Turns out, everyone wants to live here. Photo by Jim Olive Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau

Houston is the fourth most populous U.S. city, and saw the ninth largest numeric population gain of any U.S. city in 2022, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's latest findings.

From July 2021 to July 2022, Houston added 11,223 new residents, bringing its total population to 2,302,878. By comparison, San Antonio (population just under 1.5 million) is the seventh largest.

Harris County also led the way with the highest numeric gains for housing units in the nation, at 32,694, coinciding with recent reports deeming Houston the most active real estate market within the last decade.

Together, Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land ranked No. 5 in the list of the 10 most populous U.S. metro areas (as opposed to the cities, themselves). Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington ranked one place higher at No. 4.

Texas cities and towns dominated every list in the new Census Bureau report. "Texas was the only state that had more than three cities on both the 15 fastest-growing large cities and towns by numeric change and by percent change lists," the report says.

Fastest-growing cities
Six out of the 15 fastest-growing cities in the United States are in Texas, and with one Houston suburb – Conroe – landing at No. 11. Conroe had an 6.3 percent population increase from July 2021 to July 2022, bringing the city's total population just over 101,400.

The north Austin suburb of Georgetown had the highest growth rate in the nation, at 14.4 percent, bringing the city's total population to more than 86,500 residents. Surrounding Austin suburbs Kyle and Leander landed in No. 3 and No. 4 with the same population growth rate of 10.9 percent.

The not-so-little Dallas suburb Little Elm zoomed all the way up to No. 5 with an 8 percent population increase, bringing the city's total population to more than 55,300 residents. New Braunfels, which is outside San Antonio, came in at No. 13.

The top 15 fastest-growing large cities in the U.S. are:

  • No. 1 – Georgetown, Texas
  • No. 2 – Santa Cruz, California
  • No. 3 – Kyle, Texas
  • No. 4 – Leander, Texas
  • No. 5 – Little Elm, Texas
  • No. 6 – Westfield, Indiana
  • No. 7 – Queen Creek, Arizona
  • No. 8 – North Port, Florida
  • No. 9 – Cape Coral, Florida
  • No. 10 – Port St. Lucie, Florida
  • No. 11 – Conroe, Texas
  • No. 12 – Maricopa, Arizona
  • No. 13 – New Braunfels, Texas
  • No. 14 – Lehi, Utah
  • No. 15 – Medford, Massachusetts
Largest population increases
When it comes to most populous cities overall, Texas takes five of the 15 top spots with Houston claiming No. 1 in the state. After Houston's No. 4 national rank with its population of over 2.3 million, San Antonio earned No. 7 with over 1.47 million residents, and Dallas at No. 9 with just under 1.3 million residents. Austin barely made it into the top 10 with over 974,000 residents, and Fort Worth ranked No. 13.

The top 15 most populous American cities are:

  • No. 1 – New York City
  • No. 2 – Los Angeles
  • No. 3 – Chicago
  • No. 4 – Houston
  • No. 5 – Phoenix
  • No. 6 – Philadelphia
  • No. 7 – San Antonio, Texas
  • No. 8 – San Diego, California
  • No. 9 – Dallas
  • No. 10 – Austin, Texas
  • No. 11 - Jacksonville, Florida
  • No. 12 - San Jose, California
  • No. 13 - Fort Worth, Texas
  • No. 14 - Columbus, Ohio
  • No. 15 - Charlotte, North Carolina

Greatest housing growth
The report also discovered that housing inventory skyrocketed by 1.6 million units between 2021 and 2022. Texas had the third fastest housing growth with a rate of 2.3 percent, versus Utah, which had the fastest growth at 3.3 percent.

In addition to Harris County, the only other Texas county that made the top five for the highest housing growth was Travis (No. 3).

The full report can be found on census.gov.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

Here's what Houston company scored the No. 2 spot among the fastest-growing private companies in the Southwest. Photo via Getty Images

Houston companies snag spots on regional Inc. 5000 list

by the numbers

Revenue growth is on fire at Houston-based Simple Solar.

Revenue at Simple Solar, a provider of residential solar installations, soared 8,007 percent from 2019 to 2021, putting it at No. 2 among the fastest-growing private companies in the Southwest. It leads the list of 25 Houston-area companies appearing in the new Inc. 5000 Regional rankings for the Southwest.

Between 2019 and 2021, the 165 private companies on the Southwest list posted an average growth rate of 557 percent. In 2021 alone, they added 16,116 jobs and nearly $5.5 billion to the Southwest’s economy.

“This year’s Inc. 5000 Regional winners represent one of the most exceptional and exciting lists of America’s off-the-charts growth companies,” says Scott Omelianuk, editor-in-chief of Inc. magazine. “They’re disruptors and job creators, and all delivered an outsized impact on the economy. Remember their names and follow their lead. These are the companies you’ll be hearing about for years to come.”

Here are the 25 Houston-area companies that made the Inc. 5000 Regional list for the Southwest, including their regional rankings.

  • No. 2 Simple Solar, Houston-based provider of residential solar installations, 8,007 percent growth
  • No. 6 Medical Edge Recruitment, The Woodlands-based health care recruiting and staffing firm, 2,980 percent growth
  • No. 8 Specialty1 Partners, Houston-based provider of surgical support services for dental practices, 2,921 percent growth
  • No. 15 Magnolia-based online women’s clothing retailer Jess Lea, 1,471 percent growth
  • No. 36 Houston-based accounting and advisory firm EFS Group, 458 percent growth
  • No. 39 Blackbuck Resources, Houston-based designer, builder, and operator of water infrastructure for the oil and gas industry, 432 percent growth
  • No. 48 Leveled Concrete, Houston-based provider of concrete and foundation repair services, 298 percent growth
  • No. 52 iCRYO Brands, Houston-based franchisor of cryotherapy centers, 269 percent growth
  • No. 53 TAXA Outdoors, Houston-based retailer of camping trailers, 268 percent growth
  • No. 58 Proxima Clinical Research, Houston-based contract research organization, 243 percent growth
  • No. 64 Ledge, Katy-based seller of in-pool and backyard furniture and accessories, 234 percent growth
  • No. 66 TekRevol, Houston-based software developer, 226 percent growth
  • No. 79 Finish Line Tax Solutions, Houston-based tax relief firm, 194 percent growth
  • No. 82 Incfile, Houston-based provider of services for small businesses, 192 percent growth
  • No. 99 Flocknote, Magnolia-based provider of technology that helps churches boost attendance and foster connections, 152 percent growth
  • No. 125 Onit, Houston-based developer of workflow and AI software, 104 percent
  • No. 137 InterLinc Mortgage, Houston-based mortgage lender, 85 percent growth
  • No. 140 Classy Art, Houston-based supplier of wall décor, 83 percent growth
  • No. 145 Zulie Venture (Cellpay), Sugar Land-based provider of prepaid wireless services, 78 percent growth
  • No. 149 Total Pump Solutions, Houston-based distributor of fire suppression equipment, 75 percent growth
  • No. 155 Construction Concepts, Houston-based commercial construction firm, 67 percent growth
  • No. 157 Energy Ogre, Houston-based service that helps consumers find electricity plans, 63 percent growth
  • No. 164 Garrison Construction Group, Houston-based commercial construction firm, 60 percent growth
  • No. 165 Technocrats Domain, Houston-based provider of IT services, 60 percent growth
  • No. 166, G&A Partners, Houston-based professional employer organization, 60 percent growth
Four Houston-based companies have been ranked among the country's fastest growing tech businesses. Photo via Getty Images

4 Houston companies make fastest-growing tech biz list

H-town representing

In a newly released annual ranking, four Houston-based technology companies scored spots.

Deloitte's 26th annual North America Technology Fast 500 is an annual ranking of the fastest-growing North American companies across tech sectors. The companies on the list were selected based on percentage fiscal year revenue growth from 2016 to 2019. The Houston companies that made the top 500 were:

  • No. 37 (5,881 percent growth): Enercross — An oil and gas logistics software company.
  • No. 190 (641 percent growth): Onit — A B2B software company that designs streamlining solutions.
  • No. 328 (306 percent growth): Lexicon Pharmaceuticals Inc. — A biopharmaceutical company developing treatments for diseases.
  • No. 426 (221 percent growth): Vendor Credentialing Services (aka symplr)— A tech platform that simplifies vendor services, compliance, and more for health professionals.

"The varied industries represented in this year's local Fast 500 winners is evidence of Houston's positive momentum in diversifying its core competencies beyond the energy sector," says Amy Chronis, Houston managing partner at Deloitte, in the release. "Innovation continues to be the driving force behind our city's evolution, and the Fast 500 winners are helping spur its progress. They inspire and provide a glimpse into our future."

According to the release, the 2020 Technology Fast 500 companies achieved revenue growth ranging from 175 percent to 106,508 percent over the three-year time frame, with a median growth rate of 450 percent.

Silicon Valley-based companies dominated the list, accounting for the top three companies as well as 20 percent of the entire list. The second largest region represented was New York, with 13 percent of the list.

In terms of sector, software has the biggest hold on the ranking with 71 percent of the companies being categorized in that realm, which is the highest percentage Deloitte has ever seen in this study.

The report also looked ate venture backing and found that this year 81 percent of the 500 fastest-growing tech companies received venture funding, which includes, according to the release, 26 of the top 30 companies.

"Each year the Technology Fast 500 listing validates how important technology innovation is to our daily lives. It was interesting to see this year that while software companies continued to dominate, biotech companies rose to the top of the winners list for the first time, demonstrating that new categories of innovation are accelerating in the pursuit of making life easier, safer and more productive," says Mohana Dissanayake, partner at Deloitte, in the release. "We extend our congratulations to these well-deserved winners — who all embody a spirit of curiosity, and a never-ending commitment to making technology advancements possible."

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Houston researchers create AI model to tap into how brain activity relates to illness

brainiac

Houston researchers are part of a team that has created an AI model intended to understand how brain activity relates to behavior and illness.

Scientists from Baylor College of Medicine worked with peers from Yale University, University of Southern California and Idaho State University to make Brain Language Model, or BrainLM. Their research was published as a conference paper at ICLR 2024, a meeting of some of deep learning’s greatest minds.

“For a long time we’ve known that brain activity is related to a person’s behavior and to a lot of illnesses like seizures or Parkinson’s,” Dr. Chadi Abdallah, associate professor in the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Baylor and co-corresponding author of the paper, says in a press release. “Functional brain imaging or functional MRIs allow us to look at brain activity throughout the brain, but we previously couldn’t fully capture the dynamic of these activities in time and space using traditional data analytical tools.

"More recently, people started using machine learning to capture the brain complexity and how it relates it to specific illnesses, but that turned out to require enrolling and fully examining thousands of patients with a particular behavior or illness, a very expensive process,” Abdallah continues.

Using 80,000 brain scans, the team was able to train their model to figure out how brain activities related to one another. Over time, this created the BrainLM brain activity foundational model. BrainLM is now well-trained enough to use to fine-tune a specific task and to ask questions in other studies.

Abdallah said that using BrainLM will cut costs significantly for scientists developing treatments for brain disorders. In clinical trials, it can cost “hundreds of millions of dollars,” he said, to enroll numerous patients and treat them over a significant time period. By using BrainLM, researchers can enroll half the subjects because the AI can select the individuals most likely to benefit.

The team found that BrainLM performed successfully in many different samples. That included predicting depression, anxiety and PTSD severity better than other machine learning tools that do not use generative AI.

“We found that BrainLM is performing very well. It is predicting brain activity in a new sample that was hidden from it during the training as well as doing well with data from new scanners and new population,” Abdallah says. “These impressive results were achieved with scans from 40,000 subjects. We are now working on considerably increasing the training dataset. The stronger the model we can build, the more we can do to assist with patient care, such as developing new treatment for mental illnesses or guiding neurosurgery for seizures or DBS.”

For those suffering from neurological and mental health disorders, BrainLM could be a key to unlocking treatments that will make a life-changing difference.

Houston-based cleantech unicorn named among annual top disruptors

on the rise

Houston-based biotech startup Solugen is making waves among innovative companies.

Solugen appears at No. 36 on CNBC’s annual Disruptor 50 list, which highlights private companies that are “upending the classic definition of disruption.” Privately owned startups founded after January 1, 2009, were eligible for the Disruptor 50 list.

Founded in 2016, Solugen replaces petroleum-based products with plant-derived substitutes through its Bioforge manufacturing platform. For example, it uses engineered enzymes and metal catalysts to convert feedstocks like sugar into chemicals that have traditionally been made from fossil fuels, such as petroleum and natural gas.

Solugen has raised $643 million in funding and now boasts a valuation of $2.2 billion.

“Sparked by a chance medical school poker game conversation in 2016, Solugen evolved from prototype to physical asset in five years, and production hit commercial scale shortly thereafter,” says CNBC.

Solugen co-founders Gaurab Chakrabarti and Sean Hunt received the Entrepreneur of The Year 2023 National Award, presented by professional services giant EY.

“Solugen is a textbook startup launched by two partners with $10,000 in seed money that is revolutionizing the chemical refining industry. The innovation-driven company is tackling impactful, life-changing issues important to the planet,” Entrepreneur of The Year judges wrote.

In April 2024, Solugen broke ground on a Bioforge biomanufacturing plant in Marshall, Minnesota. The 500,000-square-foot, 34-acre facility arose through a Solugen partnership with ADM. Chicago-based ADM produces agricultural products, commodities, and ingredients. The plant is expected to open in the fall of 2025.

“Solugen’s … technology is a transformative force in sustainable chemical manufacturing,” says Hunt. “The new facility will significantly increase our existing capabilities, enabling us to expand the market share of low-carbon chemistries.”

Houston cleantech company tests ​all-electric CO2-to-fuel production technology

RESULTS ARE IN

Houston-based clean energy company Syzygy Plasmonics has successfully tested all-electric CO2-to-fuel production technology at RTI International’s facility at North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park.

Syzygy says the technology can significantly decarbonize transportation by converting two potent greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide and methane, into low-carbon jet fuel, diesel, and gasoline.

Equinor Ventures and Sumitomo Corp. of Americas sponsored the pilot project.

“This project showcases our ability to fight climate change by converting harmful greenhouse gases into fuel,” Trevor Best, CEO of Syzygy, says in a news release.

“At scale,” he adds, “we’re talking about significantly reducing and potentially eliminating the carbon intensity of shipping, trucking, and aviation. This is a major step toward quickly and cost effectively cutting emissions from the heavy-duty transport sector.”

At commercial scale, a typical Syzygy plant will consume nearly 200,000 tons of CO2 per year, the equivalent of taking 45,000 cars off the road.

“The results of this demonstration are encouraging and represent an important milestone in our collaboration with Syzygy,” says Sameer Parvathikar, director of renewable energy and energy storage at RTI.

In addition to the CO2-to-fuel demonstration, Syzygy's Ammonia e-Cracking™ technology has completed over 2,000 hours of performance and optimization testing at its plant in Houston. Syzygy is finalizing a site and partners for a commercial CO2-to-fuel plant.

Syzygy is working to decarbonize the chemical industry, responsible for almost 20 percent of industrial CO2 emissions, by using light instead of combustion to drive chemical reactions.

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This article originally ran on EnergyCapital.