supporting innovators

Houston innovation leader named to new role to drive strategy, programming

Brad Burke has been named associate vice president for industry and new ventures within Rice University's Office of Innovation. Photo by Jeff Fitlow/Rice University

A longtime Houston innovation leader has added a new title to his role at Rice University.

Brad Burke, who has served as executive director of the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship for 20 years, has been named associate vice president for industry and new ventures, the university announced this week. He will take on this new role within the Office of Innovation, as well as continue leading the Rice Alliance.

Rice's Office of Innovation, which was established in 2022 with the appointment of Chief Innovation Officer and Vice President for Innovation Paul Cherukuri, exists to support new and innovative initiatives and technologies from the Rice community with mentorship, funding, pilots, and more.

“The Rice Alliance has played a key role over the past two decades in building Rice’s reputation as a leading institution for innovation and entrepreneurship,” Cherukuri says in a news release. “We are thrilled to have Brad Burke join the Office of Innovation to support our faculty and students in commercializing their inventions.”

Burke has played a major role in the collaboration of Houston for the past 20 years leading the Rice Alliance, which coordinates many event programs and accelerators — including the Rice Business Plan Competition, energy and life science forums, the Clean Energy Accelerator, Owl Spark, Blue Launch, and more.

Last year, Burke received the Outstanding Contributions to Advancing Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Higher Education Award at the 2023 Deshpande Symposium for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Higher Education. He also accepted the 2023 Trailblazer Award at the Houston Innovation Awards.

Last fall, Rice University's Office of Innovation established the One Small Step Grant — named for Neil Armstrong's first words spoken from Tranquility Base just several years after JFK's speech at Rice. The program will provide funding to faculty working on "promising projects with commercial potential," according to the website.

The Office of Innovation also grew its team last August with the appointment of Houston materials scientist-turned-entrepreneur Adrian Trömel as its new assistant vice president for strategy and investments.

In 2022, Brad Burke joined the Houston Innovators Podcast to discuss the work he and his team do at Rice Alliance.

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