Houston Technology Center Chooses Banker, Civic Leader as New CEO

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plans to spend her first 30 days in “heavy listening mode” meeting with and getting feedback from HTC staff, entrepreneurs, and board members. Then, she says, she will reach out to others in the city’s innovation ecosystem.

For now, Vetters says, she doesn’t foresee any major changes in HTC’s operation. “As this is my [fifth] day, it’s too soon for me to say we’re going in a different direction,” she says. “We are very busy and receiving company applications. There is plenty for all of us to do at this point.”

The HTC leadership said in a press release that its board reviewed about 100 candidates in a nearly yearlong search to replace current CEO Walter Ulrich before unanimously deciding on Vetters. Ulrich, a former business consultant, announced his retirement last year.

He spent a decade presiding over the HTC as the organization grew to open branches at NASA’s Johnson Space Center; The Woodlands, a suburb north of Houston that is home to a massive ExxonMobil campus; and most recently, an energy-focused hub in west Houston. In 2014, Houston Texans football team owner Bob McNair created a program with HTC that would give as many as 30 Houston startups $25,000 each.

Founded in 1999, the HTC is of one of the city’s first organizations dedicated to supporting young technologies as they grow into companies. The center’s successes include iDev, a Houston medical device company bought by Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT) in 2013; Bellicum Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: BLCM), a Houston cancer immunotherapy biotech that went public in late 2014; and Merrick Systems, an energy software company that was also purchased in 2014 by Denver-based P2 Energy Solutions.

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