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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. 🎉

 

Ion District Unveils New Art Displays Showcasing Local Artists

Creativity collides with innovation as Houston artists reveal new public art displays at the Ion

HOUSTON, AUGUST 9, 2023 – Ion District, Houston’s 16-acre innovation district developed by Rice University, today announced its next round of site-specific window art installations at the Ion, Houston’s innovation hub. Created by Houston-based artists Christopher Blay and Kill Joy, the new installations will be unveiled by the artists on August 16, 2023, during a public event hosted by Ion and Piper Faust Public Art at Second Draught located in the Ion from 5:30 – 7:30 pm CT.

Following the event, the installations will be available for the public to view for free for the next six months as part of Ion District’s “Eye on Art” program. The rotating art installations create opportunities for Houston-based artists and demonstrate the importance of cross-disciplinary connections when fostering innovation.

Chosen by the Ion and Ion District Art Advisory Council, with support from public art consultant Piper Faust, the installations are a nod to the original window displays of the historic Sears building on which Ion was built. Displayed in windows that serve as focal points to the building’s entry, Eye on Art provides access to art to community members and visitors, and reaffirms Ion District’s commitment to all innovators, including artists and creatives.

“Innovation and art have a lot more in common than you might think. Many of our local artists learn how to use emerging technologies to create their pieces and hone their craft,” said Jan E. Odegard, Executive Director of the Ion. “Creativity plays a vital role in fostering innovation and we’re honored to provide artists like Christopher and Kill Joy with a platform to serve as an inspiration for the entire innovation ecosystem here at the Ion.”

Christopher Blay: “The SpLaVCe Program”

Christopher Blay is an artist, writer, and curator whose current studio practice delves into speculative futures of Black people. His work reflects on all conditions that have been a part of Black life in America, from triumphs of culture to socio-political situations. Blay’s artistic practice consists of paintings, cyanotypes, and drawings that think about the blues and indigos of cyanotypes conceptually as “the Blues” or the “Black and Blues” of terrorism against Black bodies.

Blay’s ongoing series and latest body of work, “The SpLaVCe Program,” will expand into the Ion through the Eye on Art program. In collaboration with the Ion Prototyping Lab, Blay utilized canvases and wood frames to create an innovative, cohesive piece that combines elements of slaving vessels and spaceships into one object that symbolizes where the Black community has been and where they are going.

In addition to his art, Blay is a contributing writer for Art in America Magazine and a former art critic for Glasstire Magazine, and Chief Curator of the Houston Museum of African American Culture.

Kill Joy: “Creation, Current, Solution”

Kill Joy’s work is grounded in honoring the earth and seeking environmental and social justice. Her practice centers around relief printmaking, mural painting, and puppet making. Throughout her work, there is a belief that the deliberation of all human beings corresponds to the freedom of the land, water, and air, where greed and contamination are replaced with love and compassion.

Her window display at the Ion, “Creation, Current, Solution,” is an animated puppet installation exploring how we can advance as a global community, seen through the lens of Pilipino folklore. The piece centers indigenous experience by exploring regional mythology and how it speaks to current living situations. It is an exploration of destiny for people and planet, and how we can construct technological advancements for sustainable living conditions.

Kill Joy’s additional work involves printing posters for people-led campaigns, leading youth workshops, providing affordable art, painting community murals, and constructing fantastical puppet theater. Mediums with a bold, graphic quality speak to the sort of narratives she enjoys exploring.

“Innovation comes in many forms, and the Eye on Art program is a testament to artists, creatives, and Houston residents being an integral part of Ion’s innovation community,” said Faust. “As we unveil the third round of art installations, we celebrate the extraordinary work of our local artists, and also the inclusive, welcoming, and collaborative space that Ion offers to all innovators in Houston.”

To learn more about the Eye on Art program and its application process, please visit the Artist Residency page on Ion District’s website or contact Piper Faust at piper@piperfaustpublicart.com.

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.

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

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 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 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

The Ion Expands Its Public Art Program As It Unveils Interactive New Plaza Installation, Efflorescence

The Ion, Houston’s innovation hub, has announced the expansion of its burgeoning public art program vis-à-vis the addition of Efflorescence, an interactive installation fabricated by the talented Austin-based artist team of Ilya Pieper and Whiptail Designs (Nathan Kandus) that is designed to instill the Ion Plaza with an immediate dose of vitality as visitors enter and exit the building. Now on display as Houston enters one of its most pleasant stretches of the year, Efflorescence will remain a fixture at the Ion for a three-month duration.

“I view the Ion’s art as a living organism that is constantly evolving and changing,” said Piper Faust, who oversees the Ion and Ion District’s public art projects through her art consultancy, Piper Faust Public Art. She added, “With several pieces already in place that have greatly enhanced the Ion community from a visual perspective, I am now ecstatic to see Efflorescence come to life and serve as a natural outgrowth of the building’s creative identity as it evolves into the anchor of the 16-acre Ion District over the course of the next several years.”

Affixed to the Ion Plaza’s trellis, Efflorescence consists of a snaking vine structure that is comprised of 3/16” twisted rod; negative space between the rod’s different elements creates diamond patterns that are filled with metallic-green mica-painted plastic. Efflorescence’s leaves are painted with a differently pigmented mica paint and are suspended from the weaving vine configuration. The installation also incorporates a number of flowers that are made from dichroic film, a type of film that transforms clear materials into those that possess color effects, thereby reflecting certain colors and allowing others to pass through freely. The dichroic film thus allows Efflorescence to continuously change color as each viewer changes position – in combination with the angle of the sun as it passes over the trellis.

Efflorescence’s flowers are also subtly lit at night, emitting a phosphorescent glow; mounted spotlights along the edges of the trellis enhance nighttime viewing opportunities by bouncing light off of the reflective mica paint and dichroic film. Lastly, ten of the flowers attached to Efflorescence are larger in size and have a kinetic component; as visitors to the Ion pass underneath Efflorescence, proximity triggers signal flowers to bloom in an opening-and-closing pattern.

“Nature is the ultimate inspiration and reference point for the conceptualization and execution of Efflorescence,” emphasized Ilya Pieper, one-half of the artist duo behind the installation. She added, “As avid plant lovers, Nathan and I are constantly in awe of the beauty and form that nature holds. In our backyard, we have a passionflower vine that grows each year. Watching the vine make its ever-persistent climb upward, forming beautiful flowers along the way which a multitude of creatures utilize, we saw a parallel to the ultimate vision of the Ion District – that being the establishment of a similar structure for people, their ideas, and their innovations.”

The artist team behind Effloresence is the two-person duo of Ilya Pieper – a local Austinite and strong female figure in the Austin art scene – and Nathan Kandus, principal of Whiptail Designs, is a designer and fabricator who has focused on a number of community-based projects. Collectively, Pieper and Kandus have been working in the professional art world for over a decade, where their focus has been on cultivating engagement, interactivity, and community placemaking.

To date, the majority of the tandem’s work in public art has focused on site-specific interactive experiences that inspire curiosity and tell compelling stories. Effloresence represents the pair’s first project of significance in Houston.

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 Ion District

Ion District is an intentionally accessible, walkable and integrated urban community. It spans 12 city blocks (16 acres) in Houston’s Midtown, where people, ideas, and businesses thrive. Initiated by Rice University, Ion District energizes a more sustainable, resilient, and inclusive future. At actively programmed events and spontaneous everyday moments, Ion District invites residents, startups, corporate, academic, and civic leaders to unite, explore, and create opportunity together. For more information, visit https://iondistrict.com.

About Rice Management Company

Rice Management Company (RMC) is responsible for the stewardship of Rice University’s endowment. The endowment plays a vital role for Rice. The distributions generated provide approximately 40% of the University’s operating revenues, which makes it the single largest revenue source to the operating budget. The RMC team brings decades of investment management expertise across diversified industries and financial specialties. Through disciplined research and due diligence, we assess and pursue investment strategies that are aligned with the long-term risk/reward profile of the endowment. For more information, please visit investments.rice.edu.

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.

Chef David Cordúa’s The Lymbar now open at the Ion

The Lymbar, Chef David Cordúa’s all-day restaurant, bar, and lounge at the Ion (4201 Main St.), is now open. The highly anticipated Latin-Mediterranean concept will offer a rotating daily menu through the end of the year, with an evolving selection of dishes and cocktails. Named after Lymbar Drive, the Meyerland street where Cordúa’s grandparents settled in Houston from Nicaragua, The Lymbar celebrates the Cordúa family history in Houston – which began with the diverse neighborhood where he grew up.

“The Lymbar is my grandmother’s house,” Cordúa said. “It’s a tribute to all grandmothers. Mine liked well-worn paperbacks, crossword puzzles, rich food, and whiskey. Copies of ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ were always around. The house stayed in our family, and it’s where we perfected our family’s hospitality. The Lymbar is the distillation of our heritage.”

Cordúa was raised on Lymbar Drive as his father, chef Michael Cordúa, introduced Houston to a new world of Latin flavors with the nationally acclaimed Churrascos and Americas restaurants. A graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, David returned to Houston after culinary school and worked alongside his father for more than a decade. The Lymbar is his debut solo restaurant. Michael is working as part of the management team, with executive chef Adolfo Lopez, Jr. (Brenner’s on the Bayou, Uchi, Churrascos) helming the kitchen.

Menu standouts include corn-smoked lamb chops on a fluffy bed of tangy couscous tabbouleh; pan-seared snapper with saffron arroz a la tumbada with chorizo emulsion; build-your-own beef tenderloin tacos arabes with tahini and chili bomba; and a ground beef Kofta Burger with tzatziki. Starters include Truffle ‘Twinkies’, popcorn-style Chicken Chicharrones and Sweet Potato + Beet with labneh. Salads are highlighted by a Kale + Peanut with mint and cilantro and Cucumber + Chickpea with feta. A playful selection of empanadas includes the Monte Cristo with smoked turkey, ham, gruyere and raspberry sesame vinaigrette. Desserts include Sweet Corn Flan and Foie Gras Donut Holes.

Longtime Cordúa fans will recognize the Churrasco – an 8-oz. center-cut beef tenderloin with chimichurri, pickled onion, and bernaise – and signature vanilla-laced Tres Leches. Another dish, the Stuffed Chicken Ballotine, is a nod to a chicken with sherry cream sauce that Michael used to make for David after school at the original Churrascos.

The Lymbar’s sturdy cocktail list – led by bar manager Sean Stapleton – features impressive renditions of the staple Singapore Sling and Old Fashioned, rubbing shoulders with the delicate Kermit’s Lilly and gin-laced Wild Rhubarb. A wine bar-style wine list with approachable offerings from France, Italy, Spain, and South America rounds out the menu.

A crucial part of bringing The Lymbar to life was Gin Braverman of Gin Design Group, who was David’s childhood babysitter on Lymbar Drive. The 4,000-square-foot restaurant’s design fuses futurism with familiarity, drawing inspiration from Cordua’s upbringing. An innate sense of warmth is felt upon entering the dimly-lit, jewel-toned space.

“We wanted to capture the bustle of a hotel lobby, the polish of a private club and the hospitality of the Cordúa family in the design,” Braverman said. “Mixed with a confluence of Latin American, Lebanese, and Mediterranean textures and art layered over a backdrop of classic mid-century materials such as warm woods, earthy colors, and lush greenery.”

The Lymbar is open at 11 a.m. on weekdays and 5 p.m. on Saturdays, closed on Sundays during its initial opening phase. It has seating for 120 guests – including 10 at the bar, 10 at the chef’s counter, and a 12-seat private dining room – and will feature live music on select nights.

“The Ion is a forward-thinking multi-industry tech hub, and we found a way to recreate a distinct, analog time in our lives in the middle of it all,” Cordúa said. “It’s the hearth and living room of the Ion. A few floors up, there may be a groundbreaking app being developed, while downstairs, we are reminding guests of a pre-digital world full of physical connection. We want The Lymbar to be like the best house party you’ve ever been to.”

About The Lymbar

The Lymbar is an all-day restaurant, bar, and lounge with Latin and Mediterranean flavors from chef David Cordúa, located at 4201 Main St. inside the Ion in Midtown Houston. Serving up culinary delights and exquisite libations, The Lymbar crystalizes the Cordúa family’s legacy as ambassadors of flavor and hospitality for a whole new generation of discerning Houstonians. For reservations, visit OpenTable or call (713) 485-6230. www.lymbar.com .

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.