5 most popular innovation stories in Houston this week
Editor's note: It's been an exciting week as most of Houston is back on a regular schedule and businesses are all up and running. Some key stories from this week were Houston's STEM ecosystem needs some TLC, a Canadian company invests in Houston, mom-connecting app prepares to go live, and more.
3 Houston innovators to know this week
This week's innovators to know are involved in tech — from app development to revolutionizing the energy industry. Courtesy photos
From restaurant review apps to a device that monitors oil rigs, this week's innovators to know are tech savvy to say the least. All three took a chance on Houston for their startups, and that chance is paying off. Read the full story here.
Houston company uses blockchain to follow the money
Houston-based Topl can track almost anything using its blockchain technology. Getty Images
When you pick out an engagement ring at the jewelry store, you don't usually know where that jewel came from. You don't know how much the miner was paid for finding it, or where it was polished up. However, a Houston company has the blockchain technology that can track every step of the way for that diamond — and for anything else really.
"Everything is already being reported — the location of where it was found, its distributor — but all that information is getting lost," says Kim Raath, CFO of Topl.
Topl, a Houston-based startup that was created by a few Rice University graduate and doctorate students, uses blockchain to connect the dots. It can track anything from jewels to cacao as it goes from the farm to being turned into chocolate bars. Read the full story here.
Canadian startup fresh off $7 million seed funding raise picks Houston for U.S. expansion
Validere, a Canada-based energy logistics company, is expanding in Houston. Courtesy of Validere
Houston's established reputation as the energy capital of the world combined with burgeoning tech scene has made the city attractive for a growing oil and gas company with roots in Canada.
Validere is an oil and gas company focused on using real-time data and both artificial and human intelligence insights to improve its clients' quality, trading, and logistics. The company's technology enhances the ability of oil and gas traders to make informed decisions, which currently are made based off unreliable product quality data. Annually, $2 trillion of product moves around the oil and gas industry, and Validere uses the Internet of Things to improve the current standard of decision making.
"It's like if you'd go to the grocery store to buy milk not knowing if it's 1 percent, 2 percent, or cream," co-founder Nouman Ahmad says about how companies are currently making oil and gas trading decisions. Read the full story here.
App aims to connect Houston mothers using AI technology
Houston-based Social Mama uses its platform to connect mothers based on location, interests, and the things their children have in common. Courtesy of Social Mama
Sometimes, to be a mom, is to feel utterly alone. Not every mom is the same, and it's tough for women to find the right support systems — people who are going through or have gone through the same struggles.
A new Houston-based app, Social Mama, is providing a solution. The technology uses artificial intelligence and data collection to learn about its users and match them to other users based on their location and specifications. It's like online dating, but for mothers, co-founder Amanda Ducach says.
"The social impact of the product is so important," Ducach says. "I can't explain to you the isolation and the problem that exists in motherhood. I was completely unaware of it before I started the company." Read the full story here.
Report finds Houston has room to grow as an attractive city for STEM professionals
Houston isn't very attractive of an ecosystem for STEM professionals, according to a new report. Getty Images
Houston has been heralded as a great place to find a job in many instances, so it may come as some surprise that when it comes to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, the Bayou City isn't primed for professionals.
The city ranked No. 33 out of the 100 largest metros in the United States in a study conducted by WalletHub. The 17 metrics corresponded to professional opportunities, STEM friendliness, or quality of life. Within those categories, Houston ranked No. 47, No. 20, and No. 54, respectively.
Some of the areas where the Houston area stood out is wage, engineering educational opportunities, and projected demand for STEM jobs in 2020. Houston had the highest annual median wage for STEM workers, which was adjusted for cost of living. Read the full story here.