Skip to main content

New Innovation-Focused Programs Emerge at Univ. of Houston

Published Apr 01, 2019 by Maggie Martin

As Houston continues growing as an innovation hub, higher education institutions, including the University of Houston, are implementing new ways to connect and foster students in that sector. 

According to InnovationMap, UH now has a major—and two minor—programs focused on innovation. “Undergraduate students now have the option to major or minor in Technology Leadership and Innovation Management or minor in Applied Innovation,” the online publication reports. “All three options begin in the fall semester of this year in the College of Technology.” UH also recently revamped Energy Research Park as the Technology Bridge, providing space and resources for early-stage, research-based startups.

The university is also developing a digital tech sales academy that offers students graduating with engineering and other technical degrees the opportunity to gain a strong sales and marketing skill set. The university’s award-winning Stagner Sales Excellence Institute piloted the program with a small cohort earlier this spring and is expected to launch a formal program later this year.

The new programs at UH fuse well with the broader effort being led by the Greater Houston Partnership and other organizations to expand the city’s innovation landscape.  The last 18 months have brought the formation of Houston Exponential, the launch of the HX Venture Fund, which had its first close of $25 million last fall, and the designation of an Innovation Corridor that stretches from the TMC and Rice to downtown. Rice University has also begun work to convert a former Sears building in Midtown into the centerpiece of the Innovation District dubbed The Ion. 

Broadening the scope of opportunities at area colleges and universities underscores one of the Greater Houston Partnership’s priorities encapsulated in Houston Next, the organization’s strategic initiative designed to advance Houston’s position as a great global city. As part of those efforts, the Partnership is committed to providing opportunity for all, which includes improving higher education in the region. 

The Partnership’s focus in higher education is guided by the organization’s Higher Education Committee. Members meet several times a year to discuss how to grow our regional institutions, strengthen coordination between institutions and industry and improve the quality and reputations of higher education institutions in the region. 

Bob Harvey, President and CEO of the  Partnership, spoke about the committee’s work in a presentation on higher education at the University of Houston last week. “The business community and others must play an active role in addressing the challenges and harnessing the opportunities that are before us, and that includes the state of higher education,” said Harvey. “Houston leads the top ten U.S. metros in attracting baccalaureate-degreed professionals from outside the metro, but we are last (per capita) in producing that same talent locally.”

The Partnership’s Higher Education Committee has laid out several goals for Houston, including increasing high-value, high-growth tech degree production and attracting more faculty and students to our region’s higher education institutions. 

Learn more about the Partnership's Higher Education Committee here

Related News

Education

Shell, Prairie View A&M Partner to Research Innovative Renewable Energy

1/21/22
Shell Global Solutions has partnered with Prairie View A&M University to launch a $5 million program to research effective carbon dioxide utilization and carbon capture methods. The five-year agreement will be headquartered in the university's College of Agriculture and Human Sciences. It includes building a new state-of-the-art greenhouse and other infrastructure on the campus research farm.  Economists and business leaders agree that the economic vitality and growth of  the metro region’s economy is inextricably tied to the energy industry. That’s why Houston is positioning itself as a leader in the global push toward a low-carbon energy future. Initiatives like the partnership between Prairie View A&M and Shell are critical to solving the challenge of carbon emissions.   “It [the partnership] demonstrates how crucial it is for academia and industry to collaborate. Cross-sector R&D collaboration promotes faster innovation and ideation by integrating expertise from diverse partners,” said Selda Gunsel, president of Shell Global Solutions. The initiative is part of Shell’s nature-based solutions projects to protect, transform or restore land. It allows nature to absorb more CO2 emissions from the atmosphere. Shell also contributed an additional $1 million to PVAMU to provide work experience opportunities to students, creating a pipeline for future talent for the region. Learn more about Houston's effort to lead the global energy transition.  
Read More
Biotechnology

What Does the Word Manufacturing Mean to Houston?

1/12/22
For generations, the word manufacturing was synonymous with places. In Detroit, it meant automobiles; in Ohio and Pennsylvania it meant steel. More recently, in the Silicon Valley and the Research Triangle in North Carolina, it means tech and biopharma. But what does manufacturing mean to Houston?  Houston has long been known as a global energy capital, and the energy industry has certainly played an integral role in driving the economic engine of the Texas Gulf Coast region, and greater Houston, specifically. Fifty years ago, a claim of a diversified Houston economy may have seemed far-fetched. But that is no longer the case. Energy companies across the value stream – upstream (extraction), midstream (transportation and storage), and downstream (refining and manufacturing) – have and continue to grow and create jobs, attracting workers and interrelated businesses to the region; this has generated a complex and far-reaching integrated supply chain of small and mid-size manufacturers and fabricators, vendors, and fixers that support the still-critical energy industry, but also industries that have grown up around it, including health care, transportation, and, more recently, technology.  Today, the greater Houston region is home to more than 6,400 of these manufacturers, which produce a spectrum of products ranging from petrochemicals and plastics to food to medical devices and pharmaceuticals – all worth more than $82 billion annually and making the Houston Metro the second-largest U.S. metro in terms of manufacturing GDP. These companies employ a skilled workforce including nearly 230,000 industrial workers (and growing), making it the country’s fifth largest manufacturing workforce. While economies once overly dependent on a homogenous manufacturing sector work to regain their past prosperity, Houston has a diversified economy, and it relies on a broad manufacturing sector for support. Houston doesn’t necessarily have – or need – a signature marketable manufacturing focus to attract talent and promote job growth. But, in an ever-evolving and more complex global economy, having the diversification of products and services that Houston does is a blessing. As a major logistics hub for the Americas, the Houston region’s ports, railroad network, and airports is an important asset supporting the region’s manufacturers. Houston’s diverse manufacturing base creates a natural hedge as fluctuations in the industries driving the broader American economy continue to ebb and flow. This diversity also presents myriad opportunities for vendors and customers to explore the boundaries of new markets, and for creators and startups to become the next big things as the economy evolves. Manufacturing’s presence also means less risk to outsourcing, low-cost competition, transient workforces, and consolidation. These, in turn, mean more stability long-term, and more jobs. Manufacturing in Houston means biopharma, medical devices, electronic equipment and parts, energy and plastics, logistics and transportation, and food and beverage production – and with a continually increasing population combined with an expanding port of Houston to support these varying areas of manufacturing, the underpinnings are there for continued growth moving forward. In Houston, manufacturing means makerspaces and innovation. It means good jobs. It is multifaceted and evolving all the time, and its future is bright. Learn more about Houston’s manufacturing industry here. The Partnership’s UpSkill Houston initiative serves as a regional backbone to bring together business, education and community leaders, and the public workforce system to develop a skilled workforce and create good pathways to opportunity for all. Learn more and get involved.  
Read More

Related Events