A team from the University of Houston received a grant to continue its work on using AI and digital twin technology to better evaluate bridges in Texas. Photo via uh.edu

A University of Houston professor has received a grant from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of how bridges are inspected in the state.

The $505,286 grant will support the project of Vedhus Hoskere, assistant professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, over three years. The project, “Development of Digital Twins for Texas Bridges,” will look at how to use drones, cameras, sensors and AI to support Texas' bridge maintenance programs.

“To put this data in context, we create a 3D digital representation of these bridges, called digital twins,” Hoskere said in a statement. “Then, we use artificial intelligence methods to help us find and quantify problems to be concerned about. We’re particularly interested in any structural problems that we can identify - these digital twins help us monitor changes over time and keep a close eye on the bridge. The digital twins can be tremendously useful for the planning and management of our aging bridge infrastructure so that limited taxpayer resources are properly utilized.”

The project began in September and will continue through August 2026. Hoskere is joined on the project by Craig Glennie, the Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished Chair at Cullen College and director of the National Center for Airborne Laser Mapping, as the project’s co-principal investigator.

According to Hoskere, the project will have implications for Texas's 55,000 bridges (more than twice as many as any other state in the country), which need to be inspected every two years.

Outside of Texas, Hoskere says the project will have international impact on digital twin research. Hoskere chairs a sub-task group of the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering (IABSE).

“Our international efforts align closely with this project’s goals and the insights gained globally will enhance our work in Texas while our research at UH contributes to advancing bridge digitization worldwide,” he said. “We have been researching developing digital twins for inspections and management of various infrastructure assets over the past 8 years. This project provides us an opportunity to leverage our expertise to help TxDOT achieve their goals while also advancing the science and practice of better developing these digital twins.”

Last year another UH team earned a $750,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for a practical, Texas-focused project that uses AI. The team was backed by the NSF's Convergence Accelerator for its project to help food-insecure Texans and eliminate inefficiencies within the food charity system.

UH Professor Vedhus Hoskere received a three-year, $505,286 grant from TxDOT for a bridge digitization project. Photo via uh.edu

Houston-based Allganize, founded by Changsu Lee, is taking its $35 million in investment funding and changing the game of AI on a global scale. Photo via Getty Images

How this Houston innovator plans on revolutionizing AI on a global scale

eyes on AI

It’s taken people some time, but most of society is finally doing a collective 180-degree flip on its once guarded view of artificial intelligence in favor of being open to the idea that it can help humankind in a myriad of positive ways.

That’s why Houston-based software development company Allganize recently secured $20 million in series B funding to propel its industry-leading AI answer bot, Alli.

The All-in-One LLM Enabler Platform, which intelligently responds to customers through natural chat conversation flows, while also enabling the automation of up to 80 percent of support tickets, allows customers to get serviced faster while improving employee productivity.

With the latest $20 million investment by InterVest and Murex Partners, that brings the total funding into Allganize to $35 million. That investor confidence will ultimately help catapult the company’s AI solutions to the next level and help target its planned Japanese Stock Exchange listing by 2025.

“We will lead the expansion of corporate-specific LLM app markets and accelerate the distribution of enterprise automation AI in USA, Korea, and Japan,” says Changsu Lee, CEO of Allganize. “We are dedicated to empowering companies to develop custom LLM applications, enabling practical tasks execution and work automation.”

From programmer to prototype

Allganize’s plans to go public in 2025 stems from Lee’s early ties to Japan. While Lee is originally from Korea, he got his start in Japan, where he was able to secure his first job as a programmer at a gaming company and years later the first investment for the first company he started, ABLAR.

“I'm originally from Korea and when I got a scholarship from the Japanese government, and I went to the research laboratory of Tokyo Institute of Technology, I was not able to speak Japanese at all,” Lee tells InnovationMap. “But that one year actually changed my life. I could speak Japanese while I was there, and I was able to learn a lot of Japanese cultures, and there in the social system, I became a big fan of Japan, and then after that, so I was really looking for an opportunity to do business with Japan, or in Japan.

“I was originally trying to start a company in Japan, and I started to work as a programmer in a gaming company, and at night time, and also the weekends, I was actually building a product to start a company," he continues. "So back then, that product name was ‘Search for You.’ It was every single person's search history, the trees, then if we can find somebody else who's already advanced, but pretty similar search tree, then I was thinking, we can probably, give better suggestions or the recommendations. This is future knowledge that you could probably expect to learn, and if we can have a million users, then we can leverage, those search histories from Google."

Changsu Lee is the CEO of Allganize. Photo via LinkedIn

From there, Lee built the prototype, while making the bulk of his decisions from Japan. Later, while back in Korea, he expanded his business into Japan and met the biggest VC of Japan at an event in Korea and gave a quick pitch of his company’s service. Ultimately, he got the funding and hired Allganize co-founder Yasuo Sato, who he’s been working with for more than 11 years now.

For Lee, it all comes back to where his first idea and mission was believed in and supported, and that place was Japan. Not surprisingly, the bulk of Lee’s customers are in Japan, and it was there that he began his AI journey, by cutting his teeth in machine learning.

“After changing the company name to 5Rocks, we were providing analytics and marketing automation solutions for mobile game companies,” says Lee. “So even back then, we were actually using machine learning, but it was not deep learning. We were using machine learning to predict every single gamer's remaining lifetime in the game. For example, how many days or how many months is this gamer going to stay in the game and how much money are they going to spend in the game for their game items?

“We were predicting this by using machine learning," he continues. "And after we were acquired by the mobile advertising company, I worked as the SVP of the platform there, and I actually got the opportunity to learn the deep learning.

If it’s possible to dig deeper into deep learning, that’s exactly what Lee did as the senior vice president of Tapjoy. Selling his first company and staying onboard in a much more limited role allowed Lee to have a sort of paid internship or technological rotation program into AI and deep learning, which he believed was going to completely change everything and, as a result, was to be the major foundational key to his next venture, Allganize.

Japanese IPO on the horizon

Fast forward to 2023 and the $35 million in investments, Lee and his team are aiming to expand the company’s existing customer base of over 200 enterprises and an IPO on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in 2025.

Take a quick look around and roll call currently known AI platforms. Google Duet, Microsoft Co-Pilot and, of course, ChatGPT quickly come to mind, right?

Spoiler alert: those are all descendants of Allganize’s Alli All-in-One LLM Enabler Platform, which it continues to enhance. Still, Lee and his team still find themselves having to reassure that AI is not the boogeyman movies like The Terminator or Ex Machina have made it out to be.

“I think the most important thing is in how we can leverage and utilize these AI tools,” says Lee. “And because, at the end of the day, it's still a tool, AI is great. It's really powerful. But it's still the tool for helping humans. For example, for white-collar knowledge workers, productivity is completely different when they are using the AI. AI is also more knowledge-focused, and you can answer all the questions that you have.”

Simply put, AI can add not only add to efficiency and productivity, but it can also answer questions before anyone can think to ask them and fill in the blanks to missing information that one didn’t know was missing or could think was missing.

“As powerful as that sounds, AI still can't replace people because people still have to direct it and guide it to where it needs to go,” says Lee. “And because AI's capability is becoming more and more powerful, it’s important for us to learn how to safely train the AI and how to make the good guidelines that we're using for AI.”

With Allganize focused on large language models, they assist businesses to leverage AI to enhance their employees’ knowledge recall and operational efficiency.

“I'm always saying the LLM model is just an engine of the car,” says Lee. “People are buying cars, people are not buying engines. Of course, the engine is important for the car's performance, but people are actually buying cars, not the engines. So, we are really focusing on what kind of application you really want to do in your organization by using LLM.

"And again, our ultimate focus is all the applications because this AI should be used in the daily life of the enterprise, which is the workflow," he continues. “We call them the LLM app. At the moment, the biggest LLM app is called the cognitive search. So when an employee or the customer is asking a question, then AI is understanding all these internal, the best amount of the documents and knowledge bases and databases and they can give comprehensive correct answers to the users. ... Then AI can actually give better answers and they can also give you another suggestion on what to do next. So, that is the biggest application.”

Additional applications include comparing labor agreements in the labor department or on the human resources side, screening several hundred resumes to find who is the best candidate for an open job requisition. Bonus point: it does all of this without the implicit bias that has been historically problematic for HR teams in their recruiting process.

Allganize is also able to create applications without traditional coding like Java and Python.

“Yeah, that is possible because of the LLM,” says Lee. “Because the LLM is such an amazing AI. So, it can handle most of the logics and data. It has been handled only by the software code. But now, the LLM doesn't cover these things. And so users, like somebody who wants to build any of those complicated workflow automations, they don't really need to write a code and they can just use LLM. And then they can just do visual flowcharts, like the old way. And then that is our app. And then all these things are done just like magic.”

Certainly, there’s been quite a bit of “magic” coming from Allganize and that’s all because of Lee and his innate ability to identify problems that need to be solved before they develop and create applications and solutions to address them ahead of time.

“I think two main things are necessary to get to this point with Allganize,” says Lee. “The first thing is expertise in AI, and the second thing is real domain knowledge.

“And I have been working in enterprise, including telecommunications and gaming a little bit more than 20 years. So, how enterprise is working and how the workflow is being defined and how the company and the teams are collaborating, and I have been with it for 20 years. In my academical background, it's all about AI. And I'm writing a code and seeing the very technical details of all these AI models.”

Lee learned a lot during and after selling his first company that he founded, which put him on the correct path to get the funding needed to realize his dream for Allganize.

“I really want to make this a company which can go long and then big,” says Lee. “And that's why we are working on going public. We are doing business in the U.S., Japan, and South Korea. And at the moment, Japan is our biggest market. So, we are going to go public in Japan in 2025. And from that point, we're going to accelerate our global expansion.”

Allganize recently closed a $20 million series B round of funding, bringing its total amount raised to $35 million. Graphic via allganize.ai

Houston AI company raises $35M, plans for Japanese IPO

fresh funding

A Houston tech startup with an artificial intelligence technology has announced it's raised two rounds of funding as it plans to continue developing its product and IPO in Japan.

Allganize recently closed a $20 million series B round of funding, bringing its total amount raised to $35 million, according to the company. Allganize developed Alli, an all-in-one platform for enabling large language models, that's used by over 200 enterprise and public companies globally, including Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, Nomura Securities, Hitachi, Fujitsu, and KB Securities.

The funding will go toward expanding corporate-specific LLM app markets and expanding enterprise automation AI in the United States, Korea, and Japan. The company has a goal of listing on the Japanese Stock Exchange by 2025.

"This investment accelerates our journey towards global expansion and achieving a milestone of listing on the Japanese stock exchange by 2025. Our focus is on leveraging LLMs to revolutionize work productivity. We are dedicated to empowering companies to develop custom LLM applications, enabling practical tasks execution and work automation,” Changsu Lee, CEO of Allganize, says in a news release.

In the latest round, InterVest and Murex Partners joined existing investors ATINUM Investment and Stonebridge Ventures.

"Allganize's generative AI-based services have garnered acclaim for their technological excellence and practicality among global financial firms. We foresee substantial revenue growth following this investment," Kang Dong-min, vice president of Murex, says in the release.

Allganize was founded in 2017 in California and has offices in Houston, Seoul, and Tokyo. The company's customers range from the insurance and financial services to oil and gas, construction, and more.

Konect.ai is using AI and natural language processing within the automotive retail industry. Image via Getty Images

Houston AI SaaS startup secures $5.5M seed funding from Austin VC

money moves

A Houston startup that's using artificial intelligence and natural language processing to disrupt the retail automotive industry has raised seed funding.

Konect.ai announced a $5.5 million seed investment from Austin-based Silverton Partners. The funding will support the company's development of its software, which hopes to advance communications between auto dealerships and auto tech companies and customers.

"This investment from Silverton Partners is a strong validation of our vision and the hard work of our talented team. With this support, we are poised to accelerate our growth and continue to innovate, bringing the most advanced conversational AI products to the automotive retail industry," Cole Kutschinski, president and CEO of Konect.ai, says in a news release.

The Konect.ai platform features tools such as acquisition lead management, SMS campaigns, and after-hours support — all with a goal of enhancing the customer experience and helping achieve sales goals. With the investment the company plans to expand its product offerings, grow research and development, and increase a presence in key markets.

"We at Silverton are excited to partner with and support the Konect.ai team as they accelerate their growth," Rob Taylor, operating partner at Silverton Partners, says in the release. "We were drawn not just to the incredible business they have already built but also to their forward vision of utilizing machine intelligence innovation to create delightful experiences for all parties across the automotive retail ecosystem.”

Konect.ai's tech is enhancing communications in the automotive retail industry. Konect.ai

By harnessing the power of AI, Sibme will boost the effectiveness of instructional coaching and save teachers’ time as they receive data and feedback in real time on how they conduct their classroom lessons. Photo via Getty Images

Houston edtech startup taps into AI to improve classroom engagement

training for educators

Not many adages stand the test of time quite like this one: to be the best, learn from the best.

Sage advice, which is why Houston-based Sibme, the learning engagement platform designed by teachers, is introducing an all-new artificial intelligence tool to transform professional learning for teachers.

By harnessing the power of AI, Sibme will boost the effectiveness of instructional coaching and save teachers’ time as they receive data and feedback in real time on how they conduct their classroom lessons. This is accomplished by providing teachers with more opportunities for meaningful, in-depth conversations with their instructional coaches through automatically generated quantitative data on video and audio recordings of teachers’ classroom instruction.

“When David Wakefield founded the company in 2013, it was primarily based on something that was pretty difficult to do at the time, which was just being able to record and upload video in classrooms,” COO TJ Hoffman tells InnovationMap. “Sibme was the first mobile-first technology that made it possible to upload a video longer than an hour into the cloud. And that was sort of our original approach in the classrooms.

Wakefield and Hoffman were former teachers, with former working in Houston ISD, and the latter in Pasadena ISD.

"We recognized that a lot of the ways in which teachers are trained in traditional workshops, or trainings like modules online and stuff like that, weren't in any way improving our ability to do our jobs as teachers," Hoffman says. “And the thing that really did make it easy for us to grow as teachers was watching other teachers teach and being able to ask them questions and that sort of stuff.

"It's hard to do in schools because teachers are in classrooms with kids all day long," Hoffman continues. "There's no time for them to leave and go watch someone else do their job. So that idea of recording a video and annotating it with comments and asking feedback three minutes in, like ‘Hey, why did you ask that question of that student that way?’ That was something that we originally did, and that's been the primary driver of our growth over the last ten years.”

Efficient education for the educators

With the tagline, “making every moment a teachable moment,” Sibme has broken through as the go-to learning engagement platform for professional development, replete with coaching, cohort-based professional learning communities and peer-to-peer collaboration.

“The thing that we've recognized and have worked on for the last couple of years is, if I record and upload a 45-minute lesson and share it with the teacher next door or the principal at the school or somebody else, they've got to watch it for 45 minutes and that's time-consuming as well,” says Hoffman. “Our newest iteration, our AI tools, make it easier to identify key moments in a video that are related to things that a teacher can do better to reach kids more equitably and more effectively so that they're learning better.”

Not surprisingly, the creators of Sibme are excited about the AI component, which is able to watch the videos, transcribe them and identify key moments where the teacher asks important questions in those videos.

“Now with the AI tool, I can go straight to those moments and see which kids I have called on, what kinds of questions I have asked them, who responded and who hasn't, so it helps teachers develop better strategies for reaching kids.”

Practice makes progress, according to the Sibme platform, which embeds training and collaboration in every workday, engaging employees while building a stronger community of learners.

“Sibme builds off the same principle of athletes,” adds Wakefield. “I can watch a million Astros games, but I'm not going to be a better baseball player until I pick up a bat or pick up a glove and actually start playing and then get coaching on it, right? It's the same principle for training teachers. Teaching is a complex activity. I can't just show you how to teach or tell you how to teach and then you can do it.

“You've got to get up and teach, and then you've got to get really concrete feedback the same way that a great coach provides concrete feedback to a player. Hold the bat a little bit differently or, you know, lean on your left hip. Those real kind of small changes, it's the same thing with a teacher. You know, walk to the left side of the room. Being able to actually provide that feedback on the teacher's work rather than saying, here's how you should teach, which is what training typically does, right? Training is just theory, not actual practice. This is giving teachers an opportunity to rehearse and then get coached by a real coach, whether that coach is someone with a formal title of instructional coach or just the teacher next door.”

Making the network work

Sibme’s novel, yet simple approach to improving teachers via their peers has proven to be much more effective than the typical training methods of the past.

Currently, Sibme works with more than 1,000 innovative schools, districts, and institutions – including Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, ASCD, Scholastic, the University of Texas, and the Houston Independent School District.

“At this point, I believe we're in 40 states,” says Wakefield. “We're also in some international countries. We have some channel partners that have also helped distribute for us. We probably are in every state in the US in some form or another, in a white-labeled version or within our own Sibme platform. We're definitely one of the leaders in our space for this type of next-generation solutions for professional learning and training.”

And as schools nationwide try to battle with teacher retention, Sibme offers its own solution by giving teachers concrete evidence that they are growing and improving as educators. After all, Sibme is an acronym for “Seeing is Believing Me,” which means that teachers will likely stay onboard if they feel that they are succeeding.

“One of our principals said that they don't have a retention problem because they invest so much in teacher excellence,” says Wakefield. “And when teachers feel successful, then they don't leave. They had, I think it was like an 86 percent decline in teacher turnover in one year just from the teachers being able to look at themselves and see that they’re growing and getting better and improving. That has a huge impact on their feelings of success in their jobs.”

A bright future

With more than 10 years under its belt, Sibme hopes the next 10 will offer even more advancements in the professional development space.

“We're sort of in that first sort of initial iteration of our release with AI,” says Wakefield. “That's only going to improve where things will just become more and more automated. The platform is just going to be able to help them do their work much more efficiently in the future. And they can coach and support far more people than they ever could without AI. And the experts can come in and leverage the AI to be so much more effective at their jobs.

“We’ll continue preparing the next generation of teachers, as well as in university teacher prep programs, so that teachers are getting better prepared for the realities of the classroom by getting a lot more reflection and practice.”

Sepsis has been the No. 1 killer hospitals, but this Houston startup has a tech to help mitigate the risk. Photo via Getty Images

Houston startup taps into AI to help prevent leading cause in hospital death

coming for sepsis

Anyone can die of sepsis. The number one killer in hospitals has a reputation for felling the infirm and elderly, but while the immunocompromised are at highest risk, sepsis isn’t that selective.

Take 12-year-old Rory Staunton. In 2012, the healthy boy scratched his arm diving for a ball in gym class at his school in Jackson Heights, NY. Bacteria entered his arm through the cut and he died days later of septic shock.

His story is not unique. Physician Sarma Velamuri saw this firsthand in his internal medicine practice at St. Luke’s Health Center and his residency at Baylor, both in Houston. But it really struck home when he watched helplessly as a friend’s 22-year-old daughter lost her life to sepsis. He had to tell his friend that she would not be coming home.

“There are 300,000-plus people a year who die of sepsis,” says Velamuri. “It’s important that people understand it’s not just those who are most susceptible to infections.”

This fact is not only unfortunate, but preventable. And that’s why Velamuri, who describes himself as “a recovering hospitalist,” co-founded Luminare in 2014. A full-time CEO since 2017, Velamuri, who runs the company with co-founder and CTO Marcus Rydberg, is based in the TMC Innovation Factory.

“Because of the complex workflows in hospitals, sometimes it takes 10 people to get the patient the care they need,” Velamuri explains.

And because of the pervasiveness of sepsis, it’s important to screen every patient who enters an institution before it gets to that point.

Luminare’s technology allows nurses, who are notoriously spread thin, to automatically screen patients in 10 seconds using 50 different parameters.

“We’re looking at a vast amount of data simultaneously,” says Velamuri. “We’re not generating any new data, we’re taking data that exists and shining a light on it.”

In 2020, the technology found a new application when Velamuri and his team created a version of Luminare that helped with the hospital workflow surrounding COVID PCR testing and vaccine management. Since then, it has also been used to help identify and treat monkeypox.

Though Velamuri says he doesn’t want to distract Luminare from its goal of making sepsis the number-two killer in hospitals, he is also aware that his technology can be instrumental in identifying and treating patients at risk for countless other maladies, including heart failure and stroke, and even helping with oncology workflows.

Velamuri says that his team is Luminare’s biggest strength, far more than the AI that they have designed.

“I have this saying that AI is a great servant but a terrible master. It doesn’t solve the problem,” says Velamuri.

Though the company is distributed as far afield as Stockholm, about half of its people live and work in Houston. Of the company’s placement in TMC’s Innovation Factory, Velamuri says, “They’ve been tremendous partners to us. The company would not be as successful today without their supportive partnership.” Not least of that is working with in the same space as other founders who can share their expertise as easily as a trip to the coffee machine.

And the company is growing quickly. Last year, Luminare participated in Cedars-Sinai’s accelerator program. Thanks to that partnership, the hospital is now using Luminare’s technology for sepsis screening. The team is working to partner with even more large hospital systems on solutions for one of the health industry’s biggest problems. And data that shows that Luminare can be the path to preventing death from hospitals’ most prolific killer.

Sarma Velamuri went from MD to CEO when he founded Luminare. Photo via luminare.io

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Early-stage accelerator names 9th Houston cohort

ready to grow

For the ninth time, gBETA is incubating five early-stage Houston startups providing innovative solutions across skincare, human resources, and more.

Global organization gener8tor, along with Downtown Launchpad, started its ninth gBETA Houston cohort last month. The free seven-week, no-equity accelerator program selected five Houston-based founders to provide helpful programming, support, and connections to mentors, customers, corporate partners, and investors.

"We're thrilled to continue fostering innovation in Houston and are thankful for our collaboration with Downtown Launchpad as we launch the ninth cohort of gBETA Houston,” says Vanessa Huerta, vice president of gBETA at gener8tor, in a statement.

The program has accelerated 40 Houston companies since its launch in Houston a few years ago. The companies have gone on to raise over $8.6 million in funding and created more than 70 jobs.

“With each new cohort, we witness the power of innovation unleashed,” Muriel Foster, gBETA Houston director, says in the release. “The Spring 2024 gBETA Houston cohort embodies the spirit of relentless creativity and boundless ambition.”

The gBETA Houston Spring 2024 Cohort includes:

  • Cosnetix is innovating within personalized skincare, leveraging genetic and microbial skin profiling to offer users custom skincare product recommendations. The platform has been developed through over 100 customer discovery interviews and is headed for beta-testing.
  • Kannect has created an innovative community engagement platform — already used by 20 organizations — to streamline communication, foster collaboration, and enhance member engagement. The tools can be used by nonprofits, associations, religious institutions, and beyond as a digital dashboard to manage memberships, organize events, and facilitate meaningful interactions.
  • Targeting college grads and career pivoters, No Experience Jobs helps users find entry-level jobs that don’t require experience. In its first three months of launching, NoExperienceJobs.io received more than 72,000 unique monthly visitors, gained over 1,300 newsletter subscribers, generated more than 700,000 social media engagements, and is already revenue-generating.
  • The Roo App partners with bars and restaurants to connect designating drivers to those who need designated driver services. The company is currently operation on a web-based platform with over 1,500 current visitors, but plans to launch the mobile application later this year.
  • Yuyo.love is changing the fitness game by providing bilingual fitness classes ranging from yoga, pilates, dance, fitness, nutrition, and meditation. The company's hybrid classes have over 150 participants per class and plans to launch the platform this quarter.

Houston organization introduces inaugural cancer-fighting cohort of data sciences, experts

new to hou

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center is one step closer to ending cancer thanks to its new institute that's focused on data science.

MD Anderson’s goal with the new Institute for Data Science in Oncology (IDSO) is to advance collaborative projects that will bring the power of data science to every decision made at the hospital. And now, the IDSO has announced its inaugural cohort of 33 scientists, clinicians, and staff that will bring it to life, joining the already appointed leadership and focus area co-leads.

“By engaging diverse expertise across all of our mission areas, we will enhance the rich and productive data science ecosystem at MD Anderson to deliver transformational impact for patients,” David Jaffray, Ph.D., director of IDSO and chief technology and digital officer at MD Anderson, says in a press release.

The focus areas for the IDSO are quantitative pathology and medical imaging; single-cell analytics; computational modeling for precision medicine; decision analytics for health; and safety, quality, and access.

The IDSO Affiliates, as they are known, are a mix of existing contributors to the IDSO and team members who were recruited specifically for their expertise in data science. The affiliates were chosen to fulfill a two-year term, during which they will focus on IDSO projects related to the focus areas above. The diverse roster of professionals includes:

“Our affiliates bring expertise, perspectives and commitment from across the institution to foster impactful data science in order to tackle the most urgent needs of our patients and their families,” said Caroline Chung, M.D., director of Data Science Development and Implementation for IDSO and chief data officer at MD Anderson. “People and community are at the heart of our efforts, and establishing the IDSO Affiliates is an exciting step in growing the most impactful ecosystem for data science in the world.”

Houston initiative selected for DOE program developing hubs for clean energy innovation

seeing green

Houston has been selected as one of the hubs backed by a new program from the United States Department of Energy that's developing communities for clean energy innovation.

The DOE's Office of Technology Transitions announced the the first phase of winners of the Energy Program for Innovation Clusters, or EPIC, Round 3. The local initiative is one of 23 incubators and accelerators that was awarded $150,000 to support programming for energy startups and entrepreneurs.

The Houston-based participant is called "Texas Innovates: Carbon and Hydrogen Innovation and Learning Incubator," or CHILI, and it's a program meant to feed startups into the DOE recognized HyVelocity program and other regional decarbonization efforts.

EPIC was launched to drive innovation at a local level and to inspire commercial success of energy startups. It's the third year of the competition that wraps up with a winning participant negotiating a three-year cooperative agreement with OTT worth up to $1 million.

“Incubators and Accelerators are uniquely positioned to provide startups things they can't get anywhere else -- mentorship, technology validation, and other critical business development support," DOE Chief Commercialization Officer and Director of OTT Vanessa Z. Chan says in a news release. “The EPIC program allows us to provide consistent funding to organizations who are developing robust programming, resources, and support for innovative energy startups and entrepreneurs.”

CHILI, the only participant in Texas, now moves on to the second phase of the competition, where they will design a project continuation plan and programming for the next seven months to be submitted in September.

Phase 2 also includes two national pitch competitions with a total of $165,000 in cash prizes up for grabs for startups. The first EPIC pitch event for 2024 will be in June at the 2024 Small Business Forum & Expo in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Last fall, the DOE selected the Gulf Coast's project, HyVelocity Hydrogen Hub, as one of the seven regions to receive a part of the $7 billion in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The hub was announced to receive up to $1.2 billion — the most any hub will get.

The DOE's OTT selections are nationwide. Photo via energy.gov


This article originally ran on EnergyCapital.