stacking up

Houston rise in the ranks of the top emerging ecosystems in the world

According to a new report, Houston is among the top emerging ecosystems. Photo by Zview/Getty Images

If you need evidence that Houston's startup ecosystem is flourishing, look no further than a new report from Startup Genome and the Global Entrepreneurship Network.

This year's Global Startup Ecosystem Report, released September 22, places Houston at No. 19 among the world's top 100 emerging startup ecosystems. Furthermore, it puts Houston at No. 4 among the top regional challengers in North America. Last year's report lumped Houston with other emerging startup ecosystems in the 31-to-40 ranking range.

Mumbai, India, appears at No. 1 among the world's top 100 emerging startup ecosystems this year, while Miami lands at No. 1 among the top regional challengers in North America.

According to Houston Exponential, the city's startup ecosystem "is experiencing a growth spurt that appears to show no signs of abating."

Case in point: Houston startups raised more than $1 billion in the first six months of 2021, surpassing all annual totals from previous years. In 2020, Houston startups reaped a record-high $753 million in venture capital.

"Venture capital invested in Houston startups has nearly quadrupled since 2016," according to a recent Houston Exponential report. "The sustained level of progress we've seen in startup formation and growth over the past four years shows that Houston has what it takes to build a vibrant, healthy innovation economy with an emphasis on equity."

Collectively, the health care and information technology sectors accounted for nearly 60 percent of Houston's VC deals in the first half of 2021, the report says.

Another sign of the expansion of Houston's startup ecosystem: the rising number of workspaces, incubators, and accelerators designed to foster startups.

"These key institutions create density and drive collisions among founders, investors, and talent, significantly increasing the rate of startup formation and growth," according to the Greater Houston Partnership.

Those institutions include The Ion entrepreneurial hub, the Greentown Labs climate-tech incubator, and the DivInc startup accelerator. All are new arrivals on the Houston startup scene.

"DivInc is about broadening the startup ecosystem by making it more authentically diverse, equitable, and inclusive of underrepresented entrepreneurs," Preston James II, CEO of DivInc, said in April. "When we, as a community, do this successfully, we optimize our opportunities for economic GDP growth, we can help reduce racial/gender wealth divide, and drive greater innovation."

Elsewhere in Texas, Austin ranks 20th among the leading startup ecosystems in the Global Startup Ecosystem Report, down from No. 19 last year, and Dallas repeats its 31st-place tie. Silicon Valley tops the global list.

The report says North America represents half of the top 30 ecosystems in the world.

"Entrepreneurs, policymakers, and community leaders in North America have been working hard to build inclusive innovation ecosystems that are engines of economic growth and job creation for all," JF Gauthier, founder and CEO of Startup Genome, says in a news release.

San Francisco-based Startup Genome is a research and advisory firm specializing in startup ecosystems.

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Building Houston

 
 

Here's what Houston-based online programs are ranked as best in the country. Photo by Luis Alvarez/Getty Images

Rice University's online MBA program has something to brag about. According to a new report, the program has risen through the ranks of other online MBA curriculums.

MBA@Rice, the online program at the Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice, has ranked higher in four categories in the latest edition of U.S. News & World Report’s Best Online Programs. The report evaluated schools based on data specifically related to their distance education MBA programs, and U.S. News has a separate ranking for non-MBA graduate business degrees in areas such as finance, marketing and management. The MBA list focused on engagement, peer assessment, faculty credentials and training, student excellence, and services and technologies.

“We use the same professors to deliver the same rigorous, high-touch MBA in our online MBA as we do in all our campus-based programs,” said Rice Business Dean Peter Rodriguez. “The strong national rankings recognize our success in reaching highly talented working professionals who don’t live near enough to our campus or for whom an online program is the best option.”

Rice's virtual MBA program ranked No. 12 (tied) in the 2023 list, which was up several spots from its 2022 ranking, which was No. 20. Additionally, Rice stood out in these other three categories:

  • Best Online MBA Programs for Veterans: tied for No. 10 (No. 14 last year).
  • Best Online Business Analytics MBA Programs: tied for No. 10 (tied for No. 12 last year).
  • Best Online General Management MBA Programs: tied for No. 7 (tied for No. 11 last year).

Rice recently announced a hybrid MBA program that combines online instruction with in-person engagement. The first cohort is slated to start this summer.

The MBA@Rice program is the top-ranked Texas-based program on the virtual MBA list. Several other programs from the Lone Star State make the list of 366 schools, including:

  • University of Texas at Dallas at No. 17
  • Texas Tech University at No. 33
  • Baylor University, University of North Texas, and West Texas A&M University tied for No, 65

U.S News & World Report ranked other online programs. Here's how Houston schools placed on the other lists:

  • The University of Houston tied for No. 10 in Best Online Master's in Education Programs and tied for No. 75 in Best Online Master's in Business Programs
  • Rice University, in addition to its MBA ranking, tied for No. 27 on the Online Master’s in Computer Information Technology Programs ranking after being tied for No. 49 last year
  • University of Houston-Downtown ranked No. 26 in Best Online Master's in Criminal Justice Programs and tied for No. 55 in Best Online Bachelor's Programs

The full list of best online higher education programs ranked by U.S. News & World Report is available online.

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