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

 
 

The new startup has acquired Birchbox and plans to relaunch the beauty subscription service with its patented health customization. Photo via birchbox.com

A Houston health tech entrepreneur who's started six businesses in his career has announced his latest endeavor.

Dr. Kimon Angelides, founder of Houston health tech startups Livongo Health and Vivante Health, launched FemTec Health, a tech-enabled women's health sciences and beauty company focused on transforming the total healthcare experience for women. The company is emerging from stealth mode this week with already 10 million members, two clinical trials in progress, and a team of over 150.

FemTec Health is building the data analytics platform to support products and services for women in every life stage. The patent-pending BiomeAI™engine uses AI and deep machine learning to translate consumer, genetic, microbiome, and biometric data into the delivery of holistic healthcare personalized for every woman, according to a news release from the company.

"Our platform can be implemented across all areas including specialty care, wellness and prevention, reproductive care, sexual wellness, mental health, chronic care, and beyond," Angelides says in the release. "It is driven by state-of-the-art genomics and digital technologies that empower women to take control of their health at every stage of their life journey, based on their individual health profiles."

Angelides serves as the new company's chairman and interim CEO. Photo via LinkedIn

FemTec has already raised more than $35 million in funding from a myriad of investors, capital, and shareholders, including Longmont Capital, Ithaca LifeSciences, Unilever Ventures, Estee Lauder, Shiseido, e.Ventures, Viking Global, and Trinity Capital.

The company, which has been in the works since May of 2020, has assembled an all-star team of experts, including Dr. Kimberly Capone, chief scientific officer (formerly with Johnson & Johnson), and Dr. Laura Clapper, COO (formerly Cigna, CVS-Aetna).

"Women's health has been under-researched and underrepresented for too long," says Capone in the release. "As a woman and a scientist, I have often been the sounding board for friends and family on their wellness journey – offering advice and feedback on skincare, vaginal care, probiotics and supplements that can help with issues in skin and vaginal health, PMS and menopause. What I hear consistently is that women do not know where to go, or what products to choose that may help."

This is exactly the need the technology will help to solve.

"This is where FemTec Health's unified and coordinated platform comes in — we provide personalized services and science-based products that are meaningful and effective for women at all stages of their lives. I believe the future is female and FemTec Health will help get us there," Capone continues.

FemTec Health's business and growth model is to expand via acquisitions — and the company has several under its belt already, including beauty subscription box Birchbox, universal beauty store Mira Beauty, and beauty industry social marketing platform Liquid Grids, which has over 1.5 million members, according to the release.

"Our first acquisitions within women's health and beauty are key to our mission to revolutionize the women's healthcare and beauty industry," says Angelides, who is the company's executive chairman and interim CEO. "Women deserve a comprehensive, all encompassing model designed specifically for them. The starting point is to really understand a woman's healthcare needs and then apply smart technology like AI and predictive analytics to translate the data into actionable outcomes."

In the near future, the company plans on re-launching Birchbox, using the BiomeAI™ platform to give subscribers curated personalized skin and healthcare products. Birchbox was sold to private equity firm, Viking Global — one of FemTec's investors, in 2018.

"I have always believed in the power of women as a community, and I believe this is a natural step in the evolution of Birchbox," says Katia Beauchamp, founder of Birchbox, in the release. "Eleven years ago, we were compelled by an ability to build deep customer relationships month after month. FemTec's vision for the future of women's healthcare was inspirational to me and I could see the opportunity for the thousands of women in the Birchbox community to extend beyond consumer beauty products to a more holistic health and wellness offering."

According to the release, more strategic partnerships with health and wellness companies will be announced soon.

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