Time for An Upgrade

These modern Houston office spaces pile on the perks in fab locations

Your own office space at 53 West comes with plenty of shared perks. Photo courtesy of Urban Office

Companies are doing a major rethink post-pandemic about their office spaces. It's no longer an option to offer employees a sub-par work space, and those signing the lease aren't willing to overpay for less-than-impressive amenities.

That's why Urban Office, from Braun Enterprises, has been debuting office options that are heavy on the perks, spot on with location, and versatile in layout, all at more affordable prices than their counterparts.

Take, for example, 53 West at 5373 W. Alabama St. Located just steps from The Galleria, the property is well positioned in a dense retail corridor with superior walkability and is neighbored by major national and local tenants, restaurants, bars, and hotels.

Or its newest, Spring Branch Village, which is officially opening in July. This office is surrounded by an ideal mix of affluent neighborhoods including Spring Branch East, Memorial/The Villages, and The Heights.

Both offer such shared amenities as free high-speed internet, snacks and coffee plus a full operating kitchen, shared conference spaces and private phone booths, and printing/scanning/copying equipment.

The onsite parking is free — a definite plus over congested (and pricy) downtown parking — and members have 24/7 access to the space.

The shared amenities and secure, private offices are a great solution for small businesses like lawyers, insurance agencies, marketing firms, Realtors, photographers, and other entrepreneurs, as there is a variety of office layouts that can accommodate a range of team sizes. Furnishings — including electric standing desks — are also available.

To further that feeling of flexibility, rental agreements typically run 12 months, with shorter agreements available. Existing Urban Office members can also upgrade to a larger space within their building or at another Urban Office location any time during their rental agreement.

Offices are going fast at 53 West, and similar excitement is expected at Spring Branch once it opens. To book a tour or learn more about Urban Office's Houston and San Antonio locations, visit the website.

53 West by Urban Office

It's just steps from The Galleria. Photo courtesy of Urban Office

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Building Houston

 
 

Activate is planting its roots in Houston with a plan to have its first set of fellows next year. Photo via Getty Images

An organization that directs support to scientists developing impactful technology has decided on Houston for its fifth program.

Activate was founded in Berkeley, California, in 2015 to bridge the gap between the federal and public sectors to deploy capital and resources into the innovators creating transformative products. The nonprofit expanded its programs to Boston and New York before launching a virtual fellowship program — Activate Anywhere, which is for scientists 50 or more miles outside one of the three hubs.

"Our mission is to empower scientists to reinvent the world by bringing their research to market," Aimee Rose, executive managing director of Activate, tells InnovationMap. "There's so much technical talent that we educate in this country every year and so many amazing inventions that happen, that combining the two, which is the sort of inventor/entrepreneur, and giving them the support mechanisms they need to get on their feet and be successful, has the potential to unlock an incredible amount of value for the country, for the environment, and to address other social problems."

This year, Activate is planting seeds in Houston to grow a presence locally and have its first set of fellows in 2024. While Activate is industry agnostic, Rose says a big draw from Houston is the ability to impact the future of energy.

"We're super excited about Houston as an emerging ecosystem for the clean energy transition as being the energy capital of the world, as well as all the other emerging players there are across the landscape in Houston," Rose says. "I think we can move the needle in Houston because of our national footprint."

The first order of business, Rose says, is hiring a managing director for Activate Houston. The job, which is posted online, is suited for an individual who has already developed a hardtech business and has experience and connections within Houston's innovation ecosystem.

"We want to customize the program so that it makes the most sense for the community," Rose says about the position. "So, somebody that has the relationships and the knowledge of the ecosystem to be able to do that and somebody that's kind of a mentor at heart."

The program is for early-stage founders — who have raised less than $2 million in funding — working on high-impact technology. Rose explains that Activate has seen a number of microelectronics and new materials companies go through the program, and, while medical innovation is impactful, Activate doesn't focus on pharmaceutical or therapeutic industries since there are existing pathways for those products.

Ultimately, Activate is seeking innovators whose technologies fall through the cracks of existing innovation infrastructure.

"Not every business fits into the venture capital model in terms of what investors would expect to be eventual outcomes, but these these types of businesses can still have significant impact and make the world a better place," Rose says, explaining how Activate is different from an incubator or accelerator. "As opposed as compared to a traditional incubator, this is a very high touch program. You get a living stipend so you can take a big business technical risk without a personal risk. We give you a lot of hands on support and mentoring."

Each of the programs selects 10 fellows that join the program for two years. The fellows receive a living stipend, connections from Activate's robust network of mentors, and access to a curriculum specific to the program.

Since its inception, Activate has supported 104 companies and around 146 entrepreneurs associated with those companies. With the addition of Houston, Activate will be able to back 50 individuals a year.

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