Rice Alliance’s Brad Burke awarded 2023 Trailblazer Award from Houston InnovationMap

Brad Burke

Brad Burke, managing director of the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship, received the 2023 Trailblazer Award to recognize his impact on Houston’s business, entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem.

The Trailblazer Award was established to recognize an individual who has already left a profound impact on Houston's business and innovation ecosystem and is dedicated to continuing to support Houston and its entrepreneurs,” according to InnovationMap.

The winner was decided by the judges of the 2023 Houston Innovation Awards ceremony from Houston InnovationMap, who are leaders from Houston’s business, investment and entrepreneurship community. Barbara Burger, judge and former president of Chevron Technology Ventures, presented the award to Burke at the Nov. 8 event.

Brad Burke
Brad Burke. Photo courtesy of Rice Alliance.

“With the various technology forums and the Rice Business Plan Competition, countless students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels from universities around the globe have benefited from the connections made for these students to the ecosystems here in Houston and Texas,” Burger said. “Startups have been formed, progressed, raised capital and have changed the world in energy, life science and software. Along the way, the Rice Alliance didn’t just help the students but has also made a lasting impact on the corporate innovation and venture capital groups, financial investors, mentors and so many others of us in this burgeoning ecosystem. We owe Brad Burke and the Rice Alliance a great deal for this.”

This award for Burke reflects more than two decades of leadership by the entire Rice Alliance team as a catalyst for growing Rice’s innovation and entrepreneurship culture through co-curricular and regional programming.  

“In every leading region of entrepreneurship, strong research universities played a major role as a catalyst for driving success, such as Stanford in Silicon Valley and MIT in Boston,” Burke said. “For Houston to succeed, it was important to Rice to play a similar leadership role. So, over two decades ago, the president of Rice and the deans of engineering, science and business formed the Rice Alliance to help commercialize technologies developed by the incredibly talented faculty at Rice and help make Houston a leading center of technology entrepreneurship.”

The Rice Alliance bring hundreds of investors to Houston each year from other parts of the U.S. and organizes hundreds of one-on-one meetings with regional startups through its entrepreneurial ecosystem. By fostering economic development and job creation in Houston, Rice can help ensure Houston remains the energy capital of the world and a global leader in health care and life sciences, Burke said.

Burke is only the third recipient of the Trailblazer Award. Barbara Burger was the inaugural recipient in 2021, followed by Blair Garrou, managing director and cofounder of Mercury, an early-stage venture capital firm.

Learn about the more than two decades of entrepreneurial efforts from Rice Alliance here.