Skip to main content

Greentown Labs Selects Midtown Site for Houston Incubator

Published Sep 22, 2020 by A.J. Mistretta

Greentown Labs Announcement, Houston TX

Photo from Greentown's June announcement. From left: Gwenaelle Avice-Huet, Bob Harvey, Emily Reichert, Mayor Sylvester Turner and Barbara Berger

Greentown Labs, the cleantech startup incubator that earlier this summer announced plans to open a Houston facility in 2021, has chosen a spot on the south side of Midtown near the much-anticipated Ion innovation hub to build its incubator. 

Greentown Houston is expected to open in spring 2021 with more than 40,000 square feet of prototyping lab, office, and community space for about 50 startup companies, totaling 200 to 300 employees. The facility will be within the footprint of Rice Management Company’s 16-acre Innovation District, anchored by the 300,000-square-foot Ion. 

Greentown Labs announced its first-ever national expansion to Houston in June 2020, with the goal of accelerating the energy transition through entrepreneurship, innovation, and collaboration. Greentown is the largest climatech and cleantech incubator in North America, headquartered just outside of Boston and providing space for about 100 member companies.

"In order to meet the urgent challenge of climate change, we must engage the talent and assets of major ecosystems around the country,” said Greentown Labs CEO Emily Reichert. “We look forward to catalyzing the Houston ecosystem's support for climatetech startups as we work together toward a sustainable future for all.”

Greentown Houston joins a growing number of startup support organizations and startup companies already located or locating in the Midtown Innovation District, as well as Houston-based accelerator programs. Greentown will be located on the site of a former Fiesta grocery store. 

"What we love about Greentown Labs as much as its commitment to helping Houston become a leader in energy transition and climate change action is its proven track record of job creation through the support of local visionaries and entrepreneurs," said Ryan LeVasseur, Managing Director of Direct Real Estate at RMC, the developer of The Ion and the Innovation District. "Greentown Houston, like The Ion, is a great catalyst for growing the Innovation District and expanding economic opportunities for all Houstonians. We're thrilled Greentown Labs selected Houston for its first expansion and are honored it will be such a big part of the Innovation District moving forward."

The location in the Innovation District also positions Greentown Houston close to local universities with strong energy- and cleantech-focused programs, including Rice University, the University of Houston, Houston Community College, and other leading educational institutions. The site is less than two miles away from downtown Houston, and will provide entrepreneurs with access to investors and corporate and civic leaders. Finally, it’s located steps away from a Houston METRORail stop and accessible by a new, on-street protected bikeway.

"We are so pleased that Greentown Houston will locate in the heart of the Innovation District, where they will seamlessly integrate into the region's robust energy innovation ecosystem of major corporate energy R&D centers, corporate venture arms, VC-backed energy startups, and other startup development organizations supporting energy technology," said Susan Davenport, Chief Economic Development Officer at the Greater Houston Partnership. "Houston truly is the hub of the global energy industry, and Greentown Houston will ensure we continue to attract the next generation of energy leaders who will create and scale innovations that will change the world."

Learn more about Greentown LabsHouston innovation and the energy industry

Related News

Aerospace & Aviation

NASA Administrator Underscores Houston’s Crucial Role in the Future of Aerospace

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine discussed how the agency has persevered through the pandemic and what is on the horizon for the aerospace industry, including Houston’s role, at the Partnership’s inaugural State of Space event. Home to one of NASA’s largest R&D facilities, Houston has been an epicenter for human space exploration. Since the historic Apollo missions, Houston has grown, innovated and pioneered many advancements and technologies that have changed the world. "Despite an economically challenging year, Houston's aerospace industry continues to flourish," said Partnership President and CEO Bob Harvey. "With some projecting the commercial space industry to become a trillion-dollar business over the next 20 years, Space City will continue to lead in aerospace innovation." Johnson Space Center Director Mark Geyer kicked off the program noting the significant of last month’s 20-year anniversary of continuous human habitation in space. He went on to underscore Houston’s role to the U.S. space program and recent initiatives.  The Johnson Space Center is working on the Artemis program’s Orion crew capsule, which will take humans to the lunar surface for the first time since the Apollo program in 1972, including the first woman. It is also working on the Gateway, a small space station orbiting the moon that will allow for the redeployment of human landers.  “All of these things position Houston to be a leader and a focal point for this new commercial space ecosystem, which is national and global in nature,” said Geyer.  A point later underscored by Bridenstine during his keynote address.  "We are very fortunate to have a center like Johnson in a city like Houston — a city that produces talent, that has an amazing workforce, a dedication to education and to the STEM fields,” said Bridenstine.  He went on to discuss the commercialization of space and the exciting projects underway, including returning man to the Moon and later Mars, through bipartisan efforts.  During his 30-month tenure as NASA Administrator, Bridenstine has led America’s most serious push to put astronauts on the moon since the Apollo era. His vision for NASA has been to end the partisan divides of the past and bring together interdisciplinary teams to create sustainable programs for decades, and generations, to come. The scientific discoveries undertaken through space exploration have tremendous impact to our life here on earth.  When asked about Houston’s potential for attracting future commercial space business, Bridenstine emphasized the importance that Mission Control has had, and will continue to have, in the next era of space exploration.  "The Johnson Space Center is quite well positioned for attracting a lot of commercial industry and international partners," said Bridenstine.  The missions of tomorrow – to the moon, to Mars and beyond – are being planned today by scientists and engineers who call Houston home.   To learn more about Houston's aerospace and aviation industry, click here.   
Read More

A Look at Houston Energy Talent and Key Energy 2.0 Wins in 2020

In spite of the dual challenges Houston faced with an oil downturn and global pandemic, the region marked several achievements in the Energy 2.0 space in 2020.  We asked Jose Beceiro, Senior Director of Global Energy 2.0 at the Greater Houston Partnership, to reflect on the past year and offer insight on what lies ahead for Houston.  What trends have we seen in the energy workforce this year? How has that changed Houston’s energy landscape? One of the biggest challenges - and opportunities -  for Houston’s energy transition strategy is the ability to successfully transition Houston’s energy workforce into new Energy 2.0 jobs. Houston has one of the largest and deeply skilled energy workforces in the world with 250,000 energy workers, which is a major draw for new Energy 2.0 companies to relocate and expand in the region.   Recent Energy 2.0 corporate announcements, including Greentown Labs, cite Houston’s talented energy workforce as the primary decision factor for selecting Houston for their expansion projects. Unfortunately, with the downturn in oil and gas markets, several major energy companies in Houston have announced large layoffs. However, we’ve also learned that several Houston-based cleantech companies such as Sunnova, Broad Reach Power, Key Capture Energy and EDF Energy North America are actively hiring displaced oil and gas workers for engineering, project management, construction, finance/accounting, and other technical and management positions within the cleantech sector.   Finally, we are also seeing a trend of major digital technology companies likes Google, Amazon, and Microsoft hiring oil and gas workers in the Houston region to support the ongoing development of new digital technologies for the energy sector, which is helping to accelerate the transition of the global energy economy. At least 21 of Houston’s 40 corporate R&D centers are focused on energy technology. How do Houston’s R&D capabilities factor into the growth of energy tech in the region?  Houston is a world leader in energy innovation and research and the critical mass of global energy R&D centers has spurred the growth of over 50 startup development organizations (SDOs) dedicated to supporting new energy technology startups in the Houston region. They include Greentown Labs, Plug & Play, MassChallenge, Capital Factory, The Cannon and The Ion.   Many of the major energy companies who have R&D centers in the region also have corporate venture arms that are actively investing into new energy innovation startups and also working with entrepreneurs to commercialize new energy technologies. That includes Halliburton, which launched a dedicated cleantech incubator called Halliburton Labs, as well as BP America, which announced their support of the Houston Climate Action Plan and committed to investing $5 billion annually into cleantech. You also have Chevron's expansion into the Ion's Smart and Resilient Cities Accelerator. and Rice University's Clean Energy Accelerator program, which will launch in 2021 and be back by several major energy companies.  Another important factor that will spur the growth of new energy tech companies in the Houston region is our concentration of major energy investments firms, such as EnCap Investments and Mercury Fund.  Houston saw incredible momentum in the Energy 2.0 space this year in spite of the dual challenge brought on by the global pandemic and oil and gas downturn. What are some ways Houston can keep that momentum going in 2021?  Houston is not only the Energy Capital of the World, but it's also leading the world in energy transition. We’ve already seen several major Energy 2.0 announcements this year, but the momentum for Houston’s Energy 2.0 economy and energy transition leadership will continue to accelerate in 2021. The primary reason is due to the fact that the future of the global energy industry is being driven by the development and adoption of new digital technologies.   Houston has a strong base of nearly 9,000 digital technology companies and 235,000 tech workers who are working collaboratively with Houston’s energy industry on new digital innovations, such as data analytics, remote sensing, cloud computing, machine learning, artificial intelligence and robotics technologies. The convergence of digital tech and energy is very strong in Houston and this nexus will continue to enhance oil and gas companies’ abilities to increase production and lower carbon emissions. The development of energy digital tech in Houston will also be important for other fast growing segments of Houston’s energy economy, such as solar, wind, battery energy storage, electric vehicle infrastructure, blue and green hydrogen technologies, as well as carbon management solutions.   Learn how Houston is leading the global energy transition. Learn more about the work of our Energy 2.0 Committee and other Regional Economic Development Advisory committees. 
Read More

Related Events

Digital Technology


Partnership Week continues with panel discussions featuring business leaders around topics critical to Houston's growth.  Senior Partnership staff, board and industry leaders will engage in conversations…

Learn More
Learn More
Executive Partners