What makes Houston one of the nation’s most innovative cities of the future but also represents its biggest challenge? Its diversity.
Hand-wringing over the diversification of those who call America’s fourth largest city home is beside the point, said Stephen Klineberg, founding director at Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research. “It’s done; it’s already happening,” he told about 300 audience members at the inaugural Houston 2035 conference last Thursday at TMCx.
Instead of focusing on the differences between socio-economic and ethnic groups, embrace them, said Bill Aulet of the MIT Martin Trust Center for Entrepreneurship, who followed Klineberg onstage. “Take advantage of the demographics,” he said. “WASPs don’t found companies; they aren’t entrepreneurs.”
During Houston 2035, part of Xconomy’s Xponential Cities series, a group of Texas and national voices gathered to discuss how the city could remain an innovative leader in the decades to come. The topics included strengths in healthcare, energy, and education, as well as infrastructure, development, urban revitalization, and the search for talent.
“This is a powerful brand that is not being leveraged,” said Ferran Prat, vice president of strategic industry ventures at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
One of the ways that Houston can leverage the research and the millions of patients that seek out care at Texas Medical Center institutions is by targeting “small data,” said John Holcomb, vice chair of the department of surgery at the University of Texas Health Science Center and a co-founder of healthIT startup Decisio Healthcare.