Skip to main content

Houston A Growing Hub for Biotech

Published Apr 06, 2023 by Taylor Tatum

Bio Industrial Luncheon hosted by GHP

The industrial biotechnology industry is one of the most promising new approaches to pollution prevention, resource conservation and cost reduction. With the industry expected to grow into a $4 trillion to $30 trillion sector, the Houston region is positioning itself as a leading synthetic bio industrial hub.  

Houston is already home to a growing number of biotech startups and established firms who are relocating or expanding operations in the region.  

rBIO, a biotech startup based out of San Diego, has relocated to Houston to take advantage of the exciting developments happening within its life science ecosystem. Founder Cameron Owen says that Houston was not originally on his radar, citing San Diego and Boston as being the two major biotech and life science hubs, but after visiting the city in December 2021, he was impressed by what he witnessed. “Companies from California like us and the coastal areas were converging here in Houston and creating this new type of bioeconomy,” Owen said in an interview with Innovation Map. “When we look to want to get into manufacturing, we definitely want to build something here in Houston.” rBIO is currently coming out of its R&D stage and transitioning into clinical trials, with a third to come this April. The company is making plans to fundraise and meet with potential partners to scale up and build out a facility in the future. 

PackGene is another biotech company making moves in the Greater Houston area. Last month, the company broke ground on a 25,000-square-foot facility, located southwest of the 610 Loop. The building will house processing and analytical lab space, designated space for quality control, a warehouse, and office space. PackGene has plans to triple its Houston workforce to 60 by the end of 2023 upon the building’s completion. In a statement to the Houston Business Journal, PackGene’s chief technology officer LiYing Yang said, “We are excited to bring economical, reliable and scalable AAV products, as well as our viral vector development and (good manufacturing practices) production capabilities, to our next full-service operations center in Houston... These capabilities will enable us to serve our U.S. customers better and, importantly, to help bring life-saving therapies to patients faster, more reliably, and more cost-effectively.” 

In February, Swiss biotech company Lonza completed its 15,000-square-foot laboratory expansion as part of ongoing efforts to develop and scale its gene and cell therapy customer base. 

As part of a growing effort to cement Houston as a leading life sciences, tech and innovation hub, the Partnership recently hosted some of Houston’s brightest minds at its first Bio Industrial Luncheon. Business leaders and industry experts came together to discuss the importance of Houston’s biotech industry and how partners and stakeholders across various industries and disciplines can get involved. 

First Bight Ventures has recently launched the BioWell, a public-private partnership that will provide resources and support to biomanufacturing innovators. According to a company statement, the BioWell will “provide a holistic, curated support for startups" to bridge the gap between R&D and commercialization. The goal is to create a thriving ecosystem for biomanufacturing and biotech startups made up of people across corporations, foundations, investors, and academic institutions. The importance of creating the infrastructure and support system necessary for making this vision a reality was highlighted by international consultant Dan Holladay. “Success will depend on comprehensive industry-wide collaboration,” he said. 

First Bight is being joined in its efforts by BASF, the corporate venture capital arm of the BASF Group – a chemical manufacturing company - and the East End Maker Hub, an innovation hub and incubator in Houston. 

Learn more about Houston’s life science ecosystem

Related News

Economic Development

Texas and Houston Maintain Their Leadership in Fortune 500 Headquarters

Texas has once again solidified its position as the leading state with the most Fortune 500 headquarters, while Houston continues to spearhead the largest concentration of these corporate powerhouses in the state.  With an impressive tally of 55 prominent companies choosing Texas as their home base, it is evident that the state's business–friendly environment and thriving workforce have been instrumental in attracting and nurturing influential entities.   In addition, the greater Houston metro area stands as the second–largest hub of Fortune 500 headquarters in the nation, boasting a remarkable total of 25 corporate giants. Following closely behind Houston, the Dallas–Fort Worth–Arlington metro area secures the third position with 24 Fortune 500 headquarters.  "Texas is the headquarters of headquarters," said Governor Greg Abbott. “With our strong and growing workforce and welcoming business climate, Texas is where businesses find the freedom to flourish and people find opportunities to prosper." The annual Fortune 500 list serves as a crucial benchmark for corporate success and economic influence, ranking the largest U.S. corporations based on their fiscal year revenue. Achieving the top spot on this prestigious list reaffirms Texas' and Houston's pivotal roles as key players in both the national and global economies.   Here is a list of Fortune 500 firms based in the Houston area, along with their respective rankings:  3 – ExxonMobil – Not on Fortune 500's 2023 list, but HQ relocation to Spring, TX is expected to be completed in 2023.*  17 – Phillips 66  49 – ConocoPhillips   56 – Sysco  72 – Enterprise Products Partners   74 – Plains GP Holdings  110 – Occidental Petroleum   122 – Cheniere Energy   130 – NRG Energy   143 – Hewlett Packard Enterprise  156 – EOG Resources   185 – Baker Hughes   188 – Targa Resources   197 – Halliburton  204 – Waste Management   214 – Kinder Morgan  244 – Quanta Services   252 – Group 1 Automotive  263 – Westlake   275 – Southwestern Energy  341 – APA  413 – CenterPoint Energy  431 – Coterra Energy  433 – Huntsman 464 – Marathon Oil 492 – Par Pacific Holdings See the full 2023 Fortune 500 list.
Read More
Economic Development

Study: Houston Ship Channel Contributed More Than $900 Billion to U.S. Economy

The Houston Ship Channel, an economic driver and a critical link to transporting goods and commerce with more than 200 countries around the world, generated $906 billion of economic value to the U.S. in 2022, reflecting a 13 percent increase since 2018, according to Port Houston’s latest economic impact study. The Houston Ship Channel complex encompasses more than 200 public and private facilities while Port Houston owns and operates the eight public facilities along the 52-mile Houston Ship Channel. According to the study conducted by Martin Associates, the Houston Ship Channel generated $439.2 billion in total economic value for the state, representing 18.6 percent of the state’s GDP and a $100 billion increase in economic value since 2018. An additional $10.6 billion in state and local tax revenue was generated by activity at its marine terminals.  In terms of employment, the Houston Ship Channel supported 3.4 million jobs in the U.S., including 1.5 million jobs in Texas – a 14 percent increase since 2018. Port Houston’s two public terminals resulted in nearly 190,000 new Texas jobs.  The positive results of the study, which is conducted every four years, will help support continued investment in Port Houston’s future, including plans for facilities and infrastructure. This comes in the wake of the completion of the first section of the Houston Ship Channel expansion project, known as Project 11. This first section, referred to as Segment 1A, encompasses eleven and a half miles extending from Bolivar Roads to Redfish and will help increase safety, reduce congestion, and improve vessel transit times by an hour. Project 11 is expected to be completed in 2025 and will move Port Houston closer to its goal of handling unrestricted two-way traffic of larger vessels.  Port Houston ranks No. 5 in the nation in terms of TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) handled in 2022. With this jump from No. 7, Houston now owns a 7 percent market share of the total U.S. container business.  According to the Partnership’s Global Houston report, Houston’s role as a major U.S. container port has continued to grow over the years as cargo activity shifts from the ports on the West Coast due to congestion.  Learn more about Houston’s transportation and logistics infrastructure. 
Read More

Related Events

Economic Development

BIO International 2023

Houston regional partners and leaders are headed to the 2023 BIO International Convention, — the world’s largest gathering of the biotechnology industry. We invite you to come see us at Booth 1472 and learn…

Learn More
Learn More
Executive Partners