ION HOUSTON | The historic Sears building on Main Street is being renovated and transformed into The Ion beginning in May.
Transformation indeed. Houston’s innovation district to be anchored by historic Midtown Sears building, with The Ion, designed to bring entrepreneurial, corporate and academic communities together for spaces and programs, all under one roof. Restaurant and entertainment venues will be added as well.
Rice University President David Leebron said the building’s name, The Ion, is from the Greek word “ienai”, which means “go”.
ION Network Founder and CEO Dave Behar says this is the way to go.
“Our team loves aggregation of sound minds, great ionstitutions and young entrepreneurs – to enable a culture of collaboration and focus to inspire and achieve personal, start-up, corporate and community economic development. We plan to place ION’s multi-platform original programming and ION’s Student Entrepreneur Academy™ (SEA) within the walls.”
“The Ion will become Houston’s nucleus for innovation, fostering a community and culture where entrepreneurs and corporations come together to solve some of the world’s greatest problems,” Leebron said.
“I gleefully applaud this next giant step in the creation of an innovation hub that will take Houston closer to becoming a world leader in data science and digital technologies,” said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. “As I said last year when the idea was unveiled, we have to leap, not stroll, into the economic frontier. Now the physical transformation of The Ion will help get us there.”
Behar, who founded the ION Network™ in 1999, is eager to have The Ion help educate and deliver the scope of the Network’s offerings and ionitiatives – for ION Houston, ION Texas and beyond. Behar’s “ioncubation™” and “ionvestment™” of media, technology, sports and nutrition companies over the years.
“The irony of a 21st and 22nd Century ION replacing the 20th Century institution of Sears, on one of the most iconic corners in one of America’s largest cities, is quite a collaborative effort by the smart, “think big” people of Texas”
A consortium of local universities and institutions of higher learning will provide academic programming within The Ion – including Rice, the University of Houston, the University of St. Thomas, UH-Downtown, Houston Baptist University, Houston Community College, Texas Southern University, San Jacinto College and the South Texas College of Law.
Technology incubator Station Houston will oversee public programming at The Ion, which will include entrepreneurial workshops, thought-leadership conferences, industry lectures, job training, educational classes and networking opportunities.
“Students and faculty members from institutions like Rice University and the University of Houston will coexist and collaborate with scientists from Houston’s other great institutions. Investors and corporations will meet face to face with startup entrepreneurs. Together, at The Ion, they will transform Houston into a thriving, connected, high-tech ecosystem,” said Gabriela Rowe, CEO of Station Houston.
The building’s renovation is expected to be completed in late 2020.