3 Houston innovators to know this week

This week's roundup of Houston innovators includes Albert Huang of Allotrope Medical, Janice Tran of Kanin Energy, and Thomas Vassiliades of BiVACOR. Photos courtesy

Editor's note: In this week's roundup of Houston innovators to know, I'm introducing you to three local innovators across industries — from medical device to energy transition — recently making headlines in Houston innovation.

Albert Huang, founder of Allotrope Medical

Allotrope Medical was founded in 2016 by Dr. Albert Huang. Image via LinkedIn

Illinois-based Northgate Technologies Inc. announced the acquisition of Houston-founded Allotrope Medical earlier this month. Founded in 2016 by Dr. Albert Huang, the startup has designed an electrosurgical ureter identification system for optimizing surgery for both robotic and non-robotic laparoscopic surgical procedures. Huang, according to his LinkedIn, is now chief medical officer for NTI.

"To have taken this from idea to exit has been a true honor," Huang writes in a post on LinkedIn. "To all those that have generously given me their time, their input, their investment, and even more importantly, those that believed in me and this technology, thank you." Read more.

Janice Tran, CEO of Kanin Energy

Kanin Energy set up shop in Greentown Labs last year to grow its impact on the energy transition. Photo via LinkedIn

Last year, Janice Tran, CEO of Kanin Energy, a waste-heat-to-power concept that uses a technology called organic rankine cycle, moved from Calgary, Canada, to Houston to continue growing as a company.

“We’re hiring and building our team office out of Greentown. It’s been really great for us,” she says, adding that becoming part of the Houston energy ecosystem has been invaluable for Kanin.

The investments being made in climate tech and in energy transition make Space City the right place for the company. Read more.

Thomas Vassiliades, CEO of BiVACOR

Thomas Vassiliades, CEO of BiVACOR, joins the Houston Innovators Podcast. Photo courtesy of BiVACOR

Though most of the BiVACOR team works on the West Coast and even Australia, the medical device company has its headquarters in Houston because it's the "center of the universe when it comes to blood pumps," says Dr. Thomas Vassiliades, CEO of BiVACOR.

The company has designed a unique device that can both fully replace the human heart and last the rest of the patient's life, something neither artificial on transplanted hearts can do.

"The device is suspended by magnets — it's not touching anything," he says on this week's episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast. "So, theoretically, the device has no wear and can last as long as the patient can possibly live. That's new to the field." Read more.

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Building Houston

 
 

Houston didn't even crack the top 100 in the new list. Photo by Alisa Matthews on Unsplash

In a surprise turn of events, Houston has fallen from grace in U.S. News and World Report's "Best Places to Live" ranking for 2023-2024.

Last year, Houston ranked No. 59 on the annual report — not surprising, considering all the Newstonians. However, the Bayou City plummeted to a shocking No. 140.

But why? According to the report: "A paycheck goes further in Houston than it does in other major metro areas, with affordable housing and free or cheap attractions like biking along Buffalo Bayou and exploring the 7,800-acre George Bush Park. The affordability of this region, which is located in southeastern Texas and home to more than 7 million residents in the metro area, is attracting new people from across the country and around the world."

The report takes a look at several different metrics to determine their rankings, including quality of life, housing affordability, desirability, and job market strength.

Somehow, Houston scored a mere 5.6 out of 10 in the livability score. By the numbers (and out of a perfect 10), Houston scored a 6 for desirability, 6.3 for value, 5.5. for job market, a surprising 5 for quality of life, and 5.9 for net migration.

It gets worse: Houston ranks as only No. 10 on the report's Best Place to Live in Texas list for 2023.

Texas overall saw a major drop. Austin, previously the No. 1 place to live in America for three consecutive years from 2017 to 2019, lands at No. 40 overall this year. Austin managed to hang on to its title of the Best Place to Live in Texas for 2023, with San Antonio at No. 2, and Dallas-Fort Worth taking No. 3. Rounding out the top five is Killeen in No. 4, and El Paso at No. 5.

Here's how other Texas cities faired in 2023's Best Places to Live report:

  • No. 103 – San Antonio, down from No. 83 last year
  • No. 113 – Dallas-Fort Worth, down from No. 32 last year
  • No. 122 – Killeen, down from No. 108 last year
  • No. 128 – El Paso, down from No. 124 last year
  • No. 131 – Beaumont, down from No. 109 last year
  • No. 132 – Corpus Christi, up from No. 133 last year
  • No. 134 – Brownsville, unchanged from last year
  • No. 137 – McAllen, up from No. 138 last year
  • No. 140 – Houston, down from No. 59 last year

The full report can be found on U.S. News and World Report's website.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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