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Launching the Inaugural Houston Energy and Climate Startup Week | September 9-13, 2024

Greentown Labs, Halliburton Labs, and The Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship are joining forces to launch the inaugural Houston Climate and Energy Startup Week 2024. The week of September 9-13, 2024, will bring together leading energy and climate investors, industry leaders, and startups from across the globe to showcase and discuss the most innovative and promising companies and technologies that are transforming the energy industry and driving a sustainable, low-carbon energy future.

Speakers, panels, pitches and discussions will take place at events across Houston with several hosted at the Ion, the heart of Houston’s innovation corridor in Midtown.

Houston Energy and Climate Startup Week Anchor Events Schedule:

The Rice Alliance Energy Tech Venture Forum, a Greentown Labs Event and the Halliburton Labs Finalist Pitch Day will anchor the week’s events.

The Houston Energy Transition Initiative (HETI), Activate, Digital Wildcatters, and Renewable Energy Alliance Houston, and TEX-E are eager to bring events and content to the week and others are encouraged to do the same.

Read more in the press release.

Interested in joining in?

Excited about this? We want to hear from you. Sign up for more details as they are announced below:


More details coming soon! For now just save the date: Sept. 9-13, 2024!

*Event days for anchor events subject to change. Please check back soon for a finalized schedule for the 2024 Energy and Climate Startup Week!

Ion Holiday Gift Guide

This festive season, dive into a world of innovative and delightful gifts that cater to techies, food lovers, and eco-enthusiasts alike, all from the vibrant Ion community.

  • Savor the flavors with a gift card to The Lymbar, a culinary gem in the heart of the Ion. Perfect for those who appreciate a gourmet dining experience from a local Houston restaurateur family, the Corduas!
  • Gift creativity with a membership or workshop at the Ion Prototyping Lab. Ideal for makers, inventors, or anyone eager to bring their ideas to life.
  • Cheers to the festive spirit with a gift card to Second Draught, also located at the Ion. It’s an ideal pick for craft beer aficionados and casual drinkers alike.
  • Indulge guilt-free with delectable sweets from Sinless Treats. Their delightful offerings are sure to please every sweet tooth! Go green with composting material from Moonshot Compost. A thoughtful gift for environmental enthusiasts looking to reduce their carbon footprint.
  • Bring nature indoors with an innovative indoor garden system from Eden Grow Systems. It’s a perfect gift for those who love gardening or fresh, home-grown produce.
  • Delight in the flavors of the season with holiday catering or swag from Stuff’d. Perfect for adding a festive touch to any holiday gathering.

Celebrate this holiday season with gifts that resonate with passion and purpose. Explore these unique offerings from our local startups and businesses within the Ion community. 🎉

 

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.

Fully Charged

An Art Deco department store is reimagined as a hub for entrepreneurship and collaboration.

Location: Houston
Client: Rice University
Development Manager: Hines
Architect: SHoP Architects
Facade & Lightwell Designer: James Carpenter Design Associates
Architect of Record and Interior Architect: Gensler
Development Advisor: HR&A Advisors
Structural Engineer: Walter P Moore
MEP Engineer: IAN+A
Lighting Consultant: One Lux Studio
Civil Engineer: Kimley-Horn
Security, AV, & IT Consultant: HMA Consulting
Elevator Consultant: Persohn/Hahn
Acoustical Consultant: Longman Lindsey
Envelope Consultant: Morrison Hershfield
Landscape Architect: James Corner Field Operations

The energy in the air of the Ion is palpable as a throng of visitors mill about, excitedly chatting during a weekly networking event that goes by the name of Cup of Joey. The project’s name, derived from the charged particles that catalyze chemical reactions, is an apt descriptor. Notably absent was the sterile, perfunctory security desk found in most office buildings. Instead, visitors receive a friendly greeting and immediate access to some of Houston’s best local restaurants. It’s apparent that the Ion development team is trying to “think different” (to borrow from Apple’s famous 1990s ad campaign).

Located in Midtown only half a mile from downtown, the Ion building was built in 1939. Originally home to a Sears showroom, it began its second life in March 2021 as the anchor for a much larger endeavor: a district-wide vision to advance and sustain Houston’s economic resilience through the development of the Ion District. In addition to uncovering and preserving much of the building’s original Art Deco detailing, the design team added two new floors to the original three-story structure, bringing the new building to five stories, with a sixth floor below grade. The 266,000-sf structure brings together multiple uses, including Class-A office space, co-working and event spaces, classrooms, prototyping labs, and maker spaces, as well as notable culinary offerings by some of Houston’s finest restauranteurs.

Although the area doesn’t yet have the infrastructure to make it truly walkable, the Ion team hopes to change that. Jan Odegard, executive director of the Ion, says: “It’s in a perfect location. You have immediate access to a major highway. You have the Red Line that connects downtown all the way to the med center. You’ve got a major connection point here with the Wheeler station that is going to become a major bus and rapid transit thoroughfare. Capitalizing on that and making it a walkable area will only bolster Houston’s future.”

In 2017, the Rice Management Company (RMC) — the entity that manages Rice University’s endowment and that already owned 9 acres in the area — was presented with the opportunity to buy the remaining years of Sears’ ground lease following the department store’s bankruptcy. Around this same time, Amazon was looking for a location for its new headquarters, and the city of Houston approached Rice about putting together a proposal for consideration by the tech behemoth. Though Houston didn’t make the shortlist, Scott Irby, associate manager of Direct Real Estate, RMC, notes that, in retrospect, this was a fortunate turn of events. “It would not have been as impactful as what we have an opportunity to do here,” he says.

RMC opted instead to redevelop the area as a commercial enterprise by leveraging strengths in existing sectors like healthcare and energy and integrating them with the technology sector into a central node. “We realized that technology is something Houston is lacking,” explains Irby. “It’s not lacking in talent. We have entrepreneurship. We have engineering talent. It’s just inside the companies. It’s not really in one place. That’s really what led to the idea of the Ion and the Ion district.”

RMC set to work accumulating more land — eventually taking control of a total of 16 acres — with the vision of building a vibrant, community-oriented district that will host retail, creative office space, hospitality, and multifamily residences while supporting entrepreneurship. Soon after, Rice brought on New York-based SHoP Architects to develop the district master plan and to lead design of the first phase of the project: the Ion building, plaza, and nearby parking garage. James Carpenter Design Associates led the redesign of the building’s skin and central lightwell; Gensler served as architect of record and interior architect for the common spaces; and James Corner Field Operations provided landscape design. “[Rice] is not a developer that’s working in tons of cities around the globe,” explains SHoP project director Anneli Rice. “The whole reason that this district exists, and that The Ion exists, is because Rice is making an investment in Houston. They recognize that the future and the fate of Rice and industry in Houston is tied to this place — the city.”

The building’s programmatic components are intended to support the life cycle of a startup and are organized around a central atrium that slices through the building from top to bottom. The ground floor and lower level contain 50,000 sf of public and shared spaces, which include event spaces, communal workspaces, and drinking and dining options. A 6,500-sf prototyping lab, operated by TXRX Labs, offers large- and small-format 3D printers, classrooms, an electronics design area, a 3D mill, laser cutters, lathes, and power tools. (The original pink terrazzo floors are still visible in the space.) Once a viable prototype has been developed, makers can seek funding from investors just down the hall at the Ion Investor Studio before moving on to an outside facility for large-scale production. Notably, many educators and students regularly use the space, and Axiom Space is using the facilities to develop the Artemis III space suit under a contract for NASA.

Once an enterprise has a need for office space, co-working is a logical first step. With this in mind, the entire second floor is occupied by Common Desk, a popular co-working company that got its start in Dallas. This location, the largest in their portfolio, currently boasts around 600 members representing 260 diverse entities — from nonprofits like BikeHouston to satellites for large corporations, to a luxury sneaker trading company. As an enterprise matures, it can stay within the Ion ecosystem, simply moving up a floor or two into its own private office space; thus, floors three through five are entirely devoted to corporate office space. Recognizing that the leap from co-working to a traditional long-term lease can be difficult, the Ion team opted to operate spaces on the third floor under shorter 1- to 3-year leases. The offices are smaller and come outfitted with kitchenettes, and meeting rooms shared between the floor’s occupants reduce the financial burden on individual enterprises. Offices on floors four and five are available in 5- to 10-year leases, which are suitable for more established entities.

One of the biggest challenges in turning the old department store into a desirable office building was the dearth of daylight. “Daylight was the enemy of shopping,” says Irby. Department stores were intentionally designed to block sunlight, not only to protect the merchandise from the sun’s rays, but also so that shoppers would lose track of time — the same strategy employed by casinos. The entire south side of the building — originally devoted to service space — was entirely windowless, and the only source of daylight to the north was the original Art Deco glass blocks.

Exposing and preserving as much of the historic structure as possible while introducing daylight through a central lightwell were the primary design drivers from day one. New windows that complement the existing glass block punctuate the north half of the building, creating a rhythm that alternates between old and new. The southern half of the building was entirely reskinned with a sleek new curtain wall and perforated metal fins. The newly constructed top two floors, which also employ a structural steel and glass curtain wall system, are recessed to create outdoor balconies — a design move that also diminishes the presence of the new floors when viewing the building from the street level.

The central lightwell was the most challenging design element but also the most rewarding, according to Odegard. Four central columns were removed to make way for the new lightwell, and the remaining slab at each level was hung from the new steel framing over the existing roof level by three-inch diameter stainless steel hanger rods. This approach was used to conceal bulky structural transfer elements while exposing lighter, more architecturally sculpted elements within the occupied space.

Sunlight enters the space through an overhead skylight oriented to the south and refracts off custom perforated metal panels that line the staggered interior balcony railings. (Staggering the balconies provides a secondary benefit of easy visual connection between floors.) Full-spectrum LED lights supplement the natural daylight but can also be programmed to specific color patterns for dramatic effect. Light filters through the entire building down to the lower level, where it illuminates a “forum stair” that functions as a small amphitheater for TED-style talks, panel discussions, and presentations.

At the time of writing, the Ion is nearly 80 percent occupied, a metric that speaks to the success of the project’s first two years. The Ion team is also pursuing WELL Silver certification, demonstrating their commitment to ongoing healthful management of the building. The larger vision for the project, however, is planned to unfold over a decade, and only time will tell as to how the Ion district plays out, particularly in these times of political and economic uncertainty.

Anastasia Calhoun, Assoc. AIA, NOMA, is the editor of Texas Architect.

Ion District Welcomes New Tenants

Ion District today announces ten new tenants plus construction on a new lab at the Ion, Houston’s innovation hub. Combined, the tenants are leasing 35,000 square feet and will drive more cross collaboration across industries, from energy, to education, to healthcare technology, and venture capital. The 266,000 square foot building is now 86% leased. 

The companies joining the Ion include: 

  • Carbon Clean, a leading carbon capture company that opened its new Houston headquarters in response to a 64% leap in inquiries following the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act.
  • Cognite, a Norwegian software company for asset-heavy industries that turns industrial data into customer value. 
  • OpenStax, a nonprofit tech company improving educational access and learning through publishing openly licensed college textbooks that are free online and low cost in print.
  • Synopic, a startup building the next generation of depth-enabled cameras to improve visualization and decision making during medical procedures.
  • Motif Neurotech, a medical equipment manufacturing startup working to develop minimally invasive electronic solutions for mental health. 
  • RedSwan CRE, a crowdfunding-style investment platform and marketplace of tokenized commercial real estate.
  • Nauticus Robotics, which has created a highly sophisticated, ultra sustainable fleet of marine robotics — along with the intelligent software to power it.
  • Rice University’s Office of Innovation, designed to commercialize more Rice-developed research and technology in part by being close to tech-forward organizations that can utilize it, in addition to Rice’s Nexus Lab, which is under construction and designed for prototyping and scaling-up technologies. 

 

The new tenants join Ara Partners, a Houston-based, global private equity firm focused on investing in carbon decentralization technology, on the Ion’s third floor. The firm moved into the building last year and is already expanding its space to meet the demands of its growing organization. 

 

Additionally, this leasing and construction news comes on the heels of flexible workspace provider Common Desk announcing it would expand its space by nearly 50 percent at the Ion to accommodate a waitlist of entrepreneurs, startups, and corporates that are looking for flexible office solutions to connect and accelerate innovation. 

“Welcoming this amazing lineup of new tenants, across the breadth of sectors they represent, demonstrates that the Ion is the place to be and do business in Houston,” said Jan E. Odegard, Executive Director of the Ion. “By continuing to fill our space with new innovators across all these different offerings from all around the globe, we’ve become the home for collisions that will create solutions to the biggest problems facing our world today. We pride ourselves on advancing the diverse knowledge, teams, technologies, and products that will propel our world forward. Our inspiring new tenants will do just that.” 

The Ion celebrated its grand opening in May of 2022. Its roster of tenants already includes Chevron, Microsoft, (Schlumberger) SLB Innovation Factori, and Houston Methodist. The Ion is the namesake centerpiece of the up-and-coming Ion District, home to more than 300 businesses, including corporates, small businesses, startups and restaurants, such as Greentown Labs and Stuff’d Wings

“Carbon Clean is experiencing a big uptick in demand for our innovative carbon capture solutions in North America, and we’re excited to be expanding in the U.S. from our new home in the Ion, located in Houston. It’s a great space for networking and collaboration, and we’re delighted to have already made the most of this by hosting a reception in the Ion that brought leaders in decarbonization technology and innovation together to celebrate our new base in Houston,” said Aniruddha Sharma, CEO of Carbon Clean.

In addition to the 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 with Chef Dawn Burrell. 

“The Ion continues to see leasing demand from companies that understand the value of a creative and active work environment,” said Bryson Grover, Investment Manager of Real Estate Development, Rice Management Co. “Companies are choosing Ion District because it offers more than just a solution for space needs. Workers are given the opportunity to experience a sense of community that brings together like-minded individuals and those with different perspectives.” 

For more information on leasing opportunities, please email: leasing@iondistrict.com. Those interested in getting involved in the Ion ecosystem can learn more here

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 Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month with Line-Up of Public Events

In Houston, the number of Hispanic entrepreneurs outnumbers all other demographic groups 2 to 1, according to the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Even more, Hispanics are two times more likely to start a business in Houston than other demographic groups.

Committed to supporting this dramatic growth in Hispanic-owned businesses, the Ion, Houston’s innovation hub, provides the resources needed for startups and entrepreneurs of all backgrounds to be successful, from educational events on topics such as how to secure capital or how to successfully pitch an idea, to networking opportunities aimed to develop ones’ professional network.

With this, the Ion is excited to announce its line-up of events for Hispanic Heritage Month, taking place September 15 to October 15. Houstonians and visitors of all backgrounds will have the opportunity to experience business, networking, and cultural programming that highlights and celebrates Houston’s vibrant Hispanic community.

Hispanic Heritage Month events will take place at the Ion, and the first event to kick-off the month is the Hispanic Small Business Summit on September 15. Open to the Greater Houston-Galveston area, the event will take place in Spanish and feature a networking session, local entrepreneurs telling their small business success stories, and a panel of lenders for tips on accessing business capital.

The full line-up of events can be found below.

● Hispanic Small Business Summit (September 15 at 9:00 am to 12:00 pm): Hosted by the U.S. Small Business Administration in cooperation with Houston Baptist University, Baker Ripley, Impact Hub, and the Ion, this event will feature small business success stories, information about the impact of Latino entrepreneurship, and a panel of lenders for tips on accessing business capital. To note, this event will be held in Spanish.

● Fiesta Mexicana, presented by Que Onda Magazine (September 15 at 5:30 pm to 9:30 pm): All are welcome to this outdoor family-friendly festival celebrating Mexican Independence Day. In partnership with the Mayor’s Hispanic Advisory Board, the event will feature Mexican food trucks, live Mariachi performances, ballet folklorico dance performances, and more.

● LatinTech Pitch 2022 Competition (September 20 at 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm): Presented by the Consulate General of Israel to the Southwest along with Latinx Startup Alliance and Texas Business Association, this event will feature a pitch competition, where Latinx-led startups have the opportunity to win cash prizes.

● Plaza Tec: Latinx Super Meetup/Mixer (September 30 at 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm): Meet Houston’s Latinx startup community and community organizations at this public exposition event. The event features networking, libations, and entertainment, where attendees can meet startups, community organizations, and professional associations.

● Hispanic Professionals Roundtable: Innovations in Real Estate, Architecture, and Construction (October 11 at 10:00 am – 11:30 am): Facilitated by Hector Moreno, Founder of ProjectUS, this roundtable of leading Hispanic professionals from real estate, architecture, engineering, construction, and property management will discuss their pathway into the industry and elaborate on their current positions.

● Tejano Tech Summit (October 14 – 15): Hosted by the Latinx Startup Alliance in partnership with the Ion, this two-day event will feature resources for starting, funding, and scaling a tech startup business on Day 1 and careers in technology on Day 2. “Hispanic Heritage Month is intended to not only celebrate our community’s Hispanic entrepreneurs but also to create connections within the community and beyond,” said Deanea LeFlore, Senior Director, Partnerships at the Ion. “Hispanic-owned small businesses represent more than 42% of the small businesses owned in the region. The Ion is committed to providing business owners with more tools to succeed, advancing Houston’s technology ecosystem, and bolstering our local economy.”

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 Chevron as First Tenant and Program Partner

Rice Management Company and The Ion today announced global energy leader Chevron is the first tenant to sign a lease and the first program partner of The Ion’s new space at 4201 Main Street. Experience the interactive Multichannel News Release here: https://www.multivu.com/players/English/8763551-the-ion-houston-welcomes-chevron/ The Ion’s LEED-certified building in midtown Houston is set to open in the Spring of 2021 with Chevron leasing space for collaboration among Chevron teams, startup companies, and community organizations contributing to Houston’s innovation ecosystem. Chevron’s space will be led by the Chevron Technology Ventures group and will be available for all Chevron employees for networking, professional development, and opportunities to collaborate with other innovation ecosystem players. The organization also plans to leverage The Ion community in its efforts to access and support local innovation.

“Our first tenant at The Ion is one of the most recognizable brands in the world,” said Ryan LeVasseur, Managing Director of Real Estate, Rice Management Company. “We’re thrilled to welcome Chevron into the Innovation District. They’ll be the first of many companies, local startups, and business owners who make a home at and around The Ion as we continue to develop this groundbreaking, mixed-use space.”

Barbara Burger, President of Chevron Technology Ventures, said, “We are thrilled to support The Ion as a key component of Houston’s growing innovation ecosystem. We have a long history in Houston with its role as the global energy capital. We believe The Ion will help to ensure that Houston retains that distinction and plays a leading role in the energy transition through innovation.”

As a founding program partner of The Ion, Chevron has long supported Houston’s innovation community. Since 2017, Chevron employees have mentored startups and entrepreneurs at The Ion’s current space, served as judges for The Ion’s innovation showcases, and sponsored programming for K-12 students.

“By becoming our first tenant and a founding program partner, Chevron has shown it is committed to ensuring The Ion is Houston’s premier destination for innovators, entrepreneurs, and academics to collaborate on workforce development, build tech-enabled businesses, and support the community,” said Jan E. Odegard, The Ion’s Interim Executive Director. “We’re grateful to welcome such an esteemed organization to our space with which we share the same mission and values.”

Chevron and all future tenants of The Ion will have access to the building’s cutting-edge amenities and resources, including its prototyping and immersive reality labs, 70,000 square feet of public and shared spaces for event programming, business incubation and acceleration, and curated connections. The Ion’s leasing operations are led by Drew Morris at Savills.

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 Leasing: Drew Morris, DMorris@savills.us Press Contact: theion@finnpartners.com, 312-329-3983