Slightly before the pandemic prevented business as usual for startups and coworkers at the Texas Medical Center's Innovation Institute, the organization had just recently completed a redesign of its space.
The point of the renovation, says Tom Luby director of TMC Innovation, was to better optimize the facilities for interaction between startups and health care innovators.
"We are very careful in our thinking around space, because it's an incredibly important part of how you develop what we think as a dynamic and interactive community," Luby says.
The renovation, which began in the late summer of last year, re-imagined 30,000 square feet of the TMC Innovation Institute and was designed by Houston-based MARS Design. The updates created 21 private pods, increased hot desk space by 25 percent to 21 tables, and doubled the conference rooms from four to eight. These are available for the TMCx cohort companies, as well as hot desk and dedicated space members.
"When you think about coworking or community space, you pretty much can never have too much conference rooms," Luby says.
The pods, which are different from cubicles, are especially key for the cohort companies. While the 2020 cohort is currently operating virtually, the nine startups will each have their own space once it's safe for them to travel to Houston. (A startup bootcamp in February did get to use the new space before the closures.)
Luby says with as international as each cohort is, creating a welcoming environment for the startups to settle in and get to work is important.
"When it comes to the cohort companies, we wanted to create a space that can get them excited to be in and stay longer in Houston," Luby says. "We recruit companies from all over the country and all over the world."
Luby explains that the cohort is meant to connect the startups to opportunities in Houston — like pilot programs or clinical trials — but their physical presence is also important.
"But the space matters to them as well," Luby says. "If they are going to imagine staying in Houston for six months, they have to have great space in order to be able to do that. That was a real driving factor to why de developed the pods the way we did."