introducing tech map
University of Houston launches interactive map of the city's innovation ecosystem
The greater Houston area spans 9,444 square miles — an area larger than the entire state of New Jersey — and the question was never if Houston's sprawl was going to affect interaction between startups, resources, and opportunities, but how to overcome these physical challenges with digital solutions. The latest of which has launched out of the University of Houston's Technology Bridge.
The Tech Map — an interactive, embeddable visualization that takes data about startups and other innovation players and compiles it into a map of entrepreneurial activity in the Houston area — has officially launched with hundreds of startups represented already.
"This kind of tool — it really tells you where innovation is happening, it's not just in the startup development organizations," says Lindsay Lewis, executive director of communications for the UH Division of Research. "It's amazing to see that it's happening all over the city."
The tool, which is free to embed and available to anyone, is already live on Houston Exponential's homepage and the city of Houston's Innovation Portal. It's comprised of data submitted by startup development organizations, self-submitted information, and research by the Tech Bridge's team.
To be represented on the map, click here.
Lewis stresses the importance of creating the tool in a collaborative way, which is why bringing on partners and their databases was so key. The tool isn't designed in Cougar Red or predominantly feature UH-based startups or anything. The Tech Map isn't meant to rock the boat of what any other organization is doing, rather just visually represent the goings on.
"For us, it was a balance between trying to show the story of Houston and where innovation is happening and aggregating, but what we didn't want to do was be a replacement. We wanted this to be a resource for an individual starting point," says Chris Taylor, executive director for the Tech Bridge. "The biggest challenge for most people is you really don't know where to start."
This year has been one for digital tools focused on better portraying Houston's innovation ecosystem. This summer, Houston Exponential launched the HTX TechList to virtually connect startups, mentors, investors, and other movers and shakers in Houston. The two entities are collaborative — HTX TechList's data is even involved in the Tech Map.
"There was a need for connection," Taylor says. "Since 2013 when I got here, that's always been a challenge and a hurdle. How do we connect all these different stakeholders in a way that's meaningful."
While the map is launched and ready to be used, it's only the beginning for it as it grows its data and adds new features.
"We're not done with this map — this is just the 1.0 version," Lewis says. "We're meeting to talk about next-step functionalities and where we are going to take it."