Who's who

3 Houston innovators to know this week

From leading OTC or the TMC to the future of recycling — here's who's having a busy week in innovation. Courtesy photos

May in Houston is starting off right with the Offshore Technology conference making its home in NRG Park all this week. There's thousands of business men and women in town for the events — if you're among them, check out these can't miss innovation-related events at OTC. OTC aside, big things are happening in the Texas Medical Center as well as in electronics manufacturing. Here's which Houston innovators to keep an eye on this week.

Wafik Beydoun, chairman of the board of OTC

Wafik Beydoun has served on the board of OTC for almost a decade. Courtesy of Beydoun

It's the 50th year for the Houston-based Offshore Technology Conference — which starts today — to take over the town, and it's Wafik Beydoun's last event as chairman of the board. He's been involved with the organization for almost a decade and he's seen the technology evolve in the industry and at OTC.

"The rising tide of the digital revolution is lifting us all — not only OTC or the industry — and it's lifting us at an exponential rate," Beydoun tells InnovationMap. "Digital is moving now exponentially, whether we want it to or not, we're benefitting from it." Read the full Q&A with Beydoun here.

Kelly Hess, CEO of CompuCycle

Kelly Hess leads CompuCycle, a Houston-based company focused on electronics recycling. Courtesy of CompuCycle

The game is forever changed for Kelly Hess. CompuCycle is her electronics recycling company she leads as CEO with her husband, Clive, who is executive vice president of the company. The company just got a major addition to its team: a electronics shredder that can process 40,000 pounds daily of parts from machines that can't be refurbished. The new shredder is the only of its kind in Houston and is perfectly timed for the company, following a 2018 Chinese law.

"China is no longer accepting scrap, which is where a lot of materials would go after it was dismantled," Kelly says. "That's why we've created this solution to be able to responsibly handle it here in the U.S." Read more about CompuCycle and where recycling is headed.

Bill McKeon, CEO of the Texas Medical Center

TMC has revealed renderings and new details about the new TMC3 campus. Photo via tmc.edu

Bill McKeon might be one of the busiest businessmen in town. He's leading the largest medical center in the world, while simultaneously building it even bigger. The Texas Medical Center — along with the other institutional partners — released new renderings and details about the TMC3 campus.

"Texas Medical Center is eager to move forward with a bold, imaginative and dynamic new design vision for the TMC3 Master Plan," says TMC CEO and president, Bill McKeon, in a press release. "With the combined talents of Elkus Manfredi Architects, Transwestern, and Vaughn Construction on-board, I couldn't be more confident that this dream team will flawlessly execute the totality of the project's vision and fulfill its mission to bring together leading researchers and top-tiered expertise from the private sector to create the number one biotechnology and bioscience innovation center in the entire world." Click here to check out the renderings and read the full story.Click here to check out the renderings and read the full story.

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Building Houston

 
 

Koda Health, Houston, uses AI to help guide difficult conversations in health care, starting with end-of-life care planning. Image via kodahealthcare.com

A new Houston-based digital advanced care planning company is streamlining some of the most difficult conversations in the health care industry around palliative care.

Founded by Tatiana Fafanova, Dr. Desh Mohan, and Katelin Cherry, Koda Health uses AI to help patients create advance medical care directives and documents—such as a living will—through an easy to use web-based interface.

Koda Health uses a conversational platform where users can enter information about their values, living situations, quality of life wishes, and more while learning about different care options at their own speed. It also uses a proprietary machine learning approach that personalizes audio-video guided dialogue based on the patient's individual and cultural preferences.

The app then autogenerates legal and medical documents, which patients can notarize or electronically witness the forms through the app or on their own.

According to Fafanova, who earned her PhD in in Molecular Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and now acts as the company's CEO, what historically has been a time consuming and expensive process, through Koda Health, takes an average of 17 minutes and is completely free of charge to the end user.

"We hope to reduce any outstanding barriers to access that might exist," Fafanova says. "It is very frequently the oldest and the poorest that are the highest utilizers of health care that don't have access to these solutions."

The app is also projected to save health care systems roughly $9,500 per patient per year, as it allows for hospitals and organizations to better plan for what their patient population is seeking in end-of-life-care.

The B2B platform was born out of the TMC's Biodesign Fellowship, which tasked Koda's founding members with finding solutions to issues surrounding geriatric care in the medical center. In March 2020, Koda incorporated. Not long after ICU beds began to fill with COVID-19 patients, "galvanizing" the team's mission, Fafanova says.

"It was no longer this conceptual thing that we needed to address and write a report on. Now it was that people were winding up in the hospital at alarming rates and none of those individuals had advanced care planning in place," she says.

After accelerating the development of the product, Koda Health is now being used by health care systems in Houston, Texas, and Virginia.

The company recently received a Phase I grant of $256,000 from the National Science Foundation, which will allow Koda to deploy the platform at Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist and test it against phone conversations with 900 patients. Fafanova says the company will also use the funds to continue to develop personalization algorithms to improve Kona's interface for users.

"We want to make this a platform that mimics a high quality conversation," she says.

After Koda completes the Phase I pilot program it will then be eligible to apply for a Phase II award of up to $1 million in about a year.

Koda Health was founded by Tatiana Fafanova, Dr. Desh Mohan, and Katelin Cherry. Photos via kodahealthcare.com

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