Rice Alliance Taps Northwestern’s Hochberg to Boost Entrepreneurship

4/15/14Follow @angelashah

Rice University has brought some of Northwestern University’s entrepreneurial prowess to Houston. While a team from the Chicago-area institution did not win this year’s Rice Business Plan competition—healthtech startup Innoblative came in 4th—Northwestern teams won the previous two years, and consistently place in the finals.

In July, Yael Hochberg, a Northwestern professor of finance who focuses on entrepreneurship and the financing of startups, will take a new position at Rice, both teaching in the Jones School of Business and as the new academic director of the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship, a group formed to bring together Rice’s business, engineering, and natural sciences schools to boost entrepreneurship.

“Rice is a fabulous platform; what Rice Alliance is doing to foster entrepreneurship is extremely attractive,” she says. “There’s probably not as much interaction between the Jones school and the rest of the university as there could be in areas related to entrepreneurship, such as engineering, computer science, natural sciences.”

She says she hopes to be the point person bringingeach of these factions together and encouraging a more cross-disciplinary approach to entrepreneurship at Rice. Texas’s booming economy provides fertile ground for an entrepreneurship educator, she added.

“In looking at what’s happening in Houston—the economic strength of the city—there is a massive amount of potential in the region,” she says. “There are so many things going on, not just in Houston. There’s a lot that’s attractive about Texas as a growing state.”

Hochberg, who was in Houston this past weekend attending the business plan competition, is now back in Chicago, tying up loose ends and preparing for her move south this summer. She starts at Rice July 1.

Here is an edited version of our conversation:

Xconomy: What will you be doing at Rice?

Yael Hochberg: Rice hired me to come in to the Jones School and run the entrepreneurship program, as part of a newly endowed entrepreneurship chair. I get the lofty title of academic director of Rice Alliance, and I’ll work with Brad [Burke, the alliance’s director] to take a leadership role in building the next iteration of the entrepreneurship program at Rice. I’ll work together with the provost’s office, the engineering department, the business world, and the Rice Alliance to take Rice forward another step to keep up with how entrepreneurship is evolving, to bring more entrepreneurial activity into the university.

I’ll be teaching undergrads to start out. One of the things students don’t have access to is a basic set of classes that can teach them how to turn an idea into their own Google or Rackspace or … Next Page »

Angela Shah is the editor of Xconomy Texas. She can be reached at ashah@xconomy.com or (214) 793-5763. Follow @angelashah

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