3 Houston innovators to know this week
Editor's note: In this week's roundup of Houston innovators to know, I'm introducing you to three local innovators across industries — from education to space tech — recently making headlines in Houston innovation.
Allie Danziger joins the Houston Innovators Podcast to discuss her edtech startup Ampersand's exit. Photo courtesy of Ampersand
For the second time in less than six years, Houston entrepreneur Allie Danziger has navigated a company through an exit. But, with the two exists under her belt, Danziger says the two transactions could not be any more different.
Danziger founded Integrate Agency, a digital-focused public relations firm, in 2009 and sold it to another marketing and PR firm based in Austin in 2018. She founded her next company, Ampersand Professionals, in 2020 to address the challenges for upskilling young professionals to prepare them for success in the workplace — something employers really wanted, but struggled to do consistently.
Last month, Ampersand was acquired by Ascent Funding, a college loan provider that's building out a platform to support its college-aged borrowers. In this week's episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast, Danziger shares how this opportunity came about and looks back on these two pivotal deals. Read more.
Adrian Trömel, assistant vice president for strategy and investments at Rice University's Office of Innovation
In his new role, Adrian Trömel will oversee the creation of the Rice Nexus, an innovation hub within the Ion that aims to bridge the gap between the university and Houston's innovation ecosystem. Photo courtesy of Rice
Rice University’s Office of Innovation has named Houston materials scientist-turned-entrepreneur Adrian Trömel as its new assistant vice president for strategy and investments.
Trömel founded non-invasive neurostimulation medical device company CNX Medical at the Texas Medical Innovation Institute in 2019 and most recently served as chief growth officer for Hamilton Health Box, which brings an on-site care team to company offices.
In his new role, Trömel will oversee the creation of the Rice Nexus, an innovation hub within the Ion that aims to bridge the gap between the university and Houston's innovation ecosystem. He will also lead the creation of a translational research grant fund and a university-affiliated venture fund for Rice-affiliated entrepreneurs. Read more.
Axiom Space CEO Michael Suffredini has announced the company's series C round with support from Aljazira Capital. Photo courtesy of Axiom Space
Houston has another unicorn — a company valued at $1 billion or more — thanks to a recent round of funding.
Axiom Space released the news this week that it's closed its series C round of funding to the tune of $350 million. While the company didn't release its valuation, it confirmed to Bloomberg that it's over the $1 billion threshold. Axiom reports that, according to available data, it's now raised the second-most funding of any private space company in 2023 behind SpaceX.
Saudi Arabia-based Aljazira Capital and South Korea-based Boryung Co. led the round. To date, Axiom has raised over $505 million with $2.2 billion in customer contracts, according to the company.
“We are honored to team with investors like Aljazira Capital, Boryung and others, who are committed to realizing the Axiom Space vision,” Axiom Space CEO and president Michael Suffredini says in a news release. “Together, we are working to serve innovators in medicine, materials science, and on-orbit infrastructure who represent billions of dollars in demand over the coming decade.Read more.
- Houston space tech company secures fourth NASA mission ›
- Houston space tech startup raises $350M series C, clinches unicorn status ›
- University names Houston founder to leadership role to oversee new innovation hub ›
- Houston workforce training startup acquired by California company ›
- How this Houston edtech startup's acquisition is primed to further advance platform reach, impact ›