5 Historic Innovations Developed in Houston

Apollo 11 lunar module lies on the surface of the moon (Source: NASA)

There is no doubt that Houston is a city of innovation. In 2021, Houston companies raised more than $ 2 billion in venture funding – nearly tripled the previous year and set a record, according to a Pitchbook analysis conducted by the Partnership. These figures speak to the city’s thriving innovation ecosystem. Houston has a long history of innovation, dating back to the 1900s. Here are five transformative accomplishments that Houston residents can celebrate.

• Apollo Mission 11

View of the mission control center at the Johnson Space Center during the Apollo 11 mission (Source: NASA)

Houston landed the first humans, Neil A. Armstrong and Edwin E. “Aldrin Jr.’s Base,” on the moon with the Apollo 11 mission on July 20, 1969. The NASA Manned Spacecraft Center (now Johnson Space Center) oversaw all aspects of planning, designing, training, and executing missions for the month of Apollo.
• The first artificial heart
On April 4, 1969, Dr. Denton A. Cooley performed the world’s first total artificial heart implantation at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital. The recipient lived 46 hours with an artificial heart until he received a human heart.
• Dome-like sports stadiums

Astrodome (Crediting: Library of Congress, Department of Engraving and Photography, HAER TX-108)

Astrodome was the world’s first air-conditioned indoor dome stadium. It opened on April 9, 1965 and was called the “eighth wonder of the world.” The Houston Astros has been here for more than three decades. Roy Mark Hofheinz, former mayor of Houston and Harris County judge, has set aside an indoor venue to attract more people to sporting events because Houston is hot and humid. Houston architects Herman Lloyd and W. B. Morgan designed the dome in collaboration with Wilson, Morris, Crain and Anderson.
• The first public TV channel
KUHT-TV was the country’s first public television. It was first signed on May 25, 1953. The President of the University of Houston, Dr. Walter Kemerer, proposed an educational television station. KUHT has helped “lay the groundwork for ‘distance education’, a key element of modern higher education,” according to Houston History magazine.
• Weed Eater
Houston businessman George Ballas invented the weed eater in 1972. Balas came up with a solution for mowing the grass, watching the rotation of the bristles in an automatic car wash. By 1977, sales had exceeded $ 80 million. Weed Eater still exists today as a brand that includes mowers, hedge trimmers and air blowers.

Houston has been a center of innovation that is changing the world for more than a century, in energy, life sciences and aerospace, and it continues to build on that reputation. In 2017, Houston Exponential began strengthening and developing the region’s innovation ecosystem by attracting talent and supporting startups or organizations trying to expand. HX was born from the Innovation Partnership Group and the Innovation Task Force.

Information technology and healthcare were the two main industries with the largest investments in 2021. Information technology raised $ 632.1 million and healthcare $ 518.4 million.

Industry experts are confident that Houston is well positioned to become a national leader in technological innovation through its extensive support system, economic strength, diverse culture of collaboration and quality of life. There are more than 50 incubators and accelerators and startup development organizations in the region.

Read the latest Venture Capital Partnership report here. Learn more about the tremendous growth of the Houston technology ecosystem in the Houston Technical Report.

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