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Houston-area entrepreneurs land on Forbes 30 Under 30 — and more things to know this week

Giga Energy's co-founders landed on Forbes 30 Under 30 — plus more things to know this week. Photo via gigaenergy.com

Editor's note: It's a new week — start it strong with three quick things to catch up on in Houston's energy transition: an event not to miss, a podcast to stream, and more.

East Texas entrepreneurs score prestigious 30 Under 30 recognition

Giga Energy co-founders Matt Lohstroh and Brent Whitehead secured spots on Forbes' annual 30 Under 30 ranking in the energy category. The Texas A&M University alumni founded the company in 2019. The startup's technology uses flare gas to generate clean and sustainable energy that is redirected into powering shipping containers full of bitcoin miners they put on top of oil wells.

Event not to miss

There's one last energy-related event for the year. On December 19, the UH Tech Bridge's Innov8Hub Pitch Day is your last chance of the year to network with industry experts, and discover the next big thing. Register.

Podcast to stream: Peter Rodriguez, dean of Rice University's Jones Graduate School of Business, on the Houston Innovators Podcast

Houston is known as the energy capital of the world, and the industry is ingrained into Rice University's DNA — especially the university's business school.

"We are deeply connected — and have been for a long time," says Peter Rodriguez, dean of Rice University's Jones Graduate School of Business. "One of the five pillars of our strategy is to be the leading business school in the country for the studying and the advancement for the energy transition and decarbonization of the economy. We think we can be the premiere school for training people for this rapidly evolving field of energy and to promulgate great research."

Rodriguez shares more about what he's accomplished in his tenure as dean on the Houston Innovators Podcast.

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A View From HETI

Houston could have ranked higher on a global report of top cities in the world if it had a bit more business diversification. Photo via Getty Images

A new analysis positions the Energy Capital of the World as an economic dynamo, albeit a flawed one.

The recently released Oxford Economics Global Cities Index, which assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the world’s 1,000 largest cities, puts Houston at No. 25.

Houston ranks well for economics (No. 15) and human capital (No. 18), but ranks poorly for governance (No. 184), environment (No. 271), and quality of life (No. 298).

New York City appears at No. 1 on the index, followed by London; San Jose, California; Tokyo; and Paris. Dallas lands at No. 18 and Austin at No. 39.

In its Global Cities Index report, Oxford Economics says Houston’s status as “an international and vertically integrated hub for the oil and gas sector makes it an economic powerhouse. Most aspects of the industry — downstream, midstream, and upstream — are managed from here, including the major fuel refining and petrochemicals sectors.”

“And although the city has notable aerospace and logistics sectors and has diversified into other areas such as biomedical research and tech, its fortunes remain very much tied to oil and gas,” the report adds. “As such, its economic stability and growth lag other leading cities in the index.”

The report points out that Houston ranks highly in the human capital category thanks to the large number of corporate headquarters in the region. The Houston area is home to the headquarters of 26 Fortune 500 companies, including ExxonMobil, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Sysco.

Another contributor to Houston’s human capital ranking, the report says, is the presence of Rice University, the University of Houston and the Texas Medical Center.

“Despite this,” says the report, “it lacks the number of world-leading universities that other cities have, and only performs moderately in terms of the educational attainment of its residents.”

Slower-than-expected population growth and an aging population weaken Houston’s human capital score, the report says.

Meanwhile, Houston’s score for quality is life is hurt by a high level of income inequality, along with a low life expectancy compared with nearly half the 1,000 cities on the list, says the report.

Also in the quality-of-life bucket, the report underscores the region’s variety of arts, cultural, and recreational activities. But that’s offset by urban sprawl, traffic congestion, an underdeveloped public transportation system, decreased air quality, and high carbon emissions.

Furthermore, the report downgrades Houston’s environmental stature due to the risks of hurricanes and flooding.

“Undoubtedly, Houston is a leading business [center] that plays a key role in supporting the U.S. economy,” says the report, “but given its shortcomings in other categories, it will need to follow the path of some of its more well-rounded peers in order to move up in the rankings.”

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This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

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