Rice's new 'moonshot' initiative, VCs on Houston innovation, and more trending news
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 the a roundup of key moments from Venture Houston, a unique new lab and new funding opportunities at Rice University, and more.
The first of Rice University's new moonshot initiatives, the Rice Biotech Launch Pad was announced on the 61st anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's address at Rice Stadium. Photo by Gustavo Raskosky/Rice University
A new initiative from Rice University is launching with an ambitious goal — to take biotech innovations from concept to clinical trials in five years or less.
The Rice Biotech Launch Pad is a newly announced initiative that will expedite Rice University's health and medical technology innovations. The accelerator, which will occupy 15,000 square feet of space on campus, will be funded through federal grants and donations.
“The Rice Biotech Launch Pad will ensure that our faculty and students have the skills, partnerships, tools and support to create technologies that can transform our city and the world,” Rice President Reginald DesRoches says in a press release. “More importantly, the accelerator will provide a pathway for these creations and discoveries to be turned into medical cures that significantly impact people’s lives. Rice researchers have been doing this for years. This development will allow them to do even more and at a quicker, more efficient pace.” Read more.
HTX Labs will supply immersive training technology and content to the Air Force and its Space Force military partner. Graphic courtesy of HTX Labs
HTX Labs has won a three-year, $90 million contract to provide immersive training capabilities for the Air Force and Space Force.
Under the new contract, which is set to end in September 2026, HTX Labs will supply immersive training technology and content to the Air Force and its Space Force military partner. The Houston company says the contract culminates more than five years of collaboration with the Air Force.
HTX Labs’ EMPACT cloud-based immersive training platform enables instructors and curriculum developers to create immersive lessons within EMPACT’s digital classrooms. HTX Labs says the Air Force and Space Force will retain full ownership of digital assets that are produced and will allow in-house updates of training materials. Read more.
Rice University has launched the One Small Step Grant program and has plans to establish the One Giant Leap VC fund. Photo courtesy of Rice University
Over 60 years ago at Rice University, President John F. Kennedy recommitted the country to the Space Race. Now, decades later, the university is announcing its commitment to moonshot innovators.
Rice University's Office of Innovation established the One Small Step Grant — named for Neil Armstrong's first words spoken from Tranquility Base just several years after JFK's speech at Rice — last month. The program will provide funding to faculty working on "promising projects with commercial potential," according to the website.
The grant initiative will provide as many as five awards a year, each with funding of up to $100,000. Applications, which are open now, are accepted on a rolling basis, and the university's Rice Investment Committee will review submissions on a quarterly basis. Read more.
Intuitive Machines says the investment was made in exchange for stock and stock warrants. Photo courtesy of Intuitive Machines
An unidentified investor has pumped $20 million in equity into a Houston-based aerospace company.
Intuitive Machines says the investment was made in exchange for stock and stock warrants.
Intuitive Machines has earmarked the $20 million for general expenses and working capital to fuel “activity across key growth programs.” The company says the investment likely means it won’t need unused, previously disclosed equity financing of $50 million.
In one of those key growth programs, publicly traded Intuitive Machines is gearing up to launch three lunar landers in 2023 and 2024. Read more.
Hit the highlights of Venture Houston 2023 with these overheard moments from the event. Photo courtesy of HX Venture Fund
Last week, nearly 1,000 people convened in Houston to discuss venture capital activity, startups, and decarbonization, and the Houston factor among it all.
On September 7, Venture Houston hosted several keynote addresses and panels throughout the day's programming, and investors from across the country discussed with Houston-based startup and corporate leaders on topics from seed funding to cultivating an ecosystem.
The annual event, presented by HX Venture Fund, a fund of funds that deploys capital into VC funds with an interest in Houston, had one significant through line throughout the day, and it was Houston's role within innovation and the energy transition. Read more.