Microsoft invests $1 million in Houston’s Ion tech incubator, partners with HISD schools

The Ion is expected to anchor a 16-acre innovation district in Houston's midtown area near Third Ward. (Courtesy Rice Management Co.)
The Ion is expected to anchor a 16-acre innovation district in Houston's midtown area near Third Ward. (Courtesy Rice Management Co.)

The Ion is expected to anchor a 16-acre innovation district in Houston's midtown area near Third Ward. (Courtesy Rice Management Co.)

The Ion, a tech incubator under construction in Midtown's old Sears Building, has received a $1 million boost from Microsoft, Houston officials announced Aug. 24.

The investment comes with a commitment to provide training opportunities for Houston’s workforce to learn the skills necessary to pursue STEM careers through partnerships with University of Houston and Rice University, Microsoft Chief Digital Officer Jacky Wright said.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect the economic outlook of the city, Mayor Sylvester Turner said he views the investment as an opportunity for residents who are out of work to learn new skills to pursue different career paths and underserved residents to gain the digital literacy necessary to join the tech workforce.

“This is about equity,” Turner said. “You can have all the opportunities in the world, but if people don’t have the skill sets, the divide still exists.”

The tech giant is also entering a partnership with Houston ISD to provide funding and curriculum for STEM programs at Jack Yates High School in Third Ward and Edison Middle School in the East End. Partnerships with additional schools will be pursued in the future, HISD interim Superintendent Grenita Latham said.

The Ion broke ground in July 2019 with an expected completion in late 2020.
By Emma Whalen
Emma is Community Impact Newspaper's Houston City Hall reporter. Previously, she covered public health, education and features for several Austin-area publications. A Boston native, she is a former student athlete and alumna of The University of Texas at Austin.


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