big move

Fortune 100 company moves materials tech biz HQ to Houston

Honeywell has once again bet on the Bayou City for business. Photo courtesy of Parkway

A nearly $10 billion division of Honeywell International that primarily caters to the oil and gas industry has moved its headquarters to Houston.

On August 11, Charlotte, North Carolina-based Honeywell announced its Performance Materials and Technologies (PMT) division had completed its relocation to the Westchase area's nearly 1.5 million-square-foot CityWestPlace office complex where the company already has operations.

PMT joins one its units, Honeywell's Process Solutions business, at CityWestPlace. The Process Solutions business and about 750 employees relocated there from 1250 Sam Houston Parkway South in 2019.

At CityWestPlace, PMT is adding a customer center where it can showcase automation products and services.

With the PMT relocation, Honeywell now employs more than 850 people in Houston. Representatives of Honeywell decline to say where PMT was previously based.

"Houston [is] a diverse and rapidly growing city, and locating our headquarters here will help us meet our long-term needs to recruit and retain premier talent in our industry. It will also allow us to build closer, more impactful relationships with our Texas-based customers," Vimal Kapur, the new president and CEO of PMT, says in a news release.

Before coming to Houston to take the reins of PMT, Kapur was president of CEO of Atlanta-based Honeywell Building Technologies. He has worked at Honeywell for more than three decades.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner says PMT's move to Houston offers another example of how the city is leading innovation in the global energy sector.

"As the energy capital of the world, Houston has the talent and expertise to amplify Honeywell's sustainability work. And with their focus on key components of the energy transition, including carbon capture, energy storage and hydrogen, Honeywell's PMT business unit will serve as a critical partner in Houston's effort to lead the energy transition," Turner says.

PMT provides performance chemicals and materials, process technology, and automation technology for an array of industries, including oil and gas. It posted net sales of $9.4 billion in 2020, down from $10.8 billion in 2019. Honeywell, a Fortune 100 conglomerate, reported net sales of $32.6 billion last year.

Competitors of PMT include ABB, BASF, Dupont, and Emerson Electric.

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A research team housed out of the newly launched Rice Biotech Launch Pad received funding to scale tech that could slash cancer deaths in half. Photo via Rice University

A research funding agency has deployed capital into a team at Rice University that's working to develop a technology that could cut cancer-related deaths in half.

Rice researchers received $45 million from the National Institutes of Health's Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health, or ARPA-H, to scale up development of a sense-and-respond implant technology. Rice bioengineer Omid Veiseh leads the team developing the technology as principal investigator.

“Instead of tethering patients to hospital beds, IV bags and external monitors, we’ll use a minimally invasive procedure to implant a small device that continuously monitors their cancer and adjusts their immunotherapy dose in real time,” he says in a news release. “This kind of ‘closed-loop therapy’ has been used for managing diabetes, where you have a glucose monitor that continuously talks to an insulin pump. But for cancer immunotherapy, it’s revolutionary.”

Joining Veiseh on the 19-person research project named THOR, which stands for “targeted hybrid oncotherapeutic regulation,” is Amir Jazaeri, co-PI and professor of gynecologic oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. The device they are developing is called HAMMR, or hybrid advanced molecular manufacturing regulator.

“Cancer cells are continually evolving and adapting to therapy. However, currently available diagnostic tools, including radiologic tests, blood assays and biopsies, provide very infrequent and limited snapshots of this dynamic process," Jazaeri adds. "As a result, today’s therapies treat cancer as if it were a static disease. We believe THOR could transform the status quo by providing real-time data from the tumor environment that can in turn guide more effective and tumor-informed novel therapies.”

With a national team of engineers, physicians, and experts across synthetic biology, materials science, immunology, oncology, and more, the team will receive its funding through the Rice Biotech Launch Pad, a newly launched initiative led by Veiseh that exists to help life-saving medical innovation scale quickly.

"Rice is proud to be the recipient of the second major funding award from the ARPA-H, a new funding agency established last year to support research that catalyzes health breakthroughs," Rice President Reginald DesRoches says. "The research Rice bioengineer Omid Veiseh is doing in leading this team is truly groundbreaking and could potentially save hundreds of thousands of lives each year. This is the type of research that makes a significant impact on the world.”

The initial focus of the technology will be on ovarian cancer, and this funding agreement includes a first-phase clinical trial of HAMMR for the treatment of recurrent ovarian cancer that's expected to take place in the fourth year of THOR’s multi-year project.

“The technology is broadly applicable for peritoneal cancers that affect the pancreas, liver, lungs and other organs,” Veiseh says. “The first clinical trial will focus on refractory recurrent ovarian cancer, and the benefit of that is that we have an ongoing trial for ovarian cancer with our encapsulated cytokine ‘drug factory’ technology. We'll be able to build on that experience. We have already demonstrated a unique model to go from concept to clinical trial within five years, and HAMMR is the next iteration of that approach.”

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