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5 most popular innovation stories in Houston this week

Houston Methodist breaking ground on its new "hospital of the future" was among this week's top stories. Photo courtesy of Houston Methodist

Editor's note:Another week has come and gone, and it's time to round up the top headlines from the past few days. Trending Houston tech and startup news on InnovationMap included innovators to know, a new innovative hospital, a lookback on Houston venture activity, and more.

3 Houston innovators to know this week

This week's roundup of Houston innovators includes Kaitlyn Allen of MendIt, Miguel Calatayud of iwi, and Tatiana Fofanova of Koda Health. Courtesy photos

In this week's roundup of Houston innovators to know, I'm introducing you to three local innovators across industries — from sustainability to health tech — recently making headlines in Houston innovation. Click here to continue reading.

Ion Houston offers up low-cost workforce development programs

New programming at the Ion hopes to equip the workforce with valuable skills and education. Photo courtesy of The Ion

The Ion announced this week that it will launch four new workforce development programs that aim to enhance learner's digital skills and prepare them for careers in tech.

The courses will start in February and will take on a variety of formats, from bootcamps to traditional courses and virtual coaching sessions. All were created with the support of The Ion's founding partner Microsoft.

“The Ion is collaborating with new and existing organizations to create visible pathways to careers in technology for underrepresented populations and job seekers,” says Jan E. Odegard, executive director at The Ion, in a statement. “The Ion is excited to offer low-cost programming that meets learners of all skill sets and financial backgrounds where they are to make a tech-fueled career or career in tech possible.” Click here to continue reading.

Houston hospital system to open new innovative location

Houston Methodist broke ground on a 400-bed hospital in Cypress. Rendering courtesy of Houston Methodist

Houston Methodist will soon break ground on a “smart” hospital in Cypress that is poised to be the smartest of its nine hospitals.

The $650 million Cypress hospital will be modeled after Houston Methodist West and Houston Methodist The Woodlands hospitals. However, the Cypress location is on track to outdo them in terms of smart technology.

“Our commitment to innovation is one more way we set ourselves apart from other hospital systems, and we are committed to making this new hospital the most technologically advanced and innovative hospital ever,” Dr. Marc Boom, president and CEO of Houston Methodist, says in a note to employees. Click here to continue reading.

Rice University announces its plans to be carbon neutral by 2030

Rice University has set a goal to become carbon neutral in the next several years. Photo via rice.edu

A Houston school has announced its mission to achieve carbon neutrality in the next eight years, and university executives described how exactly they will get there.

Last week, Rice University President David Leebron and Provost Reginald DesRoches wrote a letter describing the university's community as eager to participate in initiatives to stave off climate change on campus.

"Given the commitment of Rice faculty to research and scholarship that supports human knowledge and progress, it is unsurprising that this issue has been addressed from many disciplinary perspectives," the letter reads. "Our faculty, students and staff have a strong desire to contribute to solutions and to see their university as an active participant in the global effort to address climate change and other pressing environmental issues." Click here to continue reading.

New analysis puts Houston's leap in venture capital investment in perspective

A new report from the Greater Houston Partnership analyzes the city's startup ecosystem's banner year of VC activity. Photo via Getty Images

Houston-area startups raked in the cash last year, setting a record for the region’s annual tally of venture capital.

In 2021, Houston startups collected $2.02 billion in VC funding, according to a Greater Houston Partnership analysis of data from PitchBook. That’s up 175 percent from the $734.2 million raised in 2020.

Three startups (Solugen, HighRadius, and Lancium) accounted for more than $800 million of last year’s VC haul.

“This record year in venture capital funding for Houston companies is another important example of the positive momentum building around our innovation ecosystem,” says Susan Davenport, chief economic development officer for the Greater Houston Partnership. Click here to continue reading.

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Building Houston

 
 

Based on business activity in town, a new study ranks Houston as a top city for Asian Americans. Photo via Getty Images

Known for its diversity, Houston ranks as the third best major metro area in the U.S. for Asian American entrepreneurs, according to a new study.

Personal finance website SmartAsset analyzed data for 52 of the largest metro areas to come up with the ranking. The analysis looked at nine metrics in three categories: prevalence of Asian-owned businesses, success of new businesses, and income and job security.

About 9 percent of the Houston metro area’s residents identify as Asian.

The SmartAsset study puts Houston in fifth place for the number of Asian-owned businesses (nearly 19,900) and in fourth place for the share of Asian-owned businesses (almost 17.9 percent) among all businesses. Furthermore, Houston ranks 14th for the increase (nearly 9.6 percent) in the number of Asian-owned businesses from 2017 to 2019.

Leading the SmartAsset list is the San Francisco metro area, followed by Dallas-Fort Worth. Austin comes in at No. 11 and San Antonio at No. 14.

The largest minority-owned business in the Houston area, as ranked by annual revenue, is Asian-owned private equity firm ZT Corporate.

Founded in 1997 by Chairman and CEO Taseer Bada, who was born in Pakistan, ZT Corporate is valued at more than $1 billion. ZT Corporate generates more than $600 million in annual revenue and employs over 3,000 people.

“As we look ahead, the vision for ZT Corporate is limitless. Our team will continue pushing boundaries and finding the bright spots in the economy that produce consistent financial gains for our investors,” Bada says in a news release marking his company’s 25th anniversary.

ZT Corporate’s flagship businesses are:

  • Altus Community Healthcare, a provider of health care services.
  • ZT Financial Services, a wealth management firm.
  • ZT Motors, which owns and operates auto dealerships. Last year, ZT Motors bought three Ron Carter dealerships in the Houston area.

“ZT Corporate is a vital asset to our citizens as a longtime local employer,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner says, “and has positively affected many lives through their health care organizations and philanthropic efforts.”

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