top dog

Brainy Rice University institute named No. 1 think tank in the world

Rice's Baker Institute has done it again. Courtesy of Rice University

Furthering its reputation as a world-class educational and intellectual hallmark, Rice University has ascended to the top of yet another ranking.
The school's Baker Institute for Public Policy has been named the No. 1 think tank in the world, according to the 2020 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report published January 28. This is a leap from No. 2 overall last year.

Additionally, its Center for Energy Studies (CES) was again named the top energy and resource policy think tank and was recognized as a Center of Excellence for being ranked No. 1 for three consecutive years, per a press release.

Rice's Baker Institute is also ranked No. 15 out of 110 of the top think tanks in the U.S. overall. It is also listed among the best think tanks globally in the category "Best Quality Assurance and Integrity Policies and Procedures."

Also on the prestigious list are the London School of Economics and Political Science (No. 2) and Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex, U.K. (No. 3).

Meanwhile, CES is followed in the regular rankings by the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, U.K., and the Institute of Energy Economics, Japan.

Founded in 1993, the Baker Institute houses fellows and scholars who conduct research on domestic and foreign policy issues. Core fields of study include energy, the Middle East, Mexico, health policy, public finance, private entrepreneurship and economic growth, international economics, presidential elections, science and technology, China, space policy, and drug policy, according to the school.

CES was founded in October 2012 and provides policymakers, corporate leaders, and the public with quality, data-driven analysis of issues that influence energy markets, per Rice. The Baker Institute Energy Forum is considered an integral part of CES by the university.

"The rise of the Baker Institute and our Center for Energy Studies to the very top rankings in this year's Global Go To Think Tank Index is the culmination of what we created over a quarter of a century ago and of our adherence to excellence in data-driven, nonpartisan research and policy recommendations on public policy issues that reach decision-makers in the private and public sectors," said Baker Institute director Edward Djerejian, in a statement. "I commend all our fellows, scholars and staff, as well as our Board of Advisors and Roundtable members, for this outstanding achievement."

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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Building Houston

 
 

Here's what companies are in the latest cohort for gBETA. Photo courtesy of gBETA

An early-stage accelerator has picked its latest cohort of five Houston companies.

The Fall 2020 cohort of gBETA Houston includes:

  • AllIDoIsCook is founded by Tobi Smith and focused on exposing the world to Africa's cuisine by manufacturing gourmet food products delivered directly to customer doors and available at grocers. Since launching, AllIDoIsCook has built out a manufacturing facility, shipped over 8,000 boxes and generated $1.1 million in revenue all without outside funding.
  • Chasing Watts makes it easy for cyclists to coordinate or find rides with fellow riders in their area with its web-based and native application. The company has over 3,000 users and grew 135 percent from Q2 to Q3 in new ride views.
  • DanceKard, founded by Erica Sinner, is a new dating platform that connects individuals and groups with one another by bringing the date to the forefront of the conversation and making scheduling faster and easier with special promotions featuring local establishments. Since launching in August of 2021, DanceKard has over 170 users on the platform.
  • Dollarito is a digital lending platform that helps the low-income Hispanic population with no credit history or low FICO score access fair credit. Founded by Carmen Roman, Dollarito applies AI into banking, transactional and behavioral data to evaluate the repayment capability more accurately than using FICO scores. The company has1,000 users on their waitlist and plans to beta test with 100 or more customers in early 2022.
  • SeekerPitch, founded by Samantha Hepler, operates with the idea that jobseekers' past job titles and resumes are not always indicative of their true capabilities. Launched last month, SeekerPitch empowers companies to see who jobseekers are as people, and get to know them through comprehensive profiles and virtual speed interviews, and the company already has 215 jobseekers and 20 companies on the platform, with one pilot at University of Houston and three more in the pipeline.

The companies kicked off their cohort in person on October 18, and the program concludes on December 14 with the gBETA Houston Fall 2021 Pitch Night. At this event, each company will present their five-minute pitch to an audience of mentors, investors, and community members.

"The five founding teams selected for our gBETA Houston Fall 2021 cohort are tackling unique problems they have each experienced personally, from finding access to cultural foods, fitness communities and authentic dating experiences to challenges with non-inclusive financing and hiring practices," says Kate Evinger, director of gBETA Houston, in the release. "The grit and passion these individuals bring to their roles as founders will undoubtedly have a tremendous impact in the Houston community and beyond."

The accelerator has supported 15 Houston startups since it launched in Houston in early 2020. The program, which is free and hosted out of the Downtown Launchpad, is under the umbrella of Madison, Wisconsin-based international accelerator, gener8tor.

"Downtown Launchpad is an innovation hub like no other, and I am so proud of what it is already and what it will become," says Robert Pieroni, director of economic development at Central Houston Inc., in the release. "The five startups selected for the gBETA Houston Fall 2021 cohort are exploring new challenges that can become high-impact Houston businesses."

gBETA announced its plan to launch in Houston in September 2019. The program's inaugural cohort premiered in May and conducted the first program this summer completely virtually. The second cohort took place last fall, and the third ran earlier this year.

"These founders are building their companies and benefiting from the resources Downtown Launchpad provides," Pieroni continues, "and the proof is in the data – companies in these programs are creating jobs, growing their revenues and exponentially increasing their funding, which means these small starts up of today, working in Downtown Launchpad, are growing into the successful companies of tomorrow."

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