top of the class

Houston schools continue their reigns as top entrepreneurship programs in the country

Rice University and the University of Houston's entrepreneurship programs continue to lead the nation. Photo via Rice.edu

Houston remains the home of the best business and entrepreneurship programs in the country, according to an annual report.

Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine ranked Rice University as the No. 1 graduate entrepreneurship program in the United States for 2022, and just as in years prior, the University of Houston claimed the top spot on the undergraduate ranking. Both lists ranked the top 50 programs.

It's the third No. 1 ranking for Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University — and the sixth year in the top three and the 13th year in which it has ranked in the top 10 on this prestigious list. The program's graduates have raised more than $693 million in funding for their companies over the past five years, per the report.

"Our No. 1 ranking is a reflection of the work and effort of our entrepreneurship faculty and staff to continually expand our programs and impact on behalf of our student and faculty founders," says Peter Rodriguez, dean of the Jones Graduate School of Business, in a news release. "Our three-years-running spot at the top is a testament to the Rice faculty, the depth and breadth of resources that are available to entrepreneurs and innovators during their time at Rice and beyond, and the students who have capitalized on their time at Rice to learn and launch their ventures from campus to the community."

Cyvia and Melvyn Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship in the C. T. Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston — with its alumni reportedly launching 698 startups over the past five years — is similarly familiar with this ranking. Also repeating its No. 1 spot this year, UH has ranked in the top 10 since 2007 — usually claiming the No. 1 or No. 2 spots. However, this is the first time the program is ranked No. 1 three years in a row.

"As a forward-looking business school with 'The Future is Our Business' as a mandate, entrepreneurship is one of the disciplines that can really carry us forward," Dean and Cullen Distinguished Chair Professor Paul A. Pavlou says in a news release. "This consecutive Number 1 national ranking is a recognition that the Bauer College is the predominant force in entrepreneurship education. We need more entrepreneurial spirit in all of our students, and the Wolff Center is critical for instilling in them the ability to be innovative and creative as they enter a business world in transition and facing an unprecedented future."

While UH and Rice held onto their spots, several other Texas schools saw some movement on the lists. Other than UH, these Texas schools appeared on the list of the top 50 undergraduate entrepreneurship programs:

  • The University of Texas at Austin, No. 4 (up from No. 24 last year)
  • Baylor University, No. 9 (down from No. 7 last year)
  • Texas Tech University, No. 12
  • University of Texas at Dallas, No. 24 (down from No. 18 last year)
  • Texas Christian University, No. 37 (down from No. 27 last year)
  • Texas A&M University-College Station, No. 41 (down from No. 35 last year)

Aside from Rice, these Texas schools made the list of the top 50 graduate entrepreneurship programs:

  • University of Texas at Austin, McCombs School of Business, No. 5 (up from No. 6 last year)
  • University of Texas at Dallas, Naveen Jindal School of Management, No. 11 (down from No. 10 last year)
  • Texas A&M University-College Station, Mays School of Business, No. 26 (same as last year)

The Princeton Review based its 2022 rankings on a survey of leaders at over 300 schools with entrepreneurship studies. More than 40 data points were factored in to develop the rankings, which released online on November 16 and will be published in the December issue of Entrepreneur magazine.

"The value of entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial thinking continues to grow in our daily lives," says Jason Feifer, editor in chief of Entrepreneur magazine, in the press release. "We're now seeing Americans start businesses at the fastest rate in a decade. By sharing this list, we want to continue to provide the much-needed information that people are looking for to forge their path to entrepreneurship. This list is a valuable reference tool for where future leaders can attain the knowledge, community and training grounds to succeed on that path."

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Building Houston

 
 

SurgWise is giving surgical teams the right support for hiring. Photo via Getty Images

A surgeon spends over a decade in school and residency perfecting their medical skills, but that education doesn't usually include human resources training. Yet, when it comes to placing candidates into surgical programs, the hiring responsibilities fell on the shoulders of surgeons.

Aimee Gardner, who has her PhD in organized psychology, saw this inefficiency first hand.

"I worked in a large surgery department in Dallas right out of graduate school and quickly learned how folks are selected into residency and fellowship programs and all the time that goes into it — time spent by physicians reviewing piles and piles of like paper applications and spending lots and lots and of hours interviewing like hundreds of candidates," Gardner tells InnovationMap. "I was just really shocked by the inefficiencies from just a business and workforce perspective."

And things have only gotten worse. There are more applicants hitting the scene every year and they are applying to more hospitals and programs. Future surgeons used to apply for 20 or so programs — now it’s more like 65 on average. According to her research, Gardner says reviewing these applications cost lots of time and money, specifically $100,000 to fill five spots annually just up to the interviewing phase of the process.

Five years ago, Gardner came up with a solution to this “application fever,” as she describes, and all the inefficiencies, and founded SurgWise Consulting, where she serves as president and CEO.

"We help provide assessments to help screen competencies and attributes that people care about," Gardner says. "(Those) are really hard to assess, but really differentiate people who really thrive in training in their careers and people who don't."

Aimee Gardner is the CEO and president of Houston-based SurgWise. Photo via surgwise.com

These are the non-technical skills, like the professionalism, interpersonal skills, and communication. While SurgWise began as a service-oriented consulting company, the company is now ready to tap technology to expand upon its solution. The work started out of Houston Methodist, and SurgWise is still working with surgery teams there. She says they've accumulated tons of data that can be leveraged and streamlined.

"We're now pivoting from a very intimate client approach to a more scalable offering. Every year we assess essentially around 80 percent of all the people applying to be future surgeons — those in pediatric surgery, vascular surgery, and more,” Gardner says. “We’ve used kind of the last five years of data and experiences to create a more scalable, easy-to-integrate, and off-the-shelf solution.”

Gardner says her solution is critical for providing more equity in the hiring process.

“One of our goals was to create more equitable opportunities and platforms to assess folks because many of the traditional tools and processes that most people use in this space have lots of opportunity for bias and a high potential for disadvantaging individuals from underrepresented groups," she says. "For example, letters of recommendation are often a very insider status. If you went to some Ivy League or your parents were in health care and they know someone, you have that step up from a networking and socioeconomic status standpoint."

Personal statements and test scores are also inequitable, because they tend to be better submissions if people have money for coaching.

SurgWise hopes to lower the number of programs future surgeons apply to too to further streamline the process. She hopes to do this through an app and web tool that can matchmake people to the right program.

“Our ultimate goal is to create a platform for applicants to obtain a lot more information about the various places to which they apply to empower them to make more informed decisions, so that they don't have to apply to a hundred places," Gardner says. "We want to essentially create a match-style app that allows them to input some data and tell us 'here's what I'm looking for here are my career goals and any preferences I have.'”

While that tool is down the road, Gardner says SurgWise is full speed ahead toward launching the data-driven hiring platform. The bootstrapped company hopes to raise early venture funding this summer in order to hire and grow its team.

“As we continue to consider this app that I talked about and some of the other opportunities to scale to other specialties we're gonna start looking for a series A funding later this summer.”

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