Oilman and investor George Mitchell organizes the Houston Area (later changed to Advanced) Research Center in the Woodlands to bring scientists, policy leaders and businessmen together to address environmental, economic and social issues facing Houston and the upper Gulf Coast. Rice, the University of Houston, the University of Texas and Texas A&M University form the original consortium. By 1990, 9 participant institutions collaborate in 6 research centers: Growth Studies, Geotechnology and Research, Supercomputing, Materials Science Research, Laser Applications, Space Technology and Research, the Texas Accelerator Center.

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