By Jo-Carolyn Goode

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    April 23, 2024 (Houston Style Magazine) — In a continued commitment to nurture innovation and entrepreneurship, the University of Houston and Rice University proudly announce the commencement of the 2024 cohort for their acclaimed business accelerators, RED Labs and OwlSpark. This dynamic collaboration marks the 11th year of these institutions driving forward Houston’s reputation as a thriving hub for innovative business ideas and startup success.

This summer, the accelerators will be hosted at The Ion, located in the heart of Houston’s innovation corridor in Midtown, known for its vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem. The Ion, powered by Rice, serves as a focal point for collaborative efforts, offering state-of-the-art facilities and resources tailored to foster creativity and growth among emerging startups.

A Proven Track Record of Fostering Success

Over the past decade, RED Labs and OwlSpark have played pivotal roles in transforming the landscape of local entrepreneurship. These programs have supported nearly 100 ventures, helping secure around $106 million in funding, illustrating their profound impact on the community and the local economy. These accelerators offer an intensive 11-week program that immerses startup and small business teams in an environment rich with experienced founders, industry leaders, investors, and mentors.

Empowering Entrepreneurs Through Collaboration

Liana Gonzalez-Schulenberg, Managing Director of RED Labs, emphasizes the unique collaborative opportunities the partnership between the University of Houston and Rice University offers. “This alliance not only supports budding entrepreneurs but also integrates them into the larger Houston business ecosystem, renowned for its spirit of cooperation and mutual support,” she explains.

Jessica Fleenor, Managing Director of OwlSpark, echoes this sentiment, highlighting the strategic importance of hosting the accelerators at The Ion. “Being at the core of Houston’s innovation landscape enables us to provide unparalleled resources and networking opportunities that are crucial for nurturing early-stage ventures,” Fleenor notes.

Diverse Ventures Reflect Houston’s Economic Dynamism

The 2024 cohort includes a wide array of sectors, showcasing the diverse and dynamic nature of Houston’s economy. From tech startups to innovative service providers, each team is poised to bring fresh perspectives and solutions to the marketplace.

Looking Ahead: The Bayou Startup Showcase

The culmination of this summer’s program will be the Bayou Startup Showcase on August 1, where participants will present their ventures to the Greater Houston community. This event not only celebrates the achievements of the current cohort but also offers valuable exposure to potential investors and customers, reinforcing the critical role these accelerators play in the local business community.

For those interested in the future of Houston’s business innovation, or in supporting local entrepreneurs, attending the Bayou Startup Showcase will provide a firsthand look at the promising new ventures ready to make their mark. Additional details and registration information are available for those wishing to engage with and support these burgeoning business leaders.

Join Us in Supporting Local Innovation

Stay tuned for more updates on these exciting developments in Houston’s entrepreneurial scene and discover how these future business leaders are driving positive change and innovation. For more information on attending the showcase or learning about The Ion’s role in Houston’s innovation ecosystem, please visit UH at and Rice at

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