Rice University and the University of Houston share the accolades of recent entrepreneurship program rankings. Photo via Rice.edu

Rice University and the University of Houston have once again scooped up accolades for their entrepreneurship programs.

For the fifth consecutive year, Rice’s Jones Graduate School of Business has been ranked the No. 1 graduate entrepreneurship program by The Princeton Review, a provider of education services, and Entrepreneur magazine.

“Our close ties to Houston as well as national startup ecosystems give our students unique opportunities to pitch to and connect with angel investors, venture capitalists and corporations,” Brad Burke, managing director of the Rice Alliance, says in a news release. “These connections allow for mentorship, as well as launch points for new ideas, not only for our students but also for the city and surrounding communities.”

The list identifies 50 undergraduate and 50 graduate programs that boast the best entrepreneurship offerings based on factors such as coursework, experiential learning opportunities, and career outcomes. The ranking measures more than 40 data points about the schools’ entrepreneurship programs, faculties, students, and alumni.

Also for the fifth consecutive year, the University of Houston’s Cyvia and Melvyn Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship in the C.T. Bauer College of Business has been named the No. 1 undergraduate entrepreneurship program by The Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine.

“We believe in entrepreneurship, we believe in free enterprise, and we’re in the number one city for entrepreneurship,” Dave Cook, executive director of the Wolff Center, says in a news release.

“When we put students into this entrepreneurial mix,” he adds, “and we introduce and reinforce free enterprise values, our intent is to change students’ lives and to create the next generation of business leaders with the highest integrity who are going to go out and create their own cultures, their own companies and their own futures.”

The University of Texas at Austin is the only other school in the state to make the top 10 of either the graduate ranking or undergraduate ranking. UT captures the No. 6 spot on the graduate list and No. 2 spot on the undergraduate list.

Aside from The Princeton Review and Entrepreneur honor, Rice climbed four spots in Poets&Quants’ annual ranking of the world’s best MBA programs for entrepreneurship.

Last year, Rice’s graduate school for business landed at No. 7 on the list. This year, it rose to No. 3, behind the first-ranked Olin School of Business at Washington University in St. Louis and second-ranked ESTM Berlin.

This is the fifth annual ranking of MBA programs for entrepreneurship from Poets&Quants, a website that focuses on graduate-level business education.

“MBA programs are increasingly sought after in today’s environment, and our focus on entrepreneurship sets us apart,” Peter Rodriguez, business dean at Rice, says in a news release. “The entrepreneurship classes emphasize a combination of mindset and skill set and focus on multiple stages of the entrepreneurial process, preparing our students for any industry and climate.”

Poets&Quants relies on 16 data points collected through an annual survey to come up with its ranking. Among those data points are:

  • Average percentage of MBA students launching businesses during their program or within three months of graduation between 2018 and 2022.
  • Percentage of MBA elective courses with all of the curriculum focused on entrepreneurship or innovation during the 2022-23 academic year.
  • Percentage of MBA students active in the business school’s main student-run entrepreneurship club during the 2022-23 academic year.
  • Square footage of incubator or accelerator space available to MBA students during the 2022-23 academic year.
University of Houston and Rice University have again been recognized for their programs for entrepreneurship. Photo courtesy of UH.edu

Houston universities maintain top spots on best entrepreneurship program rankings

top of class

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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New Houston venture studio emerges to target early-stage hardtech, energy transition startups

funding the future

The way Doug Lee looks at it, there are two areas within the energy transition attracting capital. With his new venture studio, he hopes to target an often overlooked area that's critical for driving forward net-zero goals.

Lee describes investment activity taking place in the digital and software world — early stage technology that's looking to make the industry smarter. But, on the other end of the spectrum, investment activity can be found on massive infrastructure projects.

While both areas need funding, Lee has started his new venture studio, Flathead Forge, to target early-stage hardtech technologies.

“We are really getting at the early stage companies that are trying to develop technologies at the intersection of legacy industries that we believe can become more sustainable and the energy transition — where we are going. It’s not an ‘if’ or ‘or’ — we believe these things intersect,” he tells EnergyCapital.

Specifically, Lee's expertise is within the water and industrial gas space. For around 15 years, he's made investments in this area, which he describes as crucial to the energy transition.

“Almost every energy transition technology that you can point to has some critical dependency on water or gas,” he says. “We believe that if we don’t solve for those things, the other projects won’t survive.”

Lee, and his brother, Dave, are evolving their family office to adopt a venture studio model. They also sold off Azoto Energy, a Canadian oilfield nitrogen cryogenic services business, in December.

“We ourselves are going through a transition like our energy is going through a transition,” he says. “We are transitioning into a single family office into a venture studio. By doing so, we want to focus all of our access and resources into this focus.”

At this point, Flathead Forge has seven portfolio companies and around 15 corporations they are working with to identify their needs and potential opportunities. Lee says he's gearing up to secure a $100 million fund.

Flathead also has 40 advisers and mentors, which Lee calls sherpas — a nod to the Flathead Valley region in Montana, which inspired the firm's name.

“We’re going to help you carry up, we’re going to tie ourselves to the same rope as you, and if you fall off the mountain, we’re falling off with you,” Lee says of his hands-on approach, which he says sets Flathead apart from other studios.

Another thing that's differentiating Flathead Forge from its competition — it's dedication to giving back.

“We’ve set aside a quarter of our carried interest for scholarships and grants,” Lee says.

The funds will go to scholarships for future engineers interested in the energy transition, as well as grants for researchers studying high-potential technologies.

“We’re putting our own money where our mouth is,” Lee says of his thesis for Flathead Forge.

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This article originally ran on EnergyCapital.

Houston-based lunar mission's rocky landing and what it means for America's return to the moon

houston, we have a problem

A private U.S. lunar lander tipped over at touchdown and ended up on its side near the moon’s south pole, hampering communications, company officials said Friday.

Intuitive Machines initially believed its six-footed lander, Odysseus, was upright after Thursday's touchdown. But CEO Steve Altemus said Friday the craft “caught a foot in the surface," falling onto its side and, quite possibly, leaning against a rock. He said it was coming in too fast and may have snapped a leg.

“So far, we have quite a bit of operational capability even though we’re tipped over," he told reporters.

But some antennas were pointed toward the surface, limiting flight controllers' ability to get data down, Altemus said. The antennas were stationed high on the 14-foot (4.3-meter) lander to facilitate communications at the hilly, cratered and shadowed south polar region.

Odysseus — the first U.S. lander in more than 50 years — is thought to be within a few miles (kilometers) of its intended landing site near the Malapert A crater, less than 200 miles (300 kilometers) from the south pole. NASA, the main customer, wanted to get as close as possible to the pole to scout out the area before astronauts show up later this decade.

NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter will attempt to pinpoint the lander's location, as it flies overhead this weekend.

With Thursday’s touchdown, Intuitive Machines became the first private business to pull off a moon landing, a feat previously achieved by only five countries. Japan was the latest country to score a landing, but its lander also ended up on its side last month.

Odysseus' mission was sponsored in large part by NASA, whose experiments were on board. NASA paid $118 million for the delivery under a program meant to jump-start the lunar economy.

One of the NASA experiments was pressed into service when the lander's navigation system did not kick in. Intuitive Machines caught the problem in advance when it tried to use its lasers to improve the lander's orbit. Otherwise, flight controllers would not have discovered the failure until it was too late, just five minutes before touchdown.

“Serendipity is absolutely the right word,” mission director Tim Crain said.

It turns out that a switch was not flipped before flight, preventing the system's activation in space.

Launched last week from Florida, Odysseus took an extra lap around the moon Thursday to allow time for the last-minute switch to NASA's laser system, which saved the day, officials noted.

Another experiment, a cube with four cameras, was supposed to pop off 30 seconds before touchdown to capture pictures of Odysseus’ landing. But Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s EagleCam was deliberately powered off during the final descent because of the navigation switch and stayed attached to the lander.

Embry-Riddle's Troy Henderson said his team will try to release EagleCam in the coming days, so it can photograph the lander from roughly 26 feet (8 meters) away.

"Getting that final picture of the lander on the surface is still an incredibly important task for us,” Henderson told The Associated Press.

Intuitive Machines anticipates just another week of operations on the moon for the solar-powered lander — nine or 10 days at most — before lunar nightfall hits.

The company was the second business to aim for the moon under NASA's commercial lunar services program. Last month, Pittsburgh's Astrobotic Technology gave it a shot, but a fuel leak on the lander cut the mission short and the craft ended up crashing back to Earth.

Until Thursday, the U.S. had not landed on the moon since Apollo 17's Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt closed out NASA's famed moon-landing program in December 1972. NASA's new effort to return astronauts to the moon is named Artemis after Apollo's mythological twin sister. The first Artemis crew landing is planned for 2026 at the earliest.

3 female Houston innovators to know this week

who's who

Editor's note: Welcome to another Monday edition of Innovators to Know. Today I'm introducing you to three Houstonians to read up about — three individuals behind recent innovation and startup news stories in Houston as reported by InnovationMap. Learn more about them and their recent news below by clicking on each article.

Emma Konet, co-founder and CTO of Tierra Climate

Emma Konet, co-founder and CTO of Tierra Climate, joins the Houston Innovators Podcast. Photo via LinkedIn

If the energy transition is going to be successful, the energy storage space needs to be equipped to support both the increased volume of energy needed and new energies. And Emma Konet and her software company, Tierra Climate, are targeting one part of the equation: the market.

"To me, it's very clear that we need to build a lot of energy storage in order to transition the grid," Konet says on the Houston Innovators Podcast. "The problems that I saw were really on the market side of things." Read more.

Cindy Taff, CEO of Sage Geosystems

Houston-based Sage Geosystems announced the first close of $17 million round led by Chesapeake Energy Corp. Photo courtesy of Sage

A Houston geothermal startup has announced the close of its series A round of funding.

Houston-based Sage Geosystems announced the first close of $17 million round led by Chesapeake Energy Corp. The proceeds aim to fund its first commercial geopressured geothermal system facility, which will be built in Texas in Q4 of 2024. According to the company, the facility will be the first of its kind.

“The first close of our Series A funding and our commercial facility are significant milestones in our mission to make geopressured geothermal system technologies a reality,” Cindy Taff, CEO of Sage Geosystems, says. Read more.

Clemmie Martin, chief of staff at The Cannon

With seven locations across the Houston area, The Cannon's digital technology allows its members a streamlined connection. Photo courtesy of The Cannon

After collaborating over the years, The Cannon has acquired a Houston startup's digital platform technology to become a "physical-digital hybrid" community.

Village Insights, a Houston startup, worked with The Cannon to create and launch its digital community platform Cannon Connect. Now, The Cannon has officially acquired the business. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“The integration of a world-class onsite member experience and Cannon Connect’s superior virtual resource network creates a seamless, streamlined environment for member organizations,” Clemmie Martin, The Cannon’s newly appointed chief of staff, says in the release. “Cannon Connect and this acquisition have paved new pathways to access and success for all.” Read more.