OwlSpark finds a new nest in downtown Houston

A group of 19 students and recent alumni in Rice’s startup accelerator program, OwlSpark, are spending the summer in downtown Houston to gain firsthand experience launching a tech startup.

Startup teams from Rice and the University of Houston will spend the next 6 weeks refining their business models and building their companies in preparation for the Bayou Startup Showcase Aug. 1.

OwlSpark and the University of Houston’s RED Labs accelerator decided this year to jointly lease space in the building at 1600 Smith St. to host, in tandem, their immersive 12-week programs. The accelerators began May 22 and will conclude Aug. 11.

The 3,730-square-foot space is one of four small-scale suites commissioned by downtown property owner Brookfield Property on the building’s 37th floor. Each suite was designed by a different architecture firm to show what an office of the future could look like.

This year’s six Rice teams represent diverse industries and applications: information, environmental and scientific technology; consumer products; health care; and energy. The teams are AtmoSpark, Tattoo, Power Audio Tours, PredictMX, TraceMatters and myHomeDecor.

OwlSpark was founded in 2013 by two Rice engineering undergraduates, a humanities undergraduate and an MBA candidate. Since that year, it has offered a summer program that provides a class of teams consisting of students and recent alumni with co-working space, industrial and academic mentorship and networking opportunities required to launch their companies. In 2014, the program began collaborating with RED Labs.

The accelerators culminate Aug. 1 with the fourth annual Bayou Startup Showcase at the TMCx, the Texas Medical Center’s facility dedicated to supporting life-science startup companies in Houston. The event provides an opportunity for the teams from both accelerator programs to showcase their businesses to the Greater Houston community.

For more information about OwlSpark, go to www.owlspark.com.

(Photos by Jeff Fitlow; video by Brandon Martin)

About Jeff Falk

Jeff Falk is director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.