Amid the pandemic, area innovators continued to move forward with ambitious growth plans.
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS – In the face of global challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of talented people on the Port campus and throughout the region continued to advance important technologies that make the world a safer, more resilient and more productive place.
At the same time, these efforts are creating new jobs and other life-changing opportunities for current and upcoming generations of San Antonio’s home-grown innovators.
On the Port’s 1,900-acre technology campus alone, local startups and globally-renowned employers have added more than 4,000 new jobs since 2018—including over 1,200 jobs in 2020. As a result, today the Port is a leading growth engine for the region and a national model for strategic economic growth. It is home to more than 14,000 workers who reside across the community. It also serves as a platform generating a local economic impact of over $5.6 billion annually, according to the Texas Comptroller.
Over 14,000 people work on the Port campus. Of these, more than 9,000 live within San Antonio city limits and over 5,000 live in other municipalities in Bexar or adjacent counties. This map shows the approximate number people in different City Council districts whose jobs are based at the Port. (Courtesy image Port San Antonio)
Growing teams at the Port and elsewhere in San Antonio are focused on advancing groundbreaking projects in aerospace, bioscience, robotics, cybersecurity and artificial intelligence (AI), among other fields. The application of these technologies is already benefitting people throughout the world as they increase the efficiency and productivity of mature sectors such as global supply chains, medicine, transportation, manufacturing, communications, power generation and transmission, critical infrastructure resiliency and national defense.
Reckon Point founder and CEO Gabe Garza and engineer Lydia Unterrenier are flanked by two of the company’s MIGSU models. The AI and visual sensor-enabled robots were conceived to perform fast and efficient mapping of large commercial interiors. The company is based at the Port – exploring applications for its technology in other sectors, such as aviation and lunar exploration. (Courtesy image Port San Antonio / Reckon Point)
In 2020, XYREC established its North American headquarters at the Port. Supported by the Southwest Research Institute, the company has developed the world’s largest industrial robot—serving important functions in aircraft maintenance such as the ability to quickly and efficiently remove paint from a fuselage without the use of traditional processes that involve large amounts of toxic chemicals. Stripping and repainting is an essential and ongoing part of maintenance over the many decades that aircraft are typically in use. The new technology can return airplanes back into service in considerably less time than current methods allow. (Courtesy image XYREC / Southwest Research Institute)
Headquartered at the Port since 2017, Plus One Robotics is among the most successful technology startups in San Antonio history. The company specializes in integrating industrial robots with visual and AI technology to assume tasks in dynamic industrial environments, such as large e-commerce operations run by client FedEx. In the process, the company has created new career paths, including those of “crew chiefs” who can remotely oversee and manage robotic networks anywhere in the world. (Courtesy image Plus One Robotics)
The 16th Air Force (Air Forces Cyber) maintains large headquarter operations at the Port. Its presence and that of other Department of Defense operations in the region has been a catalyst in the rapid growth of numerous innovators on the Port campus that provide an array of capabilities to ensure the resiliency of our nation’s digital defense infrastructure. They include Booz Allen Hamilton, CACI, CNF Technologies, Dynamic Advancement, IOMAXIS, IPSecure, Lockheed Martin Cyber Solutions, Northrop Grumman, Novetta, Salient CRGT and Technica. (Courtesy image U.S. Air Force)
Many of these technologies are also at the forefront of the world’s near- and long-term space exploration and commercialization ambitions. They include the application of robotics, AI, three-dimensional printing and cybersecurity as integral parts of efforts to build habitats, factories and launch sites in orbit and on the Moon and Mars.
These space-based efforts are focused on next-generation advancements to make life better for billions of people on Earth. Among them are enhanced terrestrial communications, the generation of space-based electrical power (which is then beamed wirelessly back to Earth) and the creation of a low-gravity base from which to launch probes that will allow humankind to further explore the most remote reaches of the solar system and beyond.
Space exploration and lunar and Martian colonization are the focus of recent Port arrival WEX Foundation and affiliated entities XArc and Astroport. The top image features an XArc rendering that shows the construction of robotic- and three-dimensional printing technology to build habitats and factories on the Moon. In the second image, Astroport CEO Sam Ximenes and Chief Technology Officer Ronald Wells are shown alongside UTSA student interns Arjun Palat and Jacob Garcia as they inspect a robotic rover for refurbishment in their new tech lab space at SAMSAT. (Top rendering: Courtesy image XArc; lower image courtesy XArc / Port San Antonio)
Hand-in-hand with these ambitious plans, the Port and numerous educational partners are hard at work to inspire, engage and support upcoming generations of tech talent—from innovative K-12 STEM/STEAM programs to increased collaborations between top area universities and the region’s flourishing advanced industries.
In early 2020, SAMSAT launched a realistic cybersecurity simulator exhibit—helping young students to see first-hand the roles they can play within the industry and sharpening necessary skills, including analytical thinking, communications and teamwork. Shown is the first group of students to utilize the new facility—middle schoolers from neighboring Brentwood STEM/STEAM Academy, part of the Edgewood Independent School District which straddles the Port. (Courtesy image Port San Antonio / SAMSAT)
In 2020 UTSA became Port San Antonio’s principal academic partner. A growing number of enterprises at the Port depend to the university and its faculty and students to develop next-generation innovations. Shown are UTSA engineering students who in 2020 supported Port customer Intertek in the development of a new system to increase the speed and accuracy of emissions testing that is required of manufacturers of many different types of engines around the world—from household goods to industrial diesel engines. (Courtesy image Port San Antonio / Intertek)
Among the projects completed in 2020 in the heart of the Port was the first phase of Compass Rose Ingenuity – a K-12 school that is open to students from throughout the region and focused on STEM/STEAM learning in advanced technology fields that are thriving across San Antonio. (Courtesy image Port San Antonio / Compass Rose)
In light of this momentum and the big opportunities ahead, the Port brought together over 200 stakeholders in a program on June 29 that celebrated many of these recent milestones. Event attendees gathered on the top floor of the latest speculative facility approaching completion on the Port’s campus—Project Tech Building 2. While it was still a work in progress, the 174,000-square-foot building became fully leased and will be ready to host hundreds of additional technology jobs in the months ahead as the interior is finished out to the specifications of its upcoming occupants.
Project Tech Building 2 earlier this spring as the exterior of the building approached completion. (Courtesy image Port San Antonio)
San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and District 4 Councilwoman Adriana Rocha Garcia kicked off the community’s first major technology innovation showcase since early 2020. The function included a brief update on the Port’s recent milestones, led by Port Board Chair Chris Alderete and President and CEO Jim Perschbach.
The gathering served as an opportunity for participants eager to re-engage in person following months of remote work. It was a celebration and reaffirmation of the region’s standing as a global innovation capital and underscored the growing role of the Port campus as an invaluable community asset where human talent, industry, educators and global technology markets converge, collaborate and innovate like no place else in the country.
The cornerstone of the event was provided by more than 25 exhibitors who showcased many of the region’s latest innovations and groundbreaking educational programs at all levels.
Some of the participants included Alt-Bionics, Boeing, Booz Allen Hamilton, CACI, CAST Schools, Central Catholic High School, Compass Rose Ingenuity School, Dynamic Advancement, Esports in Education Foundation (EIEF), Indo MIM, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Intertek, Knight Aerospace, Love Marketing, Plus One Robotics, Reckon Point, Renu Robotics, The San Antonio Museum of Science and Technology (SAMSAT), Saint Mary’s University, South San Antonio ISD, Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), StandardAero, The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), The WEX Foundation, XR Global, and XYREC.
The Port and SAMSAT look forward to organizing and supporting similar engagements in the months ahead as the significantly improved COVID landscape is allowing a resumption of in-person activities. This will include technology meetups, public viewing hours at SAMSAT, educational programs and industry demonstrations.
And by early 2022, activities will reach a whole new level when the Port and SAMSAT open the doors to the 130,000-square-foot Tech Port Center + Arena—the nation’s most integrated state-of-the-art innovation facility, which is currently under construction.
Architectural rendering of the exterior of the upcoming innovation center at the Port (above). Now under construction (below) and opening in early 2022. (Above: Courtesy image RVK Architects / Port San Antonio; below courtesy image Sundt Construction)
Equipped with a 2,500-seat technology arena, classrooms, an industry showroom, a prototyping lab and expanded spaces for educational activities launched by SAMSAT and its partners, the innovation center will significantly scale the Port’s driving Tech Port strategic blueprint: Build dynamic spaces and a strategic network of partners that helps connect people’s ambition to educational, career and entrepreneurial paths—enabling any person in the community who wishes to do so to participate in an exciting world of technological advancements today and in the decades ahead.
Rendering of the interior of the upcoming 2,500-seat venue within the upcoming Tech Port Center + Arena (Courtesy image RVK Architects / Port San Antonio)
Floor plan of the upcoming Tech Port Center + Arena.