Mayor Turner, business leaders mark significant milestone for Houston innovation community

Houston, Oct. 11, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Houston Exponential today announced the first closing for HX Venture Fund. The Fund is Houston’s first venture capital fund of funds and closed the first round with $25 million in commitments from nine leading Houston companies.  The Limited Partners in the first round closing include: Insperity, Chevron, Shell, Quanta Services, Westlake Chemical, The Plank Companies, PROS, HEB and Camden.

HX Venture Fund is a significant component of Houston Exponential’s mission of positioning Houston as a top 10 innovation ecosystem by 2022. The closing marks a key milestone for HX Venture Fund, which aims to achieve an attractive return for investors, appeal to leading venture capital firms to offer their expertise and risk capital to the region and create a pathway for innovation and information to flow among corporations, startups and innovators.

“This is another transformational moment for Houston,” said Gina Luna, chair of Houston Exponential. “From day one at Houston Exponential, we have been executing a plan to accelerate the growth of the ecosystem, including connecting Houston startups with the capital they need to grow their businesses. This is a significant, tangible milestone. Houston’s leading companies have stepped up in a big way to make this happen, and this is a clear signal that Houston is committed to success.”

Houston Exponential was formed in October 2017 as a vehicle to bolster Houston’s innovation ecosystem. Houston Exponential combined three different initiatives: the Mayor’s Technology and Innovation Task Force, the Houston Technology Center, and the Greater Houston Partnership’s Innovation Roundtable.

“Houston’s tech scene is certainly on a roll. The fact that these companies have stepped up and invested in the HX Venture Fund is a testament to our shared commitment to further develop the innovation environment here," Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said. “So many partners are contributing: the Innovation District announced by Rice, the TMC3 campus in the Texas Medical Center, Verizon choosing Houston as a 5G launch point, Microsoft enriching online strategies in city government and with the public, and Google announcing big deals with energy firms here. Houston is ripe for opportunity and we are starting to turn some heads across the tech world.”

The Anchor Investor of the Fund is Insperity, a leading provider of human resources and business performance solutions headquartered in Houston.  Insperity made a commitment up to $5 million last October.  In addition to the initial commitment, Insperity contributed the necessary runway capital to launch and support the daily operations of the Fund through the formation period. 

“This is a great day for Houston and startup businesses across our community,” said Paul J. Sarvadi, Insperity co-founder, chairman and chief executive officer. "Insperity is committed to helping businesses run better, grow faster and make more money. That is what Houston Exponential and the HX Venture Fund are all about and we are proud to be part of the effort.” 

The Fund was launched based on the best practice model established by the Renaissance Venture Capital Fund in Michigan that has elevated the positioning of the state’s innovation economy while generating financial returns that have outperformed national benchmarks.  Renaissance Fund’s CEO and Fund Manager, Chris Rizik, serves on the HX Venture Fund’s investment committee.

“I’ve spoken to many cities about Renaissance’s fund of funds model and the impact it has had on Michigan,” said Rizik.  “Houston has leaned into this model and it is impressive what they have been able to accomplish in a short time.  It is a testament to the commitment of Houston’s business and tech leaders to growing the ecosystem.  It’s really exciting to see.”

Joining Chris Rizik on the investment committee are Charles Tate and Paul Hobby. The Fund manager is Guillermo Borda.  Borda has held a variety of venture capital and private equity roles, including managing capital via large fund of funds for four of the largest public pension funds in the U.S.

The nine Limited Partner companies include diverse representation across several sectors including energy, computer hardware development and manufacturing, software development, business services, and real estate development.

Successful closing of this first round of funding comes at a time of accelerated momentum for Houston Exponential and the innovation ecosystem including the announcement of the Houston Innovation District in Midtown Houston by the Rice Management Company, managers of the Rice University endowment. In addition, the Texas Medical Center, the world’s largest medical city, announced the TMC3 expansion, a 30-acre translational research campus set to break ground next year.

Houston Exponential was launched in October 2017. The organization’s three main goals are to make Houston a top 10 innovation ecosystem, generate $2 billion in venture capital annually and create 10,000 new technology jobs a year by 2022.


Houston Exponential

Houston Exponential is a dynamic organization that serves, organizes, champions and grows the region’s innovation ecosystem. HX is accelerating the development of Houston’s innovation economy, fostering a robust ecosystem that supports high-growth, high-impact startups.

HX was created by the Greater Houston Partnership’s Innovation Round Table, Mayor Turner’s Innovation and Technology Task Force, and the Houston Technology Center.  By convening the ecosystem, helping to build an innovation district in Houston, attracting talent to the region and promoting Houston’s image, both locally and nationally, as a vibrant, innovative economy where startups thrive, we will bolster Houston’s innovation ecosystem and drive the region to become a top 10 startup ecosystem.


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