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10 PCB007 MAGAZINE I MAY 2023 Feature Interview by Barry Matties I-CONNECT007 During the recent SMTA Houston Expo & Tech Forum, I had the good fortune to meet and interview Joey Sanchez, senior director of ecosystems at e Ion, a 300,000-square-foot space in the renovated historical Sears building in the city's Midtown section. Opened in 2021, e Ion is part of the 16-acre (12 city blocks) Ion Innovation District, which is currently under development. e facility is owned and managed by Rice University. e Ion serves as a gathering place for entre- preneurs, students, corporations, and academ- ics to connect, share ideas, learn, and collabo- rate on innovation. ere are many resources onsite for innovation, including prototyp- ing labs with 3D printing, CNC mills, training courses, mentors, and meeting rooms that are open to the public. More than 250 companies occupy the floors above, including Microso on the top floor. Hundreds of events are hosted each year at e Ion, including Cup of Joey, which was started by Joey Sanchez as a walk-in event every Friday morning. It's where people can meet, enjoy a cup of coffee, and make a con- nection with a wide array of people. I went to Eye on the Ion

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