AFLSE Houston: July Chapter News

Walter Ulrich, President and CEO of the Houston Technology Center, speaks on the state of entrepreneurship in Houston.

Long known to the world as an oil and gas center and cattle ranching which over the last couple of decades have transformed into residential suburbia, I was surprised to learn earlier this year that Houston was also home to a leading business incubator, the Houston Technology Center (HTC).  On July 15th, the Houston Chapter Alumni held an event at the Houston Technology Center hosted by Walter Ulrich, President and CEO of the HTC. Walter Ulrich presented our group with, “The State of Entrepreneurship in Houston”.  Ulrich is a graduate of the Stephens Institute of Technology and has his own extensive background as an entrepreneur. He highlighted what makes Houston an ideal destination for businesses to develop. The HTC aligns emerging technology firms with Houston’s strengths in 5 key areas: energy, information technology, life sciences (Texas Medical Center), nanotechnology and aerospace (NASA).

The Houston Technology Center’s record is impressive. Since its inception in the late 1990s, the HTC has assisted over 300 businesses and has helped over 90 companies launch successfully. Its efforts have helped to create over 5000 well-paying jobs and raise over $2.6 billion USD for its client and graduate firms. The HTC is the largest technology business incubator in Texas and has been named by Forbes magazine as one of ‘Ten Technology Incubators Changing the World’. According to Ulrich, firms from far away as France and Brazil have moved their operations here to be a part of the HTC’s development program. And, he predicts that Houston has the potential to rival Silicon Valley as a hub of technology and venture capital.

In attendance from the LSE alumni were John McKay, (BST ’94 in International Economics), Saumitra Saha (MSc ‘05 in Economics), Niklas James (MSc ’09 in Economics and Finance), Jennifer Koller (MSc ’95 in Media and Communications) and Patrick Kennedy (MSc ‘93 in International Relations). Guests included Jennifer’s husband, Ross and their son, Ross Jr. and Adam Feldman, son of Stewart Feldman, an LSE alumnus.
Houston has been shaped since its founding by entrepreneurs. Among many, these include M.D. Anderson for whom the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center is named and which anchors the Texas Medical Center, and William Marshall Rice, for whom Rice University is named. Long known as a forward looking city in part because of its space program, Houston continues that tradition today with the activities of the Houston Technology Center, one of the premier business incubators across the country.