Rice University Accelerators - Level up your venture
Two Programs. One Epic Summer: Apply by March 6th for OwlSpark Class 11 and BlueLaunch Class 2
These 12-week accelerators blend supportive founders, industry leaders, investors and mentors, an unrivaled entrepreneurial curriculum, and an invitation to Houston’s thriving entrepreneurship ecosystem. At the intersection of determination, grit, versatility and passion, we have mobilized a family of thinkers and doers—and leveraged a network to support entrepreneurs to do cool things that make a difference.
Built on years of refinement, but uniquely crafted each summer, these 12-week accelerators meet founders exactly where they are on their journey with the tools they need for their unique milestones—activating the game-changing potential of Rice founders. OwlSpark is the Rice University high-growth startup accelerator that has been helping Rice founders launch their tech companies since 2013. BlueLaunch is the newest accelerator supporting Rice-affiliated small businesses, regardless of industry.
JOIN A SUCCESSFUL LEGACY: 192 FOUNDERS - 10+ YEARS - $100M+ RAISED
Expanding your network: open to Rice University students, faculty, staff and recent alumni
While we believe our world-class curriculum and programming is a key driver in accelerating your growth, a fundamental aspect of our approach is the founder-to-founder learning. One of our past founders said it best, "Being part of a cohort of fellow startup founders who are facing, or have faced, similar problems as yours, and being able to leverage their experiences is a fantastic way to learn."
You’ll have the unique opportunity to expand your community of support, working alongside other students, recent alums, staff and faculty. The blending of these communities is intentional: it’s designed for you to immerse yourself in the challenges, triumphs, and inevitable startup struggles—learning from entrepreneurs and innovators at all levels in their career journeys. To prepare you for your opportunities now—and the ones in the future.
Plus, you'll get outside the hedges—working alongside students at the University of Houston. Our accelerators are jointly run, and culminate in the Bayou Startup Showcase: the community-wide demo day bringing 500+ people to discover your venture!
Proven, World-Class Curriculum
We will always take a cohort-based approach to our accelerators by leveraging the Rice Alliance's extensive network of industry experts, investors and leaders, each summer is customized for the cohort's needs. This means we are flexible to bring in speakers and content that matches the businesses and stages of the entrepreneurs in our programs. This is possible with a strong foundation: we have a proven, integrated, comprehensive framework for developing a product and launching a new venture.
Throughout the accelerators, our founders gain insight into the key steps needed to build a successful venture. Founders experience a series of presentations, workshops, and customer development interviews designed to help define value propositions, product/market fits, and overall business models. Sessions are led by university faculty members, experienced entrepreneurs, subject matter experts, industry professionals, and academic leaders, and include key deliverables.
A favorite aspect is the Startup Founders Series where entrepreneurs share their stories of success and failure.
- 100+ mentors and speakers—including active entrepreneurs, investors, leaders and industry experts
- Advice and guidance from Rice Alliance's engaged network of investors
- Monthly stipends for each founder (i.e. cash, no equity taken!)
- A supportive community that will challenge and cheer you on as you build your company!
- Open to all Rice University students, staff, faculty and recent alums
- Access to leverage the Rice Alliance network, launching you into our 700+ attendee forums, I-Corps grants, other accelerators and more.
What to expect: from Owls who have been there!
It was exactly the support system we needed during that early phase. Being part of a cohort of fellow startup founders who are facing, or have faced, similar problems as yours, and being able to leverage their experiences is a fantastic way to learn. The mentors and resources we got access to have been instrumental in our journey so far....We learned so much during those 3 months, but our biggest takeaway was something that all startups need to understand as early as possible: It's all about the customer! WellWorth aside, OwlSpark means a lot to me personally. It was a big part of my Rice MBA experience.
OwlSpark is just unparalleled to anything else I've been in....I was able to actually secure my first LOI based on introductions that I originally met in OwlSpark.
With summer break coming up, I want to recommend anybody interested in building a venture to apply to the OwlSpark accelerator. I went through it last year and had a phenomenal experience! It was during the accelerator that my startup, Sapling Jobs, bagged its first paying customer! Thank you Jessica Fleenor, Cheyenna Mitchell & Simone Fernau for the constant & continued support!
I would highly recommend that you spend time thinking about what your specific goals are...Because the leadership team will make every effort to cater the material and the resources that they're providing to help support you and in reaching that goal.
My very first internship in college at Rice was at our university accelerator...which is Owl Spark. We'd bring in angel investors, we'd bring in serial entrepreneurs, we'd bring in tech leaders, and they would talk to our cohort about go-to-market strategies, of building out a pitch deck, and how to AB test with your customers—and what these things were."
Some of you who have known me for a while might remember that my own entrepreneurial journey started at Rice University when my previous startup went through the OwlSpark accelerator as part of Class 4.
To any Rice students or alums in my network looking to start their own journey into entrepreneurship, I really recommend taking a look.
RICE UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT ON OWLSPARK AND BLUELAUNCH
"When I first arrived at Rice University in 2017 as Dean of Engineering, I was excited to see the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of our students and community. Now, five years later as President, I am more energized than ever before in the potential of our Rice community, which has been ignited by the OwlSpark and BlueLaunch accelerators, hosted by the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship. This year marks the 10th year the OwlSpark Accelerator has been providing an experiential learning opportunity for Rice University students, faculty, staff and alumni who are building and growing remarkable companies....To all of the entrepreneurs who have been working hard this summer to grow your ventures: cheers to you! I’m inspired by your determination, resilience and ideas that will change the world and we’re excited to see where you go next!"
Supporting the game-changing potential of Rice founders:
Supports high growth tech startup teams through an immersive program designed to validate and refine business models in preparation for launch.
A NEW 12-week accelerator focused on small businesses entrepreneurs, will help participants crystallize their businesses in the following areas: accounting, finance, legal, marketing and sales.
Learn about all 24 companies from the summer 2022 programs, watch their pitches or reach out to them! The 9th Annual Bayou Startup Showcase brought together hundreds of entrepreneurs, mentors and supporters to celebrate this year's founders at Saint Arnold Brewery.