by the numbers

Houston sees boom of startup development support, new report reveals

The city of Houston is home to more than 60 startup development organizations, such as incubators and accelerators, according to the Greater Houston Partnership's 2022 Houston Facts report. Photo via Getty Images

Houston’s startup ecosystem is more robust than you might think.

A new report from the Greater Houston Partnership shows the region is home to more than 60 startup development organizations, such as incubators and accelerators.

“These organizations have formed a growing web of resources assisting tech entrepreneurs across the Houston region,” the report says.

Among those organizations are:

  • At least 30 incubators and accelerators
  • Coworking spaces
  • Makerspaces
  • Colleges and university programs
  • Nonprofit initiatives

Houston’s burgeoning startup ecosystem continues to garner global attention.

StartupBlink, a startup ecosystem research center, places Houston at No. 49 on its recent list of the world’s top startup ecosystems. Meanwhile, Houston lands at No. 5 in Startup Genome’s recent ranking of the world’s top emerging startup ecosystems. Startup Genome is an advisory and research group that seeks to boost startup ecosystems.

“There are several reasons why startups choose Houston,” Startup Genome reported in 2019. “The city seems to have it all — relatively low cost of living, the [third] largest concentration of Fortune 500 companies, and a growing base of female founders supported by a wealth of organizations and nonprofits aimed at providing resources for women entrepreneurs.”

The Greater Houston Partnership report declares that the Innovation Corridor sits “at the nucleus of Houston’s tech ecosystem.” Rice University’s $100 million The Ion tech hub anchors the corridor as well as Midtown’s Innovation District. The hub features commercial office space, coworking space, and common space for events and programs.

Among Houston’s notable incubators and accelerators are MassChallenge, the Ion Smart Cities Accelerator, Gener8tor, JLabs, Greentown Labs, and TMC Innovation, according to the report. The report points out that TMC Innovation, which includes all of the member institutions within the Texas Medical Center, has accelerated 221 companies that collectively have raised more $5.2 billion in venture capital since its founding in 2014.

Much of the VC that flows into Houston goes to energy startups, according to the report. Drivers of this VC influx include Shell Ventures, Chevron Technology Ventures, ConocoPhillips Technology Exploitation, Aramco Ventures, and BP ventures.

In all, the Houston area is home to over 800 VC-backed startups that have hauled in more than $4.35 billion in VC over the past five years, says the report.

On the academic front, the report notes the presence of startup-promoting programs such as the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship, Rice’s Owlspark Accelerator, the Rice Business Plan Competition, the University of Houston’s Cyvia and Melvyn Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship, UH’s Red Labs startup incubator and accelerator program, and UH’s Cougar Venture Fund.

Among the nonprofit initiatives cited in the report are Impact Hub Houston, BioHouston, and the HX Venture Fund. The fund “seeks to transform Houston into a world-leading hub for innovation by linking outside investors to local startups,” the report says.

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Here's what Houston research news dominated this year on InnovationMap. Photo via Getty Images

Editor's note: As 2022 comes to a close, InnovationMap is looking back at the year's top stories in Houston innovation. In many cases, innovative startups originate from meticulous research deep within institutions. This past year, InnovationMap featured stories on these research institutions — from their breakthrough innovations to funding fueling it all. Here are five Houston research-focused articles that stood out to readers this year — be sure to click through to read the full story.


Texas nonprofit cancer research funder doles out millions to health professionals moving to Houston

These cancer research professionals just got fresh funding from a statewide organization. Photo by Dwight C. Andrews/Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau

Thanks in part to multimillion-dollar grants from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, two top-flight cancer researchers are taking key positions at Houston’s Baylor College of Medicine.

Dr. Pavan Reddy and Dr. Michael Taylor each recently received a grant of $6 million from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.

Reddy is leaving his position as chief of hematology-oncology and deputy director at the University of Michigan’s Rogel Cancer Center to become director of the Baylor College of Medicine’s Dan L. Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. C. Kent Osborne stepped down as the center’s director in 2020; Dr. Helen Heslop has been the interim director. Continue reading.

Rice University deploys grant funding to 9 innovative Houston research projects

Nine research projects at Rice University have been granted $25,000 to advance their innovative solutions. Photo courtesy of Rice

Over a dozen Houston researchers wrapped up 2021 with the news of fresh funding thanks to an initiative and investment fund from Rice University.

The Technology Development Fund is a part of the university’s Creative Ventures initiative, which has awarded more than $4 million in grants since its inception in 2016. Rice's Office of Technology Transfer orchestrated the $25,000 grants across nine projects. Submissions were accepted through October and the winners were announced a few weeks ago. Continue reading.

Houston researchers create unprecedented solar energy technology that improves on efficiency

Two researchers out of the University of Houston have ideated a way to efficiently harvest carbon-free energy 24 hours a day. Photo via Getty Images

Two Houstonians have developed a new system of harvesting solar energy more efficiently.

Bo Zhao, the Kalsi Assistant Professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Houston, along with his doctoral student Sina Jafari Ghalekohneh, have created a technology that theoretically allows solar energy to be harvested to the thermodynamic limit, which is the absolute maximum rate sunlight can be converted into electricity, as reported in a September article for Physical Review Applied.

Traditional solar thermophotovoltaics (STPVs), or the engines used to extract electrical power from thermal radiation, run at an efficiency limit of 85.4 percent, according to a statement from UH. Zhao and Ghalekohneh's system was able to reach a rate of 93.3 percent, also known as the Landsberg Limit. Continue reading.

Texas A&M receives $10M to create cybersecurity research program

Texas A&M University has announced a new cybersecurity-focused initiative. Photo via tamu.edu

Texas A&M University has launched an institute for research and education regarding cybersecurity.

The Texas A&M Global Cyber Research Institute is a collaboration between the university and a Texas A&M University System engineering research agency, the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station. The research agency and Texas A&M are also home to the Texas A&M Cybersecurity Center.

The institute is funded by $10 million in gifts from former Texas A&M student Ray Rothrock, a venture capitalist and cybersecurity expert, and other donors. Continue reading.

Houston research organization doles out $28M in grants to innovators across Texas

Houston-based Welch Foundation has awarded almost $28 million in chemical research grants throughout Texas this year. Photo via Getty Images

Chemical researchers at seven institutions in the Houston area are receiving nearly $12.9 million grants from the Houston-based Welch Foundation.

In the Houston area, 43 grants are going to seven institutions:

  • Baylor College of Medicine
  • Rice University
  • Texas A&M University
  • Texas A&M University Health Science Center
  • University of Houston
  • University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
  • University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston

The Welch Foundation is awarding almost $28 million in chemical research grants throughout Texas this year. The money will be allocated over a three-year period. Continue reading.

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