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Houston Methodist Opens Healthcare Innovation Tech Hub at the Ion

Ion, Houston’s innovation hub, today welcomes its first healthcare-centric partner, Houston Methodist, as it opens the doors to the Houston Methodist Tech Hub at Ion, a collaboration space for innovators and a living laboratory for digital health technology.

The 1,200-square-foot space includes simulated environments for an inpatient hospital room, an outpatient doctor’s clinic and patient home experience. The Tech Hub at Ion is modeled after the Center for Innovation Technology Hub located at Houston Methodist’s flagship location within the Texas Medical Center, which provides a complete laboratory environment for clinical staff to evaluate innovations and pilot technology such as remote monitoring, ambient intelligence, and autonomous technology to improve human performance and the patient experience.

“Houston Methodist’s space at the Ion opens up even more opportunities for our start-up and entrepreneur community to embed and gain exposure to the latest innovations in health care, health technology, and digital health,” said Jan E. Odegard, Executive Director of Ion. “This partnership and opportunity provided by Houston Methodist, a leading healthcare organization in the country, is a testament to the ecosystem we’re building and the talent within our building. Furthermore, Houston Methodist’s approach and appetite for cross-industry innovation and collaboration meshes seamlessly with the Ion’s ongoing plans to support Houston’s growing innovation community in industries and fields that will change the world.”

The Houston Methodist Tech Hub at Ion is part of the hospital’s Center for Innovation, a network embedded into every aspect of the hospital that focuses on promoting transformational growth through the adoption of leading-edge digital technology. Innovation has been a hallmark of Houston Methodist for over 100 years, and the Center of Innovation has allowed the healthcare organization to take a more coordinated and focused approach with its innovation efforts and hyperdrive many projects within the organization, including the development of the smart hospital of the future, the ninth location in the Greater Houston area and most technologically advanced location currently under construction. Some of the technology on display at the newly launched Houston Methodist Tech Hub at Ion is part of the smart hospital of the future that’s set to open in 2025.

“Our new Tech Hub at Ion supports not only our commitment to the Houston innovation community but also to the rapidly shifting healthcare industry,” Michelle Stansbury, Vice President of Innovation and IT Applications at Houston Methodist. “We know we can’t solve the healthcare challenges of the future if we confine ourselves within our hospital walls or even within our own industry. We look forward to the collaborative space our new Tech Hub will provide and the future programming opportunities we can create together to inspire, challenge, and foster a spirit of innovation in our city.”

In addition to showcasing current technology being piloted at Houston Methodist, the space will also serve as an extension for community collaboration and a networking hub for entrepreneurs and ideators to break into the healthcare industry. The tech hub also will host educational events such as reverse pitch sessions to share problems and crowd-source solutions. If you’re interested in scheduling a time to view the space or connecting with the Houston Methodist innovation team, reach out here.

About Ion

Located in Ion District, the namesake building is the transformative centerpiece of Houston’s innovation corridor. Designed to bring our city’s entrepreneurial, corporate, and academic communities into collaborative spaces and programs, the sunlit structure of steel and glass is a home for advancing diverse knowledge, teams, technologies, and products that propel our world forward.

From Fortune 500s seeking flexible office space to first-time startups looking for the funding to design a prototype, the Ion provides wide-reaching space and support to connect every What if with What now? — welcoming individuals and teams of all kinds to a place to build a better way.

About Houston Methodist

Houston Methodist is one of the nation’s leading health systems and academic medical centers. The health system consists of eight hospitals: Houston Methodist Hospital, its flagship academic hospital in the Texas Medical Center, six community hospitals, and one long-term acute care hospital throughout the Greater Houston metropolitan area. Houston Methodist also includes a research institute; a comprehensive residency program; international patient services; freestanding comprehensive care, emergency care and imaging centers; and outpatient facilities. Houston Methodist employs nearly 30,000 people and had more than 1.9 million outpatient visits and more than 138,000 admissions in 2022. For more information on Houston Methodist, see houstonmethodist.org.

Per Scholas Expands Tech Training to Houston

Ion Welcomes Per Scholas As Part of Community Investment  to Build Inclusive Technology Workforce; Now Accepting Applications

HOUSTON (July 17, 2023) – National tech training nonprofit Per Scholas today announced its expansion to Houston, joining Ion District, Houston’s 16-acre innovation district developed by Rice University. Through an innovation relationship with Ion, Per Scholas Houston will offer its tuition-free technology skills training from its newest campus located at 4201 Main Street. In addition to Ion selecting and investing in Per Scholas as the District’s workforce development partner, Per Scholas Houston has received generous support from BlackRock and Comcast NBCUniversal. 

“We are excited for Per Scholas to join the Ion as a workforce development partner, as well as recognize a CBA milestone by investing in developing a tech workforce of Houstonians,” said Jan Odegard, Executive Director of the Ion. “This investment will expand non-traditional learning opportunities for local Houstonians looking to develop new skills in our dynamic economy.”

Training by Per Scholas Houston will get underway in October, beginning with its best-in-class IT Support course. Applications are now open, and interested individuals can learn more and apply here. Learners will have the opportunity to earn the Google IT Support Professional Certificate and the CompTIA A+ certification, equipping aspiring technologists with the knowledge and skills to fill a wide range of entry-level tech careers. 

Per Scholas unlocks potential for individuals, communities, and companies by offering rigorous, 12- to 15-week tech skills training and connecting Per Scholas graduates to high growth careers in technology. Per Scholas Houston marks the nonprofit’s second campus in Texas, joining Per Scholas Dallas, which has been training technologists in a variety of tech skills since 2014. 

“The BlackRock Foundation’s longstanding partnership with Per Scholas is a natural extension of our mission to create more paths to financial security for more people,” said Claire Chamberlain, Chief Investment Officer and Managing Director, Corporate Sustainability and Social Impact at BlackRock. “Through skill-building and mastery, the program expands access to careers in technology and is critical for unlocking the potential of a new generation of technical leaders. We are so proud to be a part of bringing Per Scholas to Houston.”

“A future of unlimited possibilities starts by providing ambitious, driven, and talented individuals with opportunities. That’s precisely why our partnership with Per Scholas is a perfect fit,” said Misha McClure, Comcast Texas’ Director of External Affairs. “Our investment will help build a diverse and thriving workforce here in Greater Houston by providing skills training for highly sought tech careers. We’re grateful to Per Scholars for its ongoing work to educate and connect our future business leaders with leading businesses. We look forward to what we can achieve together.”

Aligned with its commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, 85 percent of Per Scholas learners are people of color, more than 40 percent identify as women, and more than half have a high school diploma as their highest education credential. Per Scholas graduates are hired into tech roles by more than 850 employer partners nationwide, ranging from Fortune 500 companies to innovative startups. The Per Scholas model is proven and evidence-based. Per Scholas trained technologists go on to earn three times their pre-training wage in their first job following graduation. Plus, every dollar invested in Per Scholas results in an $8 net economic return. 

“Per Scholas commends the vision and commitment of the City of Houston, Ion, Rice University, and so many others, to catalyze change, grow ideas and innovation, and drive impact. We are thrilled that Per Scholas Houston is now part of the effort,” said Plinio Ayala, President and CEO, Per Scholas. “With tremendous investment from Ion, BlackRock, Comcast, our proven skills training will develop technologists to power Houston’s workforce today – and tomorrow – creating a more inclusive and equitable economy. We can’t wait to get started.”

To learn more about the Ion, please visit iondistrict.com. To learn more about Per Scholas Houston, click here, and follow Per Scholas Houston on LinkedIn and Facebook.

 

About Ion

Located in Ion District, the namesake building is the transformative centerpiece of Houston’s innovation corridor. Designed to bring our city’s entrepreneurial, corporate, and academic communities into collaborative spaces and programs, the sunlit structure of steel and glass is a home for advancing diverse knowledge, teams, technologies, and products that propel our world forward.

From Fortune 500s seeking flexible office space to first-time startups looking for the funding to design a prototype, the Ion provides wide-reaching space and support to connect every What if with What now?—welcoming individuals and teams of all kinds to a place to build a better way. 

About Per Scholas

For more than 25 years, Per Scholas has been advancing equity and increasing opportunity across America. Per Scholas unlocks potential for individuals, communities, and employers through rigorous training for careers in tech. Partnering with dynamic employer partners, from Fortune 500 companies to innovative startups, we are building sustainable and diverse talent pipelines, together changing the face of tech. With national remote training and campuses in 20+ cities and growing, Per Scholas offers tuition-free training in the most in-demand tech skills, including Cloud, Cybersecurity, Data Engineering, IT Support, Software Engineering, and more. To date, more than 20,000 individuals have gained the skills to launch high-growth tech careers, earning three times their pre-training wage. Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging is our DNA: 85 percent of learners are people of color, two in five are women, and more than half have a high school diploma as their highest education credential. Learn more by visiting PerScholas.org and follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube

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Face to Face: The Ion’s executive director has big plans for the new district

Face to Face: The Ion’s executive director has big plans for the new district

The Ion stands in Houston’s Midtown as a symbol of the future and a reference to the city’s past. The sleek building opened in 2021 after an expansive $100 million renovation to bring the 1939 Sears department store into this century.

The innovation hub plays host to several technology giants, such as Chevron, Microsoft and Transwestern, but the vision is to be more than the landlord of innovators. The Ion District will eventually stretch across the 16 acres controlled by Rice Management Co. to become a destination for entrepreneurs and collaborators to gather for work and play, with retail, restaurants and, potentially, multifamily living.

The building is already 86% leased, with the recent addition of 10 tenants including Rice University’s Office of Innovation. The opening of the highly anticipated Late August restaurant by “Top Chef” alumna chef Dawn Burrell is set for this June, which promises to draw even more attention and visitors to the Ion.

Executive Director Jan Odegard has been involved with the Ion since it opened its doors, first as senior director for industry and academic partnerships. Odegard spent more than 18 years at Rice University, with his last position as the executive director of Ken Kennedy Institute for Information Technology.

Odegard sat down with the Houston Business Journal to talk about the Ion District’s potential and what’s next for the tech hub.

What is the thought process behind the Ion’s development and tenants?

When we started thinking about building our innovation hub, it was like, “Well, what is that and what ingredients does it need to have,” and it became very clear very quickly that you have to create a place where people want to be.

It needs to be mixed-use because you need to have different stakeholders feel like this is a home for them. So, we have restaurants and food and beverages.

We have programs and open spaces with our partners and for our partners. We also needed to figure out flexible office access, so there’s a place for that, and we have coworking spaces in the building. And then we wanted to have corporations in the building that was part of that full value chain — for entrepreneurs with ideas that want to get into the tech ecosystem to collide with people that are looking for a talent pipeline and looking for new companies and startups.

We wanted to build the entire ecosystem and then repeat it across the district and actually add even more dimensionality to it so that it truly becomes a place where you want to never leave. You want to come here, be here, live here, work here, play here, so that’s an important part of what we do.

The most recent addition to the Ion District was a parking garage. We needed that asset to allow the district to be pedestrian first, no tunnels on the ground, no sky bridges. People in the center, people are the energy. People are what generate value and ideas. Every ground plane will be accessible to take the outdoor spaces and connect them to the indoor part of the building. It could be retail, could be restaurants, could be more kind of lobby spaces that have functions in various ways.

The initial build-up was done as a strategic investment by Rice’s endowment. Future ones will be done more as a joint venture with developers where we’re looking that they will invest in most of the vertical while we kind of do land leases and some ground plane activation.

Why do you think multifamily living options need to be included in the Ion District?

I think this is what people are looking for. You’re looking for that place where your office is next door and you have access to things that you wouldn’t have access to otherwise. I think all of these spaces are amenities that actually create value even for residential spaces. If I think about myself, I want to live in a place where I have access to restaurants and people that are changing the world and whatnot, and I don’t want to get in my car. I’d rather leave my car in the garage. I may be biased because I’m European.

The Ion District’s Community Investment Report was recently released, which details the most recent results of Rice University’s Community Benefits Agreement with the City of Houston, including housing affordability and inclusive hiring. What are you seeing in terms of the surrounding communities merging with the Ion?

When we look at the people we pull in here, we see part of that community. Our doors are open. We’re inviting them to come, but they also have to take advantage of it. We’re seeing good traction with the many communities. They’re seeing the value of what we’re doing. When we look at the zip codes that people come from, they come from all zip codes, but they also come from around here.

We’re already making significant investments. We’re continuing to make those investments in the city. We’re going to be announcing a couple of other things and strategic investments in that portfolio very soon. There’s more coming and we’re one year in with that report, we’ve just started year two deployment.

So there’s a lot more to come there, but we are seeing that traction, we’re seeing the engagement.

What are you most excited about right now?

My excitement is really about starting to achieve what we set out to do, which was to showcase Houston and create density around tech and innovation and make that the center of who Houston could be in a few years. I’m also really excited about seeing that we have good representation. It feels good that when we said we were going to make the building work for Houston, seeing that reflected in the kinds of people that come to our event, both in the audience, as well as on stage. It’s important to also think about that when you put people on stage because you want to see somebody that looks like you on the stage.

For those who aren’t necessarily in the tech or entrepreneur space, how could they utilize the Ion?

Give it a chance. Come visit and be open-minded about what it could do for you. Come to Cup of Joey to meet and connect and figure out what your role could be because you could be a subject matter expert, you could be an adviser.

Ion Welcomes Occidental, United Airlines, and Woodside Energy as Corporate Partners

Ion, Houston’s innovation hub, today announced the addition of its newest corporate partners: Occidental (Oxy), an international energy company providing reliable energy solutions and products for a lower-carbon world, United Airlines Ventures (UAV), the venture fund of United Airlines focused on sustainability, and Woodside Energy (Woodside), a global energy company providing affordable, reliable, and lower-carbon energy to support a successful energy transition. 

UAV, Oxy, and Woodside will share expertise and industry leadership in support of Ion’s mission to transform Houston into a global innovation ecosystem and further empower the city’s workforce. The partners will participate in Ion programming and engage with its network of corporations, academics, and entrepreneurs to help develop and commercialize solutions to emerging issues in their respective industries. Additionally, industry leaders from UAV, Oxy, and Woodside will serve on the Ion Leadership Advisory Roundtable. 

“Welcoming our newest partners into Ion’s ecosystem is a further testament to our momentum in the aerospace and energy transition,” said Jan E. Odegard, Executive Director of the Ion. “Each organization brings their own culture of innovation that aligns with what we are doing at the Ion. We’re excited for the relationships and advancements they will bring to our community.” 

For more than 100 years, Houston-based Oxy has developed assets, infrastructure, and technology in the energy industry. It now leverages its resources, innovative technologies and 50+ year legacy of carbon management to accelerate its pathway to net zero and help others do the same. With Ion, Oxy has a unique opportunity to cultivate ideas, foster relationships, inspire employee engagement, and uncover a breadth of innovation and thought leadership.

“A partnership with Ion is a natural fit for Oxy in many ways,” says Jeff Simmons, Senior Vice President, Chief Petrotechnical Officer for Oxy. “As Oxy innovates for a lower-carbon future, we look to partner with communities and organizations that are similarly focused on technology and climate-related goals.” 

Founded in 2021, UAV is committed to improving the travel experience for customers by investing in companies and technologies that can decarbonize air travel. The team is excited to meet and collaborate with corporations across industries to accelerate research and production, and prioritize new technologies, particularly those associated with sustainable aviation fuel. 

“As a company deeply committed to both innovation and the city of Houston, United shares the Ion’s vision to inspire collaboration and creativity and is proud to join the Ion’s network of entrepreneurs,” said United Airlines Ventures President Michael Leskinen. “We believe the Ion will be the epicenter for Houston’s rapidly growing innovation community – a one-stop-shop to share ideas, foster startups, and to develop relationships with Houston’s brightest companies and academia.”

With over 65 years of experience, Woodside provides energy the world needs to heat and cool homes, keep lights on, and support industry. By partnering with the Ion, Woodside is opening doors to new innovations that will drive a successful energy transition in Houston and beyond.

“Woodside was founded with a spirit of innovation and determination,” said Woodside Executive Vice President Technical Services and Chief Technology Officer Daniel Kalms. “The same ideals drive the Ion, and we’re excited to exchange ideas, find creative solutions, and explore new ways to forge a better future as part of a like-minded community.”

As partners, UAV, Oxy, and Woodside will not only have access to Ion’s dynamic spaces, cutting-edge amenities, and educational resources, they will also have immediate opportunities to meet and collaborate with leaders and innovators from all industries and backgrounds to advance their own corporate goals. 

UAV, Oxy, and Woodside join Ion’s current roster of corporate partners, which includes Chevron, Microsoft, Baker Botts, Aramco Americas, ExxonMobil, BP, Intel, Transocean, and Global Custom Commerce (GCC). The close proximity to these industry players across aerospace, energy and energy transition, technology, and innovation, and up-and-coming startups and founders within the Ion is what distinguishes the Ion from other buildings in the region.

About the Ion:

Located in Ion District, the namesake building is the transformative centerpiece of Houston’s innovation corridor. Designed to bring our city’s entrepreneurial, corporate, and academic communities into collaborative spaces and programs, the sunlit structure of steel and glass is a home for advancing diverse knowledge, teams, technologies, and products that propel our world forward.

From Fortune 500s seeking flexible office space to first-time startups looking for the funding to design a prototype, the Ion provides wide-reaching space and support to connect every What if with What now?—welcoming individuals and teams of all kinds to a place to build a better way. 

About Occidental:

Occidental is an international energy company with assets primarily in the United States, the Middle East and North Africa. We are one of the largest oil producers in the U.S., including a leading producer in the Permian and DJ basins, and offshore Gulf of Mexico. Our midstream and marketing segment provides flow assurance and maximizes the value of our oil and gas. Our chemical subsidiary OxyChem manufactures the building blocks for life-enhancing products. Our Oxy Low Carbon Ventures subsidiary is advancing leading-edge technologies and business solutions that economically grow our business while reducing emissions. We are committed to using our global leadership in carbon management to advance a lower-carbon world. Visit oxy.com for more information.

About United:

United’s shared purpose is “Connecting People. Uniting the World.” From our U.S. hubs in Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New York/Newark, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., United operates the most comprehensive global route network among North American carriers. United is bringing back our customers’ favorite destinations and adding new ones on its way to becoming the world’s best airline. For more about how to join the United team, please visit www.united.com/careers and more information about the company is at www.united.com. United Airlines Holdings, Inc., the parent company of United Airlines, Inc., is traded on the Nasdaq under the symbol “UAL”. For further information about our environmental impact, review United’s Corporate Responsibility Report and Annual Report on Form 10-K, available at crreport.united.com and ir.united.com.

About Woodside Energy: Woodside is a global energy company, with oil and gas assets and interests in Australia, the US, Mexico, the Caribbean, Senegal and Timor-Leste. Woodside aims to thrive through the global energy transition with a low-cost, lower-carbon, profitable, resilient and diversified portfolio. In addition to its LNG, natural gas and oil assets, Woodside has a growing portfolio of carbon services (offsets, carbon capture and storage, carbon capture and utilisation), hydrogen, ammonia and renewable power opportunities in Australia and internationally. Our new energy opportunities include the proposed H2OK hydrogen project in Oklahoma and the H2Perth and H2TAS opportunities in Australia. For more information, visit www.woodside.com

Ion District and Ion Share Update on Efforts to Expand Economic Opportunity in Houston

Ion District, Houston’s 16-acre innovation district, alongside its developer Rice University, recently released an update detailing the first year of implementing its Community Benefits Agreement (CBA). 

The legally binding Ion District CBA was approved by Houston’s City Council in late 2021 and committed $15.3 million in direct investments and millions more in project-based opportunities over several years. It was designed to ensure Ion District development, including its innovation hub, Ion, benefits all Houstonians. This transformative agreement focuses on expanding tech sector job training and upskilling, preserving affordable housing, and creating more pathways for minority- and women-owned business enterprises (MWBEs) to be involved in Ion District. 

In tandem with the release of the report, Ion District also announced another achievement of the CBA with Ion’s selection of Per Scholas as its workforce development partner. Per Scholas is a nationally recognized nonprofit that advances economic equity through technology skills training. Its proven, evidence-based training unlocks potential for individuals, companies, and communities. 

“Per Scholas is thrilled to join the Ion District and offer our tuition-free tech skills training in Houston,” said Plinio Ayala, President and CEO of Per Scholas. “There is such synergy in our approach to innovation and equity. I’m confident that together, we’ll increase opportunity and unlock potential for both individuals and companies that call Houston home. We’re grateful for the warm welcome.” 

In addition to Per Scholas, Ion District has facilitated contracting opportunities for Ion District Garage worth $16.9 million to 19 MWBE, among other milestones highlighted below.

 “The Ion District offers technology and connections that are unmatched to anywhere else in Houston,” added Milton Thibodeaux, President – Greater Houston Business Procurement Forum, a community organization dedicated to convening small and minority businesses seeking opportunities. “It’s generating more excitement and enthusiasm from new agencies, especially prime contractors and MWBEs. It’s also connecting us to the right people, which leads to contracts, financing, and ultimately success stories.”

Other accomplishments of the Ion District CBA detailed in the report include: 

  • Escrowing $5 million at Unity National Bank, the only certified Minority Depository Institution (MDI) in Texas which has allowed an increase in small business lending to help MWBE firms gain access to capital. 
  • Investing in women and minority tech accelerator and innovation programs, which included three DivInc accelerator cohorts, startups, and founders.
  • Commencing first year of funding for selected housing counseling providers which were: Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation, Houston Area Urban League and Tejano Center for Community Concerns, to serve the Third Ward, Kashmere Gardens, and Magnolia Park neighborhoods.
  • Opening multiple local restaurants at the Ion and in the Ion District, owned and operated by MWBE chefs and operators. 
  • Selecting a consulting firm to recommend strategic pathways to achieve MWBE objectives; conducting 10 public outreach events with over 500 MWBE firms attending. 
  • Hosting over 130 community-focused events, including Activation Festival, BlackStreet, and additional monthly programming and events accessible to the community. 

“I am enthusiastic about the benefits this unique agreement is creating in Houston, especially in areas of inclusive hiring, contracting and upskilling for those who have been historically overlooked and marginalized,” said Mike Pittman II, Chairman of the Ion District CBA Advisory Committee. “The matching of art and science, as it relates to community benefits, in a rapidly changing built environment is a difficult and important undertaking. The thoughtful engagement that drove the CBA’s development is helping strengthen Houston’s position as a place where ideas can grow no matter who you are or where you are from.”

More Community Investment Ahead

While the development is still in progress, Ion District is already a thriving innovation district helping to move Houston’s economy forward. Today, Ion District is home to more than 300 businesses, including corporations, small businesses, and startups. 

In the coming year, Rice University will continue to implement the commitments set by the Ion District CBA including inclusive hiring, community capacity building, housing affordability and MWBE opportunities. This includes launching Per Scholas training, partnering with additional accelerators to support underrepresented founders and promoting contracting opportunities for the next phase of development. 

“We’re committed to making Ion District and Ion a catalyst for opportunity, not just for the tech community but city-wide,” said Sam Dike, who oversees the CBA’s implementation. “We are proud of the progress thus far. It’s a testament to the community stakeholders who came together to recommend the greatest areas of impact and need. However, this is just the beginning.”

The full version of the community investment report can be accessed here via Ion District’s community-focused website where the community can track the continued implementation of the CBA and stay engaged with upcoming opportunities.

About the Ion District

Houston’s new innovation district takes our city’s talent and sprawl and connects it all, harnessing Houston’s potential to emerge and endure as a tech hub, a thought leader, a cultural core, and a global economic force. Twelve blocks built to encourage serendipitous collisions across all sectors and skill levels, and promote equitable businesses, products, and jobs in our image: ones that reflect our city’s diversity of ethnicities and enduring individualism, our big-hearted tenacity and wildcatting audacity, our gumption and resilience come hell or high water. An invitation to build the world we want to see.

About the Ion

Located in Ion District, the namesake building is the transformative centerpiece of Houston’s innovation corridor. Designed to bring our city’s entrepreneurial, corporate, and academic communities into collaborative spaces and programs, the sunlit structure of steel and glass is a home for advancing diverse knowledge, teams, technologies, and products that propel our world forward.

From Fortune 500s seeking flexible office space to first-time startups looking for the funding to design a prototype, the Ion provides wide-reaching space and support to connect every What if with What now?—welcoming individuals and teams of all kinds to a place to build a better way. 

Ion, Rice’s Office of Innovation and Second Draught Launch New Research Showcase Program to Connect Academia and Industry

Ion, Houston’s innovation hub, in partnership with Second Draught, a locally brewed craft beer pub located in the Ion, today announced a new biweekly lecture series, Ion Innovation on Tap: Disruptive Technology. The series focuses on bridging world-leading academic research to Houston’s broader innovation ecosystem and accelerating disruption and collaboration at an industrial scale. In partnership with Rice University’s Office of Innovation, lectures will be held every other Thursday throughout the year and will initially feature acclaimed faculty and scientists from Rice. Future programming will expand to present both academic and notable industry speakers.

Ion Innovation on Tap: Disruptive Technology or “Innovation on Tap” will showcase advanced technology and innovation from research conducted in a variety of spaces, including academic, industry, and government labs. The goal of the series is to present developments that are frequently buried in technical and inaccessible journals or conference proceedings to the Ion’s tenants, corporate partners, and broader Houston business and entrepreneurship community in an accessible, short lecture (TED-style) format to promote the cross-sector collaboration Ion strives to facilitate.

Following the lecture, Innovation on Tap will host a networking event for attendees at Second Draught, as it also aims to build lasting connections and partnerships that not only accelerate translation and commercialization but drive future advancements needed to address real-world problems. The Ion and its ecosystem are currently focusing on addressing issues and finding solutions for: decarbonization, sustainable energy futures, personalized and affordable health care and sustainable, livable communities

“The series serves as a microscope to connect fundamental research and technology to the people and organizations that can benefit from it and help progress and activate the technology,” explains Jan E. Odegard, Executive Director of the Ion. “Ion Innovation on Tap is one of the first steps we’re taking this year to open the door for cross-sector collaboration between academia and business.”

Recent Past and Upcoming Lectures:

Innovation on Tap kicked off on January 30, with lectures taking place every other Thursday at 4:00 pm CT. The program includes a 30-minute presentation with a subject matter expert presenting their recent research and time for networking at Second Draught, bringing life to the name “Innovation on Tap.” Upcoming programming will dive into the latest advancements in disruptive technologies such as AI and machine learning, robotics, medical devices, synthetic biology, neuro-engineering, nano-materials, cybersecurity, imaging, blockchain and quantum computing.

● Past lectures

○ January 30: Preempting future pandemics: piecing together infectious disease outbreak puzzles with Todd Treangen, Assistant Professor of Computer Science, Rice University

○ February 9: Industry 4.0 Disruption with Fred Higgs III, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Director of the Rice Center for Engineering Leadership, Rice University

● Future lectures

○ February 23: A Lecture About the 2022 Nobel Prize in Physics with Dr. Kaden Hazzard, Associate Professor of Physics & Astronomy, Rice University

■ Dr. Hazard will explore experiments that unveiled the quantum world and how physicists now harness it to create technology such as quantum computers.

○ March 9: Nanotechnologies transitioning to commercial applications: Flash Graphene, Laser-Induced Graphene, and Molecular Nanomachines for Medicine with James Tour, T. T. and W. F. Chao Professor of Chemistry, Professor of Computer Science, Professor of Materials Science and NanoEngineering, Rice University

■ Professor Tour will discuss routes and applications for flash and laser-induced graphene and the use of molecular nanomachines as the technology is moving into medical applications.

○ March 23: Kirsten L. Siebach, Assistant Professor, Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences, Rice University

○ April 6: Aditya Mohite, Associate Professor, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Associate Professor, Materials Science and Nanoengineering, Rice University

○ April 20: Leonardo Duenas-Osorio, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Rice University

○ May 4: Naomi J. Halas, Stanley C. Moore Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Professor, Biomedical Engineering, Chemistry, Physics and Astronomy, Director, Smalley-Curl Institute and Director, Laboratory for Nanophotonics, Rice University To register or learn more, visit the Ion’s event page here.

About the Ion

Ion: Where ideas go to grow. Located in Ion District, the namesake building is the transformative centerpiece of Houston’s innovation corridor. Designed to bring our city’s entrepreneurial, corporate, and academic communities into collaborative spaces and programs, the sunlit structure of steel and glass is a home for advancing diverse knowledge, teams, technologies, and products that propel our world forward. From Fortune 500s seeking flexible office space to first-time startups looking for the funding to design a prototype, the Ion provides wide-reaching space and support to connect every What if with What now?—welcoming individuals and teams of all kinds to a place to build a better way.

Rice Management Company Announces Common Desk Expansion at the Ion

Rice Management Company (RMC) and the Ion, Houston’s innovation hub, announced they have expanded their partnership with Texas-based flexible office space provider Common Desk to the Ion’s fourth floor. This adds another 28,000 square feet to Common Desk’s largest footprint and solves a need for Houston-Galveston area entrepreneurs and startups seeking flexible workspace.

Today’s work environment demands more flexible space. The Ion’s growing partnership with Common Desk is a testament to the collaborative, intentional, and creative environment the Ion and Common Desk have created for teams in Houston looking to scale and grow. The Ion’s flexible office space operated by Common Desk houses innovative companies from a diverse mix of industries and organizations of all sizes, including Liongard, Koda Health, Ampersand, BP Ventures, Dow, Houston Freedmen’s Town Conservancy, Haliburton, HX Venture Fund, Capital Factory, BikeHouston, and SLB Innovation Factori.

“When people work in an inspiring place that fosters community, going into work is exciting. The Ion’s experience with Common Desk proves it,” said Jan E. Odegard, Executive Director of the Ion. “This rapid expansion signals that the Ion is the place to be for growing organizations, and we will soon be releasing new programs that expand our value proposition for startups, investors, corporations, academic institutions, and the community.”

Since it opened in the Ion in August 2021, the largest of Common Desk’s flexible work spaces has also become the company’s best-performing property. The space has reached full occupancy in less than one year and now is managing a waiting list. This new combined space spans 86,400 square feet, with more office suites sized for Houston’s rapidly growing start-up ecosystem.

Accessible design, flexible office solutions, and extensive amenities like an in-house Fiction Coffee bar and conference rooms make returning to the office more attractive. But what distinguishes this space from other flexible work spaces is proximity to the Ion’s roster of worldleading innovators Chevron Technology Ventures, NASA, Microsoft, Houston Methodist, and others, plus a host of free programming for entrepreneurs and start-ups provided by the Ion team and its partners. Flexibility for teams to expand seamlessly into larger suites or longerterm leases within the Ion or to future buildings in the Ion District also contributed to the space’s success.

“The Ion and Common Desk have created a truly unique and dynamic environment for entrepreneurs, startups, and corporations of all sizes,” said Joe Alapat, CEO and Founder of Liongard. “The flexible space has become an important hub of Houston’s booming innovation ecosystem, and we’re thrilled to see new members participating in regular events and rich programming. I’m glad to be a member of this community and look forward to leveraging the expanding footprint.”

Head of Real Estate for Common Desk, Dawson Williams, credited RMC for trusting the flexible work space provider to “build a vibrant space that fuels collaboration, innovation, and community. With RMC’s support, we created a thoughtful design, along with the amenities and memberships offered,” he said. “One year later, this space in the Ion is a game-changer for Houston’s innovators. It’s exciting that we’re already expanding because so many rapidly growing companies want to be inside the Ion and experience everything it has to offer.”

Ryan LeVasseur, Managing Director of Direct Real Estate at RMC, said together with Common Desk, the Ion has created an appealing “ecosystem within an ecosystem” fueling the growth of Ion District. “We look forward to more exciting developments in Ion District next year, and we are grateful for partners like Common Desk President Nick Clark and Dawson Williams. They both share our vision for a more collaboration-fostering and human-engaging built environment,” he said. “The Ion is Houston’s home of innovation, and it is the catalyst for RMC’s further investment in building out the Ion District,” LeVasseur added.

According to Barbara Burger, Corporate Graduate, Energy Director, Innovator and Advisor, “People from firms of all sizes respond positively to physical spaces designed to promote connection and collaboration; they are integral to advancing toward a more diverse and inclusive workplace. So much of a firm’s strategy rests on its talent – as individuals and of the collective — there is much to be gained by being part of an innovative community in the center of the most diverse city in the United States.”

In addition to the Ion’s growing list of esteemed innovators, the Ion is home to best-in-class, innovative culinary talent, including Second Draught, The Lymbar, Common Bond On The Go, and soon to open Late August.

Those interested in joining the Ion ecosystem can learn more here.

About Rice Management Company: Rice Management Company (RMC) is responsible for stewardship of Rice University’s endowment and was established to provide a perpetual source of revenue for current operations and certain capital needs. Rice University serves its mission by cultivating a diverse community of learning and discovery that produces leaders across the spectrum of human endeavor. RMC’s teams bring decades of investment management expertise across diversified industries and financial specialties. https://www.rice.edu/

About the Ion

Ion: Where ideas go to grow. Located in Ion District, the namesake building is the transformative centerpiece of Houston’s innovation corridor. Designed to bring our city’s entrepreneurial, corporate, and academic communities into collaborative spaces and programs, the sunlit structure of steel and glass is a home for advancing diverse knowledge, teams, technologies, and products that propel our world forward. From Fortune 500s seeking flexible office space to first-time startups looking for the funding to design a prototype, the Ion provides wide-reaching space and support to connect every What if with What now?—welcoming individuals and teams of all kinds to a place to build a better way.

About Common Desk: Common Desk has been crafting an original workday experience for its members since 2012. It currently serves thousands of professionals across its network of flexible office locations, cultivating a thriving community of freelancers, small businesses, fast-growing tech companies and enterprise businesses. Common Desk’s workday brand portfolio also includes Fiction Coffee, adding to the customized amenities that enhance workdays for members and guests alike. Common Desk was acquired by WeWork in 2022, becoming the first coworking brand bought by the global company. For more information, visit thecommondesk.com.

Ion Partners with MediaTech Ventures to Launch New Incubator Program

Ion, Houston’s innovation hub, today announced its partnership with MediaTech Ventures, a media industry venture development company, to launch a new Houston incubator program called MediaTech at the Ion. The program is designed to develop early-stage and growth-driven media technology startups in Houston through education and mentorship with MediaTech Ventures’ startup curriculum and platform. To apply or learn more, visit: https://mediatech.ventures/houston-incubator/

“Modern media has to continually evolve and adapt to new market channels, and with each platform comes the opportunity for innovation to leverage what is possible. It’s why Houston continues to build its market and resources for media technology entrepreneurs and startups looking to make an impact in this constantly evolving space,” said Jan E. Odegard, Executive Director of the Ion. “We’re thrilled to partner with MediaTech Ventures to further bolster the startups that are an integral part of our innovation community.”

Throughout the 12-week program, selected participants will progress through the fundamentals of building and scaling a business through three district themes: marketing, development, and production. The program sessions are divided as follows:

● Weeks 1-4: Participants will learn how to test product or service viability, understand market competitive intelligence, and create a Go-To-Market plan.

● Weeks 5-8: Develop a business model, understand the variations of public, corporate, and private capital, and create a 12-month roadmap that dives into technology, resource, and media needs.

● Weeks 9-12: Participants will learn about how to pitch, fundraise, and establish the company in the media technology market.

MediaTech Ventures was founded in 2016 in Austin, Texas, to advance the media technology economy by unifying innovation with capital, and validating and scaling technology-enabled media startups. MediaTech Ventures’ startups have raised over $10 million after participating in the company’s programs. The Ion was chosen for the incubator program due to its strong network of entrepreneurs, resource-rich environment, and collaborative spaces and programs.

“Ion is the perfect home for our incubator program,” said Josh Sutton, Houston Program Manager at MediaTech Ventures. “Our goal is to not only tap into the Ion’s valuable innovation ecosystem both within its four walls and beyond it but to catalyze the development of media technologies and offer more resources for entrepreneurs looking to advance modern media.”

Applications are currently open here to tech-based or tech-enabled startups and will close on January 10. Fifteen startups will be selected to partake in the program, which is slated to kick-off in January 2023. Selected participants will meet once a week for 12 weeks in 3-hour long classes. An info session is taking place at the Ion on December 5 at Second Draught, a taproom at the Ion, where interested applicants can meet, ask questions, and learn more about the program.

About the Ion

Ion: Where ideas go to grow. Located in Ion District, the namesake building is the transformative centerpiece of Houston’s innovation corridor. Designed to bring our city’s entrepreneurial, corporate, and academic communities into collaborative spaces and programs, the sunlit structure of steel and glass is a home for advancing diverse knowledge, teams, technologies, and products that propel our world forward. From Fortune 500s seeking flexible office space to first-time startups looking for the funding to design a prototype, the Ion provides wide-reaching space and support to connect every What if with What now?—welcoming individuals and teams of all kinds to a place to build a better way.

About MediaTechVentures: MediaTech Ventures is a media industry venture development company with industry leaders throughout the hubs of media in the United States (Austin, Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York) and the data infrastructure of tomorrow’s global media industry. MediaTech Ventures employs a proprietary framework serving blended capital to advance education, resources, and infrastructure for our creative class and on behalf of entrepreneurs and investors.

Ion Announces Free Program for Houston Entrepreneurs Looking to Grow

Ion, Houston’s innovation hub, today announced its partnership with Improving, a technology management and consulting services firm, to provide a free, six-month curriculum that covers a wide range of business topics. The program, called “Ion Startup University powered by Improving,” kicks off with its first session on Thursday, September 29, 2022.

Open to the public, Ion Startup University powered by Improving was created to provide the Houston community access to educational courses. Whether preparing to launch a startup or pitching to investors, the courses are designed to help escalate growth at every stage of the entrepreneurial journey.

“At Improving, we are dedicated to providing innovative solutions and processes to those in need at any level of their career or phase of their business,” said Devlin Liles, Chief Consulting Officer and President of Improving–Houston. “We share a common goal with the Ion to support Houston’s entrepreneurs and business community who are eager to grow but need an extra boost to do so.”

The first three sessions of the curriculum focus on product creation and best practices for pitching and networking. To register for the first session, please visit the Ion’s event page here.

● Product – Start Well (September 29, 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm): The session will focus on the “Product Thinking” aspects needed to launch a Minimal Viable Product (MVP). Led by Wade Pinder, Founder of the Houston Product Community, topics discussed will include framing the problem, considering product personas, forming a vision and strategy, ideation, building a product roadmap, and starting a product backlog.

● Pitch & Sell (October 12, 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm): Facilitated by Max Day, Chief Growth Officer of Wealth Assistants, the session will help entrepreneurs in pitch development. It will cover what a pitch should include, how to structure a pitch for the most impact, the best exercises for practicing pitching, and common mistakes to avoid.

● Why – Networking (October 27, 3:30 pm – 5:30 pm): Learn the ins and outs of networking with Ion’s Senior Director of Ecosystems, Joey Sanchez. This session will focus on how to expand your “who,” when to engage with others and how, and the best practices for successfully making and maintaining meaningful relationships.

“Through our partnership with Improving, we are bridging the gap for entrepreneurs who may not have previously had access to resources to help bring their ideas or businesses to life,” said Jan E. Odegard, Executive Director of the Ion. “Ion Startup University powered by Improving is another proof point that Houston and the Ion are where you should come to get your startup launched.”

Sessions are offered bi-weekly for six months, and each six-month program occurs twice a year, with new sessions introduced each year. Sessions include 45 minutes of content with a subject matter expert facilitating the conversation, followed by break-out workshops to apply learnings in real-time. Attendees can choose the entire six-month curriculum or only the sessions necessary for current needs.

About the Ion

Ion: Where ideas go to grow. Located in Ion District, the namesake building is the transformative centerpiece of Houston’s innovation corridor. Designed to bring our city’s entrepreneurial, corporate, and academic communities into collaborative spaces and programs, the sunlit structure of steel and glass is a home for advancing diverse knowledge, teams, technologies, and products that propel our world forward. From Fortune 500s seeking flexible office space to first-time startups looking for the funding to design a prototype, the Ion provides wide-reaching space and support to connect every What if with What now?—welcoming individuals and teams of all kinds to a place to build a better way.

About Improving: Improving is a modern digital services company dedicated to positively changing the perception of the IT professional. Improving offers innovative solutions through IT consulting, software development, and agile training to help thousands of clients achieve new heights in a competitive and ever-changing market

Ion and Houston Methodist to Open Health Care Innovation Tech Hub

Houston Methodist joins the Ion as its first healthcare-centric partner in its growing innovation hub. The hospital will build out a space at the Ion modeled after Houston Methodist’s Center for Innovation Technology Hub located at its flagship hospital in the Texas Medical Center to showcase the latest in healthcare innovation.

“Partnering with Houston Methodist’s Center for Innovation is exciting. This also will advance the Ion’s ability to support entrepreneurs and innovators that are already at the Ion as we embark on a new focus in health care innovation,” said Jan Odegard, Executive Director of the Ion.

Expected to open later this year, the Tech Hub at the Ion will occupy an approximately 1,200-square-foot space which will first be used for informational and educational programming, networking with fellow tenants and entrepreneurs, participating in on-site mentoring and pitch competitions, and hosting open houses for the community to see how Houston Methodist is shaping patient-centered health care of the future.

Houston Methodist’s presence at the Ion advances its vision to foster more collaboration across industries, joining aerospace, energy, and oil and gas companies already embedded in the innovation hub. Through this partnership, Houston Methodist expands the work of its Center for Innovation and its Technology Hub, which opened in early 2020 to provide a living laboratory environment to experience the latest innovations in patient-centered health care technology, including remote monitoring, ambient intelligence, and virtual reality. The space at the Ion will be a smaller replica, a twin of the original space within the hospital, and will demonstrate how current and future technology work together in the hospital setting.

“We are advancing the evolution of the hospital’s role in health care through digital transformation,” said Michelle Stansbury, VP of Innovation and IT Applications at Houston Methodist. “Having a footprint at the Ion will not only provide the Ion’s network and Houston community with a window into what we are doing for patients, consumers, and providers but also gives the Ion community and rising innovators an opportunity to bring its own ingenuity and ideas to life with ours.”

Partnering with Houston Methodist and welcoming them to the Ion, developed by Rice Management Company on behalf of Rice University, builds on the legacies of two of the state’s leading institutions, said Rice University President Reggie DesRoches.

“Building new relationships and resources can expand digital innovation in health care,” DesRoches said. “Rice is thrilled to play its part, and we celebrate our shared commitment to meaningful community engagement.”

Houston Methodist and Rice University have a history of collaborations, including the Houston Methodist – Rice University Center for Human Performance, a premier center under construction on Rice’s main campus. The space is intended to bring physicians, academic researchers, and university students together to work side by side with student-athletes, trainers, and coaches to advance research and education in human performance. Houston Methodist and Rice University also are collaborating on the Center for Translational Neural Prosthetics and Interfaces to bring together scientists, clinicians, engineers, and surgeons to solve clinical problems with neurorobotics.

Bryson Grover, Investment Manager of Real Estate Development, Rice Management Company, said, “By enhancing opportunities for our network of academics, businesses, entrepreneurs and innovators to collaborate across the Ion District and globally, we’re creating a more resilient future economy for our region.”

About the Ion

Ion: Where ideas go to grow. Located in Ion District, the namesake building is the transformative centerpiece of Houston’s innovation corridor. Designed to bring our city’s entrepreneurial, corporate, and academic communities into collaborative spaces and programs, the sunlit structure of steel and glass is a home for advancing diverse knowledge, teams, technologies, and products that propel our world forward. From Fortune 500s seeking flexible office space to first-time startups looking for the funding to design a prototype, the Ion provides wide-reaching space and support to connect every What if with What now?—welcoming individuals and teams of all kinds to a place to build a better way. For more information, visit https://ionhouston.com/.

About Houston Methodist: Houston Methodist is one of the nation’s leading health systems and academic medical centers. The health system consists of eight hospitals: Houston Methodist Hospital, its flagship academic hospital in the Texas Medical Center, six community hospitals, and one long-term acute care hospital throughout the Greater Houston metropolitan area. Houston Methodist also includes a research institute; a comprehensive residency program; international patient services; freestanding comprehensive care, emergency care and imaging centers; and outpatient facilities. Houston Methodist employs more than 27,000 people and had more than 1.6 million outpatient visits and more than 132,000 admissions in 2021. For more information on Houston Methodist, see houstonmethodist.org.

NASA and Houston’s Ion Partner to Create Opportunities for Startup Community

The Ion, Houston’s innovation hub, has announced its collaboration with NASA’s Johnson Space Center. NASA and the Ion are establishing a technology transfer center at the Ion to empower the Houston-Galveston region’s aerospace innovation ecosystem by extending opportunities to local entrepreneurs and startups to share their ideas and intellectual property with NASA and vice versa.

NASA and the Ion’s partnership is an example of private-public partnerships aimed at creating events, programming, and initiatives to promote and diversify the new commercial space economy and the use of NASA technologies in the broader economy. Alongside Rice University, the Ion’s owner, the organizations are pioneering a platform to accelerate the formation of space entrepreneurs to grow commercial space supply chains, seek solutions to address space technology challenges, and license NASA technology for commercial applications.

“We’re eager and excited to work with Rice University and the Ion to help NASA solve challenges, develop spinoff technologies, grow minority entrepreneurs, and accelerate innovative and tech-forward solutions in Houston,” said Vanessa Wyche, director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center. “This partnership will allow us to increase startups through our aerospace accelerator targeting minority businesses and help achieve NASA’s goals to enhance scientific and technological knowledge to benefit all of humankind as we propel commercialization of space and work to land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon under Artemis.”

The organizations will also focus part of their efforts on minority businesses and entrepreneurs in the aerospace and technology fields, including the Ion’s Aerospace Innovation Accelerator for Minority Business Enterprises (AIA for MBEs), which develops businesses tackling aerospace-related challenges. NASA has supported the AIA for MBEs since its inception and initial grant process. NASA will continue to support the accelerator and its participants through its provision of mentors and subject matter experts and ongoing input and advice at the Ion’s monthly startup competitions and showcases in addition to the below.

As part of the new collaboration, NASA and the Ion will open an application process for interested startups and entrepreneurs to become connected with NASA in Fall 2022. Programming will run through mid-2023. Together, NASA, the Ion and the startup community will work to:

● Develop spin-off technologies in support of commercial space and for potential use in future NASA and private space missions;

● Provide access to intellectual property (IP). The Ion community will have once-in-a-lifetime access to NASA’s IP portfolio, for potential use in commercial applications;

● Create more onramps for Houston’s small business communities through NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) & Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs;

● Build a private sector skilled local workforce to support the development of space technologies

“NASA’s Johnson Space Center has led the US and the world on an ongoing journey of human exploration, and the Ion is here to accelerate tomorrow’s space endeavors,” said Jan E. Odegard, Executive Director of the Ion. “Together, our Ion community of startups, entrepreneurs, and academic institutions, across industries and disciplines – from health care to sports to e-commerce to resiliency – is the perfect place for human performance and for NASA to derive talent. Just as NASA is the perfect team to inspire our Ion community to reach for the stars. Together we will safeguard Houston’s title as ‘Space City’ and advance the global space industry for future missions.”

About the Ion

Ion: Where ideas go to grow. Located in Ion District, the namesake building is the transformative centerpiece of Houston’s innovation corridor. Designed to bring our city’s entrepreneurial, corporate, and academic communities into collaborative spaces and programs, the sunlit structure of steel and glass is a home for advancing diverse knowledge, teams, technologies, and products that propel our world forward. From Fortune 500s seeking flexible office space to first-time startups looking for the funding to design a prototype, the Ion provides wide-reaching space and support to connect every What if with What now?—welcoming individuals and teams of all kinds to a place to build a better way. For more information, visit https://ionhouston.com/.

The Ion Celebrates their Cohorts’ Success with a Demo Day

The Ion, Houston’s tech epicenter, is excited to announce its fourth cohort of the Ion Smart and Resilient Cities Accelerator (ISRCA) and the second cohort of the Ion Aerospace Innovation Accelerator (AIA) for Minority Business Enterprises are in the home stretch of programming in their respective cohorts and will soon participate in Demo Day on June 14-15. This two-day celebration, which is open to the public, is hosted by the Ion Accelerator Hub, which has been working with ten organizations that are focused on building a safer, smarter, and more accessible city for all Houstonians. The Demo Days will celebrate both of the cohort’s successes through networking and pitch competitions.

Event details can be found here:

● June 14, at 4 PM: The Ion Accelerator Hub Demo Day

● June 15, at 1 PM: The Ion Accelerator Hub Elevator Pitch Competition

During the 12-week programs, ISRCA and AIA for Minority Business Enterprises startups participated in curated mentor office hours, networking, and events including 1:1 pitch coaching sessions, education, and training from top experts, design thinking workshops and executive coaching.

Presenting startups include:

● Boxes – Boxes is a Techstars and Greentown Labs startup. With their devices, they are powering the future of retail by combining physical and digital technology to democratize convenient, affordable, and sustainable retail.

● Cochran Aerospace – Cochrane Exploration offers everyone the opportunity to experience and experiment in space. They are developing unmanned vehicles to offer asset deployment and recovery for various mission profiles on a recurring schedule and crewed vehicles to transport teams to Space Stations, the Moon, Mars, and beyond.

● InnoGrid – The mission of InnoGrid is to provide equity through energy resiliency. They are developing the first working lab in the heart of Houston’s Innovation Corridor for microgrid and distributed energy resource (DER) innovators and start-ups from near and far.

● My AfterLife – My AfterLife organizes your entire online life into a bundle of digital living wills, funeral plans, multimedia memorial portfolios, and estate arrangements. They help you with the details of how you’re laid to rest and assure you get the final say.

● Renu Energy – Renu Energy Services Inc. is an energy technology company focused on energy recovery, creation, and storage. The startup is a services-based company converting waste to electricity on-site, providing reliable 24/7 energy, and keeping waste from the environment, landfills, and oceans.

● Rescunomics – Now, First Responders and Active Shooter victims can be found in real-time without latency. For the first time, emergency workers and Law Enforcement can view the internal layouts of the building they respond to just by typing the address into their Mobile Display Units (MDC).

● Spark Spaces – Sparks Spaces is an ESG-focused project management firm working on electrification, mobility, and energy transition. Their current solution allows EV drivers to charge anywhere.

● Smartiron – Smartiron is pioneering AI-enabled guidance for construction equipment. Our foundational product is an AI guidance module mounted on top of manned construction equipment providing operators with AI-assisted vision into their productivity, safety, and workflow.

● Studio Pod – Studio Pod was created with the mission to make professional-quality headshots more accessible through an interactive and self-guided experience. Through automation, we deliver a superior experience and product at a fraction of the price of a traditional headshot taken by a photographer.

● Universal Toll Tag – Unytag offers on-demand toll travel from your phone. Use their safe, simple, secure platform to pay as you travel through each toll. No more down payments at the beginning of the month to pay for tolls you haven’t passed through yet. Unytag only charges the account as you drive through the toll.

The Ion Accelerator Hub unites four accelerator programs under one roof. The hub works to cultivate technology and talent in relevant industries, including but not limited to engineering, construction, robotics, medicine, health support systems, and additive manufacturing. The Ion Accelerator Hub is empowered by the support of Ion partners Microsoft, Chevron, Aramco, ExxonMobil, Intel, bp, The City of Houston, NASA, and DivInc.

The Accelerator Hub is funded by a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration [ED20HDQ0200051]. The Ion’s Aerospace Innovation Hub is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Minority Business Development Agency [MB20OBD8020146].

The Ion Welcomes ExxonMobil as a Founding Partner

The Ion, Houston’s innovation hub, announces ExxonMobil has joined as a Founding Partner to curate programming to advance the energy transition and create Houston’s workforce of tomorrow. The collaboration is effective immediately and was celebrated at the kick-off of the Ion’s Activation Festival.

“ExxonMobil has been a leader in energy technology for over a century. Collaboration is essential to both augment our capabilities and accelerate the development of scalable solutions,” said Linda DuCharme, president of ExxonMobil Technology and Engineering Company. “Our partnership with The Ion will enable us to tap into the extraordinary talent in Houston.”

ExxonMobil is working with the Ion to share best innovation and research practices to support the Ion’s mission as a global technology hub and further empower local entrepreneurs and Houston’s workforce. ExxonMobil plans to leverage the Ion’s innovation ecosystem, partner, and academic network, which has relationships with ten-plus local schools and universities, to help develop solutions for the world’s emerging energy issues. Long-term, this work will contribute to the overall growth of emerging technologies and innovation in Houston.

“To have one of the strongest brands in oil and gas globally join us is a testament to the Ion’s momentum and mission,” said Jan E. Odegard, executive director, Ion. “We’re thrilled to welcome ExxonMobil’s thought leaders and this caliber of mindshare to the Ion family. As the Ion expands its programming and footprint, we are confident in the impact we’ll create together.”

The Ion is the anchor of the 16-acre transformational, mixed-use development in Houston’s Ion District. The Ion’s other Founding Partners are Aramco, Chevron Technology Ventures, Baker Botts, and Microsoft and Affiliate Partners bp and Intel.

About the Ion

Ion: Where ideas go to grow. Located in Ion District, the namesake building is the transformative centerpiece of Houston’s innovation corridor. Designed to bring our city’s entrepreneurial, corporate, and academic communities into collaborative spaces and programs, the sunlit structure of steel and glass is a home for advancing diverse knowledge, teams, technologies, and products that propel our world forward. From Fortune 500s seeking flexible office space to first-time startups looking for the funding to design a prototype, the Ion provides wide-reaching space and support to connect every What if with What now?—welcoming individuals and teams of all kinds to a place to build a better way.