Ranking texas

Here's how Texas ranks among the nation's most innovative states

According to a recent ranking, Texas is chugging along as an innovative state. Photo by gguy44/Getty Images

Innovation is one of the cogs of any state's economic engine, and it appears Texas' innovation cogs are decently oiled.

Texas ranks 17th in a new study by personal finance website WalletHub of the country's innovative states. While the Lone Star State isn't the most innovative state in the ranking — that accolade goes to Massachusetts — it still earns above-average status.

"As the ninth-largest economy in the world, the Lone Star State is an economic and innovation powerhouse that offers unmatched opportunities for families and businesses. Texas continues to lead as a top state for job creation and for attracting job-creating capital investments — thanks to our unwavering commitment to economic freedom and our young, educated, and diverse workforce," according to the Texas governor's office.

While Texas sits below big states such as Massachusetts, California (No. 7), New Jersey (No. 12), and Michigan (No. 14) in terms of innovation, it beats other large states like North Carolina (No. 19), Florida (No. 20), Illinois (No. 23), New York (No. 25), and Tennessee (No. 44).

For its study, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 22 indicators of innovation friendliness, ranging from share of STEM professionals and R&D spending per capita to tech-company density and VC funding per capita.

Texas fared well in categories like tech-company density (No. 14), VC funding per capita (No. 16), share of STEM professionals (No. 17), projected demand for STEM jobs by 2028 (No. 18), and share of science and engineering graduates age 25 and over (No. 24). But the state lagged the majority of states in areas such as math and science performance among eighth-graders (No. 29) and R&D spending per capita (No. 32).

"My goal is to have Texas be the home of innovation," Gov. Greg Abbott told the Austin American-Statesman in 2016. "We are heading into a new era that I want Texas to be in the forefront of, a new era of life sciences research — a combination of technology and life sciences — and medical advances, where over the coming two or three decades there will be incredible advances in medicine and health care, and the cures and treatments we have for people."

At the time, Abbott envisioned a "research triangle" encompassing Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, and San Antonio.

Houston, of course, plays a significant role in Texas' innovation economy. For instance, it ranks 24th on a list of the most inventive U.S. cities based on the number of patents issued per capita. (Texas ranks 20th among the states for the number of patents issued per capita.) And this year, The Ion innovation hub will open as the anchor of Houston's 16-acre South Main Innovation District.

"Houston is where innovation and industry converge. Ours is a city that chooses to take humankind's boldest challenges head-on, from landing on the moon to developing the first artificial heart," the Greater Houston Partnership says. "And Houston's innovation ecosystem continues to thrive through programs like TMC Innovation Institute at the Texas Medical Center and spaces like the emerging South Main Innovation District."

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Building Houston

 
 

Craig Lawrence and Neal Dikeman co-founded a new venture capital firm focused on funding technology as a part of the energy transition. Photos courtesy

Two Texas entrepreneurs recently announced what they say is the first venture fund in Texas exclusively dedicated to investing in energy transition technologies.

Houston-based Energy Transition Ventures — led by Craig Lawrence and Neal Dikeman — officially emerged from stealth mode with anchor investment from two operating companies from the GS Group of Korea. The fund closed its first capital in February this, completed its first investment in March, and looks to close new investors for a total fund size of $75 million, according to a press release.

"In the near future, energy is going to be delivered and used completely differently. Marginal and average energy and CO2e prices are now on a long term deflationary trend," says Dikeman in the release. "There are 500 multi-billion dollar energy companies globally, and massive portions of global GDP, that are going to get disrupted in the energy transition, from energy & power, transport, real estate, industrial to consumer to agriculture."

Dikeman, who is the managing partner at Old Growth Ventures, a family office investor, also chairs the board at nonprofit cleantech accelerator Cleantech.org, virtual research institute. In 2001, he co-founded San Francisco based cleantech investment firm Jane Capital in 2001.

"We've been successful being highly selective as investors, and using our deep networks and understanding of energy and technology to avoid pitfalls other investors faced. It is exciting to be off the bench to do it again," he continues.

Lawrence, who's also been a part of the cleantech revolution for a chunk of his career, previously started and led the cleantech investing effort at Accel Partners and was previously vice president of product at software company Treverity. The duo chose the Energy Capital of the World to headquarter ETV.

"Texas is the energy capital of the world, and outside of corporate venture capital, there are not many venture funds in the state," says Lawrence. "So it makes sense to start an energy transition focused fund here as the latest wave of clean technology investing accelerates."

ETV will fund from seed to series B with select late-stage opportunities, according to the release, and will colocate a Silicon Valley office with GS Futures, the Silicon Valley-based corporate venture capital arm of energy, construction, and retail conglomerate GS Group of Korea.

"We're excited to be investing in ETV and in the future of energy," says Tae Huh, managing director of GS Futures, in the release. "Energy Transition Ventures is our first investment from the new GS Futures fund, and we've already run successful pilots in Korea with three US startups even before this fund closed an investment – we are working to accelerate the old model of corporate venture dramatically."

Jon Wellinghoff, former chair of FERC, and Deb Merril, president of EDF Retail and co-founder and former co-CEO of Just Energy, have also joined ETV as advisors. GS Energy executive Q Song moves from Seoul, Korea, to join the Houston ETV investment team, according to the release.

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