Guest column

Why this Italian tech company is betting on Houston

An Italian company has moved in on Houston. In an op-ed, the company's founder shares why he bet on the Bayou City. Photo via Getty Images

Earlier this year, I opened my company's U.S. headquarters and became an Italian transplant in Houston.

After establishing my additive manufacturing business in my home country, the company thrived in Europe and we began evaluating foreign markets to support our expansion. We considered several cities in North America and will likely establish operations in some of these regions in the coming years, but one thing will remain unchanged – our commitment to naming Houston the command post of our operations.

I have ambitious plans that Houston is uniquely positioned to address. Over the next 24 months, we expect to hire more than 100 employees to reshore domestic production, decrease carbon emissions, and mitigate supply chain challenges using super polymers in our 3D printing production system.

In order to meet these objectives, I am leveraging the city's business-friendly environment and thriving, international community to support several core industries, including energy, aerospace, medtech and transportation and logistics.

Convergence of Tech, Industry and Talent 

Across the world, Houston has long been known as the energy capital of the world. Over time, it is adapting a new image – one that unites all the prominent industries – a thriving tech hot spot. With cultural ties around the world, I am excited to immerse our team in industry events and take advantage of our proximity to exciting scientific initiatives, boundary-pushing engineers, new and existing customers, and renowned universities.

The city has been teeming with several tech giants who are driving the Texas tech boom after realizing the opportunities that also caught my attention. The tremendous increase in corporate relocations and expansions in Texas have shined a spotlight on Houston.

The evolution also highlights the opportunities the city presents for young engineers and recent college graduates chasing careers in evolving areas like advanced manufacturing, aerospace, and medtech. As I expand my engineering and production capabilities, I am captivated by the highly specialized and ever-growing workforce in legacy and emerging industries.

Building a More Sustainable Future and Revitalizing American Manufacturing 

As I get to know the local businesses making up the area, I am also discovering the ways in which Houston is playing a role in building the infrastructure that is advancing a more sustainable future. This joint effort, led by local businesses, educational institutions, policies, and people, leverages the technologies developed by stateside experts and attracting foreign executives, like myself, who bring fresh perspectives and solutions to accelerate our vision for the future.

At my company, for example, we are introducing technology to contribute to the global energy transition, incorporating more sustainable materials into production workflows to reduce industrial emissions. Through maturing printing networks in the region, manufacturers can print "parts on demand" whenever and wherever needed, which can reduce or eliminate the need to warehouse infrequently used parts as well as reliance on slower, more expensive traditional fabrication often located overseas.

As I immerse myself in the city's growing tech ecosystem, I am excited to play a role in building the additive manufacturing industry in Houston.

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Alessio Lorusso is founder and CEO of Roboze.

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Building Houston

 
 

Houston-based medical device and biotech startup Steradian Technologies has been recognized by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Photo by Dwight C. Andrews/Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau

A female-founded biotech startup has announced that it has received a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Steradian Technologies has developed a breath-based collection device that can be used with diagnostic testing systems. Called RUMI, the device is non-invasive and fully portable and, according to a news release, costs the price of a latte.

“We are extremely honored to receive this award and be recognized by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a leader in global health. This funding will propel our work in creating deep-tech diagnostics and products to close the equity gap in global public health," says Asma Mirza, CEO and co-founder of Steradian Technologies, in the release. “The RUMI will demonstrate that advanced technology can be delivered to all areas of the world, ensuring the Global South and economically exploited regions receive access to high-fidelity diagnostics instead of solutions that are ill-suited to the environment.”

RUMI uses novel photon-based detection to collect and diagnose infectious diseases in breath within 30-seconds, per the release, and will be the first human bio-aerosol specimen collector to convert breath into a fully sterile liquid sample and can be used for many applications in direct disease detection.

"As the healthcare industry continues to pursue less invasive diagnostics, we are very excited that the foundation has identified our approach to breath-based sample collection as a standout worthy of their support," says John Marino, chief of product development and co-founder. “We look forward to working with them to achieve our goals of better, faster, and safer diagnostics."

Founded in 2017, Steradian Technologies is funded and supported by XPRIZE, Johnson & Johnson’s Lung Cancer Initiative, JLABS TMCi, Capital Factory, Duke Institute of Global Health, and Johnson & Johnson’s Center for Device Innovation.

The amount granted by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was not disclosed. The Seattle-based foundation is led by CEO Mark Suzman and co-chaired by Bill Gates and Melinda French Gatess.

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