who's who

3 Houston innovators to know this week

This week's roundup of Houston innovators includes Stephanie Campbell of HAN and The Artemis Fund, Larry Lawson of Proxima Clinical Research, and Vanessa Wyche of the Johnson Space Center. Courtesy photos

Editor's note: In this week's roundup of Houston innovators to know, I'm introducing you to three local innovators across industries — from medical device development to fintech — recently making headlines in Houston innovation.

Stephanie Campbell, managing director of the Houston Angel Network and general partner at The Artemis Fund

Local investment leader talks trends in Houston venture capital activity

Stephanie Campbell joins the Houston Innovators Podcast last week to share some trends in early-stage investing. Photo courtesy of HAN

There were so many question marks at the beginning of the pandemic, especially for startup funding. Stephanie Campbell, who manages the most active angel network as well as a venture capital fund, says no one was sure how anything was going to pan out. Now, looking back on last year, VC did ok, she says on the Houston Innovators Podcast, and the Houston Angel Network saw membership growth.

"I think that given the markets with quite a bit of liquidity, people were looking for new and interesting ways to invest and make a return," Campbell says on the podcast. "In 2020, we actually grew by 30 percent and are up to 130 members of the Houston Angel Network and are continuing to grow through 2021."

Campbell shares more of her observations on the show and what she's focused on next. Click here to read more and stream the episode.

Larry Lawson, co-founder of Proxima Clinical Research

Larry Lawson joined InnovationMap for a Q&A about his startup's recent exit, his role on the boards of five med device companies, his investment activity, and more. Photo courtesy of Larry Lawson

When Larry Lawson started his career in the medical device industry, it was hard to get funding. The health tech founder and investor says if it wasn't oil or real estate, banks couldn't understand well enough to make a loan. So, he bootstrapped, raised from friends and family, and found venture capital support for his business endeavors over the years. Now, he's celebrating a $1.4 billion exit of his last business, Preventice Solutions, a deal that closed earlier this year.

The ecosystem in Houston has changed, he says, and he's seen it evolve as the Texas Medical Center grew and the Rice Business Plan Competition brought impressive student innovators from all around the globe.

"The health science community here in Houston is now known all over the world," he tells InnovationMap. "It's gonna just continue to grow and develop, and I hope to be a part of continue to be a part of it." Click here to read more.

Vanessa Wyche, director of Johnson Space Center

Vanessa Wyche is the first Black woman to lead a NASA center. Photo courtesy of NASA

For the first time, NASA has a Black woman at the helm of a space center. Vanessa Wyche has been named director of Johnson Space Center in Houston after serving as acting director since May 3.

"Vanessa is a tenacious leader who has broken down barriers throughout her career," Pam Melroy, deputy administrator of NASA, says in a news release. "Vanessa's more than three decades at NASA and program experience in almost all of the human spaceflight programs at Johnson is an incredible asset to the agency. In the years to come, I'm confident that Houston will continue to lead the way in human spaceflight."

As director of Johnson Space Center, Wyche now leads more than 10,000 NASA employees and contractors. Click here to read more.

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Building Houston

 
 

Halliburton Labs has announced the addition of three clean energy tech companies. Photo courtesy of Halliburton

Halliburton has again added a handful of energy tech startups to its Houston-based incubator.

Three companies — Matrix Sensors, Renew Power Systems, and SunGreenH2 — have joined Halliburton Labs as its newest clean energy participants.

“Companies across the energy landscape are interested in scalable innovations that improve the cost, reliability, and sustainability of energy,” says Managing Director Dale Winger in the news release. “Our tailored program combines expert support, access to a global network, and the physical resources for participants to scale. We’re excited to help these companies accelerate their market traction.”

Halliburton, a provider of energy equipment and services, launched Halliburton Labs in 2020. Last September was the incubator's last cohort addition. The next Halliburton Labs Finalists Pitch Day is Friday, January 27, at the Ion. The event will include pitches from 10 innovative, early-stage energy tech companies. Registration is open for the event.

Here are details, according to Halliburton, about the three new startups at the incubator.

Matrix Sensors

Using a new class of gas-adsorbing materials known as metal-organic frameworks to develop the world’s first quantitative gas sensor on a chip, Matrix Sensors has created a touch-free technology that enables advancements in sensor size, power, cost, and performance to address limitations of current gas sensor technologies, which require manual calibration every six months. The company is based in San Diego, California.

“With Halliburton’s global reach, we can apply our technology to some of the biggest problems facing the energy sector today, including CO2 sensors for energy efficient buildings and methane sensors for leak detection,” says Matrix Sensors CEO Steve Yamamoto in the release.

Renew Power Systems

RPSi, based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is a clean-tech company that develops hardware and software solutions that enable flexible and sustainable grid infrastructure. RPSi uses power electronics to connect renewable energy resources, such as wind and solar, with each other and the grid.

“Our mission is to help change the way the world generates and distributes energy,” says CEO Zach Emond in the release. “With RPSi technology, a diverse range of domestic and global communities will benefit from the acceleration of renewable energy resources that work with new and existing grid infrastructure and improve access to affordable, sustainable, and resilient electricity.”

SunGreenH2

Singapore-based SunGreenH2 builds high-performance hardware for electrolyzer cells, stacks, and systems that increase hydrogen production, decrease energy use, and reduce platinum group metals use. The company supplies hardware components for alkaline and proton-exchange membrane electrolyzers. Its modular, high-efficiency anion exchange membrane (AEM) electrolyzer stack, which is being commercialized, uses renewable power to produce low-cost green hydrogen for industries, transport, and energy storage.

“We are excited to unlock the future of green hydrogen production. With the help of Halliburton’s engineering and manufacturing expertise, we plan to commercialize and roll out our product in major international markets,” says Tulika Raj, co-founder and CEO of the company, in the release.

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