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7 can't-miss innovation events at CERAWeek featuring Houston speakers

Here's what to attend at CERAWeek if you're interested in hearing from Houston innovators. CERAWeek/Facebook

With the return of in-person programming, hundreds of energy experts, C-level executives, diplomats, members of royal families, and more are descending upon Houston for the 2022 CERAWeek by IHS Markit taking place in downtown March 7 to 11. The conference is bringing back its Agora track, focused on innovation within the energy sector.

Agora's events — thought-provoking panels, intimate pods, and more — will take place alongside the main conference at The Hilton Americas-Houston. A note to attendees that masks, proof of vaccination, and a negative COVID test are all required at registration.

As one might expect, Houston innovators will be attending and speaking at this energy industry mainstay. Here are five innovation-focused events you can't miss during CERAWeek that feature Houstonians.

Monday, March 7 — Innovations in Clean Tech Financing: Are investors ready & willing?

Investor demand for clean tech assets has been a leading indicator for company-level action on energy transition strategies. With higher commodity prices attracting renewed interest in the role of oil and gas companies as energy transition drivers, investors have once again reengaged with elements of the industry that were difficult to fund only months ago. What is the balance for clean tech plays versus progress on net-zero approaches at existing firms? How do legacy business models need to change to adapt to investor concerns about the pace of the energy transition? How can companies better communicate with investors on clean tech deployment strategies, and how can investors speak the language of industry operators?

Session Speakers

  • Peter Gardett, IHS Markit
  • Juliana Garaizar, Greentown Labs
  • Brent Newcomb, Ecofin
  • Deepa Poduval, Black & Veatch

The panel takes place at 2 pm in the Agora Pod. Click here to learn more.

Monday, March 7 — AI in the Energy Production Process: Unlocking energy transition opportunities

The world is pursuing a lower-carbon energy mix with great intent and energy companies are grasping new opportunities that encompass much more of the energy value chain than old business models, including closer engagement with end-use customers. Headwinds exist in the form of high costs, the pace of change and ever-changing regulatory burdens. All companies are embracing digitalization and artificial intelligence (AI) seems set to have a significant role in a rapidly changing, data-intense energy value chain. How might AI help unlock new and enhanced opportunities? What methods can help manage the mix of weather-dependent renewable energy and traditional energy sources to ensure low-carbon reliable supplies? How can we navigate and derive advantages from the new proximity between producers and end-users to drive efficiency and reduce cost? What risks or challenges remain to be mitigated or solved in applying AI to energy production? How quickly can we overcome them?

Session Speakers:

  • Michael Wynn, IHS Markit
  • Jon Guidroz, Microsoft
  • Francois Laborie, Cognite
  • Amish Sabharwal, AVEVA

The panel takes place at 4 pm in the Agora Pod. Click here to learn more.

Tuesday, March 8 — New Business Models for Bringing Climate Tech Solutions to Scale

As the energy system decarbonizes, it is becoming more complex and more interconnected. Today’s emerging energy system is fundamentally different, forcing companies to compete globally. New technologies will have to be developed to meet climate ambitions, evolving energy uses, and emerging new supply chains. How will corporate structures and business models change as new opportunities, but also new threats, emerge? What new business models can scale new technologies to support decarbonization efforts? What opportunities and challenges will companies face?

Session speakers:

  • Eduard Sala de Vedruna, IHS Markit
  • Barbara Burger, Chevron Corporation
  • Matt Kanan, Stanford University
  • Ernesto Gutiérrez de Piñeres, Ecopetrol

The panel takes place at 10:30 am in the Agora Pod. Click here to learn more.

Wednesday, March 9 — Energy Cities: From oil capitals to energy transition capitals

Cities are the source of significant climate-changing activity and mobility challenges and need to cooperate globally for solutions. What steps are the cities taking to tackle climate change and where are the leaders globally?

Session speakers:

  • Lyn Tattum, IHS Markit
  • Hon. Fahad Al-Jubair, Eastern Province Municipality
  • Hon. Barney Crockett, Aberdeen City Council
  • His Worship Michael Savage, Halifax Regional Municipality
  • Hon. Sylvester Turner, City of Houston

The panel takes place at 2:30 pm in the Agora Pod. Click here to learn more.

Thursday, March 10 — Advancing Energy Innovation: Growth of the ecosystem

Originating in the Silicon Valley, the term “Innovation Ecosystem is the evolving set of actors, activities, and artifacts, and the institutions and relations, including complementary and substitute relations, that are important for the innovative performance of an actor or a population of actors.” Creating energy sector innovation ecosystems has been challenging due to a multitude of participants, access to capital, role of governments, and challenges scaling promising technologies. With the need to develop and scale new technologies to achieve net zero by 2050, energy innovation will be the linchpin. What are critical factors for creating successful clean energy/tech innovation centers? Where are the most successful cleantech innovation ecosystems, and what makes them successful? Does the nature of the energy system make it less receptive to new ideas and innovations? How could governments incentivize these ecosystems? How could the pace of knowledge transfer be accelerated from innovation to deployment? With future growth in energy demand and investments centered in developing countries, how can new ecosystems be created in these countries?

Session Speakers:

  • Atul Arya, IHS Markit
  • Barbara Burger, Chevron Corporation
  • Robin Millican, Breakthrough Energy
  • Emily Reichert, Greentown Labs

The panel takes place at 12:30 pm in the Agora Pod. Click here to learn more.

Thursday, March 10 — “NextGen” Future Energy Leaders Town Hall

The race is on for innovative, fresh approaches to solve the world’s greatest energy and climate challenges. The emerging generation of future energy leaders, technologists, and entrepreneurs have unprecedented opportunity for impact and to create real change. The energy world is hungry and open to disruptive ideas. There never has been a more exciting—or urgent—time to be part of the energy industry. Join this special interactive “Next Gen” dynamic session, featuring rapid-fire insights by leading minds on energy innovation, along with CERAWeek Future Energy Leaders. How can we achieve net zero ambitions by 2050? How can we tackle climate change while meeting the planet’s need for more energy? What are the promising and scalable technologies? What are the challenges and most exciting opportunities?

Session Speakers:

  • Louis Carranza, MIT Energy Initiative
  • Ali Al Rawahi, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC)
  • Dr. Douglas J. Arent, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
  • Juliana Garaizar, Greentown Labs
  • Sunita Narain, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE)
  • Jigar Shah, United States Department of Energy
  • Anish Simon, Equinor
  • Vijay Swarup, ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company
  • Jordan Watson, Korn Ferry
  • Darryl Willis, Microsoft Corporation

The panel takes place at 5 pm in the Agora Pod. Click here to learn more.

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Building Houston

 
 

The Pearland Innovation Hub celebrates its launch this week. Photo via pearlandedc.com

Entrepreneurs in the Pearland area have a new resource to help them grow their businesses.

The Pearland Economic Development Corp. has launched the Pearland Innovation Hub, aimed at connecting small businesses with programs and services that are designed to contribute to their success.

The Pearland Innovation Hub is managed through a partnership between the Pearland Economic Development Corp. and The Cannon, a Houston-area business networking community for entrepreneurs, investors, and corporate innovators. For now, the hub does not officially have a physical space. The hub is welcoming the local community to their launch party Thursday, May 19, at BAKFISH Brewing.

The Cannon hired Brandy Guidry to run the Pearland hub. She has more than 17 years of experience in business operations; engineering; technical marketing; innovation; and strategic planning, project, and program management.

Among the hub’s offerings are business-plan competitions, business coaching, networking, and programs.

Guidry’s office is at the Pearland Chamber of Commerce. “We can have small gatherings here,” she says. “Our focus is to have as many events at local venues to help promote and patronize the local business owners.”

Pearland Mayor Kevin Cole says in a news release that the hub will “serve to establish Pearland as a community known for innovation and entrepreneurship and where emerging companies want to locate.”

“The Pearland Innovation Hub is a groundbreaking initiative to support existing and aspiring small business owners,” Guidry adds.

A launch party for the Pearland Innovation Hub is scheduled for 5 pm May 19 at Pearland’s Bakfish Brewing Co., 1231 Broadway St.

Pearland Prosperity’s Community Strategic Plan recommended establishment of a hub for entrepreneurship and small business assistance. In April 2021, the economic development corporation’s board set in motion the creation of the hub. Seven months later, the Pearland City Council approved a three-year, $927,000 contract with The Cannon to operate the hub.

Members of the hub’s advisory board are:

  • Matt Buchanan, president of the Pearland Economic Development Corp.
  • Mona Chavarria, owner of A&A Cleaning.
  • Bill Jackson, founder and CEO of Base Pair Biotechnologies.
  • Jim Johnson, president and CEO of the Pearland Chamber of Commerce.
  • Randeep Nambiar, a board member of the Pearland Economic Development Corp.
  • HR consultant Ann Strouhal.

During the hub’s first year or two, it’ll be run through the economic development corporation. But the plan is to eventually transition the hub to its own nonprofit organization that will enter a contractual relationship with the economic development corporation.

Other than the Pearland Economic Development Corp. and The Cannon, the hub’s partners include the City of Pearland, the Pearland Chamber of Commerce, and San Jacinto Community College’s Small Business Development Center.

Brandy Guidry is the Pearland Navigator with The Cannon. Photo via pearlandinnovationhub.com

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