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Houston Methodist Launches Tech Hub at the Ion, City's New Innovation Corridor

Sep. 14, 2023 - Eden McCleskey

Houston Methodist has become the first health care institution to join the Ion, the cornerstone of the city's ambitious project to develop a Silicon Bayou.

The Houston Methodist Tech Hub, launched Aug. 28, brings a new focus on health care innovation to the Ion, which aims to make Houston more of a destination for start-up companies and investment in new technologies. The Ion opened in 2021.

"Our new Tech Hub at the Ion supports not only our commitment to Houston's innovation community but also to the rapidly shifting health care industry," Michelle Stansbury, vice president of Innovation and IT Applications at Houston Methodist, said in a press release. "We know we can't solve the health care challenges of the future if we confine ourselves within our hospital walls or even our own industry. We look forward to the collaborative space our new Tech Hub will provide and the future programming opportunities we can create together to inspire, challenge and foster a spirit of innovation in our city."

Houston Methodist's 1,200-square-foot facility will serve as a collaborative arena for inventors and a dynamic laboratory for digital health technology, featuring simulated inpatient hospital rooms, outpatient doctor's clinics and patients' home health environments.

The Tech Hub at Ion mirrors Houston Methodist's Center for Innovation Technology Hub — located at the hospital system's Texas Medical Center campus — which offers a comprehensive laboratory setting for clinical staff to assess innovations from remote monitoring to ambient intelligence to autonomous technology.

The Center for Innovation's new satellite facility is geared towards augmenting human performance and enhancing the patient experience as the hospital gears up for new construction projects, including a technologically advanced smart hospital, slated to open in 2025.

Jan E. Odegard, executive director of Ion, also lauded the collaboration, emphasizing how it expands avenues for startups and entrepreneurs to join the latest wave of health care innovation. Odegard said Houston Methodist's 100-plus year commitment to delivering the most advanced health care in the nation seamlessly aligns with Ion's mission to bolster Houston's burgeoning technology sector and revolutionize various industries critical to the city's economy.

Beyond showcasing ongoing technology trials, the Tech Hub at Ion also serves as a nucleus for community engagement and networking, hosting educational initiatives, including reverse pitch sessions, to foster collaborative problem-solving.

The Ion, anchored by a converted four-story Sears department store built in 1939 and closed in 2018, is also the name of the fledgling district, a 4-mile innovation corridor between downtown and the Texas Medical Center. The Ion District was established as a joint initiative between Rice University and the City of Houston.

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