The Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers is a group of more than 250 university entrepreneurship programs that is headquartered at Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business. Photo courtesy of Rice

A Houston-based academic group called out top universities and programs from around the world — including one in Houston and another in Texas — that are excelling in educating future entrepreneurs at the Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers Conference last month.

The GCEC is a consortium of more than 250 university entrepreneurship programs that is headquartered at Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business, which has been named a top entrepreneurship program itself time and time again.

The group's annual conference was hosted at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, in October, and more than 550 member representatives attended, according to a statement from Rice. In addition to talks, break out sessions and collaboration time, 14 universities were awarded top honors at the event.

Houston Community College's entrepreneurial initiatives won in the Excellence in Specialty Entrepreneurship Education category. The office is known for signature programs like its annual business plan competition, which has been running since 2008. It is also home to the Minority Business Development Agency, created by a grant from the Department of Commerce in 2013, and the MBDA Pandemic Recovery Center.

Additionally, the HCC Alief Hayes Campus is in partnership with the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program, providing 100 hours of instruction and advising and access to capital and an alumni network.

The Texas A&M University System also won in the Outstanding Contributions to Venture Creation category along with the University of St. Thomas (Minnesota). TAMU was recognized for its TEES DeepTech Ventures program. The hands-on training program operated out of Doha, Qatar last November.

Meanwhile Babson College's Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship and Iowa State University's Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship were awarded the most prestigious honor at the conference. The universities received the The Nasdaq Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence Award. This was the first year that two programs received the award based on student body sizes of less than or more than 5,000 students.

Duncan Moore, a professor at the University of Rochester’s William E. Simon Graduate School of Business Administration, and Carol Reeves, associate vice provost for entrepreneurship at the University of Arkansas’ Sam M. Walton College of Business, received legacy awards for their contributions to entrepreneurship education.

Other winners included:

  • Outstanding Emerging Entrepreneurship Center (schools with less than 5,000 students)
    • Lafayette College, Dyer Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship
  • Outstanding Emerging Entrepreneurship Center (schools with more than 5,000 students)
    • James Madison University, Gilliam Center for Entrepreneurship
    • Nova Southeastern University, Alan B. Levan-NSU Broward Center of Innovation
  • Exceptional Activities in Entrepreneurship Across Disciplines
    • Northeastern University, Center for Entrepreneurship Education
  • Excellence in Entrepreneurship Teaching and Pedagogical Innovation
    • Stanford University, Stanford Technology Ventures Program
  • Outstanding Student Engagement & Leadership (schools with less than 5,000 students)
    • London Business School, Institute of Entrepreneurship and Private Capital
  • Outstanding Student Engagement & Leadership (schools with more than 5,000 students)
    • Marquette University, 707 Hub
  • Exceptional Contributions in Entrepreneurship Research
    • Florida Atlantic University, Adams Center for Entrepreneurship
  • GCEC Center of Entrepreneurial Leadership
    • UNLV, Troesh Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation
The 2023 GCEC Conference will be held in Dallas next October at the University of Texas at Dallas.
A new program is launching to support the next generation of energy innovators. Photo via greentownlabs.com

Greentown Labs launches student-driven entrepreneurship program in Texas

back to school

The country's largest climatetech startup incubator and several schools are teaming up to prepare the next generation of clean energy innovators.

Greentown Labs, based in Boston and Houston, announced its new Texas Entrepreneurship Exchange for Energy (TEX-E) this week. The collaborative initiative aims to strengthen the student-driven entrepreneurship ecosystem in Houston, according to a news release, to focus on energy innovation. Greentown Labs, MIT’s Martin Trust Center for Entrepreneurship, and universities across Texas — including The founding institutions of TEX-E are Rice University, Texas A&M University, Prairie View A&M University, University of Houston, and The University of Texas at Austin — are collaborating on the project.

“Houston has long been known as the energy capital of the world, but to lead the world’s energy transition, the city must create a strong, vibrant innovation ecosystem to support the next generation of entrepreneurs and energy companies,” says Lara Cottingham, chief of staff at Greentown Labs, in the news release. “TEX-E will build upon Texas universities’ deep and long-standing connections to the energy industry by helping to attract and retain the world-class talent needed to supercharge Houston’s innovation ecosystem.”

The program, though based in Texas, will integrate both Greentown Labs locations, providing students with access to mentorship with incubator startups, networking events, career opportunities, and cross-learning with MIT.

“Boston and Houston might seem like an odd pairing, but they complement one another beautifully,” says Ben Soltoff, ecosystem builder and entrepreneur in residence at the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, in the release. “The Boston area has a strong community-driven ecosystem around climate innovation, including MIT’s pioneering Climate and Energy Ventures Course in Cambridge, which has spawned over 30 companies. But often when MIT startups need to scale up, they look towards Texas, where they can find talent, space, and industry knowhow in spades.

"Together, these two regions are unstoppable,” he adds.

The five schools are just the beginning for the program, which plans to expand the collaboration over time. Locally, Houston area schools have collaborated with Greentown Houston since its opening over a year ago.

“The TEX-E collaboration will provide valuable opportunities to our students, and Houston is a natural location to create such an ecosystem,” says Ramanan Krishnamoorti, vice president for energy and innovation at the University of Houston, in the release. “Training new talent and supporting their pursuit of innovative ideas are vital in addressing the growing global need for affordable, reliable, and environmentally sustainable energy.”

For more information, students and educators should sign up for the TEX-E newsletter and attend an upcoming event at Greentown Houston. The next event at the incubator is the Climatetech Summit on November 2.

Texas A&M University has announced a new cybersecurity-focused initiative. Photo via tamu.edu

Texas A&M receives $10M to create cybersecurity research program

donation station

Texas A&M University has launched an institute for research and education regarding cybersecurity.

The Texas A&M Global Cyber Research Institute is a collaboration between the university and a Texas A&M University System engineering research agency, the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station. The research agency and Texas A&M are also home to the Texas A&M Cybersecurity Center.

The institute is funded by $10 million in gifts from former Texas A&M student Ray Rothrock, a venture capitalist and cybersecurity expert, and other donors.

Texas A&M says the institute “will conduct high-impact research on threats to and protections for the nation’s security and economy while uniquely preparing students to excel in the ever-growing cybersecurity field.”

Katherine Banks, president of A&M, says the new institute positions the university as a hub for cybersecurity research and education.

“It builds upon the strong base of Texas A&M’s Cybersecurity Center and will help us educate the cybersecurity leaders of the future,” she says in a news release.

Tyson Voelkel, president of the Texas A&M Foundation, emphasizes the institute’s potential to not only prepare students for cybersecurity careers but also to raise awareness of cyberthreats among all students.

“Cybersecurity is a concern for businesses, our economy and our national security that affects both the public and private sector,” Voelkel says.

Revenue in the cybersecurity market is projected to reach $64.86 billion this year, according to data provider Statista. By 2027, that number is expected to climb to $116.3 billion.

In line with that projected revenue growth, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts the number of information security analysts in the U.S. will rise 35 percent between 2021 and 2031. The bureau lists the median pay for an information security analyst as $102,600 per year.

Texas A&M University has announced a new technology that will keep up with Aggie-founded businesses. Photo via tamu.edu

Houston-area university taps new tech to keep tabs on startups

track device

Texas A&M University has teamed up with a tech company in New York state to track the performance of startups spawned by the College Station school.

The tech company, StartupTree, produces software that manages university entrepreneurship data. StartupTree is creating a performance-tracking platform for Texas A&M University Innovation Partners, which fosters A&M-born innovations, and the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station’s Office of Commercialization and Entrepreneurship. The platform will monitor the performance of Texas A&M spinouts. It also will match startups with business mentors, legal advisers, potential investors, and other resources.

Among the Houston companies affiliated with Texas A&M University Innovation Partners are ECM Biosurgery, a medical device maker, and

Pulmotect, a biopharmaceutical business.

“StartupTree is going to make it easier for our startups to be successful,” says Chris Scotti, director of new ventures at Texas A&M Innovation Partners and chairman of the Texas A&M New Ventures Competition. “It will be easier for startups to find mentorship, funding, and other forms of help they may need to bring a technology to market.”

Texas A&M joins the University of Texas System as a StartupTree customer.

“Already, Texas A&M has influenced the product in terms of data collection, including the ability for mentors and administrators to leave notes on venture profiles,” says Theresa Kim, president of StartupTree. “If we can play a role in developing scalable data collection processes for Texas A&M within the platform, we see this paying dividends over time, especially given the trends of external stakeholders being more data-focused.”

Texas A&M’s pilot phase of the StartupTree installation is expected to launch later this year.

Buc-ee's founder Arch Aplin III is gifting $50M to A&M's new facility. Buc-ee's/Facebook

Buc-ee's founder fuels Texas A&M's new $50M immersive learning laboratory

Beaver powered

The founder of Lone Star State’s favorite rest stop/gas station/car wash/cultural beacon has just made a Texas-sized investment in a major state university.

Buc-ee’s mastermind Arch “Beaver” Aplin III will commit $50 million toward establishing a Texas A&M University academic center that will serve as an immersive learning laboratory, the school announced.

Dubbed the Aplin Center (Aplin graduated from A&M in 1980), the hub will offer new university programs in hospitality, retail studies, and food product development through degree programs including viticulture, fermentation processes, coffee, and food science.

This new facility also will house product development laboratories and food tasting centers that can be utilized in partnership with related industries, according to a press release. Retail and food services areas will be managed by students and faculty. Students can also expect indoor and outdoor recreational spaces.

The center will be built across the street from the Texas A&M Hotel and Conference Center near Wellborn Road and Kyle Field.

Aplin’s $50 million commitment marks one of the largest single donations in Texas A&M history. “Arch ‘Beaver’ Aplin is a true visionary and one of the most creative entrepreneurs I have known,” said school president Dr. M. Katherine Banks in a statement. “He remains connected to his university, speaking to many students who share his passion for business and product development. Through this generous gift, he is creating a living, learning laboratory that will provide transformational opportunities for our students. The Aplin Center will positively impact Aggies for generations to come.”

Buc-ee’s founder, in turn, noted that Banks’ vision of a “world-class hospitality entrepreneurship program” is “just what Texas A&M needs and I’m proud to have an opportunity to be involved.”

Two years after graduation, Aplin opened his first Buc-ee’s in 1982 in Lake Jackson. His beaver empire has since expanded into five other states, with development underway in another five. Aplin’s brand hallmarks include pristine restrooms, endless fuel pumps, a vast selection of food and consumer items.

Besides its reputation as a cult and customer favorite, Buc-ee’s offers health insurance to employees and pays more than twice the amount of minimum wage. Earlier this year, the convenience store-rest stop hybrid received nationwide attention on CBS Sunday Morning. July 28 marks Buc-ee’s 40th anniversary.

“When Beaver Aplin does something, it’s never halfway,” said A&M System chancellor John Sharp in a statement. “The love he has and shows for Texas A&M and Aggies is inspirational and appreciated. This is an awesome gift and will position Texas A&M to become the top hospitality program in the nation.”

An Aggie through and through, Aplin, who serves on myriad boards and is also chairman of Texas Parks and Wildlife, once preached the College Station gospel during a lecture in 2012, telling the class, “I have to remember — I’ve gotta stay Beaver. I’ve gotta stay Buc-ee’s. I’ve gotta stay Aggie and I’ve gotta stay who I am.”

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

Houston Methodist's Roberta Schwartz and Texas A&M University's Dr. Roderic Pettigrew shared their thought leadership at a recent panel for Houston Tech Rodeo. Photos courtesy

2 Houston experts explain what's next in health care innovation — from tech to workforce development

Houston innovators podcast episode 124

The medical field is full of problems to solve — how to improve patient care, new diseases to treat, extending but also improving quality of life, and so much more. It's an industry that needs innovation — and in many cases, that means introducing new technologies and ideas.

At last week's Houston Tech Rodeo health tech saloon, two experts weighed in on the discussion. Roberta Schwartz, chief innovation officer of Houston Methodist, and Dr. Roderic Pettigrew, dean of the Intercollegiate School of Engineering Medicine at Texas A&M University, discussed how they view the health care industry's future — and what they are doing to make sure future health care providers and innovators are ready.

“You want the next generation to get equally as excited about what’s happening in that world (of health tech) and realize how much opportunity there is to disrupt the field of health care,” Schwartz says on the panel. “It’s so natural to us at Houston Methodist to say, ‘please come along and see the opportunities there are and seize them.’”

The panelists noted on where the conversation was taking place — TAMU's new EnMed building, which was constructed and dedicated to engineering medical students. Dr. Pettigrew says the new field is meant to train problem solvers.

“When you consider scientific progress throughout history and in the future, you realize that technological innovation is the engine of scientific progress,” he says. “When you think about what profession in our society solves problems for the benefit of society, it’s engineering."

The full panel recording is available on this week's Houston Innovators Podcast. Listen to it below — or wherever you stream your podcasts — and subscribe for weekly episodes.



Photo courtesy of Houston Methodist

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Houston startups raise funding, secure partnerships across space, health, and sports tech

short stories

It's been a new month and a few Houston startup wrapped up November with news you may have missed.

In this roundup of short stories within Houston startups and tech, three Houston startups across health care, space, and sports tech have some news they announced recently.

Houston digital health company launches new collaboration

Koda Health has a new partner. Image via kodahealthcare.com

Houston-based Koda Health announced a new partnership with data analytics company, CareJourney.

"This collaboration will aim to develop benchmarking data for advance care planning and end-of-life metrics," the company wrote on LinkedIn. "Koda will provide clinical and practice-based expertise to guide the construction of toolkits, dashboards, and benchmarks that improve ACP programs and end-of-life outcomes."

Koda Health announced the partnership in November..

“Beyond the checkbox of a billing code or completed advance directive, it’s important to build and measure a process that promotes thoughtful planning among patients, their care team, and their loved ones,” says Desh Mohan, MD, Koda's chief medical officer, in the post.

CareJourney was founded in 2014 in Arlington, Virginia.

"I'm hopeful next-generation quality measures will honor the patient’s voice in defining what it means to deliver high quality care, and our commitment is to measure progress on that important endeavor," noted Aneesh Chopra, CareJourney's co-founder and president.

Sports tech startup raises $500,000 pre-seed investment

BeONE Sports has created a technology to enhance athletic training. Photo via beonesports.com

Houston-founded BeONE Sports, an athlete training technology company, announced last month that it closed an oversubscribed round of pre-seed funding. The company announced the raise on its social media pages that the round included $500,000 invested.

Earlier in November, BeONE Sports completed its participation in CodeLaunch DFW 2022. The company was one of six finalists in the program, which concluded with a pitch event on November 16.

Space tech company snags government contracts

Graphic via cognitive space.com

The U.S. Air Force has extended Houston-based Cognitive Space’s contract under a new TACFI, Tactical Funding Increase, award. According to the release, the contract "builds on Cognitive Space’s work to develop a tailored version of CNTIENT for AFRL to achieve ultimate responsiveness and optimized dynamic satellite scheduling via a cloud-based API.

The $1.2 million award follows a $1.5 million U.S. Air Force Small Business Innovation Research award that the company won in 2020 to integrate CNTIENT with commercial ground station providers in support of AFRL’s Hybrid Architecture Demonstration program.

“The TACFI award allows Cognitive Space to continue supporting AFRL’s vitally important HAD program to help deliver commercial space data to the warfighter,” says Guy de Carufel, the company’s founder and CEO, in the releasee. “CNTIENT’s tailored analytics platform will enable HAD and the GLUE platform to integrate modern statistical approaches to optimize mission planning, data collection, and latency estimation.”

Houston airport powers up new gaming lounge for bored and weary travelers

game on and wheels down

Local gamers now have a new option to while away those flight delays and passenger pickup waits at Hobby Airport.

Houston's William P. Hobby Airport is now one the first airports in the country to offer what's dubbed as the "ultimate gaming experience for travelers." The airport has launched a premium video game lounge inside the international terminal called Gameway.

That means weary, bored, or early travelers can chill in the lounge and plug into15 top-of-the-line, luxury gaming stations: six Xbox stations, five Playstation stations, four PC stations, all with the newest games on each platform. Aficionados will surely appreciate the Razer's Iskur Gaming Chairs and Kraken Headsets, along with dedicated high speed internet at each PC station.

The Gameway lounge pays homage to gaming characters, with wall accents that hark to motherboard circuits Crucial for any real gamer: plenty of sweet and savory snacks are available for purchase to fuel up on those fantasy, battle, or sporting endeavors. As for the gaming console stations, players can expect high definition screens, comfortable seating, and plenty of space for belongings.

Make video games a part of your pre-flight ritual. Photo courtesy of Gameway

This gaming addition comes just in time for the holiday rush, when travelers can expect long lines, delays, and are already planning for extended time for trips. As CultureMap previously reported, Hobby will see a big boost in travelers this season — the largest since 2019. Now, those on a long journey can plug in, decompress, and venture on virtual journeys of their own.

Texan travelers may be familiar with Gameway; the company opened its first two locations at Dallas Fort-Worth Airport. The buzzy lounge an industry wave of acclaim: Gameway was awarded Best Traveler Amenity in 2019 at the ACI-NA Awards and in 2020, voted “Most Innovative Customer Experience” at the Airport Experience Traveler Awards, per press materials.

Two new locations followed in 2021: LAX Terminal 6 and Charlotte Douglas International Airport. The first of Gameway's Ultra lounge brand opened in September at Delta's Terminal 3 in LAX.

Gaming culture is a way of life in the Bayou City , which hosts Comicpalooza, the largest pop culture festival in Texas, and is home to several e-sports teams, including the pro esports squad, the Houston Outlaws.

A delayed flight never seemed so ideal for gamers flying out of Hobby. Photo courtesy of Gameway

“Gameway is the real reason to get to the airport early,” said Co-Founder Jordan Walbridge in a statement. “Our mission is to upgrade the typical wait-at-the-gate experience with a new stimulating, entertaining option for travelers of all ages.”

Here's guessing Hobby might just see an increase in missed or late flight arrivals — as travelers simply must beat those big bosses, solve puzzles, or win sports matches in the lounge.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.