what's trending

5 most popular innovation stories in Houston this week

The Ion's new startup program's latest cohort was among this week's top stories. Photo via ionhouston.com

Editor's note:Another week has come and gone, and it's time to round up the top headlines from the past few days. Trending Houston tech and startup news on InnovationMap included innovators to know, Ion's new startup program naming a new cohort, and more.

3 Houston innovators to know this week

This week's roundup of Houston innovators includes Samantha Lewis of Mercury, Lydia Davies of Teamates, and Karen Leal of Insperity. Photos courtesy

Editor's note: In this week's roundup of Houston innovators to know, I'm introducing you to three local innovators across industries — from sportstech to venture capital — recently making headlines in Houston innovation. Read more.

Ion selects 4 Houston startups to join new program

The four companies will work out of the Ion's coworking space. Rendering courtesy of Common Desk

A new program has tapped four Houston startups and invited them to work out of the Ion surrounded and supported by fellow tech entrepreneurs.

The Ion's Onramp program, launched in July of this year, selects a handful of startups to operate out of the innovation hub's coworking space operated by Common Desk. Patenteer, Sensytec, Bridge Energy Solutions, and Stratos Perception will begin the program in January, according to a release from the Ion.

"These startups were selected due to the strength of their focus on leading digital transformation and leveraging technology to solve challenges that affect numerous industries in Houston," says Jan E. Odegard, executive director of the Ion, in the release. "Solving these challenges—which include commercializing research from Houston's academic institutions, developing resilient and robust infrastructure, leading the clean and sustainable energy transition, and propelling future aerospace advancements—is integral to Houston's success." Read more.

Houston college system snags part of $3.3M investment in resiliency innovation

Houston Community College and its partner received funding that will go toward creating a certificate program that will launch in the fall 2022 semester as part of The Resilient Workforce Collaborative. Photo via HCC

Houston Community College and partners received a $1.8 million grant from JP Morgan Chase this month with the goal of training underserved Houstonians in jobs that will help boost the city's preparedness for the aftermath of natural disasters.

The funds will go toward creating a certificate program that will launch in the fall 2022 semester as part of The Resilient Workforce Collaborative.

“The Resilient Workforce Collaborative brings together the public sector, private sector, higher education institutions, and our nonprofit partners to make transformational change in our most underserved neighborhoods,” Mayor Sylvester Turner says in a statement. “The collaborative complements our efforts within the Complete Communities to prepare low-to-moderate income Houstonians for high-demand jobs and increase the diversity of candidates in the talent pipelines for green careers that will advance our city’s resilience. This resourceful partnership is a welcomed addition to Houston’s workforce development landscape.” Read more.

Houston student launches data science nonprofit to support the health care industry

A Rice University student decided to use his data science skills for good. Photo courtesy of Biokind Analytics

For Alex Han, it all started with peanut butter.

Han was a high school student in Korea when he learned that the spread is a pure odorant that could be used to test smell in each hemisphere of the brain—issues on the left side was thought to be a predictor for Alzheimer’s disease. He later learned that the method wasn’t as airtight as previously thought, but Han was hooked. Alzheimer’s research became the teenager’s passion. While still in high school, Han began volunteering for Alzheimer’s Los Angeles, translating their brochures into Korean.

When it came time to choose a college, Han says Rice University appealed to him for many reasons.

“I loved the atmosphere. I loved the campus—it’s so beautiful. The diverse food, the people, I even liked the highway,” he says of Houston. “In Korea, everything is so close and compact. I loved the whole scenario of the city.”

A scholarship was also part of the appeal, as well as the pull of the world’s largest medical center. Han’s instincts were correct. Now, a junior at Rice, he has been working at renowned geneticist Huda Zoghbi’s Baylor College of Medicine lab for almost two years.

But dividing his obligations between full-time studies and his wet lab position wasn’t enough to keep Han’s active mind occupied. Last May, the statistics and biochemistry student began another endeavor that uses both his specialties. It was then that he founded Biokind Analytics. The nonprofit was designed to explore how data science can support health care nonprofits.Read more.

Editor's Picks: 7 favorite Houston interviews of 2022

The ultimate who's who of 2022 — favorite Houston Innovators Podcast guests of last year. Photos courtesy

Editor's note: In 2022, I recorded over 50 episodes of the Houston Innovators Podcast — a weekly discussion with a Houston innovator, startup founder, investor, and more. I've rounded up seven podcast episodes that stood out for me looking back at the year of recordings. Scroll through to see whom I selected and stream their individual episodes, and tune into the last episode of the year where I explain why I selected each guest. Read more.

Trending News

Building Houston

 
 

By building a pipeline of eager, talented employees, and embedding institutional knowledge in your organization, you can reduce the burden of extra work on remaining employees and reinvigorate your business. Photo via Getty Images

Short-term talent shortages can feel overwhelming, especially if your company is navigating staff shortages, while also planning for future growth.

While internship programs can get a bad rap, there are many benefits to providing opportunities for early career professionals in any organization. By building a pipeline of eager, talented employees, and embedding institutional knowledge in your organization, you can reduce the burden of extra work on remaining employees and reinvigorate your business.

Get more engagement and develop champions at your company by incorporating three vital ingredients into your internship program strategy:

  1. Hire based on core values & interns’ ability to thrive at your company
  2. Invest in training
  3. Provide meaningful work

Build a strong team: hire based on ability to thrive 

To ensure your organization’s growth is coming from a diverse talent pool, build a hiring process around employees' future ability and core values, instead of what they have done in the past. Oftentimes, you’ll find that an intern’s coachability, willingness to learn and growth mindset are better determining factors towards future success than past experience.

During the recruitment and hiring process, ask your interns questions to probe values, interests, and passions. To determine if they have a growth mindset, you can ask, “What do you read in your time off to stay up to date with the latest trends in the industry? What did you learn yesterday?” or “Tell me about a time you received feedback. What did you do with this?”

Make sure that each intern that comes on board feels like a part of the team. Let them immerse themselves into your company’s culture, work environment, and industry by inviting them to your employee team-building activities, monthly company-wide conference calls, and other events that provide them with more context about your culture. Schedule weekly touchpoints with each intern to regularly check in on goals, their progress on tasks, and overall concerns. Not only will these meetings strengthen trust, but they will also position interns to succeed at your company.

Build resilience: invest in training

When you invest in a thoughtful, effective training experience, your interns will be more committed to the role because they’ll see the added effort you’re making towards their career.

Consider how your current training is structured and implemented so that your internship training experience is up to speed with the expectations of Gen-Z. Explore out-of-the-box training options, including coaching, virtual learning, and assessments that they will actually use.

In addition to the hard skills that are essential to supporting any company, ensure that you are training interns on core competencies. The National Association of Colleges and Employers identifies eight core competencies that are vital to career readiness: career & self-development, communication, critical thinking, equity & inclusion, leadership, professionalism, teamwork, and technology. When you teach interns these core competencies as soon as they join your organization, you will see an immediate boost in productivity, and you can objectively assess for future full-time employment.

Build momentum: provide meaningful work

After you’ve clearly mapped out your internship training experience, clearly outline projects from each of your company’s departments before you onboard interns. By planning ahead, and having a running list of projects that don’t require much explanation, you can give your interns a sense of purpose as soon as they join, which in turn will prevent bored interns from disengaging.

Ask interns what their goals are for their internship so you can not only help them make those goals a reality, but also tie their goals back to your company’s overall goals. As you offer meaningful enrichment opportunities, you will land top talent through your internship programs, and word will spread to bring in better talent for future internships.

Come out on top with a strong team

Businesses that take advantage of bringing on interns during a talent shortage can come out of hard times better prepared for the future. Once you have a strong and sustainable internship program, it will only grow and gain momentum.

Weather any storm that’s ahead by continuing to attract the best talent. Your company deserves it.

------

Allie Danziger is the co-founder of Ampersand, an online training platform for businesses and professionals looking to level up their talent.

Trending News