world renown

University of Houston professor receives international energy award for pioneering work in electric vehicles

Kaushik “Raja” Rajashekara developed the technology that led to the first commercially produced electric vehicle. Photo via UH.edu

A University of Houston engineering professor who’s a pioneer in the realm of electric vehicles has received the most coveted prize in the field of international energy.

Kaushik “Raja” Rajashekara, distinguished professor of engineering at UH, has been awarded the Global Energy Prize from the Global Energy Association. It’s the energy sector’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize for science or the Oscar for films.

Rajashekara, who joined UH in 2016, is just one of three “laureates” selected this year among 119 nominees from 43 countries. The Global Energy Association announced the winners July 12.

Rajashekara is the former lead propulsion system engineer for General Motors’ IMPACT electric vehicle. But he’s perhaps better known as the developer of technology that led to the first commercially produced electric vehicle, the GM EV1, in 1995. He continued working on electric and hybrid cars at GM until 2006, when he joined Rolls Royce to work on electric and hybrid aircraft.

“Professor Rajashekara does not see limits, only possibilities. Electric vehicles are changing the way the world moves, and he has played a vital role in the exploration and improvement of this innovation,” Renu Khator, president of UH, says in a news release.

Rajashekara won the prize for outstanding contributions to transportation electrification and energy efficiency technology while reducing power-generation emissions. He holds 36 U.S. patents and 15 foreign patents.

Rajashekara will pick up his award in October during Russian Energy Week in Moscow.

“This award definitely shows the importance of energy efficiency improvement and reducing emissions, particularly in the area of transportation, which is responsible for a significant portion of global emissions,” he says.

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Building Houston

 
 

Through a partnership with New Hampshire investors, Softeq has expanded its venture studio out of state. Image via hrknsscowork.com

A Houston tech services company has announced fresh funding and a new location for its venture studio focused on growing startups.

Softeq Development Corp. announced an additional commitment of $5 million to the Softeq Venture Fund. With the investment, Softeq has a new partnership that will work toward creating a satellite venture studio in New Hampshire with local investors. Launch New Hampshire will leverage the Softeq Venture Studio platform to back qualified startups from within and outside New Hampshire, according to a news release from Softeq.

“It’s a great time to invest in startup companies, and we saw an opportunity to bridge the gap between the growing innovation community here in Houston and the untapped investment community in New Hampshire,” says Christopher A. Howard, founder and CEO of Softeq, in the release. “We’re excited about this partnership because it provides the Softeq Venture Studio with a source of high-quality startups while also fostering the innovation ecosystem in New Hampshire and New England.”

The Softeq Venture Studio announced its inaugural cohort last year, launching to act as an investor and accelerator program that provides mentors, resources, and workspaces for promising tech startups. This is the first expansion of the program and the latest investment into the Softeq Venture Fund, which has raised over $25 million of its $40 million goal.

Michael and Jamie Simchik, New Hampshire real estate developers, and Terry Anderton, an experienced technology entrepreneur, are the founders of Launch NH. The satellite cohort will work out of HRKNSScowork in Concord, New Hampshire.

“New Hampshire has been slow to adopt an innovation ecosystem, but with nearby Boston enjoying continued startup successes, we have the unique opportunity to leverage what is happening in Massachusetts, as well as in Vermont and Maine,” says Simchik, founder and CEO of HRKNSScowork. “By working with Softeq, we want to help build the innovation community statewide and drive broad-based startup activity in the region, similar to what Softeq has accomplished in its Houston headquarters.”

Anderton founded Wagz, which was recently acquired, an early participant in the Softeq accelerator program. Through his experience with Softeq, the company says he wanted to help bring the program other startups in the region.

The Softeq Venture Studio has made investments into 27 startups from across the globe since it launched in 2021. Over the next three years, per the release, Softeq intends to invest in 40 companies each year, including at least 12 via Launch NH.

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