University of Houston and Rice University have again been recognized for their programs for entrepreneurship. Photo courtesy of UH.edu

Houston entrepreneurs, take note. Rice University and the University of Houston again are at the top of their class among the country’s best entrepreneurship programs.

Rice’s Jones Graduate School of Business appears at No. 1 on a new list from The Princeton Review of the best graduate programs for entrepreneurs. Rice also lands at No. 5 in Poets and Quants’ new ranking of the best online MBA programs, up from seventh place last year.

Meanwhile, UH’s C.T. Bauer College of Business shows up at No. 1 in The Princeton Review’s ranking of the best undergraduate programs for entrepreneurs.

For both Rice and UH, this marks the fourth consecutive year for No. 1 rankings in the graduate and undergraduate categories, respectively, from The Princeton Review.

“Appearing in the number one spot for the fourth year running cements reputationally what our students know innately, that Rice’s comprehensive suite of programming and education provides true practical value for founders and innovators,” Yael Hochberg, head of Rice’s Entrepreneurship Initiative, says in a news release.

The Princeton Review notes that graduates of Rice’s entrepreneurship program have raised more than $1.2 billion in funding for their startups over the past five years. During the same timeframe, UH entrepreneurship alumni have launched 779 startups.

UH’s Cyvia and Melvyn Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship “is the crown jewel of the Bauer College. But it is also a testament to the support we have received from the community,” Paul Pavlou, dean of the college, says in a news release. “In the last several years, we have been fortunate to receive numerous generous donations that are funding life-changing scholarships for our students, enabling us to recruit and train the next generation of successful entrepreneurs.”

Other Texas schools featured in The Princeton Review rankings include:

  • University of Texas at Austin, No. 5 for best graduate entrepreneurship program and No. 2 for best undergraduate entrepreneurship program
  • University of Texas at Dallas, No. 12 for best graduate entrepreneurship program and No. 25 for best undergraduate entrepreneurship program
  • Texas A&M University-College Station, No. 24 for best graduate entrepreneurship program and No. 36 for best undergraduate entrepreneurship program
  • Baylor University in Waco, No. 6 for best undergraduate entrepreneurship program
  • Texas Tech University in Lubbock, No. 12 for best undergraduate entrepreneurship program

“The rate of entrepreneurship and business creation has hit record highs in recent years,” says Jason Feifer, editor in chief of Entrepreneur magazine, which published The Princeton Review rankings. “We’re seeing more people seeking insight on how to become successful entrepreneurs. With this list of schools, aspiring entrepreneurs have a valuable reference for exploring schools that excel at helping young leaders expand their business skillsets and networks with an entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

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

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

top of the class

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."

Rice has been heralded again by Princeton Review. Photo courtesy of Rice University

Rice University named one of the greatest schools in U.S. in prestigious new report

RICE RISES AGAIN

Just mere weeks after being named the No. 7 university in the nation, a local hall of higher learning has just landed on yet another prestigious list.
Rice University has scored high marks in the Princeton Review's annual survey on the nation's best colleges. The new report as part of "The Best 387 Colleges," its 30th annual snapshot of academic excellence at colleges and universities.

The new report analyzes three decades of reviews on America's institutions of higher education and is based upon reviews submitted by more than 150,000 students nationwide, per a release. The survey lists the top-ranking schools measured in dozens of different categories.

For its 2022 anniversary edition, Princeton Review analyzed which colleges and universities have "the most impressive history of appearances" since 1992.

Notably, per a press release, only four institutions were named to 11 of what the review calls its "Great Lists" — and one of those schools is Rice.

To generate this report, Princeton Review analyzed three criteria: the number of times a college appeared on lists since 1992, its numerical rank on those lists, and the overall consistency of feedback from the college's students over the three decades.

Specifically, Rice ranked on the "Great Lists" in the following categories:

  • great race/class interaction
  • great financial aid
  • great health services
  • great-run colleges
  • most loved colleges
  • great college newspapers
  • great college dorms
  • great quality of life
  • great town-gown relations
  • LGBTQ-friendly
  • happy students

Rice students praised the university's faculty and described a "high quality of life" and are among "the happiest students in the United States," according to a press release.

"I wanted my college years to be both happy and successful," one student wrote in the survey. "And I found no other schools that were as prestigious, but also dedicated to ensuring the happiness of the student body."

As CultureMap previously reported, Niche ranked Rice No. 7 in its latest ratings of the best colleges in the U.S. and No. 1 in Texas.

Rice also ranked No. 136 internationally in The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education World University Rankings for 2022.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

Rice University and the University of Houston top lists for best graduate and undergraduate entrepreneurship programs. Photo by skynesher/Getty Images

2 Houston universities top list for best graduate, undergraduate entrepreneurship programs

Best of the rest

In Houston, a little bit of friendly competition between two universities goes a long way, but each gets a win according to a recent ranking.

The University of Houston's Cyvia and Melvyn Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship within the C. T. Bauer College of Business claimed the top spot on the 2020 Princeton Review's top 15 programs for undergraduate entrepreneurship studies. Meanwhile, Rice University's Jones Graduate School of Business claimed the top spot on the graduate schools list.

Both schools have appeared on the list before, but it's the first time either has topped their categories.

"Entrepreneurship and the creation of new businesses and industries are critical to Houston and Texas' future prosperity and quality of life," says Rice Business Dean Peter Rodriguez, in a news release. "Today's ranking and our decades-long leadership in entrepreneurship education and outreach is a testament to our visionary and world-class faculty, the enormous success of the Rice Business Plan Competition and of our commitment to our students and the community we serve."

The Rice program, which in 1978, has appeared on the top-10 list for 11 years in a row, and it's the fourth time for the program to make it into the top three. According to the Princeton Review release, Rice grads have started 537 companies that went on to raise over $7 billion in funding.

A UH news release also calls out the fact that UH has seen more than 1,200 alumni-founded businesses, which have amassed over $268 million in funding over the past decade. UH's program, which began in 1991, has appeared in the top 10 list since 2007, and rose from the No. 2 position last year.

"The Wolff Center is the catalyst, but entrepreneurship goes beyond that to the entire Bauer College, including RED Labs, social entrepreneurship, energy, health care, arts and sports entrepreneurship, among many other programs," says Bauer Dean Paul Pavlou. "We're an entrepreneurial university, and innovation and the startup ecosystem we want to promote for the city of Houston starts with the Wolff Center and Bauer."

The ranking considered more than 300 schools with entrepreneurship studies programs and factored in over 40 data points. Some of the factors considered include: the percentage of students enrolled in entrepreneurship courses, mentorship programs, the number of startups founded and investments received by alumni, and the cash prizes at university-backed business plan competitions. The rankings will be published in the December issue of Entrepreneur magazine.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

4 program deadlines Houston innovators should know about

short stories

Editor's note: It's safe to say 2023 has fully kicked off as Houston's startup and innovation ecosystem has switched into second gear. A handful of programs — local and national — have opened applications for accelerators and pitch competitions. Scroll through to find one that applies to your company or a startup you know of. Take careful note of the deadlines since they'll be here before you know it.

Is something missing? Email natalie@innovationmap.com for editorial consideration.

Carbon to Value Initiative

Greentown Labs announced its looking for innovative companies with carbon-related technology. Photo via GreentownLabs.com

Greentown Labs announced that its Carbon to Value (C2V) Initiative has opened applications for its third set of startups.

"Supported by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, the C2V Initiative is a unique partnership among the Urban Future Lab at NYU Tandon School of Engineering, Greentown Labs, and Fraunhofer USA that’s driving the creation of a thriving innovation ecosystem for the commercialization of carbontech—technologies that capture and convert CO₂ into valuable end products or services," reads the news release. "Since the C2V Initiative's inception in 2020, the program has supported 18 groundbreaking carbontech startups—chosen from an exceptional pool of more than 230 applications."

The program is looking for companies with technologies within carbon capture, management, removal, or conversion and between TRL 4 and TRL 7. Selected companies will receive a $10,000 stipend and participate in the six-month program.

Applications are due by the end of the day on March 31. For more information and to apply, click here.

MassChallenge accelerators

MassChallenge has two accelerators open for applications. Photo courtesy of MassChallenge

MassChallenge has two programs with open applications:

MassChallenge US Early Stage Accelerator (Deadline: March 3)

This three-month program is industry agnostic and provides intensive support, guidance, tools, and connectivity to the greater MassChallenge community. Around 200 startups are selected per cohort that range in stage from those currently engaged in customer discovery work to validating a technology or service. For more information and to apply, click here.

MassChallenge HealthTech Accelerator (Deadline: February 6)

The 2023 HealthTech Sprint is an eight-week program intended to work intensely with 20 to 25 startups to accelerate the tools and technologies that could transform healthcare. The HealthTech Sprint program is designed to support mid-stage companies that possess a product/solution ready for scaling. For more information and to apply, click here.

Houston Energy Transition Initiative's Energy Ventures Pitch Competition 

HETI is bringing back its CERAWeek pitch competition. Image via houston.org

The Greater Houston Partnership's Houston Energy Transition Initiative, or HETI, is looking for participants for its Energy Ventures Pitch Competition at CERAWeek this year.

"This pitch competition brings together key members of the energy industry, investors, and startups to showcase the critical innovations and emerging technologies that create value from the world’s transition to low-carbon energy systems," reads the website.

HETI is looking for companies addressing challenges and opportunities in CCUS, hydrogen, energy storage, and the circular economy, are invited to present their well-developed business concepts to a world-class investor community.

Applications close February 9. For more information and to apply, click here.

Rice Business Plan Competition

The annual Rice Business Plan Competition has opened applications for student startups. Photo by Natalie Harms

Calling all student-founded startups — the largest and richest intercollegiate student startup competition, the Rice Business Plan Competition, has applications open. According to Rice, 784 RBPC alumni have raised $4.6 billion in funding and created over 5,500 jobs. This year's event is going to be held May 11 to 13.

The RBPC is open to all students from any university around the world. Teams must include at least one graduate-level student, and every team that is invited to compete in person at Rice University is guaranteed to take home at least one of the more that 60 expected cash prizes. For more information and to apply, click here.

Houston tech startup acquired by Tokyo-based multinational company

exit executed

A Houston company that provides analytics solutions within the chemicals industry has exited to a Japanese company.

Yokogawa acquired Fluence Analytics Inc. in a deal announced today. The terms of the deal were not disclosed and, effective immediately, the company operate as Yokogawa Fluence Analytics. Jay Manouchehri, who joined the company in 2022, will continue to serve as CEO of the entity.

“Combining forces with Yokogawa Electric enables us to capture the full value of our unique data sets, and we can't wait to deliver this added value to our customers," Manouchehri says in a news release. "Together, we will enable autonomous operations and digital transformation in the polymer and biopharma industries."

Founded in 2012 in New Orleans, Fluence Analytics moved to Houston in 2021 following a $7.5 million venture capital raise led by Yokogawa Electric Corp., which has its North American headquarters in Sugar Land.

The company's technology — automatic continuous online monitoring of polymerizations (ACOMP) product — provides real-time analytics solutions to polymer and biopharmaceutical companies worldwide. According to the company, its ACOMP product is the only commercially available system that can measure and analyze multiple polymer properties in real time, which leads to an improved system and less energy consumption and waste.

“Polymers are used in nearly every aspect of modern society in the form of plastics, rubber, paint, and so on," says Kenji Hasegawa, a Yokogawa Electric vice president and head of the Yokogawa Products Headquarters, in the release. "Combining Fluence Analytics' ACOMP system and other technology with our industry know-how will enable us to work with our customers to digitalize and automate polymerization processes that are currently monitored and adjusted manually.

"This will assist customers to improve worker safety, profitability, and environmental performance. We also plan to apply this technology to polymer re-use. We believe this is truly a game-changer for the industry,” he continues.

Fluence Analytics offices in Stafford, just southwest of Houston and has a team of 25 employees. Last fall, Fluence Analytics won in the Hardtech Category of the Houston Innovation Awards.

Houston expert on the advantages of adopting robotic dog technology

guest column

What has 4 legs, can recognize your face, and precisely obey commands on cue? If you guessed a dog, you’re half right.

I’m referring to robotic dogs, a modern marvel of innovative engineering. AT&T recently expanded our solution offers to include network-connected robotic dogs for public safety, defense, federal and state agencies, local police and fire departments, and commercial customers. We do this in collaboration with a leading provider of robotic dogs, Ghost Robotics.

Robotic dogs are just one way we are proving the innovation and transformational possibilities of 5G and IoT. Network-connected robotic dogs can deliver a broad range of IoT use cases, including many that have previously required putting personnel in dangerous situations. Here’s a quick look at some of the fantastic capabilities network-connected robotic dogs deliver.

  • Our robotic dogs can support public safety agencies and organizations on FirstNet – the nation’s only network built with and for America’s first responders. FirstNet delivers always-on prioritized network connectivity for these “first responder” robotic dogs, helping them stay connected during disaster response and recovery, facilities surveillance, and security operations. They can support search and rescue, venture into areas that could imperil human lives, and support the ability to reestablish local communications services following major infrastructure damage.
  • We can integrate Geocast into the robotic dogs to provide Beyond-Visual-Line-of-Sight (BVLOS) operational command and control so that operators of the dogs can be located virtually anywhere in the world and remotely operate them. Geocast is an AT&T innovation covered by 37 patents.
  • The robotic dogs can be equipped with sensors that allow them to operate autonomously without human intervention. They can be outfitted with drones that can launch and return to their backs while in motion, allowing the drones and dogs to perform missions as an integrated team.
  • Rugged terrain? Water? Not a problem. These robotic dogs can move across natural terrain, including sand, rocks, hills, rubble, and human-built environments, like stairs. They can operate fully submerged in water and, like living dogs, can swim.
  • An early use case adopted by the military involves equipping our robotic dogs with wireless network-connected cameras and deploying them to patrol military bases. Robotic dogs we provided to the Air Force at Tyndall Air Force Base in the Florida panhandle are doing just that. Our robotic dogs patrol the flight line and base perimeter at Tyndall, feeding video data in real-time to base personnel who can safely track activity 24/7/365 and support the safety of base operations. They can perform the same task for commercial users, indoors or outdoors. For example, they can patrol the perimeters of large warehouses or outdoor fence lines.
  • They can also support hazmat efforts, inspect mines and high-voltage equipment, and detect explosive devices including improvised explosive devices (IEDs): all while keeping people out of harm’s way.
  • Another interesting use case involves equipping robotic dogs with Long Range Acoustic Devices (LRADs). LRADs are sound cannons that produce noise at high decibels and varying frequencies. We have discussed with the Navy the possibility of outfitting our robotic dogs with sound cannons to warn off wild boars and feral dog packs that have impeded operating crews working on telecommunications infrastructure located in remote areas of one of its bases.

Commercial applications for network-connected robotic dogs are proliferating. Utility companies, for example, are using robotic dogs equipped with video cameras to perform routine equipment inspections in substations. Human inspection requires operators to shut down the facilities during inspections; the robotic dogs eliminate the need to take this precaution. Allied Market Research projects a $13.4 billion global market for the particular use case of robotic dogs performing such inspections.

Our robotic dogs can also be equipped with technology that extends network connectivity into difficult-to-reach areas or mechanical arms that can grip and carry materials such as tools. Their use cases include Pick and Pack capabilities for warehouse operations to improve order fulfillment efficiency.

And this is just the beginning. We’ve said from the outset that the 5G journey of innovation and solution development would evolve to deliver new ways to conquer many challenges.

Now, we’ve let the dogs out.

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Lance Spencer is the Houston-based client executive vice president of defense at AT&T Public Sector.