University of Houston and Rice announce 2024 business accelerator cohort

The Ion

The University of Houston and Rice University continue their 11-year collaboration to support Houston entrepreneurship by announcing the latest cohort of their respective startup and small business accelerators, RED Labs and OwlSpark. This summer the accelerators will host their ventures at the Ion, the heart of the Houston innovation corridor in Midtown.

By uniting forces, the University of Houston and Rice provide tailored support to emerging startups and small businesses, further solidifying Houston’s position as a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. This partnership creates an environment that cultivates entrepreneurs and early stage startup teams, enabling founders to share ideas, experience the value of collaboration and surround themselves with the best people and resources.

“The collaboration the University of Houston has with Rice University gives founders in RED Labs and OwlSpark a unique opportunity to grow along their peers in the larger Houston community and really exemplifies the spirit of collaboration that the Houston business ecosystem is known for,” said Managing Director of RED Labs Liana Gonzalez-Schulenberg. “It never fails to surprise me at the end of the summer the relationships built, the support systems created and collaborations produced across our universities. By working together, we empower the next generation of entrepreneurs to work together as they turn their visions into reality and drive positive change in the community.”

The Ion
The Ion. Photo by Brandon Martin.

Over the course of 11 weeks, 18 startup and small business teams will engage in an immersive experience that blends supportive founders, industry leaders, investors and mentors, unrivaled entrepreneurial training and an invitation to Houston’s thriving entrepreneurship ecosystem. The cohort encompasses a diverse range of sectors, reflecting the dynamic landscape of Houston’s economy.

The Ion — Houston’s innovation hub powered by Rice — offers collaborative spaces and a community where ideas go to grow. Through the accelerator, teams will access top-tier mentors, training and coworking space, making it the ideal location to foster innovation and collaboration among aspiring entrepreneurs.

“We’re celebrating more than just an 11-year partnership; we’re recognizing a dynamic alliance that has been instrumental in fostering entrepreneurship and propelling Houston to the forefront of innovation,” said Managing Director of OwlSpark Jessica Fleenor. “This partnership exemplifies our dedication to cultivating a thriving environment where entrepreneurs can connect, grow and succeed surrounded by unparalleled resources and support. We are incredibly excited to see these new ventures grow as they join our growing network and are thrilled to host our cohorts at the Ion, positioning us at the core of our city’s vibrant innovation landscape.”

OwlSpark and RED Labs, founded in 2013, are renowned for their commitment to supporting founders and fostering innovation at UH and Rice. OwlSpark, Rice’s startup and small business accelerator supporting students, faculty and alumni, has supported 97 ventures which have raised nearly $106 million in funding. RED Labs, housed within the C. T. Bauer College of Business, is UH’s startup accelerator program and has been instrumental in helping students, faculty and recent alumni accelerate their business ideas.

The accelerator programs conclude with the Bayou Startup Showcase on August 1, where participants will showcase their ventures to the Greater Houston community. For those interested in attending, sign up here and details will be shared as they become available.

University of Houston RED Labs Class 12

  • Root Planters develops smart indoor plant care devices designed to prevent plant death by providing automatic watering, tailored for busy individuals and gardeners looking to maintain plant health with minimal effort.
  • Burb Groceries is an online grocery retailer for people with chronic health conditions.
  • That Dude’s Bakehouse offers premium, half-pound cookies, combining choice ingredients and craftsmanship with the mission of being the best part of somebody’s day
  • Mulligan Bandit aims to redefine golf fashion, offering affordable yet high-quality clothing that seamlessly transitions from the fairway to the streets, reflecting personal style while ensuring durability and comfort.
  • Surreal Vision offers immersive mixed reality solutions that provide dynamic visualization experiences to enhance design collaboration and client presentations.
  • Agave Catering is a catering company focused on providing high-quality, gourmet boxed lunches for professionals on the go.
  • Digitally Marie is a purposeful creative agency dedicated to reducing the opportunity gap for female entrepreneurs. Through our heart-driven approach, we elevate content production embodying their brand perception with unapologetic authenticity.
  • Unison is a personal contact relationship management tool that alleviates the risk of data loss and helps to build more meaningful professional and personal relationships.
  • Brain-eNet is a platform that provides hardware and software tools to enable the development of brain-controlled Internet of Things applications.
  • Pasha Blend Collection specializes in creating modern skincare products that embodies purity, authenticity and inclusivity.
  • Arresting Motion is a brand strategy design consultancy and marketing agency that transforms Houston’s top real estate firms into the brands they deserve.
  • CalliDanna is a consulting company that coaches girls 12 to 18 to help improve their lives professionally and personally.

Rice University OwlSpark Class 12

  • EcoFleet Solutions offers rechargeable electric power units for semitrucks, powering air conditioning and cabin functions during stops without engine idling, cutting fuel costs, maintenance and emissions.
  • Houston Community Print Shop offers printmaking classes and equipment access, focusing on community building and supporting underserved areas.
  • KOQ Agency curates and organizes global tours and live entertainment opportunities for queer and ally artists in drag, music and entertainment.
  • Euvivo Diagnostics is developing a direct-to-consumer test that analyzes cell aging by examining mitochondrial performance and new aging markers, tailored for individuals with mitochondrial disorders.
  • Hair Hub provides a compilation of styling tutorials, educational content, planning tools and a comprehensive database of products tailored for Black hair to provide resources for users to perform cost-efficient DIY haircare.
  • is a compression-as-a-service platform that democratizes access to LLMs (Large Language Models) by making them faster, more private, cost-effective and accessible to businesses of all sizes.

For more information about the accelerator programs, please visit RED Labs and OwlSpark.