Meet the Houston innovator setting student startups up for success

Taylor Anne Adams is working to support Rice University's most ambitious entrepreneurs. Photo courtesy of Lilie

Rice University can barely keep up with the interest of students in entrepreneurial classes and programming — even in the summer.

The university's Liu Idea Lab for Innovation and Entrepreneurship offers around 30 classes a year and over a dozen co-curricular programs — all focused on supporting student entrepreneurs.

"There is a huge desire for this across the campus," Taylor Anne Adams, head of venture acceleration at Lilie, says on the Houston Innovators Podcast. "Our class enrollment has just continued to skyrocket, and we've had to add on more classes and programs and that still seems to not be enough."

One of the newest additions to the scope of Rice's offerings is the Summer Venture Studio, which launched last year and returned for 2024 with huge interest in the program that was revamped by Adams, who received her MBA at Rice. She says one of her goals was to attract a wide range of technologies and innovations, which she did with the newly announced cohort.

"In the Summer Venture Studio, we have students from undergrad and from the MBA program — we've got PhDs, we've got master's of data science, and it just creates such a vibrant cohort community here," Adams says. "It's about making sure that we're tailoring our programs across the school year as well to make sure we're touching all parts of the campus."

Adams, who's worked with various Houston organizations, including The Cannon, DivInc, and Mercury, is not only passionate about supporting the Rice startup community, but also the greater Houston network of innovators. She's currently on the founding team of The Collectiv, a Houston-based venture firm that's currently raising its first fund to invest in sports tech.

"The people here are entrepreneurial by nature. Houston was founded by entrepreneurs. Yes, we have a lot of traditional industry here, but that wasn't always the case. People had to build those industries from the ground up," Adams says. "It's in the DNA of the city."

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