winner, winner

Houston showcases 12 energy transition startups at annual CERAWeek conference

Twelve startups pitched at this annual Houston energy conference — and one went home with a golden ticket into Chevron Technology Ventures' catalyst program. Photo by Natalie Harms/InnovationMap

CERAWeek by S&P Global wrapped up last week after five days of energy transition panels, leadership talks, emerging tech showcases, endless networking and so much more.

While dozens of Houston energy innovators and investors bopped around the Agora innovation section of the conference in George R. Brown Convention Center, the highest concentration of startups had to be at the Energy Transition Ventures Day pitch competition hosted by the Greater Houston Partnership's Houston Energy Transition Initiative and in collaboration with Halliburton Labs, Greentown Houston, The Ion, and more.

Twelve startups across four categories — carbon capture, use and storage, hydrogen solutions, energy storage, and circular economy — pitched to a panel of investors who then selected one winner per category. Additionally, Chevron Technology Ventures selected one lucky startup from the pitches to be a part of its catalyst program.

Of the 12 companies, most call Houston their headquarters — and the ones that aren't based in town have some connection to the city via accelerator, incubator, or venture program.

"This is Houston," says Jane Stricker, executive director of thee Houston Energy Transition Initiative and senior vice president of energy transition at the GHP, at the end of the pitches. "This is the reality of what's happening in this city right now — traditional oil and gas and traditional energy incumbent coming together with exciting new technology innovations to develop solutions for the future."

While its the first event the GHP has put on at CERAWeek highlighting energy transition startups, it won't be the last, Stricker notes.

"The energy industry is not some near-term problem to address on our path towards an energy transition future — whatever that looks like," Scott Gale, executive director of Halliburton Labs and host for the event, says. "We're here to drive that forward. To think otherwise is to assume that JFK said that we're going to the moon, but we're going to leave the aerospace industry behind — it's silly and it's not going to happen. We're so thrilled to have these companies here presenting."

The Energy Transition Ventures Day programming, which took place on Wednesday, March 9, concluded with a dinner celebration where the five winning startups were announced. Here are the 12 startups who pitched, with a note on those that were recognized by the judges:

  • Carbon capture, use and storage category:
    • OCO Chem — Washington-based startup with a technology that converts CO2 into useful products and stores renewable energy. (category winner)
    • Dsider — Houston-based tech platform that uses data to track carbon emissions.
    • Ionada — Houston-based company that develops, manufactures, and markets exhaust gas cleaning systems that reduce emissions from the marine and power generation industries.
  • Hydrogen solutions category:
    • Mote — Los Angeles-based business that converts wood waste into hydrogen and carbon.
    • Fysikes Bio — Houston-based startup with ongoing pilots on the Gulf Coast that creates BioHydrogen and Biochar from natural resources. (category winner)
  • Circular economy category:
    • Applied Bioplastics — Austin-headquartered plant-based plastics alternative. (category winner)
    • Katz Water Technologies — Houston-based innovative water purification company.
    • Pressure Corp. — Houston-based business providing industrial facilities/operators the ability to monetize their waste.
  • Energy storage category:
    • Parasanti — Austin-based edge computing hardware and software startup that's streamlining in-field data and analytics. (Chevron's catalyst program winner)
    • Revterra — Houston-based innovative flywheel energy storage system solution. (category winner)
    • Veloce Energy — Los Angeles-based innovative electric vehicle charging solution.
    • Renewell — Houston-based energy storage network that's re-purposing oil and gas infrastructure

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Building Houston

 
 

VR training startup, HTX Labs, has raised funding from an outside investor for the first time. Courtesy of HTX Labs

HTX Labs, a Houston-based company that designs extended reality training for military and business purposes, announced last week that it has raised its first outside capital.

The company has received a $3.2 million investment from Cypress Growth Capital. Founded in 2017, HTX Labs — developer of the EMPACT Immersive Learning Platform — has been granted funding from the Department of Defense as well as grown its client base of commercial Enterprises. The platform uses virtual and extended reality that "enables organizations to rapidly create, deploy, measure, and sustain cost-effective, secure, and centralized immersive training programs, all within engaging, fully interactive virtual environments," per a news release.

“We have been looking to secure outside capital to accelerate the growth of our EMPACT platform and customer base but we hadn’t found the right partner who provided an investment vehicle that matched our needs,“ says HTX Labs CEO Scott Schneider in the release. “We found everything we were looking for in Cypress Growth Capital. They have a non-dilutive funding model that aligns with our capital expectations and have the level of experience that really makes this smart money.

"Cypress has a decade-long track record of success in helping emerging software and services companies achieve scale," he continues. "It is clear that the team’s collective entrepreneurial and operating experience will be of tremendous benefit to us as we focus on expanding our customer base in a very intentional way.”

The fresh funding will go toward growing and scaling the company's operations — both within the current Department of Defense and expansion opportunities into key commercial markets, like heavy industry, manufacturing, and higher education. Additionally, the funding will support increased customer adoption.

“Scott and his team have built an exceptional business that is poised for dramatic growth,” says Cypress Partner Pat McCaffrey in the release. “HTX Labs’ modern, immersive training solution provides clients with a force multiplier for modernizing training and an unmatched ROI.”

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