Downtown’s Innovation District continues to be the center of gravity for technology and entrepreneurship in the Houston region.
Today, more than 250 early-stage software and digital technology companies are already a part of the Downtown innovation community driven by the collisions and culture that attract high value talent.
Strategically located within Houston, Downtown’s Innovation District is uniquely positioned as the central node of a larger innovation corridor that can leverage distinct partnership advantages with UH-Downtown, Texas Southern University, University of Houston, Rice University and the Texas Medical Center in order to grow entrepreneurial activity and retain local talent.
The Downtown Innovation District also leverages Downtown’s advantage in the energy sector by encouraging incubator, accelerator, and co-working spaces targeted at energy technology, manufacturing technology, alternative energy, and energy lifecycle companies, as well as the desired urban lifestyles of employees and company founders. Healthcare, cybersecurity, enterprise software development, climate resilience and adaptation, and autonomous vehicle innovation are all strong secondary sectors with innovation potential.
Houston Innovation Corridor
Houston’s Innovation Corridor is located at the center of an extraordinarily powerful social and economic convergence. Linked by light-rail, bike lanes and sidewalks to Houston’s four-mile-long Innovation Corridor, the campus offers easy access to key industry and institutional players and an unparalleled array of amenities.
Anchored on the south by the world’s largest medical complex, the Texas Medical Center along with top-ranked Rice University, the Corridor runs north along Houston’s light-rail line through the 700-acre Hermann Park, and Museum District. It continues past the eclectic Montrose neighborhood and through Midtown, home to a millennial-friendly mix of housing, dining and recreational options. The Corridor reaches its northern limit in Downtown, the nexus of corporate headquarters, financial institutions and professional service firms, and a wide variety of cultural and recreational amenities. The Corridor also features professional sports, countless museums, numerous parks and green spaces, one of the largest theater districts in the country and a highly-acclaimed restaurant and nightlife scene. With proximity to a wide range of housing options, the Corridor already attracts top talent from around the globe. It’s home to some of Houston’s largest companies along with an emerging startup scene.
Downtown’s Emerging Tech, Innovation and Entreprenuerial Ecosystem
Expanding at a rapid pace in 2019, Downtown’s emerging tech, innovation and entrepreneurial innovation ecosystem gained several new co-working spaces (Life Time Work, WeWork, Spaces), two new accelerators and one incubator (MassChallenge, Founder Institute, WeWork Labs), and two notable tech tenants (Ruths.ai and UiPath), further strengthening Houston’s urban innovation ecosystem, making Downtown even more competitive as a tech and innovation hub.
Downtown now has nine co-working companies, a key amenity for cluster growth (with several more recently announced during mid-2019 and will come online later in the year). In addition, Downtown also gained new accelerator and incubator spaces. Supported by a $2.5 million grant economic development grant from the Downtown Redevelopment Authority (DRA), an affiliate of Central Houston, Inc., global nonprofit startup accelerator, MassChallenge, expanded into Downtown during 2019. Headquartered in Boston, and with locations in Israel, Mexico, Rhode Island, Switzerland, and Texas, MassChallenge attracts a diverse range of global high-potential startups from all industries.
Silicon Valley-based Founder Institute, a global early stage accelerator program, also launched its second Texas location in Houston in 2019, operating out of Station Houston. Meanwhile, WeWork launched its global startup incubator program, WeWork Labs. Downtown also gained two notable tech tenants in the same timeframe: oil and gas AI-enabled analytics platform, Ruths.ai, and global robotics company UiPath, which has a presence in 18 countries, moved into the Main&Co (114 Main) historic redevelopment, accounting for 100% of the office space in the mixed-use facility.
As a result, Downtown’s hubs of innovation are creating momentum and building density for an emerging tech, innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem that attracts talent, innovation and excitement to Houston’s urban core.
#1 Best Energy and Resource-Based Think Tanks in the World – Rice University’s Center for Energy Studies - 2018 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report, 2019
#2 on Top 25 Best Undergrad Programs for Entrepreneurs – University of Houston - The Princeton Review, 2018
#2 Best U.S. Metro Areas for STEM Workers - American Enterprise Institute's Housing Center, 2019
#2 Top Emerging Life Sciences Cluster – CBRE, 2019
#4 The Best Cities for Women in Tech in 2019 – SmartAsset, 2019
#5 Top 10 Ecosystems with Largest Share of Female Founders - Global Startup Ecosystem Report, 2019
#14 (tie) Best Undergraduate Engineering Program – U.S. News & World Report, 2019