- Houston Exponential (HX), an organization focused on developing the innovation economy in Houston, announced it has closed the first round of its HX Venture Fund with $25 million in commitments from nine leading companies.
- The partners in the first round of funding include: Insperity, Chevron, Shell, Quanta Services, Westlake Chemical, The Plank Companies, PROS, HEB and Camden. The companies offer "diverse representation across several sectors," including energy, software development and real estate development, according to a release.
- The three main goals of HX are to make Houston a top 10 innovation ecosystem, to generate $2 billion in venture capital annually and to create 10,000 new tech jobs each year by 2022.
In an interview this week with Smart Cities Dive, Mayor Sylvester Turner touted Houston's reputation as the "Silicon Bayou" and applauded organizations including Texas Medical Center and the Greater Houston Partnership for their efforts in advancing Houston as a technology hub.
"I'm very excited about the number of companies and the quality of companies that are coming to Houston," Turner said. "We don't need to be like Silicon Valley, but we certainly need to do more in an integrated way in building this ecosystem when it comes to startup technology innovation."
Turner also noted Houston is the "most diverse city in the United States" and suggested this diversity sets the city apart from other major metropolitan areas that are trying to advance as top technology markets. The diversity of the various companies that have invested in the HX Venture Fund play to this theme as well.
Aside from HX, Houston has made strides this year in positioning itself as a competitive market for technology opportunities. In early 2018, the city announced its 9.4-acre innovation district, in collaboration with Rice University, that will become home to "iconic" public space and leading infrastructure, among other innovative offerings. Additionally, Houston is a pilot city for Verizon's 5G Home service, and Microsoft has partnered with the city to advance its internet of things (IoT) capabilities.