HOUSTON INNOVATORS PODCAST EPISODE 168

Why this Houston innovator believes 2023 will be a year for resiliency innovation implementation

Richard Seline joins the Houston Innovators Podcast to explain what all Houston has accomplished within resilience innovation — as well as what's next for the city. Photo courtesy of Richard Seline

For Richard Seline, a major advocate for resilience innovation across Houston and beyond, 2022 was a year of recognizing new technologies and processes — as well as threats — to resiliency.

However, 2023 is the year to implement, he says on this week's episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast.

"What really happened in 2022 is the recognition that there are enough technologies, equipment, and data science tools that if you were to deploy all of that more efficiently and effectively, you're going to get a one-to-six better cost benefit. It's kind of a no-brainer," says Seline, co-founder of the Resilience Innovation Hub, a national organization headquartered in Houston.

One big win of 2022 was Houston Community College announcing its Resilience Center of Excellence program, including a 65,000-square-foot, $30 million Resiliency Operations Center, which will be built on a five-acre site HCC’s Northeast campus. The complex is scheduled to open in 2024. The programming, which is supported by JP Morgan Chase, will be dedicated to preparing a resilient workforce.

A prepared workforce is one part of the equation. The other is elevating and supporting new companies and technologies that can have an impact within resiliency, which touches a myriad of industries — sustainability, construction, smart city, communication, and more.

Seline and his collaborators have plans to roll out a program to connect these resiliency innovators with the right funding, network connections, and more. Seline says he doesn't want to create a whole new accelerator program. Rather, he wants to create an organization that connects alumni from existing accelerator and incubators — like MassChallenge, Greentown Labs, gener8tor, and others — to act as an additional network and resource for resiliency.

"The Resilience Venture Lab would be the finishing school, so to speak," he explains, adding that the program can help startup founders find funding, mentors, early customers, and more in an industry vertical the founder might not have considered expanding into before.

After years of resilience innovation rising in need and awareness, Seline says the stars have aligned for execution this year.

"We think that 2023 is the year of implementation," Seline says on the show. "It's all aligning within the resources, the insurance, the incentives, new codes and regulations."

Seline shares more about what all he expects to see in 2023 in terms of resilience innovation in the podcast. Listen to the interview below — or wherever you stream your podcasts — and subscribe for weekly episodes.


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Building Houston

 
 

Ben Jawdat, CEO and founder of Revterra, joins the Houston Innovators Podcast. Photo via LinkedIn

With more and more electric vehicles on the road, existing electrical grid infrastructure needs to be able to keep up. Houston-based Revterra has the technology to help.

"One of the challenges with electric vehicle adoption is we're going to need a lot of charging stations to quickly charge electric cars," Ben Jawdat, CEO and founder of Revterra, says on the Houston Innovators Podcast. "People are familiar with filling their gas tank in a few minutes, so an experience similar to that is what people are looking for."

To charge an EV in ten minutes is about 350 kilowatts of power, and, as Jawdat explains, if several of these charges are happening at the same time, it puts a tremendous strain on the electric grid. Building the infrastructure needed to support this type of charging would be a huge project, but Jawdat says he thought of a more turnkey solution.

Revterra created a kinetic energy storage system that enables rapid EV charging. The technology pulls from the grid, but at a slower, more manageable pace. Revterra's battery acts as an intermediary to store that energy until the consumer is ready to charge.

"It's an energy accumulator and a high-power energy discharger," Jawdat says, explaining that compared to an electrical chemical battery, which could be used to store energy for EVs, kinetic energy can be used more frequently and for faster charging.

Jawdat, who is a trained physicist with a PhD from the University of Houston and worked as a researcher at Rice University, says some of his challenges were receiving early funding and identifying customers willing to deploy his technology.

Last year, Revterra raised $6 million in a series A funding round. Norway’s Equinor Ventures led the round, with participation from Houston-based SCF Ventures. Previously, Revterra raised nearly $500,000 through a combination of angel investments and a National Science Foundation grant.

The funding has gone toward growing Revterra's team, including onboarding three new engineers with some jobs still open, Jawdat says. Additionally, Revterra is building out its new lab space and launching new pilot programs.

Ultimately, Revterra, an inaugural member of Greentown Houston, hopes to be a major player within the energy transition.

"We really want to be an enabling technology in the renewable energy transition," Jawdat says. "One part of that is facilitating the development of large-scale, high-power, fast-charging networks. But, beyond that, we see this technology as a potential solution in other areas related to the clean energy transition."

He shares more about what's next for Revterra on the podcast. Listen to the interview below — or wherever you stream your podcasts — and subscribe for weekly episodes.


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