Creating opportunity
The Big and Small Tech Firms Fueling Austin’s Innovation Explosion
Kim Lachance Shandrow | January 19, 2017

Make no mistake: Austin is ablaze with innovation — and innovative jobs.

More than 4,000 patents were awarded to inventors and companies in and around the trendsetting southwestern city in 2016 alone. The flurry of inventive activity, reportedly up 11.2 percent over the last year, is being driven by big and small high-tech companies in a rising urban hub that enjoys an unemployment rate of 3.2 percent.

Image Source: Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce

Image Source: Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce

The majority of patents filed in Austin from 2011 to 2015 fell into technology classes such as multicomputer data transferring, computer memory and computer support. That said, it makes sense that the lion’s share of the tech jobs up for grabs in the bustling metropolis — recently named the country’s number one city for domestic population growth and the best place to search for a job in 2017 — generally revolve around software engineering and IT project management.

Related: THESE SUSTAINABLE STARTUPS ARE CULTIVATING A GREENER, CLEANER AUSTIN

Why do business in Austin?
“Austin benefits from having a collaborative and diverse culture, low cost of living, and great quality of life benefits compared to other tech centers,” Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce president Michael Rollins said in an interview. “In particular, we are becoming a haven for millennials seeking a place to call home with a range of opportunities from over 5,500 tech companies in the area.”

Rollins also credits Austin’s business-friendly climate for attracting tech companies and tech talent from across the country in unprecedented numbers. “Google, Facebook, Apple and HomeAway are all examples of leading businesses that have created thousands of jobs, fostered growth in local startup activity, and added billions in economic development impact,” he said.

Image Source: Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce

Image Source: Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce

Throwing considerable weight behind the city’s growing competitive edge as a tech epicenter of late, leading the large-scale company bevvy of local patent awardees are technology powerhouses Apple, Intel, IBM and homegrown Dell Technologies.

For a snapshot of the employment opportunities the above-mentioned tech giants are bringing to the region, here’s a look at the estimated number of Austin job listings each is currently posting on LinkedIn (at the time this article published):

For a sampling of early-stage tech startups hiring in Austin right now, per Built In Austin and LinkedIn, among the top standouts are:

Related: THESE STARTUPS ARE KEEPING AUSTIN’S ECONOMY WEIRD (AND BOOMING)

Small but mighty
Some 31.8 percent of the more than 100,000 patents awarded to Texas inventors over the last decade belong to Austin residents, the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce reported in a patent activity announcement released earlier this month. Among them are scores of bootstrapping tech startup founders and small business entrepreneurs, each also playing vital roles in pushing the local economy forward.

Image source: Austin Capital Factory

Image source: Austin Capital Factory

Some of the most notable Austin accelerators, incubators and coworking spaces empowering the city’s wealth of private tech startups and civic entrepreneurs, Rollins noted, are the likes of Austin Capital Factory, Central Texas Angel Network, Austin Technology Incubator, Tech Ranch, WeWork, Galvanize and Techspace.

Additionally contributing from the public sector, he added, are the University of Texas at Austin’s IC2 Institute and DIUx, the Department of Defense Innovation Unit Experimental.

Related: IP 101: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY

Big and small, Austin draws them all
“Austin is a vibrant city in a tax-friendly state, which is appealing to large tech companies as well as startups,” Rollins said. “It’s a location where established companies, startups, intellectual talent and the investment community congregate to create their own success stories.”

To maintain Austin’s innovation ecosystem growth and momentum, Rollins and his local Chamber colleagues are looking to area civic leaders and elected officials for continued support in the days ahead. “[They] need to preserve our business-friendly environment,” he said, “and stay committed to the vision of Austin as a city where ambitious ideas take root and change the world.”