School Updates

Rice’s graduate entrepreneurship program again ranked No. 1 in US

by Jeff Falk

Rice University and its Jones Graduate School of Business have the No. 1 graduate entrepreneurship program in the U.S., according to the 2021 rankings announced today by the Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine. This marks the second consecutive year the Rice program has topped this category, its fifth time in a top 3 position nationally and the 12th year in a row ranked in the top 10.

The Princeton Review tallied its 2021 rankings based on a survey of leaders at more than 300 schools offering entrepreneurship studies. The 60-question survey covered the schools’ commitment to entrepreneurship studies inside and outside the classroom. Topics included the percentage of students taking entrepreneurship courses, the number and reach of mentorship programs, the number of startups founded by recent alumni and the cash prizes offered at school-sponsored business plan competitions.

In all, more than 40 data points were analyzed to develop the rankings, which will be published in the December issue of Entrepreneur.

Rice’s current offerings are university-wide and encompass renowned student- and community-facing efforts, from the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship, which launched in 2000, to OwlSpark Accelerator in 2012 and the Liu Idea Lab for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (Lilie) in 2015.

“Entrepreneurship and the creation of new businesses and industries are critical to Houston and Texas’ future prosperity and quality of life,” Rice Business Dean Peter Rodriguez said. “Earning the top spot again this year and our decades-long leadership in entrepreneurship education, anchored by Lilie Lab, and outreach, anchored by the Rice Alliance, is a testament to our visionary and world-class faculty, the enormous success of the Rice Business Plan Competition and of our commitment to our students and the community we serve.”

Skills to succeed in a new world

Lilie equips students, faculty and alumni with entrepreneurial skills and the entrepreneurial mindset through experiential courses, co-curricular opportunities and resources for founders such as coworking space, mentorship and equity-free funding.  Lilie’s mission is to bring Rice innovations and startups to the world.

Lilie is a cross-disciplinary initiative, expanding the entrepreneurial resources at the business school and beyond to the entire Rice campus. Lilie has built its programming off the groundwork laid by Rice Business, which established one of the first graduate programs to offer entrepreneurial studies. Founded in 1978 under the direction of the late economist Edward E. Williams and expanded with the help of entrepreneurship professor Al Napier, Lilie’s faculty – 89% of whom are entrepreneurs – deliver 30-plus entrepreneurship courses and an entrepreneurship minor.

Lilie’s year culminates with the university’s new venture competition, the H. Albert Napier Rice Launch Challenge, in which Rice-founded teams compete for $65,000 in equity-free prizes.

Lilie is led by Yael Hochberg, the Ralph S. O’Connor Professor in Entrepreneurship and Professor of Finance at Rice Business. Hochberg is among the leading experts on accelerator programs and entrepreneurial ecosystems and serves as managing director of the annual Seed Accelerator Rankings Project.

Powering Houston’s success

The Rice Alliance, led by managing director Brad Burke, brings startups and investors from around the world to Houston and Rice. The Rice Alliance’s activities serve the Houston entrepreneurial and investment community with nationally recognized events brought to the city. More than 2,500 startups that have been showcased at the alliance’s events have gone on to raise more than $8 billion in funding.

Over 52,000 investors and corporate and industry leaders have participated in Rice Alliance in Technology Venture Forums in energy and clean tech, digital technology and life sciences and other programs. In September, with support of the major energy corporations, the Rice Alliance announced the launch of the new Rice Clean Energy Accelerator to support the energy transition to more sustainable energy sources.

The alliance’s flagship event is the annual Rice Business Plan Competition, which is the world’s richest and largest student startup competition. Startups from across the globe – including one team from Rice – compete in front of over 300 investor and industry judges. The competition awarded more than $1.3 million in prizes in 2020.

“Entrepreneurship and the creation of new businesses and industries are critical to Houston and Texas’ future prosperity and quality of life, Rodriguez said.

Rice is currently working with Houston and major corporations and organizations, such as the Texas Medical Center and NASA, to define and develop the future of technology and industry innovation in the city, and is developing the Midtown innovation district anchored by The Ion, which is scheduled to open in spring 2021.

To view the complete rankings, visit https://www.princetonreview.com/business-school-rankings?rankings=top-25-entrepreneurship-grad.

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