On the job
New accelerator director at Station Houston wants to bring talent and impactful startups to town
When Christine Galib moved to Houston, she knew two things: it was going to be hot, and there were going to be tacos. But when Hurricane Harvey hit in 2017, she learned something else: the resiliency of the city — and its people — was a thread that interwove the fabric of the metro.
And now that the Ion Smart Cities Accelerator, a program that would allow participants to find solutions to real-world problems in Houston, has now hired Galib as its first program director. Through her position, she'll be able to guide participants from all over the country find solutions to two of the city's biggest problems: transportation and mobility.
"Houston is international, resilient, and inspirational, powered by innovation, energy, and diversity that forms a strong foundation for our unique entrepreneurial ecosystem," Galib says in a news release announcing her hiring. "I am excited to serve Houston through leveraging and creating collaborations, partnerships, and solutions to differentiate Houston as a smart city that is building for its future."
Station Houston will host the accelerator through its first cohort, but it will move to The Ion when the innovation hub opens in 2020.
"When we look at The Ion being created as a center for entrepreneurship and innovation in Houston, there's no other city in the world has this type of level of collaboration and transparency of major players in the innovation space coming together to create, not only the physical space, but also the programming and mindset and the environment and the culture to sustain it," she tells InnovationMap.
"It was a pretty easy decision for me to be on board with the vision. It's not just a vision for a future which is far off … It's a vision for the future that we're actually creating today."
Galib, a former instructor at Rice University and the University of St. Thomas who has experience as a financial analyst on Wall Street, will spearhead the Ion Smart Cities Accelerator. For her, leading the Ion Smart Cities Accelerator allows her to take part in creating a forward-thinking, solutions driven program that will help usher in that culture into Houston's entrepreneurial atmosphere — collaboration is key.
"When I think of Houston and innovation, I think this collaborative approach to making something that is going to stick — sustainable change that sticks — and then making a future that is not just different but better for everybody," Galib says.
The accelerator, which was announced by Mayor Sylvester Turner at a Microsoft IoT in Action event, is now accepting applications for its first cohort. Galib says access is one of the biggest assets applicants are given if given the opportunity to join the accelerator.
"One of the goals is inclusion," Galib says. "You can't have a smart city and have that smartness benefit only one or two percent of the people. The inclusive nature of the accelerator in this entrepreneurial ecosystem is a major selling point."
Participants of the 10-month program will participate in structured curriculum and programming focused on mobility and resiliency and are tasked with creating feasible solutions to those problems within the city.
Galib, along with Station Houston, will offer participating entrepreneurs and startups with the resources they need to validate their solutions and prepare them for deployment, as well as create programming for participants and lead the research and analysis for the accelerator.
Galib is excited to attract talent into the first cohort and see what they do throughout their tenure in the accelerator.
"(We want to identify and recruit) talent to come to Houston and to stay in Houston, to be part of a family of entrepreneurs in innovation," she says. "I had no family here when I came here, and one of the reasons why I stayed here was because I found people who really got me excited about being a Houstonian."
Christine Galib will lead the Ion Smart Cities Accelerator program. Photo via StationHouston.com