new to the labs

Houston clean energy lab names 4 new companies to program

Halliburton Labs has named its newest cohort — and opened applications for the next one. Photo courtesy of Halliburton

Halliburton Labs has doubled the number of clean energy companies that are operating out of its facilities with the addition of its second cohort.

Four companies have been selected for the program, joining four existing member companies of Halliburton Labs, which originally launched last summer. The companies recently announced to the incubator are Alumina Energy, Ionada, Parasanti, and SurgePower Materials.

"We are excited to support and collaborate with this group of early-stage, clean energy companies as they continue their commercialization journey," says Dale Winger, managing director of Halliburton Labs, in a news release. "Each has demonstrated a commitment to accelerating their technologies, and we are eager to help them innovate, develop and scale each company."

The new companies join existing labs members Nanotech Inc, Enexor BioEnergy, Momentum Technologies, and OCO Inc. Nanotech was the first company to join the labs in August 2020, while the other three were added in February.

With the announcement of the new cohort, Halliburton is now accepting applications for its third cohort. Interested companies can apply via the website, and submissions are due by September 3, 2021.

Alumina Energy

Focusing on providing zero-carbon heat and power solutions, Santa Monica, California-based Alumina Energy has created a patented packed bed thermal energy storage technology that can make renewable energy resources a more reliable and cost competitive source of heat and power.

"We are very excited to join Halliburton Labs' cleantech accelerator program and collaborate with their experienced team to advance cleaner, affordable energy," says Sasha Braun Diamont, founder and CEO of Alumina Energy, in the release.

Ionada

Ionada is based in Ontario, Canada, and also has offices in London and Germany. The company has developed an exhaust gas cleaning systems that's designed to reduce emissions from the marine and power generation industries.

"We are receiving tremendous interest from industrial emitters around the world for modular carbon capture systems. Halliburton Labs' engineering, supply chain expertise and global network provide the ideal launching platform for us to scale our business to meet demand," says Edoardo Panziera, CEO of Ionada, in the release.

Parasanti

Headquartered in Austin, Parasanti is a tech company with software and hardware applications geared toward streaming analytics and production machine learning to enhance data analytics,

"Parasanti could not be more honored to be a part of the Halliburton Labs accelerator. With the domain expertise and wealth of knowledge that Haliburton Labs possesses, this accelerator will position Parasanti to leverage our edge hardware and software technologies to enable new artificial intelligence and machine learning solutions in the energy space," says Parasanti co-founders James Hancock and Joshua Seagroves in the release.

SurgePower Materials

San Marcos-based SurgePower Materials has developed a way to produce high-purity graphene from an abundant renewable raw material — a process that will allow for producing concrete, electronics, renewable energy, and batteries in a more sustainable way.

"Our goal is to make SurgePower Materials the key enabler of the forthcoming graphene age with plant-based graphene as an essential component of many new technologies. Our strategic collaboration with Halliburton Labs allows us to leverage their world-class engineering expertise to rapidly scale our production and accelerate the adoption of new graphene-based solutions," says Dr. Michael Opoku, CEO of SurgePower Materials, in the release.

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Building Houston

 
 

Kelly Avant, investment associate at Houston-based Mercury Fund, shares how and why she made her way into the venture capital arena. Photo courtesy of Mercury

Kelly Avant didn't exactly pave a linear career path for herself. After majoring in gender studies, volunteering in the Peace Corps, and even attending law school — she identified a way to make a bigger impact: venture capital.

"VC is an awesome way to shape the future in a more positive way because you literally get to wire money to the most innovative thinkers, who are building solutions to the world’s problems," Avant tells InnovationMap.

Avant joined the Mercury Fund team last year as an MBA associate before joining full time as investment associate. Now, after completing her MBA from Rice University this month, Avant tells InnovationMap why she's excited about this new career in investment in a Q&A.

InnovationMap: From law school and the peace corps, what drew you to start a career in the VC world?

Kelly Avant: I graduated from Rice University with an MBA, starting scouting for an investment firm in my first year, and by the summer after my first year I was essentially working full-time interning with Mercury. But, I like to tell people about my undergraduate degree in gender studies and rhetoric from a little ski college in Colorado. If you meet someone else in venture capital with a degree in gender studies, please connect us, but I think I might be the only one. I’ll spare you what I used to think — and say — about business students, but I have really come full circle.

I always thought I would work in a nonprofit space, but after serving in Cambodia with the Peace Corps, working for the National Domestic Violence Hotline, and briefly attending Emory Law School with the intention of becoming a civil rights lawyer.I found that time and time again the root of the problem was a lack of resources. The world’s problems were not going to be solved with my idealism alone.

The problem with operating as a nonprofit in a capitalism is you basically always pandering to the interests of the donors. The NFL was a key sponsor of The National Domestic Violence Hotline. The United States has a complicated, to put it lightly, relationship with Cambodia and Vietnam. It became pretty clear that the donor/nonprofit relationship was oftentimes putting the wrong party in the driver’s seat. I was, and still am, very interested in alternative financing for nonprofits. I became convinced that the most exciting businesses were building solutions to the world’s problems while also turning a profit, which allows them to survive to have a sustainable positive impact.

VC is an awesome way to shape the future in a more positive way because you literally get to wire money to the most innovative thinkers, who are building solutions to the world’s problems.

IM: What are some companies you’re excited about?

KA: There are a couple super interesting founders I’ve met directly engaging with . To name a few: CiviTech, DonateStock, and Polco.

I’m very proud to work on mercury investments like Houston’s own, Topl, which has built an extremely lightweight and energy efficient Blockchain that enables tracking of ethical supply chains from the initial interaction.
I’m also excited about mercury’s investment in Zirtue, which enables relationship based peer to peer lending to solve the massive problem of predatory payday loans.

We have so many awesome founders in our portfolio. The best part about working in VC is meeting passionate innovators every day. I get excited to go to work everyday and help them to build better solutions.

IM: Why are you so passionate about bringing diversity and inclusion into Mercury?

KA: I love working with exciting, highly capable, super smart people. That category includes so many people who have been historically excluded. As an investment team member at Mercury, I do have a voice, and I have an obligation to use that voice to speak highly of the best people in rooms of influence.

IM: With your new role, what are you most focused on?

KA: In my new role, I am identifying and researching high potential investments. We’re building out a Mercury educational series to lift the veil of VC. We want to facilitate a series that gives all founders the basic skills to pass VC due diligence and have the opportunity to build the next innovative companies. My goal is ultimately to produce the best returns possible for our investors, and we can’t accomplish that goal unless we’re building out resources to meet the best founders and help them grow.

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This conversation has been edited for brevity and clarity.

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