science support

Houston university granted $1.2M to expand STEM-focused initiative

Rice University is one of the founding partners of the science foundation’s Southwest I-Corps Node. Photo via Rice University/Twitter

Rice University is receiving a five-year $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation to expand a program that helps faculty members, researchers, and doctoral students commercialize STEM-oriented technology.

Rice is one of the founding partners of the science foundation’s Southwest I-Corps Node. Rice and the two other founding partners are sharing a $15 million grant to help add five universities to the program.

Rice, Texas A&M University, and the University of Texas established the Southwest node in 2014. The five schools forming a new hub within the node are the University of Texas at San Antonio, the University of Texas at El Paso, Oklahoma State University, New Mexico State University, and Louisiana State University.

The foundation’s I-Corp program not only boosts STEM-related technologies developed at universities, but it also provides $50,000 grants for STEM-based faculty members and doctoral students to participate in a six-week training program to help researchers bring technologies from the lab to the marketplace. Over 1,000 startups have been formed after completing the I-Corps program; they have raised more than $750 million in funding.

Kerri Smith, associate managing director of the Rice Alliance, leads the university’s I-Corps program, along with Kaz Karwowski, executive director of the Rice Center for Engineering Leadership, and Jessica Fleenor, a Rice Alliance I-Corps teaching assistant and I-Corps program manager.

“Thanks to the Rice Alliance’s more than two decades of leadership, Rice has built an entrepreneurial culture on campus, served as a founding member of the I-Corps program, and provided entrepreneurial education to hundreds of faculty and students,” says Reginald DesRoches, president of Rice.

Rice has received more than $3.1 million in National Science Foundation grants for the I-Corps program, plus about $1.3 million as part of the I-Corps node. Rice faculty members and researchers have received more than $600,000 in I-Corps grants.

Previous I-Corps participants at Rice include:

  • Volumetric Biotechnologies, a startup founded by Jordan Miller, an assistant professor of bioengineering assistant professor, and based on Miller’s 3D organ-printing technology. Volumetric was acquired last year by 3D Systems for up to $400 million.
  • SPLAY (formerly Arovia), which completed the I-Corps program in 2015. Through two Kickstarter campaigns, the company has successfully raised money for its high-definition, portable, large-scale computer display technology.

Trending News

Building Houston

 
 

With Clutch, connecting brands with creators has never been easier and more inclusive. Photo courtesy of Clutch

An app that originally launched on Houston college campuses has announced it's now live nationwide.

Clutch founders Madison Long and Simone May set out to make it easier for the younger generation to earn money with their skill sets. After launching a beta at local universities last fall, Clutch's digital marketplace is now live for others to join in.

The platform connects brands to its network of creators for reliable and authentic work — everything from social media management, video creation, video editing, content creation, graphic design projects, and more. With weekly payments to creators and an inclusive platform for users on both sides of the equation, Clutch aims to make digital collaboration easier and more reliable for everyone.

“We’re thrilled to bring our product to market to make sustainable, authentic lifestyles available to everyone through the creator economy," says May, CTO and co-founder of Clutch. "We’re honored to be part of the thriving innovation community here in Houston and get to bring more on-your-own-terms work opportunities to all creators and businesses through our platform.”

In its beta, Clutch facilitated collaborations for over 200 student creators and 50 brands — such as DIGITS and nama. The company is founded with a mission of "democratizing access to information and technology and elevating the next generation for all people," according to a news release from Clutch. In the beta, 75 percent of the creators were people of color and around half of the businesses were owned by women and people of color.

“As a Clutch Creator, I set my own pricing, schedule and services when collaborating on projects for brands,” says Cathy Syfert, a creator through Clutch. “Clutch Creators embrace the benefits of being a brand ambassador as we create content about the products we love, but do it on behalf of the brands to help the brands grow authentically."

The newly launched product has the following features:

  • Creator profile, where users can share their services, pricing, and skills and review inquiries from brands.
  • Curated matching from the Clutch admin team.
  • Collab initiation, where users can accept or reject incoming collab requests with brands.
  • Collab management — communication, timing, review cycles — all within the platform.
  • In-app payments with a weekly amount selected by the creators themselves.
  • Seamless cancellation for both brands and creators.
Clutch raised $1.2 million in seed funding from Precursor Ventures, Capital Factory, HearstLab, and more. Clutch was originally founded as Campus Concierge in 2021 and has gone through the DivInc Houston program at the Ion.

Madison Long, left, and Simone May co-founded Clutch. Photo courtesy of Clutch

Trending News