Where to be

10+ can't-miss Houston business and innovation events for March

From startup competitions to thought-provoking panels, here's where you need to be in March. Getty Images

Rodeo has kicked off and spring break is around the corner, which can only mean one thing: March in Houston. The month is chock full of business, entrepreneurial, and innovation-focused events, but we've plucked out over 10 to highlight this month.

If you know of innovation-focused events for February, email me at natalie@innovationmap.com with the details.

March 5 — Unlock Team's Creativity - Innovative Management Tools

Learn new teamwork tools and applications and hear about how companies have changed their organization and manage innovation, creativity, and teamwork.

Details: The event is from 5:30 to 7 pm on Tuesday, March 5, at Station Houston (1301 Fannin St., Suite 2440). Learn more here.

March 5 — Women Who Code Houston Launch

Women Who Code is bringing its network and resources to Houston. Celebrate the launch and network with like-minded, tech-savvy women.

Details: The event is from 6 to 8:30 pm on Tuesday, March 5, at AIG Building's Lobby (2727 Allen Pkwy). Learn more here.

March 6 — From ICOs to STOs: The Nuts & Bolts of Security Token Offerings

New to the innovation scene, Houston Blockchain Alliance, a networking group of blockchain professionals, has its first learning event. This STO Primer Course will provide an introduction to STOs, the applicable rules and regulations governing STOs, fundraising options and the process, timeline and estimated costs to launch a compliant STO.

Details: The event is from 6 to 8 pm on Wednesday, March 6, at Ranch Office (1220 Blalock Rd). Learn more here.

March 6 — Case Study: Digital Transformation in Energy Fortune 500

Who's down for pizza, beer, and talking about the digital transformation process of a Fortune 500 company with the Houston Industrial Digital Transformation & Connected Work meetup group? Dimitri Karastamatis, board adviser of operations at PowerIn Energy will lead the discussion.

Details: The meetup is from 6 to 8 pm on Wednesday, March 6, at ChaiOne HQ (9 Greenway Plaza, Suite 850). Learn more here.

March 7 — Entrepreneurship Education Series: Building a Startup Sales Team

Sales can be tough for entrepreneurs and innovators, so getting a good team in place is crucial. Neal Benedict, president and Founder of Silver Brick Sales Solutions, weighs in on the best steps to take when building your sales team.

Details: The event is from noon to 1:30 pm on Thursday, March 7, at Station Houston (1301 Fannin St., Suite 2440). Learn more here.

March 7 — French American Innovation Day 2019

Promoting innovation collaboration between the United States and France, the conference is organized by the Office for Science & Technology of the Embassy of France in the United States in collaboration with the TMC Innovation in Houston, the French American Chamber of Commerce in Houston and the French Foreign Trade Advisors.

Details: The event is from 7 am to 7 pm on Thursday, March 7, at TMC Innovation Institute (2450 Holcombe Blvd., Suite X). Learn more here.

March 7 — Selling Innovation and Creative Digital Cities

What can we learn from other digital cities? This discussion lead by three different experts will analyze and ideate new ways of innovation.

Details: The event is from 5:30 to 7:30 pm on Thursday, March 7, at Techspace - Houston (2101 CityWest Blvd.) Learn more here.

March 8 — Startup Pains: What I Wish I Knew

This monthly series hosted by the University of Houston lets you learn from someone else's mistakes and successes. This month's speaker is Seamus Curran, Ph.D, who is a professor of physics at UH and the CEO of Integricote.

Details: The event is from 4 to 5 pm on Friday, March 8, at the UH Technology Bridge (Innovation Center, building 4, floor 2, 5000 Gulf Fwy). Learn more here.

March 11 — HATCH Pitch Summit 2019 Livestream

Houston-based HATCH Pitch is headed for Austin with its four finalists focused on startups making the world a better place. Read more about the competition here.

Details: The free stream is from 10 am to noon on Monday, March 11, and available here.

March 12 - Info Session: Techstars Energy Accelerator

Energy acceleration can be tough in the industry, but Audun Abelsnes, managing director of Techstars Energy Accelerator, is at your disposal for all your questions.

    Details: The event is from noon to 2:30 pm on Tuesday, March 12, at Station Houston (1301 Fannin St., Suite 2440). Learn more here.

    March 14 — eMan Lunch n' Learn: Boosting Safety & Productivity in O&G by Leveraging IoT

    Every startup can learn from industrial innovation, and eMan works alongside Fortune 500 companies doing just that. Hear from the company's execs about their services, clients, and how they are enabling emerging tech in the industrial space.

    Details: The event is from 11:30 am to 1 pm on Thursday, March 14, at The Cannon (1336 Brittmoore Road). Learn more here.

    March 21 — Visionaries panel: The present is female.

    Forget this "future" stuff. Get ready for b8ta Houston's next Founders Series is all about the ladies in honor of International Women's Month. Four female leaders will take the stage to talk about the challenges they face and obstacles they've overcome.

    Details: The panel is at 6:30 pm on Thursday, March 21, at b8ta Houston in the Galleria (5115 Westheimer Road, #c3575). Learn more here.

    March 26 — WeWork Labs Houston Launch Party

    Houston has a new space for startups to incubate, accelerate, and receive mentorship thanks to WeWork and Alice. Read all about the new WeWork Labs location here. To celebrate, the organization is hosting a little shindig.

    Details: The celebration starts at 6 pm on Tuesday, March 26, at WeWork Downtown Houston (708 Main Street, 10th Floor). Learn more here.

    March 28 — 2019 H. Albert Napier Rice Launch Challenge - Startup Competition

    Ten Rice University-affiliated teams — from students to recent alumni — are competing for $60,000 and other prizes. Click here to learn more about the finalists and the judging panel.

    Details: The event is from 6 to 9 pm on Thursday, March 28, at Rice University (Liu Idea Lab For Innovation & Entrepreneurship — Cambridge Office Building). Learn more here.

    March 28 — Houston Open Innovation Conference

    The third annual Houston Open Innovation Conference is a full day conference where businesses, government entities and academic representatives can collaborate to spark more development, collaboration and dialogue for the city.

    Details: The conference is from 8:30 am to 4 p.m on Thursday, March 28, at Houston Exponential (410 Pierce St.). Learn more.

    Tom Luby will run the Texas Medical Center's Innovation Institute. Courtesy of TMC

    Tom Luby is in his first week as TMC Innovation Institute director, but it's safe to say he's hit the ground running. The former head of JLABS @ TMC is ready to continue the growth of the institute as well as open up new doors to funding and the rest of the world.

    "My hope is that I can be helpful to all the parties here to continue to recruit and grow great startups here," Luby says. "Critically important, too, is additional funding and bringing that here. And all of us are working together toward the successful launch of TMC3."

    Luby spoke with InnovationMap about what all he has on his plate and how he plans on making Houston known for its life sciences.

    InnovationMap: After working for Johnson & Johnson in Boston, when did you relocate Houston?

    Tom Luby: In 2017, when the opportunity came up that I can join the team in Houston and grow our JLABS at TMC, I jumped at the chance, moved my family down to Houston, and have loved it ever since. I've loved the life science startup community here — it's small, but growing quickly — and what it has to offer to our family in terms of the diversity, the friendliness of people, the ease of getting to know people, and, obviously, the weather. When you come from the northeast, the Houston weather is nice.

    IM: Boston has this major life science innovation reputation. How do we get Houston to have that same reputation?

    TL: It's not very fair to compare Boston and Houston. The Boston life science community is around 40 years in the making. There's been a focus on that for a very long time, and as a result of all the startup activity through the '80s, '90s and into the 2000s, Boston has seen an influx of almost all the major pharmaceutical and biotech companies. All of them have footprints there because they want to be close to the startups. So, that mix of startup activity being embedded with lots of corporates has created a bit of a yin and yang situation — corporates are looking to pull the products from the startups into their pipelines and the startups have pulled talent from the corporates.

    Houston's in a different place than that. If you roll the Boston tape back lets say 20 years where Boston was focused on generating a place where life science startups could have a chance to develop and be successful, that's where Houston is. We've gotten to a point where we're starting to see a really good density. Over the past four years, over 250 companies have touched down here at some point. That type of density is needed then to do that second part and recruit some of the larger health care corporations.

    IM: Coming from J&J, what expertise do you feel like you are bringing to the table?

    TL: What I hope to be helpful with is providing an overall strategic vision around TMC Innovation that allows us to scale from what's already been done here. Like I just mentioned, there have been 250 companies that have been here at some point in the past four years. That doesn't happen without the great efforts of those that came before me — the TMCx team in particular, but the JLABS team, the Biodesign team down the hall have created a really interesting and rapidly growing place for health care startups.

    IM: What are some of your goals for the TMC Innovation Institute?

    TL: In the short term, what we're going to focus on making sure that when people show up to the TMC Innovation Institute, they have a great experience, whether they are engaged with TMCx, biodesign, JLABS, etc. So, it's important for us to be well coordinated, working cooperatively together, and everyone focused on being service first when it comes to the startups here. What we hope to create is an environment where startups come and have an experience that leaves them knowing that that experience gives them the best chance at being successful. In addition, as we begin to engage with partners who can provide venture capital and angel funds, it's the same thing, that they come here and have an efficient, coordinated experience.

    So short term, it's pulling it all together so that when you think of TMC Innovation, you know what it is, how it's organized and what our mission is. We'll also be making additional efforts to engage with the member institutions in TMC, and that they understand that we're a resource to them.

    IM: The current TMCx cohort is the most international to date. Between that and the new focus on TMC's biobridges, why is a global presence so important to TMC Innovation?

    TL: Biobridges are about making sure that important geographies outside the US understand that the TMC is a place where their startups can come and be successful.

    It's important for TMC to use the bridge to gain insight and access into specific areas that we feel that those countries have core strengths in. Australia and its clinical trials networks is a great example of that. Our companies having access to tap into that is incredibly important. We know that those bio bridges will benefit our startups and give the startups there a chance to have access to us.

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    Portions of this interview have been edited.