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5 most popular innovation stories in Houston this week

This week's top stories in Houston entrepreneurship and innovation included a space tech startup scoring a NASA partnership. Photo via NASA.gov

Editor's note:Another week has come and gone, and it's time to round up the top headlines from the past few days. Trending Houston tech and startup news on InnovationMap included innovators to know, an out-of-this-world partnership, a Q&A with a small business leader, and more.

4 Houston innovators to know this week

This week's roundup of Houston innovators includes Aleece Hobson of HX Venture Fund, Denis Akhiyarov of AiKYNETIX, and Sean Harkins and Brien Beach of AMPD Labs. Photos courtesy

In this week's roundup of Houston innovators to know, I'm introducing you to three local innovators across industries — from additive manufacturing to venture capital — recently making headlines in Houston innovation. Click here to continue reading.

Houston tech company lands exclusive spacesuit deal for NASA's mission to moon

Axiom Space will outfit our astronauts. Photo courtesy of NASA

When astronauts make a historic return to the surface of the moon, presumably 2025 or 2026, they’ll don Houston-crafted, life-protecting suits.

Houston-based Axiom Space has landed the rights to create spacesuits and supporting systems for NASA’s Artemis III mission, which will see humans back on our satellite for the first time since the legendary Apollo missions more than 50 years ago.

This award is the first for a competitive spacesuits contract, NASA notes in a press release. NASA tapped Axiom Space for a task order boasting a base value of $228.5 million. As previously reported, Axiom Space was one of two companies NASA pegged for spacesuit and supporting system development. Click here to continue reading.

How this Houston innovator is providing small businesses unprecedented access to capital

In an interview with InnovationMap, Carolyn Rodz, CEO and founder of Hello Alice, explains how the partnership came about and how the program will significantly move the needle on equitable access to capital for small business owners. Photo courtesy of Hello Alice

Last month, Hello Alice — now with 1 million members in its community — announced a new program with MasterCard that provides small business owners a simpler way to unlock access to capital.

The Hello Alice Small Business Mastercard offers users expert business advice, business insights, cash back, and a rewards program that gives entrepreneurs points for completing business-advancing activities on the Hello Alice platform.

"As a small business owner myself, I've created a card that I wish I would have had," Carolyn Rodz, CEO and founder of Hello Alice, tells InnovationMap. "We really looked at where are the gaps for these business owners and the things they don't already have or are unable to access." Click here to continue reading.

Houston energy company launches program focused on renewables and green hydrogen

EDP Renewables has launched its second iteration of its clean energy innovation program. Photo courtesy of EDP

EDP Renewables, whose North American division is based in Houston, has launched the second module of its Energy Starter 2022 program.

EDP Renewables launched the first module in May; it dealt with the future of energy distribution. Applications for startups seeking to join the second module are being accepted until September 30. The second module focuses on innovations in renewable energy and green hydrogen. Next year, the third and final modules will focus on decarbonization.

Companies selected for the second module will attend a bootcamp in Houston where they, in partnership with EDP Renewables experts, will develop their ideas and work on pilot projects. After the current four-phase edition of the program ends, startups will be able to test their innovations in the U.S., Brazil, Portugal, or Spain. Click here to continue reading.

Here's what types of technology is going to disrupt the education sector, says this Houston founder

Edtech is expected to continue to make learning more interactive, fun, and inclusive for people around the world. Photo via Pexels

Technology has always maneuvered education in a certain direction but the COVID-19 pandemic has forced it to shift towards a new direction entirely.

What started off as a basic video lecture turned into a more hybrid and innovative form of education, enabling student engagement and interactivity like never before. Social media forums allow teachers to pay one-on-one attention to students boosting their learning process.

With an edtech boom on the rise, there is a question of what further expansion in educational technology is expected. Here are some technology breakthroughs currently underway in the education sector. Click here to continue reading.

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Building Houston

 
 

Electric vans will now be delivering to Houston. Photo courtesy of Amazon

Amazon CEO/occasional space traveler Jeff Bezos is doing his best to supplant a certain jolly fellow from the North Pole as tops for holiday gift delivery.

His latest move: Amazon is rolling out more than 1,000 electric delivery vehicles, designed by electric vehicle manufacturer Rivian, ready to make deliveries in more than 100 cities across the U.S. On the Texas good list: Houston, Austin, and Dallas. Bezos' juggernaut began deliveries in Dallas in July, along with Baltimore, Chicago, Kansas City, Nashville, Phoenix, San Diego, Seattle, and St. Louis.

These zero-emissions vans have delivered more than 5 million packages to customers in the U.S., according to Amazon. The latest boost in vehicles now includes Houston and Austin; Boston; Denver; Indianapolis; Las Vegas; Madison, Wisconsin; Newark, New Jersey; New York, Oakland, California; Pittsburgh, Portland, Oregon; Provo, Utah; and Salt Lake City.

Plans for the Amazon and Rivian partnership call for thousands of vehicles on the road by the end of the year and 100,000 vehicles by 2030.

“We’re always excited for the holiday season, but making deliveries to customers across the country with our new zero-emission vehicles for the first time makes this year unique,” said Udit Madan, vice president of Amazon Transportation, in a statement. “We’ve already delivered over 5 million packages with our vehicles produced by Rivian, and this is still just the beginning—that figure will grow exponentially as we continue to make progress toward our 100,000-vehicle goal.”

This all comes as part of Amazon's commitment to reaching net-zero carbon by 2040, as a part of its The Climate Pledge; Amazon promises to eliminate millions of metric tons of carbon per year with it s commitment to 100,000 electric delivery vehicles by 2030, press materials note.

Additionally, Amazon announced plans to invest more than $1 billion over the next five years to further electrify and decarbonize its transportation network across Europe. This investment is meant to spark innovation and encourage more public charging infrastructure across the continent.

“Fleet electrification is essential to reaching the world’s zero-emissions goal,” said Jiten Behl, chief growth officer at Rivian, in a statement. “So, to see our ramp up in production supporting Amazon’s rollout in cities across the country is amazing. Not just for the environment, but also for our teams working hard to get tens of thousands of electric delivery vehicles on the road. They continue to be motivated by our combined mission and the great feedback about the vehicle’s performance and quality.”

A little about the vans: Drivers’ favorite features include a spacious cabin and cargo area, superior visibility with a large windshield and 360-degree cameras, and ventilated seats for fast heating and cooling — a must for Bayou City summers ... or winters, for that matter.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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