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SXSW Roll Call: Houston Here!

Published Mar 02, 2022 by David Ruiz

Houston on Skyline Screenshot

Houston innovation will make an appearance at this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference in Austin. For the second year in a row, the Greater Houston Partnership’s Houston House is preparing to showcase Houston leaders and companies accelerating the city’s thriving innovation ecosystem. From record-breaking venture capital activity to the energy transition, the Houston House line up will feature investors, startup founders and industry MVPs.

The Thrilling Tech Ecosystem 

Home to the largest medical center in the world, Houston’s innovation in life-sciences is a global commitment. This year’s lineup will unite leaders to discuss medical device technologies and the breakthroughs in cell behavior and medicine. The panels MedTech Transforming Healthcare Industry and Accelerating Innovation in Biotech will feature some of the industry’s top talent, highlighting local advancements in biotech reaching the global community.

The Bayou City’s competitive tech ecosystem continues to empower the region’s innovation activity and grow the esports sector. The electronic sports phenomenon has earned a spot in this year’s conference with the panel Game Changers: The Rise of Sports Tech. Panelists will dive into the explosive growth of esports, including the opportunities for founders, investors and fans. 

HOU to the Moon

Dubbed Space City, it’s clear Houston’s space exploration activity remains unrivaled on the national stage. The Houston House panel The Commercial Space Age Is Here will unite distinguished scientists from NASA and private space startups for an insightful discussion on how this cooperation is enabling the next frontier of space exploration.

Sustainable, Climate Resilient Houston

Following the Partnership’s release of the Houston Energy Transition Initiative, the region’s clean energy innovation has reached new limits and set higher goals. Houston’s ability to transition to clean energy while addressing climate change will continue to position it as a city of the future while remaining the Energy Capital of the World. 

This year’s lineup embraces Houston’s role in the global energy transition, powered by executives driving the solutions behind several of the world’s pressing issues. The panels Funding the Global Energy Transition, Dream Team: Corporates & Startups in ClimateTech, and Roadmap to an Equitable Energy Transition will bring together private and corporate investors to discuss the heightened importance of VC in the energy transition space, collaboration advancing low carbon solutions, regulatory deficiencies, and addressing economic inequities caused by climate change.

Innovation in energy transition will be the topic of discussion for the panel Tech Powering the Global Energy Transition. The Partnership’s own Senior Vice President of Energy Transition Jane Stricker will be joined by founders from some of the world's most promising energy tech startups to discuss their critical role in accelerating the global energy transition. 

Diversity in the Innovation Ecosystem

Despite being a critical force in the U.S. economy, diverse entrepreneurs represent a major funding gap. Access to funding remains a tightly guarded gateway to success and it breaks down to a trillion-dollar missed opportunity in the VC space. Houston House’s panel Funding the Next Generation of Diverse Founders will assemble leaders and investors to discuss the key challenges facing diverse entrepreneurs today and the necessary ingredients in building an inclusive innovation ecosystem.

Houston's participation at SXSW will culminate with a dynamic networking session hosted by HX Venture Fund Managing Director Sandy Guitar alongside Syzygy Plasmonics CEO Trevor Best. The networking event Meet Houston's Top Tech Founders will unite Houston's top founders, spotlighting innovation and discussing startup funding.

Houston House’s return to SXSW in person creates the ideal platform to promote Houston’s position as the most prominent emerging innovation hub in the country.

Learn more about Houston’s strengths and see our complete lineup online.

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The Texas Medical Center plans to expand by building a new biomanufacturing facility, TMC BioPort, that aims to further advance Houston’s life sciences ecosystem. Bill McKeon, President and CEO of TMC, shared the announcement during the Partnership’s annual State of the Texas Medical Center event this week.  “TMC BioPort will be the home of our biomanufacturing. This will be a new 500-acre campus and we are still in the due diligence phase. We believe this alone will add another 100,000 jobs,” McKeon said.  In addition to serving as the primary biomanufacturing and medical supplies distribution engine, BioPort will offer an on-site upskill training center. McKeon said the COVID-19 pandemic revealed the importance of having manufacturing facilities like the BioPort in the region. The new campus is expected to create over 100,000 new jobs as the region works to meet the increased demand for biomanufacturing capacities. McKeon added the new campus will double the size of TMC in roughly five years.  McKeon also announced that TMC Innovation Factory Labs will open in the first quarter of 2023 at the TMC Innovation campus, which opened in 2015 in the former Nabisco Cookie Factory.  TMC Helix Park, formerly known as TMC3, will serve as the anchor of the multiple districts. Phase one of the 37-acre life science campus is slated for completion in 2023. McKeon said Helix Park will encourage collaboration among industry, academia and entrepreneurs through more than six million square feet of developed space as well as nearly 19 acres of green space. The TMC3 Collaborative Building, the first multi-institutional research facility in TMC’s history, is expected to finish next year. The project is expected to  add 27,000 jobs to the area.  TMC and its 61 institutions are consistently attracting recognition nationwide as some of the top hospitals and universities, contributing to Houston’s rising position at the forefront of advancing life sciences. Houston ranks as No. 2 in the U.S. by CBRE for the top emerging life science clusters.   “I know the Texas Medical Center will continue to thrive not only as an economic powerhouse for the region but will spearhead accelerating Houston as a global leader in life sciences and health care,” said the Partnership’s President and CEO Bob Harvey.   Read more about Houston’s life sciences industry.
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Last Week in the Energy Capital of the World

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For over 100 years, Houston has been a global hub of energy activity. That tradition continues today, particularly as the world transitions toward lower carbon energy solutions. In 2021, HETI was launched to support Houston’s continued economic growth and prosperity through the transition to an energy-abundant, low-carbon world. HETI’s mission is to leverage the region’s energy leadership to accelerate global solutions for a low carbon energy future. Last week was an exciting one for the energy capital. The Partnership hosted visits from both the U.S. Secretary of Energy and the Queen of the Netherlands – both to talk clean energy and Houston’s leadership. Click to expand Jane Stricker, Secretary Jennifer Granholm and Bob Harvey On Thursday, September 8th, at Plumbers Local 68 in Houston, the U.S. Department of Energy announced its Enhanced Geothermal Shot Program, designed to reduce the cost of geothermal production by 90% to $45/KwH. The event included participation from several HETI members and friends, including Schlumberger, Houston Advanced Research Center, Fervo Energy, and Criterion Energy Partners. This announcement represents the fourth in a series of DoE’s Energy Earthshot programs.  It’s not surprising that Houston was the selected location for this announcement. The same technology that has been used for decades to extract oil and gas resources from the earth can also be leveraged to extract the earth’s heat – a renewable, natural, carbon-free resource that could generate up to five terawatts of clean power to support the world’s transition to low-carbon energy solutions. Enhanced geothermal energy depends upon the ability to drill to depths of at least 4000ft to access the natural heat within the earth. Where else in the world can you find the talent, experience, and know-how to develop solutions to meet the geothermal challenge than Houston? Later that day, Secretary of Energy, Jennifer Granholm, and Assistant Secretary of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management, Brad Crabtree, met with several of Houston’s energy industry leaders at the Greater Houston Partnership to discuss opportunities associated with enhanced geothermal energy development. Click to expand Queen Máxima of the Netherlands On Friday, the Greater Houston Partnership had the opportunity to host a delegation from the Netherlands, including, to discuss the strong economic partnership that exists between the Netherlands and Texas, particularly with respect to energy and ports. During an open dialogue between Houston and Netherlands port and energy leadership, the two regions explored opportunities to support each other in developing energy-abundant, low carbon solutions, including clean hydrogen. Earlier this year, the Center for Houston’s Future published a report detailing how Houston could become a hub of clean hydrogen production and export for the region.   Learn more about all the ways Houston is leading the world toward an energy-abundant, low-carbon future. If you have a story that demonstrates Houston’s leadership in the energy transition, we want to tell it, so email us at HETImedia@houston.org.
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