on existing public infrastructure like street signs or utility poles, instead of the big communication towers that transmit 4G signals.

The comptroller's tally shows Houston had approved 5,455 small-cell sites as of the November-December timeframe. That dwarfs the total number of sites (1,948) for the state's second-ranked city, Dallas.

"Houston is in the vanguard of small cell permitting in Texas, and not just because it's the state's largest city; advocates have lauded its proactive approach to 5G. Other cities, particularly smaller ones, are lagging well behind," the Comptroller's Office notes.

According to CTIA, a trade group for the wireless communications industry, 5G holds the promise to deliver an economic impact of $30.3 billion in the Houston area and create 93,700 jobs. The group says industries such as health care, energy, transportation, e-commerce, and logistics stand to benefit from the emergence of 5G.

"Maintaining world-class communications infrastructure is a requirement for success in a rapidly changing global economy. Small cells and fiber technology are the key foundational components for network densification and robust 5G. Cities like Houston that have embraced the need for this infrastructure will see the benefits of 5G faster than others," Mandy Derr, government affairs director at Houston-based communications infrastructure REIT Crown Castle International Corp. and a member of the Texas 5G Alliance, tells InnovationMap.

Derr says leaders in Houston have embraced the importance of small-cell technology through "reasonable and effective" regulations and processes aimed at boosting 5G capabilities. Three major providers of wireless service — AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon — offer 5G to customers in the Houston area.

"More small cells and fiber provide greater and faster access for the masses, enabling the connectivity that is essential to our businesses today — whether it's accepting payments on a mobile card reader, completing a sale on the go, or reliably reaching consumers where they are," Derr says.

In a blog post, Netrality Data Centers, which operates a data center in Houston, proclaims that Houston is shaping up to be a hub of 5G innovation.

"Houston has always been on the frontline," Mayor Sylvester Turner said during a 5G roundtable discussion in 2019. "It is who we are. It is in our DNA. We are a leading city. We didn't wait for somebody else to go to the moon. Or to be the energy capital of the world. Or the largest medical center in the world. But you don't stay at the front if you don't continue to lead."

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