Bellaire - Meyerland - West University Edition | March 2021

INNOVATION DISTRICT ON THE ADVANCE Phase 1 Existing 2023 2026 Completion by:

The Ion will anchor the Innovation District, a 16 acre urban district in Midtown covering 3 million-5 million square feet of mixed- use space, bringing together technology startups, investors and partnerships. Final completion is slated for 2030 across three phases and $1 billion in investment. SOURCE: RICE MANAGEMENT CO.COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

Houston’s growing startup & innovation footprint

The Ion and Innovation District are small slices of Houston’s Innovation District, a 4-mile stretch of industry and innovation. THE BIG PICTURE


Phase 2 Phase 3


Total acres 16+ $1 BILLION Potential investment


Parking garage

Organizations/institutions inuencing innovation




The Ion

Innovation District


Museum District

Texas Medical Center




The Ion


Plans for The Ion include public spaces and walkable plazas. (Rendering courtesy Rice Management Co.)


Communities have been longing for development. They just want it to actually benet the people that live there. THIRD WARD RESIDENT SECUNDA JOSEPH, SPEAKING AT A FEB. 26 MEETING OF THE MIDTOWN REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY ”

up technology product devel- opment, along with workforce training opportunities and discussions designed to bring together new ideas. To accomplish this, The Ion has an academic network of 10 higher education institutions and several corporate partners to bring educational events and demonstrations to stu- dents and faculty, along with startup accelerator programs. With backing from corpo- rate partners such as Micro- soft and Chevron, The Ion and the Innovation District add to an ecosystem known for its collaboration, including developments in medical sci- ence, green energy and aero- space, said Susan Davenport, the Greater Houston Partner- ship’s senior vice president and chief economic develop- ment ocer. “You can see blossoming this opportunity to exponen- tially increase all of our inno- vation work,” Davenport said. The Ion and its forthcoming

16-acre Innovation District will join what the partnership calls the Innovation Corri- dor, a 4-mile-long stretch of Main Street from the Texas Medical Center to downtown, which includes other start- up-focused organizations such as TMC3, TMCx, the TMC Innovation Institute, Rice University’s OwlSpark, Accen- ture Houston Innovation Hub, Houston Exponential and MassChallenge, among others. “It’s just the perfect blend of this innovation environ- ment that they’ve created,” Davenport said. “All of the interested parties can come together eciently and share ideas. It makes for a richer innovation economy. Those ideas will germinate out into the corporate infrastructure

that’s already in place.” Targetedopportunities

are worried they will lose out in the process. “We have been for this development from the very start. I think innovation is totally necessary for theHous- ton economy,” said Uyiosa Elegon, an organizer for the Houston Coalition for Equita- ble Development without Dis- placement, representing over 30 community stakeholder groups. “We can bring in Mic- rosoft; we can bring in any tech company into this area, but honestly we still see rising

The Ion planners also hope to take advantage of Hous- ton’s diversity, leveraging grant funding to advance founders from underrepre- sented communities. “It was always something we needed to do,” said Jan Odegard, The Ion’s interim executive director. “I think that opportunity came when we worked and got the federal grant that helped us amplify that eort. It also allowed us to partner with DivInc and NASA.” Houston, one of the most diverse cities in the country, ranks fth in the nation when it comes to minority-owned startups, according to an anal- ysis of U.S. Census Bureau


startup culture. “We came in with this tech that somewhat worked—it was early—but we walked out of there with a cohesion and brevity of mission,” Thomas said. “We also walked out of there with great mentors.” Thomas is one success story of many that project planners for The Ion promise to deliver as its 266,000-square-foot building nears completion in Houston’s Midtown, which is expected to bring to life a $1 billion Innovation District over the next decade. While there is much to be gained, residents in the neigh- boring Third Ward said they

inequities.” Bigpicture

Beyond a building, The Ion promises to oer a lineup of accelerators designed to ramp



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