Houston voices

How small business accelerators can help Houston startups take off

“Small business incubators serve as the foundation of most innovation ecosystems." Graphic byMiguel Tovar/University of Houston

If you plan to start a new business or already have but you don’t have an office or lab space, why should you consider working with a small business incubator?

An incubator is an organization that offers assistance and resources to help newly-formed businesses get started and supports them as they move forward. Small business incubators also provide space to house these companies in a shared work environment.

According to the executive director of the University of Houston Office of Technology Transfer and Innovation, Christopher Taylor, “Small business incubators serve as the foundation of most innovation ecosystems and for startups, these hubs provide connectivity, support, and resources they can leverage to improve their odds of success.”

Community connectivity

In a small business blog on Chron.com, the author points out that even after a business leaves an incubator, the connections they make with other business owners are relationships that will continue to grow. There, startups can learn and grow together and, in turn, incubators foster a continuously growing community by looking for businesses and growing companies that serve the same field.

For example, an incubator that is focused on technology will look for companies that are in the technology sector. At Texas Medical Center Innovation, two programs support the development of health technologies. The Cancer Therapeutics Accelerator is a nine-month program where startups get support in market and technical research. The Health Tech Accelerator is a six-month program for digital health and medical device startups.

Startup support

Business incubators offer support in many ways, including critical services that help move businesses forward.

For example, the UH Technology Bridge connects new business owners to the Small Business Development Center, where they can get help with all their preliminary operational tasks. Companies housed at incubators also gain access to programming like focused workshops that cover how to find funding, how to build a business strategy and other business fundamentals.

Startup incubators also give startups with limited funds access to expensive equipment that they would otherwise not be able to afford. They also offer office space, usually at a lower cost than other commercial space. These spaces usually include office amenities such as central printing and conference rooms. They are able to offer lower costs because they are usually funded by a school, city or investors.

Some for-profit incubators make money by directly selling their services to startups or others. Some may make money indirectly, meaning their services generate sales for other services.

The Big Idea

“Many successful startups come out of incubators because they have the ability to create tremendous velocity as companies work towards commercializing their technologies,” Taylor said.

Starting a business is not an easy feat. But incubators can help improve a startup’s chances of success.

If you are in the Houston area and looking to partner with a small business incubator, visit the UH Technology Bridge, The Cannon, The Rice Alliance or any of the other many incubators in the area.

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This article originally appeared on the University of Houston's The Big Idea. Cory Thaxton, the author of this piece, is the communications coordinator for The Division of Research.

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Building Houston

 
 

Houston is among the top cities for veteran entrepreneurs. Photo via Getty Images

Houston has moved up the ranks in an annual study of the top places in the U.S. for veteran entrepreneurs.

The study, conducted by the PenFed Foundation and Edelman Data & Intelligence, puts Houston at No. 5 among the best metro areas for veteran entrepreneurs. That’s up from No. 12 in the 2021 study.

The study cites Houston’s economic growth, support for veterans, strong employment, and low unemployment rate among veterans as factors favoring veteran entrepreneurs.

More than 300,000 military veterans live in the Houston area. That’s the second largest population of veterans in the U.S.

Due to the Houston area’s robust veteran population, Bayou City was chosen in 2018 as the site for the third local chapter of Bunker Labs, an accelerator and incubator for military-affiliated entrepreneurs.

At No. 1 in the study is Washington, D.C., followed by:

2. New York City
3. Seattle
4. Dallas-Fort Worth
5. Houston
6. Austin
7. Sioux Falls, South Dakota
8. Cleveland
9. Rapid City, South Dakota
10. Boston

Elsewhere in Texas, McAllen-Edinburg-Mission landed at No. 20 and San Antonio at No. 23.

The study analyzed four categories for each city: livability, economic growth, support for veterans, and ability to start a business. The study evaluated 390 metro areas.

“As the nation navigates the economic impacts of inflation, the study focused especially on how inflation impacts cities differently,” says the PenFed Foundation, established by PenFed Credit Union.

This is the third year for the study.

“We want to help cities across the United States understand which environments are best suited for military veterans to start and grow businesses, and inspire city leaders to take the actions needed to support veteran entrepreneurs,” James Schenck, president and CEO of PenFed Credit Union and CEO of the foundation, says in a news release.

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