Photo via Getty Images

The Lone Star State has again taken a step up on an annual report that ranks the most and least innovative states in the country — this time cracking the top 15.

Texas ranked No. 15 in personal finance site WalletHub's 2023’s Most and Least Innovative States ranking. It's a steady improvement for the state, which ranked No. 16 in 2022 and No. 17 in 2021.

The report analyzed the 50 states and the District of Columbia and how each performed across 22 key metrics, including population of STEM professionals, venture capital investment activity, number of technology companies, patents per capita, and more. The data was pulled from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Science Foundation, National Center for Education Statistics, United States Patent and Trademark Office, and other records.

Here's how Texas performed at a glance:

  • No. 18 – for share of STEM professionals
  • No. 16 – for projected STEM job demand by 2030
  • No. 25 – for eighth grade math and science performance
  • No. 21 – for share of science and engineering graduates aged 25 or older
  • No. 13 – for share of technology companies
  • No. 31 – for R&D spending per capita
  • No. 18 – venture capital funding per capita

For the 11th year, Texas won Site Selection Magazine's Governor's Cup, the governor's office announced earlier this year. The award, which Texas has won 19 times since its inception in 1978, recognizes the nation’s top-performing state for job-creating business relocations and expansions.

"Texas truly is America’s economic engine, and we stand apart as a model for the nation. When choosing where to relocate or expand their businesses, more and more innovative industry leaders find themselves at home in our state," Governor Greg Abbott says in a news release about the award.

"I congratulate the exceptional economic development teams at the local, regional, and state level who have worked so diligently to attract and retain these growing businesses and the jobs they create in diverse communities across this great state," he continues.

The most innovative states included the District of Columbia, which ranked at No. 1, followed by Massachusetts, Washington, Maryland, and California, respectively. The least innovative state was identified as Mississippi, followed by Louisiana, North Dakota, West Virginia, and Arkansas, respectively.

Access to quality education is a significant contributor to each state's innovation economy, the experts say in the report.

"Investing in education, particularly K-12 but also at the University level, it is no accident that innovative ecosystems develop in states with strong education systems and research universities," says David L. Deeds, professor at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis. "These institutions build strong capable modern workforces that attract capital, and jobs and create innovations. The benefits do not happen overnight, in fact, they take years if not decades, but consider what The UC’s or the University of Texas at Austin have meant for the development of premier innovative ecosystems."

Photo by Getty Images

Here's how many Texas jobs are at risk of being replaced by AI — according to AI

booted by the bots?

ChatGPT seems to have its eyes set on at least 200,000 Texas jobs, according to a new study.

The report by UK-based affiliate marketing site NetVoucherCodes compiled data on nearly 200 U.S. job types and then asked ChatGPT for each job’s relative risk from AI, automation, and also the likelihood of AI increasing that job’s productivity.

The query found that 237,000 jobs in Texas have a high risk of being replaced by AI, and 1.07 million jobs are considered at a medium risk of being replaced by AI.

Similarly, 1.8 million Texas jobs were considered at a high risk of being replaced by automation. More than 3 million jobs were considered at a medium risk of being replaced by automation.

In both the AI and automation queries, Texas had the second-most at risk jobs among the states. California had the most jobs at risk in both categories. New York fell behind Texas in the No. 3 spot for most jobs being at risk of being replaced by AI, and Florida had the third most jobs at risk of being replaced by automation.

Maine had the highest number of low-risk jobs, followed by Hawaii and Montana.

Texas jobs that were both at high risk and made up a large portion of Texas' workforce include fast food and counter workers, cashiers, customer service representatives, and stockers and order fillers.

“The data we’ve pulled together shows that a lot of lower income jobs are the ones that are at a higher risk of being replaced. When we break this down, we realize it’s because these jobs often involve a lot of the same repetitive tasks. This can be inputted into a computer and can be done automatically," John Strizaker from NetVoucherCodes said in a statement.

“The jobs that aren’t at risk are ones that really require human thinking and decision making, like nurses, doctors, along with creative roles such as fashion designers and hairdressers," he continued.

At the same time, the study found that more than 1.4 million Texas jobs have a high likelihood of being able to use AI and automation to boost productivity. This was the second highest number of jobs in this category behind California.

“Although this might be a concern in the near future, there’s a lot of benefits to AI and automation," Strizaker said in the statement. "It will increase productivity, especially in creative fields and it will be able to take over repetitive tasks and free up workers for other things that require thinking.”

Some Texas companies are already using GPT, or generative pre-trained transformer, technology to their advantage. Femtech company ema pivoted to use the powerful tool to provide access to women's health information 24/7 to its users about 16 months ago.

And at the start of this year, the University of Houston and Intel launched a new artificial intelligence program to help bridge the AI knowledge gap and fill hundreds of AI-related jobs that are open in the Houston area.


This article originally ran on our sister site InnovationMap.

Photo via Axiom Space

Texas-based space company set to launch history-making crew into orbit

one small step...

A Texas-based company is making history with its next commercial flight mission.

Axiom Space, headquartered in Houston, announced that Axiom Mission 2, or Ax-2, the second all-private mission to the International Space Station, will have members of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's national astronaut program aboard. It will also be the first private mission commanded by a woman: Peggy Whitson, Axiom's director of human spaceflight and former NASA astronaut.

“Axiom Space’s second private astronaut mission to the International Space Station cements our mission of expanding access to space worldwide and supporting the growth of the low-Earth orbit economy as we build Axiom Station,” says Michael Suffredini, president and CEO of Axiom Space, in a news release. “Ax-2 moves Axiom Space one step closer toward the realization of a commercial space station in low-Earth orbit and enables us to build on the legacy and achievements of the ISS, leveraging the benefits of microgravity to better life on Earth.”

Expected to launch this spring, it's the second ISS mission for the commercial aerospace company founded in 2016. Ax-2 Mission Specialists Ali Alqarni and Rayyanah Barnawi will be the first Saudi astronauts to visit the ISS after Axiom and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia reached an agreement in 2022. With this mission, KSA will become only the sixth country to have two astronauts working on the ISS at the same time.

“This flight is an integral milestone of a comprehensive program aiming to train and qualify experienced Saudis to undertake human spaceflight, conduct scientific experiments, participate in international research, and future space-related missions contributing to the Kingdom’s Vision 2030,” reads a statement from the country.

Pilot John Shoffner, a businessman and aviator from Knoxville, Tennessee, with over 8,500 hours of flying under his belt, is the crew's fourth and final member.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the Ax-2 crew aboard a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft to the ISS from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and they will spend 10 days on the mission. The mission is targeted for launch in the spring of 2023, and will be the first private space mission to include both private astronauts and astronauts representing foreign governments.


Continue reading this story on our sister site InnovationMap.

Photo courtesy of Clockwork

Target's robot manicurists clock out from 3 Dallas-Fort Worth stores

Beauty news

Attention, Target shoppers: The days of popping into the beauty aisle for a $10 manicure performed by a robot are coming to an end. Target and Clockwork, the robots' parent company, confirm that the service will end at all stores - including three in Dallas-Fort Worth - February 20.

"Our robots at Target will be removed as we conclude a very successful pilot," says a spokesperson for Clockwork. "Our last day will be Monday, Feb 20, 2023. We have enjoyed working with the Target team, and thank all our customers for all the love and support they have shown us. We hope to be back to serve them soon."

Adds a Target representative, "At the end of February, Target and Clockwork will conclude a successful pilot that brought Clockwork manicures to select Target stores, an offering that drove new insights around our in-store experience. At this time, we are not expanding the service. We are always evaluating how to better meet our guests’ needs and will continue exploring ways to bring valuable services they will love to Target."

Launched in spring 2022, the Clockwork system was touted as the world's first fully autonomous nail-painting robot and has been offered at Dallas' Target Medallion (6464 E NW Hwy.), Target Fort Worth Central (301 Carroll St.) and Target Cityview (5700 Overton Ridge Blvd.).

DFW was the third test-market for Clockwork, behind cities in Minnesota and California. All stores are ending the service.

The Clockwork manicures, dubbed "minicures," are nail-painting sessions that take 10 minutes and cost $10.

Clockwork robot manicures TargetYou could sit down and have a manicure on a Target run for Diet Coke and Clorox Wipes. Photo courtesy of Clockwork

To paint nails, the machines rely on cameras, data, and algorithms. Users place a digit on a finger rest and slide it into the machine, where two cameras rapidly take about 100 pictures of the nail. Those images are used to create a 3-D point cloud showing the shape of the nail, and this data is used to figure out where the edges of your nail are located. This information is then used by algorithms that figure out things such as how (and how fast) the machine’s polish-dispensing pipette should move to apply paint to your nail.

A human attendant stands by to help position hands correctly in the machine and to tidy up polish afterwards.

Although the robots are not as accurate as a real-life manicurists, they do provide a quick, cheap alternative for budget-minded consumers on the go.

In a February 13 email to customers, Clockwork says there are some new things in the works.

"We couldn’t be more thrilled to announce that our next generation robot is ready to paint! The first of many next gen robots launched in San Francisco last week at in the LinkedIn building, with more locations to be announced soon," they write. "The most exciting change to our next gen robot is that it is fully autonomous. That’s right, it is now completely self serve, with live customer support available at the touch of a button. We hope to return to Target locations in the future, once our autonomous experience has been perfected for their store environment."

They will be rolling out the next gen robots throughout 2023, they say.

For now, there are still some appointments available through February 20 at all DFW stores. Those with unused service bundles can book their appointments and share discount codes with friends.

Those who are unable to use their bundles before they close should email customer support for a refund.

Courtesy photo

Texas ranks No. 3 best state to start a business in U.S., report says

Calling all entrepreneurs

For years, Texas has been lauded for its business climate being welcoming to new businesses and startups. A new study shows that the Lone Star State has yet again made the list.

Texas ranked third in personal finance website WalletHub's recent report, 2023's Best & Worst States to Start a Business, with a score of 56.85 points. Texas ranked behind Utah, No. 1, and Florida, No. 2, and just ahead of Colorado. Idaho, Georgia, Arizona, Nevada, Oklahoma, and California make up the rest of the top 10, respectively.

The study looked at 27 key indicators of startup success across all 50 states. Texas was recognized for these factors in particular:

  • No. 10 – average growth in number of small businesses
  • No. 30 – labor costs
  • No. 10 – availability of human capital
  • No. 4 – average length of work week (in hours)
  • No. 14 – cost of living
  • No. 13 – industry variety
  • No. 31 – percentage of residents who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19

Source: WalletHub

Richard Ryffel, professor of finance practice at Washington University in St. Louis, noted the importance of policy in making a state a good place to start a business.

"Established businesses looking to expand might expand or relocate entirely based on the relative favorability of the local business climate," Ryffel says. "Recently, Texas, for example, has been the beneficiary of some significant business relocations based on its business-friendly policies."

The methodology of the study focused on three key dimensions — business environment, access to resources, and business costs — and 27 relevant metrics. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, and then each state’s average across all metrics was used to calculate its overall score.

In fall 2022, Dallas ranked No. 8 on 42Floors' list of best U.S. metros to start a business.

Earlier that year, WalletHub named Farmers Branch one of the best small cities in Texas for starting a business. It appeared at No. 102 on the list overall, and No. 2 in Texas. Other DFW cities in the survey included Haltom City (No. 406), The Colony (No. 436), Grapevine (No. 457), and Flower Mound (No. 733).


This article originally appeared on our sister site InnovationMap.

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Tetris blocks out a taut international story about popular video game

Movie Review

The term “origin story” is typically associated with superheroes these days, but a growing trend involves filmmakers taking a look back about famous consumer products came to be. In the next few months, Air (about Michael Jordan’s initial shoe contract with Nike), BlackBerry (about the now-defunct smartphone), and Flamin’ Hot (about the popular Cheetos flavor) will be released in either theaters or on streaming services.

First out the gate, though, is Tetris, which tells the highly complicated story of how the video game made its way from the USSR to players’ fingers worldwide in the late 1980s. The protagonist of the film is Henk Rogers (Taron Egerton), a small-time video game developer who sees an opportunity when he plays the then-unknown game at an electronics show.

Understanding its potential right away, he convinces a sales rep to sell him distribution rights in Japan, where he lives with his wife and children, and where – not so coincidentally – Nintendo is located. What seems to be straightforward at first turns quickly into a quagmire, with Rogers competing against English software company Mirrorsoft for various rights, including handheld video games, as Nintendo is about launch a new system they call Game Boy.

Directed by Jon S. Baird and written by Noah Pink, the film starts out relatively lighthearted, as the ever-optimistic Rogers bounces from country to country to convince a variety of people that his plans for the game will work. But the film gets more dramatic by the minute, with the second half – taking place almost entirely in the Soviet Union - taking on the feel of an international espionage story.

The filmmakers start with the premise that everyone watching knows Tetris and the immense popularity the game has enjoyed over the years, especially right after it launched. But even if somehow you aren’t one of those people, the film does a good job showing its importance, with multiple different parties fighting for its rights in four different countries.

Is all of what’s shown true? Probably not, but as with most movies that are “based on a true story,” there’s an understanding that the filmmakers use a good amount of dramatic license. On a pure filmmaking level, the story works because it shows the passion of Rogers for his business and the number of obstacles that stand in his way. It doesn’t hurt that one of those barriers is the USSR political machine, which practically has “evil” stamped all over it.

Egerton, known for the Kingsman series and playing Elton John in Rocketman, is a delight in this role. The somewhat shlubby character offers him a chance to utilize a different type of charm, and he knocks the part out of the park. Save for Toby Jones, most of the supporting roles are filled by lesser known actors, but all are enjoyable, especially Nikita Efremov and Oleg Stefan.

Tetris the movie could be viewed as just one big ad for the game that’s still popular, now in app form for smartphones. But the way the film is made, it’s easy to look past the commercial aspect of it and just enjoy the taut storytelling and interesting performances.


Tetris is now streaming on Apple TV+.

Nikita Efremov and Taron Egerton in Tetris

Photo courtesy of Apple TV+

Nikita Efremov and Taron Egerton in Tetris

New Hill Country wine school teaches Texans how to become aficionados


Texas wine enthusiasts and beginners wanting to test their skills or develop them further can now do so at a new Hill Country wine school led by an award-winning winery out in Hye, Texas.

William Chris Wine Co. has opened their William Chris Wine School with Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) classes and a one-of-a-kind ambassador certification course beginning in April. The school is offering these courses not only to educate fellow Texans about the intricacies of wine, but also to provide inspirational experiences that help ignite their passion for it.

“WSET courses are designed to inspire and empower anyone looking to develop their wine knowledge — regardless of prior experience, and from enthusiasts to professionals,” says Director of Education Kelsey Kramer in a press release. “So, we encourage anyone to sign up for our WSET courses no matter their current level of wine knowledge.”

WCWC is the first Texas winery to provide these educational courses to industry peers and enthusiasts. They’ll offer two WSET level tracks with multiple classes; their beginner-level WSET Level 1 classes are open for registration for April 15 and May 15. The WSET Level 2 Award in Wines courses are for more experienced aficionados, and are centered around trying new wines from all over the world while also educating on wine theory, grape-growing techniques, and more. The level two classes are scheduled for May, June, and July.

Kramer added that over half of the William Chris team has successfully passed the WSET Level 2 Award in Wines courses.

“Our ultimate goal, as always, is to increase the standard of knowledge for those in the Texas wine industry,” she says. “Anyone who participates in a course with us supports this goal and the future success of the industry as a whole.”

Though Texas wine is not included in the WSET curriculum, the wine school has their own solution for that. They are offering an exclusive Texas Wine Ambassador Certification program that focuses solely on wine-making and grape-growing in our own state. Their first certification class is scheduled for April 22.

More information about the William Chris Wine School and its classes can be found on their website.

Drinks + dinosaurs mix at return of popular Thursdays on Tap at the Perot Museum

Tap This

One of Dallas' most unique and enjoyable programs is ordering another round. Thursdays on Tap at the Perot Museum of Nature & Science starts up again on April 6 and runs through the end of October (cue rejoicing from the 21-and-up crowd who loves booze and dinosaurs).

This is your chance to tour the entire museum without the daytime crowds or children getting underfoot. You can also purchase drinks from the outdoor bars for only $3-$10 (last call is at 9:45 pm, FYI).

Then purchase tasty treats and delicious bites from the many rotating food trucks and vendors parked outside from 6-10 pm.

The drool-worthy vendors you can expect to see on Thursday nights in April include:

  • Mi Cocina (April 6 and 20)
  • Cuates Kitchen (April 6)
  • Easy Slider (April 6)
  • Community Beer Co. (April 6, 13, and 20)
  • Sushi Dojo (April 13)
  • Cousins Maine Lobster (April 13)
  • Magdalena's (April 13)
  • Egg Stand (April 20)
  • Ruthie's Rolling Cafe (April 20)
Don't forget to play one of the outside games while enjoying live music by local artists. Tauvy Thompson will perform at the first event on April 6, Alex Cantrell on April 13, and Alejandro De La Puente is scheduled for April 20.

Until Labor Day, the museum’s latest traveling exhibition “The Science Behind Pixar,” presented locally by NexPoint, is included in the price of admission.

Though taking public transportation, carpooling, or using a rideshare service is recommended due to the nature of the event, all guests can park for $10 per car (credit card only) in the main parking lot under Woodall Rodgers Freeway on Broom Street, right across from the museum.

Thursdays on Tap is $25 for non-members, and only $5 for members. The program begins April 6 and runs weekly until October 26. More information can be found on the Perot Museum's website.

Perot Museum Thursdays on Tap

Photo courtesy of Perot Museum

Thursdays on Tap returns April 6 and runs through October.