In 2019, the Houston Innovation Summit, or THIS, drew 600 in-person attendees for the annual conference celebrating the city’s startup and tech sector. The coronavirus pandemic has turned it into a free virtual event.

There are already several hundred RSVPs for this fourth edition, and this time they’re coming in from all over, said organizer Grace Rodriguez, CEO of Impact Hub Houston, a tech accelerator. It takes place during Global Entrepreneur Week, Nov. 16-22.

“We launched this in 2017 after Hurricane Harvey,” Rodriguez said. “We’re not going to let a pandemic stop us.”

SEATS AT THE TABLE: Rodriguez strives for inclusion in Houston’s tech community

THIS will feature panels throughout the week focusing on various aspects of Houston’s tech infrastructure, ranging from green-energy startups, building an inclusive tech ecosystem and fostering wealth generation in Black communities.

Rodriguez said the organizers are also planning a session looking at how the results of this week’s presidential election could impact Houston’s efforts to expand its tech community.

The conference will also have an emphasis on societal impact, looking at how tech startups and entrepreneurs can develop businesses that “are good for the people and for the planet,” she said.

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“We’re finding that more young people, more new entrepreneurs are caring a lot more about social impact and environmental impact,” Rodgriguez said. “And the themes for Global Entrepreneurship Week this year are education, ecosystems, inclusion and policy.”

THIS will also incorporate some other events happening at the same time, including Climathon Houston, a climate hackathon in which teams look to build green-energy and sustainability technology.

The week culminates with the Listies, a technology awards ceremony honoring the best of Houston’s tech community, organized by the Houston Exponential startup development accelerator.

More information is available at www.thehoustoninnovationsummit.com.

dwight.silverman@chron.com

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