Room to improve

See where Texas falls among most innovative states in the U.S.

Texas has some room to improve when it comes to being innovative. Getty Images

Texas isn't among the top 10 innovative states in the United States, according to a new study, but it isn't too far off. The Lone Star state ranked as the country's No. 15 most innovative state, as reported by WalletHub.

All 50 states and the District of Columbia were evaluated across 24 metrics two dimensions: human capital and innovation environment. Texas ranked No. 18 for its human capital and No. 14 for its innovation environment.

Texas' star shined bright across a few categories and made it in the top 10 in:

  • Business churn
  • Jobs in new companies
  • Entrepreneurial activity
  • Industry-cluster strength (refers to the level of high employment specialization of a cluster, which is defined by the U.S. Cluster Mapping Project as a "regional concentration of related industries in a particular location")
  • Average internet speed

The state performed the worst in the following categories:

  • Scientific-knowledge output (measures the number of peer-reviewed articles published per $1 Million of Academic S&E research and development)
  • Open roads and skies friendly laws
  • Average annual federal small-business funding per GDP
  • Share of households with internet access
  • Research and development spending per capita
  • Research and development intensity

The U.S. is expected to spend a reported $581 billion on research and development, according to WalletHub, which is more than any other country in the world. Some states, the study found, are better at pulling their weight. Massachusetts, Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Colorado make up the top five, in that order, while Tennessee, Iowa, West Virginia, Louisiana, and Mississippi round up the bottom of the list.

While there's much to learn from other innovative ecosystems, copying them is not the best plan, says expert on the study Joseph Tranquillo, Bucknell University professor and author.

"Trying to replicate an innovative ecosystem that has worked somewhere else never seems to turn out well," he says. "Like biological ecosystems, they must be homegrown from the strengths that already lie within."

Trending News

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."

Trending News