City of Houston Announces First-of-Its-Kind Alliance with Microsoft to Expand Innovation and Computer Literacy

ABOVE: Mayor Sylvester Turner is joined by Microsoft executives and members of Houston City Council to announce new partnership with the City of Houston

The City of Houston is continuing to make creative and innovative strides toward putting Houston on the frontier of technological innovation, as Mayor Sylvester Turner recently announced that the city is the first in the nation to form an alliance with the tech giant Microsoft.

“On a long-term basis, Microsoft will up Houston’s technology game, starting at the grassroots,” said Mayor Turner. “Now you know what I meant when I said in my annual State of the City speech this week that we didn’t get Amazon (as a possible location for its second headquarters) so we will make our own.”

The mayor and Microsoft executives outlined the alliance strategy at a news conference. Mayor Turner thanked Microsoft for selecting Houston as its first official U.S. “space” for its “Internet of Things” approach to technology.

“Microsoft chose us because of the ambitious goal I set for Houston to grow technology innovation as its next economic frontier — after doing the same thing with energy, medicine, space exploration and the port,” Mayor Turner continued.

Microsoft Central U.S. Citizenship and Public Affairs Director Raamel Mitchell said the company “can enable organizations, individuals and communities throughout Houston to achieve more, make an impact and make us all proud.”

Mayor Turner talked about the city’s rapid successes in the innovation “ecosystem.”

“Last year we combined three separate start-up incubation groups into a one-stop innovation team called Houston Exponential. Then came the announcement last month that the 1938 Sears Building in Midtown will serve as an innovation hub involving its landlord, Rice University, and the city’s other major colleges and universities, as well as large and small businesses,” Mayor Turner added. “Then came the blockbuster announcement just a few days ago that the Texas Medical Center will create the TMC3 campus, where huge medical and learning institutions will combine for the very first time to create the world’s finest bio-med research center. Houston is rapidly developing the technology innovation field as its next big industry.”

An official agreement with the city calls for Microsoft to:

  • Support the promotion and establishment of initiatives that focus on STEM education and economic development for the city and its local government and non-profit partners in the area.
  • Conduct events under the “YouthSpark LIVE” banner on how young Houstonians can use technology to further their employment, career and entrepreneurship goals.
  • Through its Imagine Academy program, provide digital course work and other educational materials to academic institutions, their staffs and students.
  • “Adopt” one or more middle schools or high schools as tech advancement laboratories in some of the five neighborhoods that form the mayor’s Complete Communities initiative.
  • Provide free software and support to start-up businesses under a program called BizSpark.
  • Conduct DigiGirlz camps giving high school girls the opportunity to learn about careers in technology, connect to science / technology / engineering / mathematics professionals and participate in hands-on computer instruction.
  • Host computer skill improvement classes for parents, veterans and people transitioning between careers.
  • Provide a digital platform for the “Houston Still Needs You” program that documents the hours of work by volunteers aiding in long-term recovery efforts related to Hurricane Harvey. Volunteer hours can be used to offset the amount of money the city must pay to complement FEMA assistance.
  • Assist the city in finding technological solutions to other challenges under the umbrella of the company’s Smart City initiatives.