Houston Innovation District

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Houston Innovation District
Project logo 02.png
Project Information
Has title Houston Innovation District
Has owner Ben Baldazo, Dylan Dickens, Joe Reilly, Taylor Jacobe, Anne Dayton
Has start date 9/20/2017
Has deadline date
Has project status Active
Does subsume Houston Entrepreneurship
Has sponsor McNair Center
Has project output Content
Copyright © 2019 edegan.com. All Rights Reserved.

Project Summary

Mayor of Houston has asked us to make recommendations about how to create an innovation district in Houston

  • Go through patent data, find people with patents
  • Find people who have done R&D work
  • Carve up the world of innovative people in terms of data
    • Find their needs
    • Turn it into some sort of office space requirement
    • Try to find where this office space would be, what it would look like

Data Summary

Doc with summary of info: https://docs.google.com/a/rice.edu/document/d/17iorMk9KeQV5UJmzGFvBiwKk20sybvAJDeFvbkNzpfw/edit?usp=sharing

Info we have:

  • Startups (in Houston Entrepreneurship)
  • Accelerators/Incubators (in Houston Entrepreneurship)
  • Entrepreneurship Ecosystems (in Houston Entrepreneurship)
  • Small Business (in Houston Entrepreneurship)
  • VC (in E:\McNair\Projects\Innovation Districts\Houston Startup Ecosystem\VCData). VC locations have already been geocoded. For a final map, use info in "VC firms with address, basic sector info" to match sector and size with each VC firm. Bigger VC firms who invest in more relevant sectors should be emphasized more.
  • Patents in Houston (in E:\McNair\Projects\Innovation Districts\Houston Startup Ecosystem > HoustonPatents.txt)
  • Office Space (for sale and lease): Info on largest office spaces available (in E:\McNair\Projects\Innovation Districts\Houston Startup Ecosystem\Location and Projects\Innovation Districts\Houston Startup Ecosystem\Files to Geocode. Additional files with prices included in both folders.)
  • US median income for 2000 and (estimated) for 2015 (in E:\McNair\Projects\Innovation Districts\Houston Startup Ecosystem\Location data)
  • Educational Attainment (in section below)
  • 15 best Cafes in Houston (Projects\Innovation Districts\Houston Startup Ecosystem\Files to Geocode)
  • Houston Industry Breakdown (in E:\McNair\Projects\Innovation Districts\Houston Startup Ecosystem ["Houston Gross Area Product by Industry", "Houston employment share by industry" excel files and "Industry breakdown..." text file.])
  • Grant Data (in E:\McNair\Projects\Innovation Districts\Houston Startup Ecosystem\Texas Federal Grant Data. Can filter by county/city)
  • Preliminary map: Dylan aggregated the geocoded data for VC Firms, Accelerators, Incubators, University Accelerators, Hubs, and startups into one CSV saved in the Houston Innovation Districts folder called VC Firms, Institutions, Startups Geocoded. Quickly put together this preliminary map as a starting point. The institutions, vc firms, and startups are blue dots, and I layered the bike lane shapefile as purple lines and park shapefile as green polygons on top. Shapefiles are in the Shapefiles folder in the Houston innovation District folder
  • Public Transportation maps in E:\McNair\Projects\Innovation Districts\Houston Startup Ecosystem\Location data
  • Houston NSF grants located in E:\McNair\Projects\Innovation Districts\Houston Startup Ecosystem
  • Risk preparedness: Houston floodmap: (at http://www.harriscountyfemt.org/). In a study published just before Harvey, predictive maps were shown to be largely inadequate for predicting flooding locations: https://www.forbes.com/sites/trevornace/2017/09/18/fema-flood-maps-missed-claims-harvey-houston/#32e295be9938
  • Used GDP and employment statistics for measurements of Stability of Houston's economy compared to other Metro areas. (at http://mcnair.bakerinstitute.org/wiki/Houston_Innovation_District#Predictability_of_Houston.27s_economy)
  • Government programs and benefits (at http://mcnair.bakerinstitute.org/wiki/Houston_Innovation_District#Houston_Development_Incentives_and_Regulations)
  • Crime and Safety (at http://mcnair.bakerinstitute.org/wiki/Houston_Innovation_District#Safety)
  • Yelp data on Cafes and restaurants within the 610 loop- (in E:\McNair\Projects\Innovation Districts\Houston Startup Ecosystem\Restaurants and Coffee)


  • Other R&D data in Houston
  • Competition

Understanding Innovation Districts

  • Factors relating to best Innovation Districts:

Factors for innovation district.png Source: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/312173269_fig15_Figure-19-Key-success-factors-for-innovation-district-development

Data wanted is in bold

Optimize Land Use and Placemaking

  • Flexibility, responding to market preferences
    • Available office space/undeveloped land in Houston
    • Availability of capital
      • equity
      • VC
      • Investors of all kinds
  • Infrastructure and land as a platform for experimentation
    • Flexibility of space and infrastructure
  • Placemaking to achieve critical mass of real estate and commercial activity and authentic sense of place
    • Location, location, location

Strategy as a City of Innovation

  • and leverage the regional innovation context
    • What we currently have going for us as a city- who is here and how can we leverage them?
      • R&D Data
      • Patent Data
  • Prioritize attention on city wide eco-system and development and networking
    • Current Government benefits to improve innovation ecosystem
    • What would we ideally have to attract business
  • Grow and support existing innovation firms and activity
  • Manage externalities that arise
    • Houston's risk preparedness
    • Competition?
  • Adapt through cycles
    • Stability of Houston's economy data

Build the City's Innovation Brand

  • Leverage city DNA and expertise in promoting innovation
    • Where is Houston at the forefront?
  • Develop innovation brand as a broad identity and shared narrative
    • How can we market the city as an innovator? How do we gain that image?
  • Invite others to feel and experience the innovation culture
    • How accessibile is Houston?
      • Public transportation
      • Travel costs: flying, lodging

A thought: Houston's key capabilities seem to be in Oil/Gas/Energy and Medicine. Can we start by portraying Houston as a leading innovator in those areas? Innovation district can start with our core capabilities

Location data

  • Information on largest office spaces available, and on US median income for 2000 and (estimated) for 2015 are located in E:\McNair\Projects\Innovation Districts\Houston Startup Ecosystem\Location data.
  • Office spaces for sale in the the zip codes listed below were compiled in "Office property listings..." in E:\McNair\Projects\Innovation Districts\Houston Startup Ecosystem\Location data. Included is acreage/square footage and address. Listings under "office space" that looked like houses were removed.
    • Listings pulled from zip codes:
      • 77002
      • 77003
      • 77004
      • 77005
      • 77006
      • 77007
      • 77008
      • 77009
      • 77019
      • 77098
      • 77030
      • 77027
      • 77025
      • 77046
      • 77024
      • 77056
      • 77057
      • 77401

Pulling Yelp Data

It seems entirely possible, though against the terms of service of yelp, to pull data from Houston centered searches for things like cafe's or bars. Peter J has done some work like this before with his "Chipotle" and "Starbucks" finder webapps and is working on creating a map / pulling the data from google or yelp to have the locations of all of these points of commerce within the 610 loop.

Yelp API

Yelp does provide an API for 3rd party developers, and documentation is available here.

However, the API limits the search results to 40 for any geographically oriented search. This is hardly a dataset, so we are going to crawl.

Yelp Crawler

The code for the crawler can be found here:


The script runs a search on Restaurants and Coffeeshops in Houston within the 610 Loop. There are 992 results for restaurants, and 270 results for coffeeshops. The data can be found in:

E:\McNair\Projects\Innovation Districts\Houston Startup Ecosystem\Restaurants and Coffee

Educational Attainment

  • For the city of Houston,
    • High school graduate or higher, percent of persons age 25 years+, 2011-2015: 76.7%
    • Bachelor's degree or higher, percent of persons age 25 years+, 2011-2015: 30.4%
  • For Harris County,
    • High school graduate or higher, percent of persons age 25 years+, 2011-2015: 79.6%
    • Bachelor's degree or higher, percent of persons age 25 years+, 2011-2015: 29.5%
  • Compared to the rest of the US:
    • High school graduate or higher, percent of persons age 25 years+, 2011-2015 83.3% 86.7%
    • Bachelor's degree or higher, percent of persons age 25 years+, 2011-2015 20.4% 29.8%

source: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/harriscountytexas,houstoncitytexas,US/PST045216

Houston Development Incentives and Regulations

  • Historic Sites: http://www.houstontx.gov/ecodev/historic_site_tax_exemption.html
  • Tax Abatements: Houston created a program that encourages new growth, new development, and new jobs: tax abatements. These abatements attempt to strengthen Houston’s existing competitive advantages, while augmenting Houston’s emerging markets. http://www.houstontx.gov/ecodev/tax_abatements.html. Projects that qualify have one of the following situations:
    • A developer builds in a declining part of Houston, a place where the project increases job opportunities, reduces poverty, or redevelops an area.
    • The rare situation when a developer requires an abatement to remain, expand, or locate, in Houston, a situation where Houston’s job and economic market is significantly strengthened by the developer’s presence.
    • A company invests in real estate that serves the public. Such an investment could provide affordable housing or rejuvenate a blighted area.
  • 380 Agreements: To make loans and/or grants of public money and to provide personnel and/or services of the City of Houston for the purpose of promoting state or local economic development. Also accepts donations and contributions to fund this program. http://www.houstontx.gov/ecodev/380agreements.html. An eligible project must include:
    • construction of substantial new real property improvements of at least $2,500,000 in value, or extensive renovation of existing improvements, on land owned or to be acquired by the applicant; and documented equity investment of at least $500,000 ( loans to the project and guarantees of third party financing do not qualify);
    • and either: documented creation of at least 25 new full time jobs (40-hours per week), and retention of such jobs for a period of no less than five years; or creation of affordable housing or transitional housing, to be established by deed restrictions recorded in the Official Public Records of Real Property of the county in which the property is located.
  • Texas Enterprise Zones: Areas of underinvestment, places of distress targeted for rejuvenation. Terms:
    • This economic revival comes in the form of state sales and use tax refunds. These reimbursements are based on how much a company invests and the number of jobs a company creates. Job and investment requirements fall in the chart at http://www.houstontx.gov/ecodev/enterprise_zones.html
    • Besides these investment requirements, a municipality must nominate the company to the state government. The city of Houston may nominate 9 areas every 2 years.
  • Tax Increment Reinvestment Zones: Tax Increment Reinvestment Zones (TIRZs) are special zones created by City Council to attract new investment in an area. TIRZs help finance costs of redevelopment and encourage development in areas that would otherwise not attract sufficient market development in a timely manner. Taxes attributable to new improvements (tax increments) are set-aside in a fund to finance public improvements within the boundaries of the zone.

Predictability/stability of Houston's economy

File listing Metro area GDP for Houston, DFW, Chicago, New York, and LA metro areas located in E:\McNair\Projects\Innovation Districts\Houston Startup Ecosystem\Houston stability measurements.

  • Standard deviation of monthly GDP for the last 16 years calculated for each metro area.

Also in E:\McNair\Projects\Innovation Districts\Houston Startup Ecosystem\Houston stability measurements is "employment stability measures", which shows the variation in employment data since 1990 for the metro areas Houston, DFW, New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago.

  • Standard deviation of monthly employment totals, and monthly unemployment rates for the past 27 years calculated for each metro area



Houston police monthly archives

On http://www.houstontx.gov/police/cs/crime-stats-archives.htm, there's an excel file for each month's crime report. A crime report lists the street name, block range, offense time, hour, and location type of each crime. This is the only list of Houston crimes with their location that I can find. Files saved in E:\McNair\Projects\Innovation Districts\Houston Startup Ecosystem\Safety. "Addresses of all Houston crimes 2016" contains the address of every reported crime in 2016 in Houston; this file is saved in E:\McNair\Projects\Innovation Districts\Houston Startup Ecosystem\Files for Geocoding as well. See http://mcnair.bakerinstitute.org/wiki/Talk:Houston_Innovation_District

Unsure of how to collect large quantities of this data. Maps below contain relevant info but not in a downloadable format. Many large cities have comprehensive crime addresses listed on https://catalog.data.gov/dataset?tags=crime, but Houston doesn't.

This map shifts quite a bit depending on the time period you look at. I looked at Crime report data from Oct 5-19, 2017.

Most Dangerous Areas:

  1. Midtown/Downtown by the intersection of 59 and 45: 65 total crimes in local area, 14 violent
  2. Main Downtown: 61 total crimes in local area, 5 violent
  3. Downtown by the intersection of 10 and 45: 47 total crimes reported in local area, 11 violent
  4. Midtown, where Elgin becomes Westheimer: 49 total crimes in local area, 10 violent
  5. Museum District: 45 total crimes in local area, 10 violent
  6. Greater Third Ward: 30 total crimes in local area, 10 violent
  7. Wesleyan and Richmond: 30 total crimes in local area, 2 violent
  8. East of downtown, but the Gus Wortham Golf Course: 27 total violent crimes in local area, 5 violent