by the numbers

Houston outranks other Texas cities when it comes to new business growth

Houston ranks 10th among all of the country’s major metros for new businesses. Photo via Getty Images

A new study shows that Houston reigns as the startup capital of Texas.

For the study, the Smart Dollar website looked at data from the U.S. Census Bureau to determine the locations with the most new businesses per capita in 2021. Among major metro areas in Texas, Houston came out on top, gaining 21.2 new-business applications per 1,000 residents last year. Houston ranks 10th among all of the country’s major metros (those with at least 1 million residents).

The study found 150,971 new-business applications were filed last year in the Houston area. That translates into a 27.5 percent rise in applications versus 2020 and a 75.2 percent jump versus 2019.

Houston continues to gain notice as a startup hub. For instance, Bayou City appears at No. 5 in Startup Genome’s recent ranking of the world’s top emerging ecosystems for startups. Startup Genome is an advisory and research group that seeks to boost startup ecosystems.

Smart Dollar attributes the spike in startup activity in Houston and around the country to federal stimulus checks, low interest rates, and fast-rising values for homes, stocks, and other assets throughout 2020 and 2021.

“Another related factor was the Great Resignation, as record-high numbers of workers left jobs in search of better economic opportunities — many of whom started new businesses,” Smart Dollar points out.

The website adds that even during economic downturns, startups continue creating jobs, while established companies are more likely to shed employees to cut costs.

Almost 5.4 million applications were filed to set up new businesses in 2021, setting a new annual record for the U.S., according to the Census Bureau.

Here’s how the state’s three other major metros fared in the Smart Dollar study.

No. 11 Dallas-Fort Worth

  • New-business applications per 1,000 residents: 21.02
  • Total new-business applications in 2021: 160,518
  • One-year increase in new-business applications: 25.8 percent
  • Two-year increase in new-business applications: 62.6 percent

No. 14 Austin

  • New-business applications per 1,000 residents: 20.51
  • Total new-business applications in 2021: 46,835
  • One-year increase in new-business applications: 34.5 percent
  • Two-year increase in new-business applications: 52.4 percent

No. 38 San Antonio

  • New-business applications per 1,000 residents: 13.28
  • Total new-business applications in 2021: 33,978
  • One-year increase in new-business applications: 25.6 percent
  • Two-year increase in new-business applications: 47.8 percent

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Building Houston

 
 

This week's roundup of Houston innovators includes Ramanan Krishnamoorti of UH, Valerie Tompson of SWAN Impact Network, Evan Erickson of TexPower Technologies. Photos courtesy

Editor's note: In this week's roundup of Houston innovators to know, I'm introducing you to three local innovators across industries — from battery tech to impact inveesting — recently making headlines in Houston innovation.


Ramanan Krishnamoorti,  as vice president of energy and innovation at University of Houston

Natalie Harms

Ramanan Krishnamoorti has had a varied career in academia, from an engineering professor to nanotech research. While he never made the transition from researcher to entrepreneur, he managed to snag a CEO title at the university about a decade ago: Chief energy officer.

Since then his role has expanded to include advancing UH's innovation of all kinds — from health tech to the arts — as vice president of energy and innovation at UH. In his role, he oversees the UH Technology Bridge, a lab and coworking space for tenants just a short drive away from UH's main campus, as well as future plans, like a new central campus hub for innovation that's in its early stages of development.

"What we really need at the university today is to bring innovation — which tech transfer is a piece of — and connect that to real-world challenges to deliver what the world needs, which is talented folks delivering new innovative, entrepreneurial, or intrapreneurial programs," Krishnamoorti says on this week's episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast. Read more.

Valerie Tompson, Houston chapter lead for SWAN Impact Network

Austin-founded SWAN Impact Network has entered the Houston innovation ecosystem. Photo courtesy of SWAN

SWAN Impact Network, which focuses on funding early-stage, impact-driven startups, announced that Houston will be its next market expansion. Founded in 2016 as the Southwest Angel Network, the organization has grown from several investors to over 80 across Texas. The investors, who meet virtually, range from former entrepreneurs, seasoned investors, and first time angels.

Valerie Tompson, who's serving as the Houston market lead, is an example of someone who was drawn to SWAN's mission, even though she had never invested in startups before.

"I was intrigued by the idea of being able to invest in companies that are making a difference in the world — and it's not a charitable donation," she says, explaining that joining a network allowed for her to learn the ropes and understand the process. Read more.

Evan Erickson, co-founder and CEO of TexPower

A Houston startup founded off research out of a Texas university has cut the ribbon on its new lab space. Photo courtesy of TexPower

TexPower EV Technologies Inc. celebrated the opening of its 6,000-square-foot laboratory and three-ton-per-year pilot production line at a ribbon-cutting event last week. The Northwest Houston site is located at 6935 Brittmoore Rd.

TexPower spun out of the University of Texas at Austin in 2019. The company was co-founded by Erickson with CTO Wangda Li and Board Chairman Arumugam Manthiram, a professor at UT whose lithium-ion battery research fuels the foundation of the company.

“We want to point out how lucky we are — as a company and as scientists," Erickson says at the ribbon cutting event. "It’s not common that you see something you work on in academia turn into something that can become commercially successful.” Read more.

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