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Last month, the Ion Houston welcomed the greater Houston community to showcase the programs and companies operating in the Ion Innovation District — and the week-long Ion Activation Festival highlighted just the beginning.

The emerging district — anchored by the Ion — is a 16-acre project in Midtown Houston owned and operated by Rice Management Company, an organization focused on managing Rice University’s $8.1 billion endowment.

“We are primarily responsible for managing the university’s endowment and generating returns to support the university’s academic mission,” said Samuel Dike, strategic initiatives manager at RMC, on this episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast. week. “Some of those proceeds go toward college scholarships and student success — as well as many of the other academic programs.”

“The university sees a dual purpose behind investing,” Dike continues. In addition to focusing on generating returns, RMC’s mission is “also to be a valuable partner in the Houston ecosystem and push Houston as a global city of the 21st century.”

Seeing an opportunity a few years ago to make an investment in Houston’s burgeoning innovation and tech ecosystem, RMC announced plans for the Ion, a 266,000-square-foot innovation hub in a renovated and rehabilitated Sears.

“In some ways, innovation isn’t necessarily about creating something completely new — it’s often building on something that exists and making it better,” Dike says. “I think we did that with the building itself.

“We took something here in Houston that had really strong bones and a strong identity,” he continues, “and we did something that is often atypical in Houston and kept it and repurposed it — not an easy logistical or financial decision.” to take, but we believed it was best for Houston and for the project.”

Now the Ion District includes the Ion as its anchor, as does Greentown Houston, which moved to a 40,000-square-foot space in the former Fiesta Mart building just down the street. While RMC has announced a few other initiatives, the next construction project to be completed is a 1,500-space parking garage that will serve the neighborhood.

“It’s not your typical parking garage,” says Dike. “The garage will have a vegetated facade with retail and gallery space on the ground floor, as well as EV charging areas and areas with display areas for future technology. It will be a nice addition to the neighborhood.”

The new garage frees up above-ground parking spaces, which in turn become available for future construction projects, Dike explains.

In the podcast he shares more about the past, present and future of the Ion and the neighborhood as a whole. Listen to the interview below — or wherever you stream your podcasts – and subscribe to weekly episodes.

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