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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

 
 

This Houston-based SPAC has announced the tech company it plans to merge with. Photo courtesy of Gow Media

A Houston SPAC, or special purpose acquisition company, has announced the company it plans to merge with in the new year.

Beaumont-based Infrared Cameras Holdings Inc., a provider of thermal imaging platforms, and Houston-based SportsMap Tech Acquisition Corp. (NASDAQ: SMAP), a publicly-traded SPAC with $117 million held in trust, announced their agreement for ICI to IPO via SPAC.

Originally announced in the fall of last year, the blank-check company is led by David Gow, CEO and chairman. Gow is also chairman and CEO of Gow Media, which owns digital media outlets SportsMap, CultureMap, and InnovationMap, as well as the SportsMap Radio Network, ESPN 97.5 and 92.5.

The deal will close in the first half of 2023, according to a news release, and the combined company will be renamed Infrared Cameras Holdings Inc. and will be listed on NASDAQ under a new ticker symbol.

“ICI is extremely excited to partner with David Gow and SportsMap as we continue to deliver our innovative software and hardware solutions," says Gary Strahan, founder and CEO of ICI, in the release. "We believe our software and sensor technology can change the way companies across industries perform predictive maintenance to ensure reliability, environmental integrity, and safety through AI and machine learning.”

Strahan will continue to serve as CEO of the combined company, and Gow will become chairman of the board. The transaction values the combined company at a pre-money equity valuation of $100 million, according to the release, and existing ICI shareholders will roll 100 percent of their equity into the combined company as part of the transaction.

“We believe ICI is poised for strong growth," Gow says in the release. "The company has a strong value proposition, detecting the overheating of equipment in industrial settings. ICI also has assembled a strong management team to execute on the opportunity. We are delighted to combine our SPAC with ICI.”

Founded in 1995, ICI provides infrared and imaging technology — as well as service, training, and equipment repairs — to various businesses and individuals across industries.

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