UH's RED Labs and Rice's OwlSpark will be hosted at the Ion over 11 weeks of programming, networking, and training as each of the 18 participating companies are introduced to Houston's innovation ecosystem. Photo courtesy of the Ion

For the 11th year, Rice University and the University of Houston have teamed up to present their summer student accelerator programs.

UH's RED Labs and Rice's OwlSpark will be hosted at the Ion over 11 weeks of programming, networking, and training as each of the 18 participating companies are introduced to Houston's innovation ecosystem.

“The collaboration the University of Houston has with Rice University gives founders in RED Labs and OwlSpark a unique opportunity to grow along their peers in the larger Houston community and really exemplifies the spirit of collaboration that the Houston business ecosystem is known for,” Managing Director of RED Labs Liana Gonzalez-Schulenberg says in a news release. “It never fails to surprise me at the end of the summer the relationships built, the support systems created and collaborations produced across our universities. By working together, we empower the next generation of entrepreneurs to work together as they turn their visions into reality and drive positive change in the community.”

The programs conclude with the Bayou Startup Showcase on August 1, an event that's open to the public. Those interested can sign up online for more information.

“We’re celebrating more than just an 11-year partnership; we’re recognizing a dynamic alliance that has been instrumental in fostering entrepreneurship and propelling Houston to the forefront of innovation,” Managing Director of OwlSpark Jessica Fleenor adds. “This partnership exemplifies our dedication to cultivating a thriving environment where entrepreneurs can connect, grow and succeed surrounded by unparalleled resources and support. We are incredibly excited to see these new ventures grow as they join our growing network and are thrilled to host our cohorts at the Ion, positioning us at the core of our city’s vibrant innovation landscape.”

Here are the companies selected for each of the two programs, as outlined in the news release:

University of Houston RED Labs Class 12

  • Root Planters develops smart indoor plant care devices designed to prevent plant death by providing automatic watering, tailored for busy individuals and gardeners looking to maintain plant health with minimal effort.
  • Burb Groceries is an online grocery retailer for people with chronic health conditions.
  • That Dude’s Bakehouse offers premium, half-pound cookies, combining choice ingredients and craftsmanship with the mission of being the best part of somebody’s day
  • Mulligan Bandit aims to redefine golf fashion, offering affordable yet high-quality clothing that seamlessly transitions from the fairway to the streets, reflecting personal style while ensuring durability and comfort.
  • Surreal Vision offers immersive mixed reality solutions that provide dynamic visualization experiences to enhance design collaboration and client presentations.
  • Agave Catering is a catering company focused on providing high-quality, gourmet boxed lunches for professionals on the go.
  • Digitally Marie is a purposeful creative agency dedicated to reducing the opportunity gap for female entrepreneurs. Through our heart-driven approach, we elevate content production embodying their brand perception with unapologetic authenticity.
  • Unison is a personal contact relationship management tool that alleviates the risk of data loss and helps to build more meaningful professional and personal relationships.
  • Brain-eNet is a platform that provides hardware and software tools to enable the development of brain-controlled Internet of Things applications.
  • Pasha Blend Collection specializes in creating modern skincare products that embodies purity, authenticity and inclusivity.
  • Arresting Motion is a brand strategy design consultancy and marketing agency that transforms Houston’s top real estate firms into the brands they deserve.
  • CalliDanna is a consulting company that coaches girls 12 to 18 to help improve their lives professionally and personally.

Rice University OwlSpark Class 12

  • EcoFleet Solutions offers rechargeable electric power units for semitrucks, powering air conditioning and cabin functions during stops without engine idling, cutting fuel costs, maintenance and emissions.
  • Houston Community Print Shop offers printmaking classes and equipment access, focusing on community building and supporting underserved areas.
  • KOQ Agency curates and organizes global tours and live entertainment opportunities for queer and ally artists in drag, music and entertainment.
  • Euvivo Diagnostics is developing a direct-to-consumer test that analyzes cell aging by examining mitochondrial performance and new aging markers, tailored for individuals with mitochondrial disorders.
  • Hair Hub provides a compilation of styling tutorials, educational content, planning tools and a comprehensive database of products tailored for Black hair to provide resources for users to perform cost-efficient DIY haircare.
  • xMAD.ai is a compression-as-a-service platform that democratizes access to LLMs (Large Language Models) by making them faster, more private, cost-effective and accessible to businesses of all sizes.
Check out these workshops, networking events, conferences, and other goings on in Houston this month. Photo via Getty Images

10+ can't-miss Houston business and innovation events for August

WHERE TO BE

From networking meetups to startup showcases, August has a smorgasbord of opportunities for Houston innovators.

Here's a roundup of events you won't want to miss out on so mark your calendars and register accordingly.

Note: This post may be updated to add more events.


August 1— Microsoft Lunch Event: The Business Case for Generative OpenAI

This event delves into the power of artificial intelligence, specifically OpenAI, and its potential to reshape the business landscape. This event aims to guide and inform professionals seeking to understand, adapt, and integrate AI into their business models.

The agenda:

9:30 to 10:00 am - Networking and coffee

10:00 am to 12:30 pm - Session starts

12:30 to 1:30 pm - Networking and lunch

This event is Tuesday, August 1, from 9:30 am to 1:30 pm at Microsoft Technology Center. Click here to register.

August 1 — Exploring Energy Investments: A Panel Discussion

In this panel-style discussion, experts will dive deep into the opportunities and challenges of investing in the future of energy. You’ll have the opportunity to discover the latest trends and innovations that are revolutionizing the renewable and nonrenewable energy landscape. From solar and wind to hydro and geothermal to oil, natural gas, and others, gain a comprehensive understanding of various energy sources and their impact on the environment, society, and your investment portfolio. After the presentation, in-person attendees will have the opportunity to pitch any deals they have to the audience.

This event is Tuesday, August 1, from 6 to 8:30 pm at Quest Trust. Click here to register.

August 2 — Solar Switch Houston Q&A Social Hour

Solar Switch Houston, a group buy program for rooftop solar panels and optional batteries offered for Houston-area residents, is offering a discussion panel to help homeowners and small businesses learn about installing rooftop solar and battery storage. Come for a question and answer social hour about Solar Switch Houston to get your solar questions answered. Appetizers and beverages will be provided.

This event is Wednesday, August 2, from 5 - 6 pm at United Way. Click here to register.

August 2 — Tenth Annual Bayou Startup Showcase

This annual event is a celebration of entrepreneurship, the newest startups and small businesses from Rice University and University of Houston accelerators, and the community supporting them. The showcase features 25 ventures from four accelerators: RED Labs, OwlSpark, RED Launch and BlueLaunch. You will be able to engage with these businesses, sign up for pre-orders, and buy products at their booths. Teams have recorded their pitches for you to learn about them in advance, watch during the event, or review afterward. RSVP now to receive updates and get early access to pitch videos, and confirm your spot at the event.

This event is Wednesday, August 2, from 5 to 8 pm at Saint Arnold Brewing Company. Click here to register.

August 3 — Side Project Society: August 2023 Meeting

Side Project Society, a community for those with technical or non-technical side projects, is hosting their monthly meeting, giving opportunities for casual networking and connecting. Guest speaker Daniel Cohen, founder of RedShift Strategists, will also share his experiences building a startup around brand positioning and content strategy.

This event is Thursday, August 3, from 6 to 8 pm at Improving. Click here to register.

August 8 — Tech + Tequila Talk - Edtech

Blue People, a software consulting services firm, is hosting a happy hour for innovators and people who are passionate about technology. Mabast Ahmad, director of technology, will discuss his experience with full stack software development and how he uses his knowledge to help entrepreneurs raised MVP.

The agenda:

5:50 pm - Sign-in and registration

6 pm - Tequila tasting

6:30 pm - Tech talk

7:00 pm - Networking and tequilas

This event is Tuesday, August 8, from 6 to 8 pm at the Ion. Click here to register.

August 10 — Executive Angel: Economic Power of Diverse Founders

Join Executive Council Network and DivInc for an informative event focused on the Economic Power of diverse Founders. Research has shown that underrepresented founders face unique challenges in accessing funding and support, which can limit their ability to scale and grow their businesses.

This event will explore the economic power of diverse founders, discussing how they are driving innovation, creating jobs, and contributing to economic growth. DivInc’s expert speakers will share their experiences and insights on the economic power of underrepresented founders, discussing topics such as how to overcome the funding gap for diverse founders, the importance of mentorship and networking, and the role of diversity and inclusion in driving innovation and growth.

The agenda:

4 to 5 pm - Welcome and networking

5 to 6 pm - Fireside chat

6 to 6:30 pm - Closing and networking

This event is Thursday, August 10, from 4 - 6:30 pm at the Ion. Click here to register.

August 10 — GROW Community Meeting

Sponsored by Green Resources & Opportunities Workforce, this community meeting is opening a discussion about green economy resources & opportunities for disadvantaged groups to engage in the energy transition and climate action.

This event is Thursday, August 10, from 11am to 1 pm at Hiram Clarke Multi-Service Center. Click here to register.

August 16-22 — Texas & Gulf Coast Science Entrepreneurs: A Guide to the Activate Fellowship 

Activate, a hardtech-focused program, recently expanded into Houston looking to build upon the region’s energy leadership with a focus on enabling a low-carbon future.

Learn about the two-year Activate Fellowship, which provides early-stage science entrepreneurs with funding, technical resources, and support from a network of scientists, engineers, technologists, and fellow entrepreneurs. Join via Zoom to get an early opportunity to learn more about the Activate Fellowship, their plans for Texas, and get your questions answered.

This online event starts Wednesday, August 16 from 11 am to noon and goes through August 22. Click here to register.

August 18 — Asian Chamber of Commerce Business Conference and Lender Matchmaking 2023

The Asian Chamber of Commerce is hosting their annual business conference, educating local business owners and entrepreneurs through resources in expanding capacity, growing operations, and building a footprint in Houston. Come listen to speakers share best practices on remaining competitive in today’s market. There will also be a lender matchmaking session administered by the SBA with over 15 approved SBA lenders for local small business owners.

The agenda:

8:30am - 9:00am Registration

9:00am - 12:00pm Business Conference

12:30pm - 3:00pm Lender Matchmaking

This event is Friday, August 18, from 8:30 am to 3 pm at Houston Community College. Click here to register.

August 28-30 — Industrial Immersive Week

The ultimate gathering of 500+ industrial, energy and engineering leaders from around the globe where the key challenges & solutions are addressed for the real-world industrial metaverse, including XR, 3D, AI, Reality Capture, Spatial Computing & Digital Twins.

The event is Monday, August 28, through Wednesday, August 30, at Omni Houston. Click here to register.

August 30 — Angel Investing in the Energy Sector

This event is sponsored by the Houston Angel Network and co-sponsored by Rice Alliance. There will be three panel sessions exploring what the energy sector needs from angel investors, including: The Greening of Conventional Oil, Gas & Power Generation; Challenges Faced by Energy Storage and Distribution; Angel Investment Considerations in the Energy Sector. There will also be four 10-minute presentations by startups in the energy sector. Admission is $100.

This event is Wednesday, August 30, from 8 am to 3 pm at Shell Auditorium. Click here to register.

August 30 — 2023 Energy Research Day

Energy Research Day will be a showcase of outstanding energy-related research by University of Houston graduate and post-doctoral students. Sponsored by the Division of Research and Graduate School, the event gives industries in the Greater Houston area a chance to see UH research up close and network with future collaborators.

This event is Wednesday, August 30, from 4 to 8 pm at the University of Houston in the Student Center South Ballroom. Click here to register.

Four Houston accelerators will be working together this summer to advance nearly 30 university-associated startups. Photo via UH.edu

Houston universities reveal teams for summer accelerators

bayou startups

The University of Houston and Rice University have announced the cohorts for their summer accelerators that advance university-founded startups and small businesses.

The two schools run four programs in tandem with each other every summer for about a decade. There are nearly 30 companies this year being accelerated across the four programs, which are:

  • Rice's OwlSpark is focused on early-stage startup teams.
  • UH's RED Labs is focused on early-stage startup teams.
  • Rice's BlueLaunch is focused on non-tech small businesses.
  • UH's RED Launch is focused on non-tech small businesses.

"A very cool part of the program is that we partner every summer with Rice University's OwlSpark and Blue Launch," says Liana Gonzalez-Schulenberg, managing director of RED Labs. "It creates this really incredible network across the universities and allows both schools to bolster and benefit from each other.

"We share staff, we share mentors, we share speakers, we co-host the demo day, and we even share the catering bill," she continues. "It's a really special part of the program that I think has brought endless value to the founders, the universities, and Houston."

The 12-week program takes each of the teams — all of which have a university-affiliated founder, from undergrad to faculty — through key programming and mentorship. The final event includes a pitch day, called the Bayou Startup Showcase, where all of the companies share their business plans they've created through the program.

“I’m excited to support these new ventures with highly curated offerings and rich mentorship, propelling them to commercial success,” said Jessica Fleenor, managing director of BlueLaunch and OwlSpark. "We have built a long-standing culture of advocacy and collaboration, and look forward to upholding that in our largest cohort to date."

The selected companies for the four programs are as follows.

RED Labs (cohort 11)

  • We Felt It 3-D prints customized modifications to mobility devices like canes, walkers, and wheelchairs that maximizes comfort during use.
  • Zoop makes nutrition easy, clean and sustainable smoothie premixes which can be consumed anywhere and anytime by just mixing it with any of the preferred mixer (Water, Vegan milk, Milk, etc.)
  • Orbit is an application that allows users to understand the stock market through practice and training.
  • Team X is creating a company around nanoporous membrane technologies that recovers metals from wastewater and brine.

OwlSpark (cohort 11)

  • Terradote will manufacture cost-competitive, petroleum-free chemicals using captured carbon dioxide, methane and renewable bio-based materials.
  • Biomethanator’s biofilm bioreactors utilize biomethanation to convert industrial-waste carbon dioxide to methane, which can be used as fuel or in other industrial applications.
  • TaurusVascular is developing a minimally invasive catheter for addressing the most pressing complication of endovascular aortic aneurysm repair: endoleaks.
  • Voythos offers a mobile physician companion that monitors electronic medical records, prompting action and initiating care workflows.
  • AiKYNETIX is developing a video analytics platform for human motion insights, focusing on a mobile running lab for runners and coaches.
  • AllStars is building an affect-sensitive educational tool for self-studying and blended classroom learning.
  • EurekaHub is developing a marketplace where data and research scientists can publish, manage, share and revise analytical models for data sets across diverse applications.
  • ScoutBetter is an end-to-end recruiting platform that connects students with corporate campuses and provides recruiters access to university talent.

RED Launch (cohort 2)

  • CurioSweets is a vegan dessert brand that provides wholesale desserts and services including: consultation; recipe development; and contract baking of their product.
  • SpaceCityVinyl is a vehicle wrapping business that offers a quick and non permanent color change of vehicles.
  • Venus by Design is a handmade jewelry company
  • First Byte Digital consulting firm that helps mom and pop restaurants and non-profits establish a robust online presence by offering a wide range of digital conversion services.
  • 2tinys designs, prints, and cuts stickers with the plan of expanding into art prints and stationery items.
  • Lacey's Art paints dog portrait artwork. They partner with shelters to find models (and provide some help to getting the dog adopted), and then sells the prints.

BlueLaunch (cohort 2)

  • Archway Family Medicine provides medical care to patients through a monthly membership model known as direct primary care.
  • rdy helps communities recover from disasters faster and more equitably by working with local organizations to plan for them.
  • 610Smokehouse is a mobile food service and catering company that serves “Texan Fusion,” a unique cuisine that combines traditional Texas barbecue with diverse Houston food.
  • SerendipityPicnic is a unique picnic with all the goodies and essentials wrapped in a beautiful, lightweight, easy-to-carry and reusable “BlanKIT.”
  • La Mer Macaron offers an assortment of homemade French macarons.
  • TenTwelve provides residential construction and remodeling services.
  • DHA America customizes, designs and sells powder-coated and galvanized fence panels, posts and accessories.
  • All About Baby provides bespoke tableware for babies transitioning to solid foods.
  • MeowPlanet is opening a cat lounge.

Check out these conferences, pitch competitions, networking, and more in the month of August. Photo via Getty Images

10+ can't-miss Houston business and innovation events for August

where to be

Houstonians are transitioning into a new summer month, and the city's business community is mixing in networking and conference events with family vacations and time off. Here's a rundown of what all to throw on your calendar for August when it comes to innovation-related events.

This article will be updated as more business and tech events are announced.


August 1 — Beyond Bias: Essentials for an Equitable Community

During this seminar, Tracie Jae, Founder of The Quiet Rebel, will share a paradigm shift designed to disrupt the current DEI model.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) is the accepted workforce best practice. As organizations continue to find the mix of techniques for their particular culture, we began to see the addition of other words like Belonging, Justice, and Access. Meanwhile, the impact appears the same - a focus on making space for “others” rather than actively creating a welcoming environment of mutual respect and acknowledgement. We have chosen to modify rather than innovate.

The event is Monday, August 1, 10 am to noon, at The Ion. Click here to register.

August 3 — Bayou Startup Showcase

The showcase features 24 companies from four accelerators: RED Labs, OwlSpark, RED Launch and BlueLaunch. You will be able to engage with these businesses, sign up for pre-orders, and buy products at their booths. Teams have recorded their pitches for you to learn about them in advance, watch during the event, or review afterward.

The event is Wednesday, August 3, 5 to 8 pm, at Saint Arnold Brewing Company. Click here to register.

August 4 — National Cancer Institute | SBIR Funding Opportunities

The TMCi Accelerator is excited to partner with the National Cancer Institute for a discussion about small business funding opportunities.

The event is Thursday, August 4, 1 to 3 pm, online. Click here to register.

August 8 — Intro to Finance Automation

Understand the benefits of finance automation and how to identify meaningful automation opportunities in your business. Learn from firsthand experiences of FinOptimal’s Founder & CEO, Jesse Rubenfeld.

The event is Monday, August 8, 10 am to noon, at The Ion. Click here to register.

August 11 — Illuminate Houston: An Innovation Conversation

Illuminate Houston is an event series highlighting business leaders who challenge the way we think about the future, featuring dynamic formats where speakers and attendees discuss trends, technologies, and issues that define how we do business. The Partnership welcomes Roberta L. Schwartz, Ph.D., Executive Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer of Houston Methodist on Thursday, August 11.

The event is Thursday, August 11, 1 to 2:30 pm, at Partnership Tower. Click here to register.

August 11 — Summer in the City: UH Students' Showcase Day

Throughout the "Summer in the City" class, students from the University of Houston Honors College have learned about creativity, leadership, entrepreneurship, and smart cities. Taking a mixed-media approach, and benefiting from guest lectures by Robert Cremins, Director of Creative Work: A Pre-Professional Program at UH, as well as panel discussions featuring entrepreneurs, innovators, and founder at the Ion, students have developed their design thinking and innovation skills and tackled problems experienced in Houston.

The event is Thursday, August 11, 5:30 to 7 pm, at the ion. Click here to register.

August 16 — Softeq Venture Studio Public Demo Day 

The Softeq Venture Studio invested $125,000 in cash and services in each of the fourteen early-stage startups to help them refine their business model, build their technology, and prepare them to scale. With 14 startups, the Q2 2022 cohort is the largest yet and brings the total portfolio to 27 companies. In this capstone event, founders have seven minutes each to present their pitch deck, demo their product, outline their ask, and answer questions.

The event is Tuesday, August 16, 5 to 7:30 pm, at The Ion. Click here to register.

August 16 — Enventure "Inspire" Seminar Series - Entrepreneurship

The "Inspire" Seminar Series was developed by Enventure to help students learn about the reality of working in the biotech and biomedical fields. The series consists of a number of events starring guest speakers coming from different areas in the biotech and biomedical industries. Dr. Lauren Cornell is an experienced research scientist with a strong history of military collaborations.

The event is Tuesday, August 16, 6 to 7:30 pm, online. Click here to register.

August 18 — Evolve Houston Relaunch Event

This past year, Evolve introduced a new logo and website to continue embarking on its mission to improve air quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions through transportation electrification.

The event is Thursday, August 18, 8:30 am to 12:30 pm, at George R. Brown Convention Center. Click here to register.

August 18 — Transition on Tap

Transition On Tap is Greentown Labs' monthly networking event devoted to fostering conversations and connections among the climate and energy transition ecosystem in Houston and beyond. Entrepreneurs, investors, students, and friends of climatetech are invited to attend, meet colleagues, discuss solutions, and engage with our growing community. I

The event is Thursday, August 18, 5 to 7 pm, at Greentown Houston. Click here to register.

August 22 — Startup-Inside-a-Business 102: How to Find SIB Without Spending Any Money

Founders will learn how to look at their companies differently, to see how the capabilities and systems they’ve already created can be reconfigured to multiply growth, value, and valuation. Learn a step-by-step approach to finding the best potential startup inside and insights for estimating the potential value that’s waiting to be unlocked.

This workshop is the second in a series of three Startup-Inside-a-Business Workshops.

The event is Monday, August 22, 10 to 11:30 am, at The Ion. Click here to register.

August 29 — Startup-Inside-a-Business 103: Build One w/out Disrupting Existing Business

Founders will learn how getting investors involved early can end the need for founder cash investments while simultaneously establishing a higher company valuation. They’ll also learn how to manage the tradeoff between cost, risk, and reward by using proven techniques to gain proof before scaling up.

This workshop is the last in a series of three Startup-Inside-a-Business Workshops.

    The event is Monday, August 29, 10 to 11:30 am, at The Ion. Click here to register.

    Sixteen startup teams pitched at the seventh annual — but first-ever virtual – Bayou Startup Showcase. Photo courtesy of OwlSpark and RED Labs

    University-based summer program presents 16 innovative Houston startup projects

    best in class

    Even despite a global pandemic, two university-based summer startup accelerator programs were determined to continue on. And, that's exactly what they did.

    University of Houston's RED Labs and Rice University's OwlSpark pivoted their summer program, which they put on collaboratively, to a virtual approach. On Thursday, August 6, the program's 16 startup teams pitched their projects at the seventh annual Bayou Startup Showcase.

    Here are this year's Class 8 presentations:

    EVA

    Vascular access requires a medical team to use an ultrasound machine to help navigate a needle's precision during the procedure. However, 5 percent of procedures result in an inexact and painful outcome. OwlSpark company, EVA — which stands for Exact Vascular Access, has created a device that works with the ultrasound machine to endure navigation of the needle during the procedure.

    CareSafe

    Seven million people fall every year, but as great and helpful wearable devices are, they aren't foolproof. CareSafe, a RED Labs company, taps into home WiFi to visualize when a fall occurs and the company can even notify emergency contacts and emergency services.

    Ai-Ris

    People who live in underserved and rural areas don't have regular access to eye care — which means that these people are exposed to preventable eye diseases. Ai-Ris has created a portable, telemedicine-ready device that can help get these populations access to eye care.

    Dividends360

    Ninety million people invest in the stock market — and more than half of those investors are self directed and spending several hours a week on planning their investments. RED Labs company Dividends360 is a web-based platform to help the modern investor make his or her decisions in a more efficient way.

    FirstGen Solutions

    Expecting mothers can't take the majority of medications in the market because the effects of the chemicals on the unborn child is unknown, and testing is limited to costly, inaccurate, and highly regulated animal testing. FirstGen Solutions, an OwlSpark company, is producing a stem cell testing kit for pharmaceutical companies to use as an earlier and easier way to indicate potential risks a medicine could have.

    nisa EFFECT

    Women undergoing menopause have no control over their hot flashes, which can happen often, last up to 20 minutes, and be debilitating to daily activities. Nisa EFFECT has created a cooling bra so that the 80 percent of women who experience hot flashes during menopause can have a discrete way to cool down.

    FreeFuse

    Five hundred hours of video content is uploaded every minute, and the sheer oversaturation of the industry makes growing an audience extremely difficult for content producers. Interactive video platform FreeFuse, an OwlSpark company, wants to flip the script and allow content creators to see what its audient wants to see in terms of content.

    Morpheus Health

    Pharmaceutical companies don't make it easy to find out about side effects medicines can have on its users. Morpheus Health, an OwlSpark company, uses data and patient information to better customize and predict potential side effects a medicine can have. Morpheus's results don't replace prescriptions or doctor consultations, but instead allow the patient to take that information into the consultation room.

    Phase Filter

    ​Changing the air filters is an easily forgotten chore that, if undone, can cause unnecessary air quality issues and a higher electricity bill for homeowners. Phase Filter has designed a self-scrolling air filter that's easy to install and only needs to be changed once a year,

    Bloodhound

    The OwlSpark and RED Labs summer programs are meant to help early-stage startups figure out their market need and determine whether or not their product is a viable business. The Bloodhound team explains how they came up with their idea for a software that helps detect bleed in surgeries, and then how they realized, after research and mentorship through the program, that it wasn't an idea worth pursuing. Doctors need more help with stopping bleeds than finding them.

    Crew Trace Solutions

    The Navy needs an upgrade to their accountability practice. That's where Crew Trace Solutions, an OwlSpark company run by two military veterans, comes in. The technology mirrors something like EZ-Tag where personnel onboard are tracked throughout the ship as they pass through sensors set up in doorways around the boat.

    VAYL

    Everyone dreads the discomfort and disappointment that usually comes with dental appointments. The oral hygiene tools on the market today aren't cutting it, says the VAYL team, a RED Labs company. VAYL has created a device that brushes the entire mouth in an optimal way for time and for cavity prevention.

    MoodyCorium

    Finding the right moisturizer is a costly and exhausting industry for women. MoodyCorium, an OwlSpark company, is working on a solution so that women can navigate the hundreds of products available on the market.

    ElastEye

    Half of the glaucoma patients could have had their disease prevented by better diagnostics — and that's exactly what ElastEye has developed. The RED Labs company has created a non-invasive, early detection device that determines the elasticity of the eye.

    BitGrange

    Supporting local farmers can be hard — it might raise the price of produce for consumers while orders tend to be smaller than farmers prefer. BItGrange, an OwlSpark company, created an e-commerce platform to allow consumers to go in on purchases together to create a win-win situation for both sides of the transaction.

    dext

    Simple daily tasks can be overwhelming to stroke survivors and the only solution is exercise and rehabilitation. Dext is a wearable tool to help take that exercise and rehab into a daily, easy to use setting.

    CALI, a wearable physical therapy device for those with vertigo, pitched at the annual event. Photo via getcalibalance.com

    These are the 16 Houston startups coming out of UH's RED Labs and Rice's OwlSpark

    Best in class

    For the sixth year, the University of Houston and Rice University have joined forces to give their student entrepreneurs a program to thrive in. RED Labs and OwlSpark, the two universities' accelerator programs, just concluded their seventh class with a presentation from the companies.

    Over the past 12 weeks, these 16 startups and their teams of entrepreneurs have worked on their company, developing it, learning how to fundraise for it, and engaging with all sorts of other valuable resources and mentors through the program.

    "With an emphasis on experimentation and rapid iteration, we teach disciplined startup strategies that help (students) have an eye for reducing risks and increasing odds," says Kerri Smith, managing director of OwlSpark.

    This summer's cohort was hosted out of Station Houston this year, but the two universities have worked together since year two of each of their programs.

    "We're very proud of our partnership, because in most other cities, two universities like this would probably be rivals, but we're interested in camaraderie and collaboration in this cohort because they are the future generation of entrepreneurs of Houston," says Kelly McCormick, director of RED Labs. "We really think that this sets an example of how working together produces better results than working against each other."

    Adren

    While the invention of the EpiPen and other compact anaphylaxis solutions have saved lives, the products are still too large to be constantly available to those who need it. Adren's co-founders created a collapsible autoinjector that can be work as a wristband.

    "A functioning drug is only one piece of the puzzle," says Jacob, co-founder of Adren. (He didn't state his last name.) "Medication is only effective if it is accessible to the patient."

    The company plans to continue on and patent their product with hopes to enter the marketplace by the next few years.

    CookLab

    Anyone can find a recipe for anything with the tap of a few keys and the click of of few buttons, but once you add in dietary restrictions, things get tricky. Not to mention the fact that so many healthy recipes aren't even that good for you.

    The team at CookLab wants to eliminate this unregulated and confusing corner of the internet. CookLab's first product is a web tool that can determine whether or not a recipe is healthy by the user dropping in the URL. This product is in beta right now.

    Down the road, CookLab wants to create a tool for users to be able to submit a recipe they want to make, then have CookLab generate a modified version that follows any dietary needs.

    INSU

    In a state of emergency where electricity is out, the diabetic population is forced to gamble with their lives when it comes to keeping their insulin insulated and cool.

    INSU has a solution. The startup has created a battery operated cooler that can keep insulin from spoiling for 30 days. The battery can be charged by wall outlet or even solar panel.

    The company plans to market directly to consumers as well as make strategic partnerships with emergency and health organizations.

    auggie

    Merchandise lines at concerts are quite possibly the single-most buzzkill of any show. In the age of UberEats and order-ahead apps, auggie sees a solution.

    While you're at a show, you can easily order your favorite merch items on the app and choose to have it set aside for pickup that day or even get it mailed to you. The app is live on some downloading stores.

    LilySpec

    The speculum OB/GYNs use on their patients hasn't changed in 150 years, and, while effective, can be uncomfortable to patients during use. But this doesn't have to be the case.

    LilySpec is a speculum designed with the patient in mind. The device is silently deployed, silicon coated for comfort, and adjustable for all women.

    The LilySpec team will finish its clinical product this year, and the company's medical partners here in Texas will be able to use it on patients.

    Myze

    How do you staff a team for an unpredictable job? Emergency rooms face this challenge every single shift. Too many staffers makes the establishment bleed money, while too few causes burnout and even sacrifices quality of care.

    Myze is developing a software platform that can use artificial intelligence and predictive analytics to help ERs better staff their teams.

    CALI

    Those suffering from Vertigo feel like the whole world has turned upside down. CALI is a device that helps those people turn it right back around.

    The wearable device allows for users to do balance exercises and claim back control of their own situation.

    DASH Innovations

    For those relying on a catheter, changing it out requires 150 monthly procedures on average. Each one is another opportunity for infection.

    DASH Innovations has created UrinControl, a urethral valve for pediatric patients that can be installed once a month and operated with a remote to control the bladder.

    Get-A-Grip

    Holding onto a cup is something most everyone takes for granted. For arthritis or muscle damage patients, it's a daunting daily task.

    Get-A-Grip is designed to distribute the weight of the cup along the grip and make it easier and more comfortable to hold. While originally designed with these patients in mind, the grip comes in four sizes, with the smallest being perfect for babies grabbing at bottles or small children holding cups.

    Everest Security

    Preparing for and preventing phishing email-originated data breaches is the new normal for companies, but it's impossible to prevent employees from accidentally opening suspicious emails without thinking.

    While there are plenty software protection companies out there, Everest Security couples their software solution with education, a core component for the company.

    KickedOC

    There are 2 million homes supposedly dedicated for off-campus housing for students, but no one-stop shop to find them. KickedOC is attempting to be that one-stop shop and make it easier for students to find their semester homes.

    With listings already up in Houston, the startup hopes to expand its platform to College Station and other Texas college towns next.

    Mismo Minds

    Creating a creative team can be difficult if you don't have the connections already. Mismo Minds is a platform for artists, videographers, directors, etc. to join forces with others who share their creative vision. It's a social networking tool, project management platform, and job board all rolled into one.

    Sports Betz

    Typically for sports betting, you have two options: Impersonal bets with large pools or friendly wagers that might not ever pay off. Sports Betz is a platform where the competitive gamblers can casually bet with friends and family — but the money is pulled up front.

    CIND

    Chivalry is not dead, argues CIND, a new dating app. The app allows for potential matches to introduce themselves with a gift — which range from $2 to $100. Though, the recipient doesn't just walk away with the cash. The money actually goes to the recipient's nonprofit of choice. Only after the donation is made can matches start chatting.

    CIND (pronounced like "Cindy") is basically digital donation dating, and everyone wins.

    PCATCopycat

    The Pharmacy College Admission Test isn't easy — and preparation isn't cheap.

    PCATCopycat puts the power back into the hands of students. The online course is only $200 — way cheaper and easier for future pharmacists to navigate.

    Second Act

    Second Act is the startup that isn't. The non-company started the program with the idea of matching retirees with short-term work at various startups with the thought being that they have a lot of experience and a lot of time on their hands. While a great idea in theory, Second Act hit some walls and the company and idea are no more. The team, however, has a bright future in Houston innovation at other startups and companies.

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    Houston engineers develop breakthrough device to advance spinal cord treatment

    future of health

    A team of Rice University engineers has developed an implantable probe over a hundred times smaller than the width of a hair that aims to help develop better treatments for spinal cord disease and injury.

    Detailed in a recent study published in Cell Reports, the probe or sensor, known as spinalNET, is used to explore how neurons in the spinal cord process sensation and control movement, according to a statement from Rice. The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health, Rice, the California-based Salk Institute for Biological Studies, and the philanthropic Mary K. Chapman Foundation based in Oklahoma.

    The soft and flexible sensor was used to record neuronal activity in freely moving mice with high resolution for multiple days. Historically, tracking this level of activity has been difficult for researchers because the spinal cord and its neurons move so much during normal activity, according to the team.

    “We developed a tiny sensor, spinalNET, that records the electrical activity of spinal neurons as the subject performs normal activity without any restraint,” Yu Wu, a research scientist at Rice and lead author of the study said in a statement. “Being able to extract such knowledge is a first but important step to develop cures for millions of people suffering from spinal cord diseases.”

    The team says that before now the spinal cord has been considered a "black box." But the device has already helped the team uncover new findings about the body's rhythmic motor patterns, which drive walking, breathing and chewing.

    Lan Luan (from left), Yu Wu, and Chong Xie are working on the breakthrough device. Photo by Jeff Fitlow/Rice University

    "Some (spinal neurons) are strongly correlated with leg movement, but surprisingly, a lot of neurons have no obvious correlation with movement,” Wu said in the statement. “This indicates that the spinal circuit controlling rhythmic movement is more complicated than we thought.”

    The team said they hope to explore these findings further and aim to use the technology for additional medical purposes.

    “In addition to scientific insight, we believe that as the technology evolves, it has great potential as a medical device for people with spinal cord neurological disorders and injury,” Lan Luan, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Rice and a corresponding author on the study, added in the statement.

    Rice researchers have developed several implantable, minimally invasive devices to address health and mental health issues.

    In the spring, the university announced that the United States Department of Defense had awarded a four-year, $7.8 million grant to the Texas Heart Institute and a Rice team led by co-investigator Yaxin Wang to continue to break ground on a novel left ventricular assist device (LVAD) that could be an alternative to current devices that prevent heart transplantation.

    That same month, the university shared news that Professor Jacob Robinson had published findings on minimally invasive bioelectronics for treating psychiatric conditions. The 9-millimeter device can deliver precise and programmable stimulation to the brain to help treat depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

    Houston clean hydrogen startup to pilot tech with O&G co.

    stay gold

    Gold H2, a Houston-based producer of clean hydrogen, is teaming up with a major U.S.-based oil and gas company as the first step in launching a 12-month series of pilot projects.

    The tentative agreement with the unnamed oil and gas company kicks off the availability of the startup’s Black 2 Gold microbial technology. The technology underpins the startup’s biotech process for converting crude oil into proprietary Gold Hydrogen.

    The cleantech startup plans to sign up several oil and gas companies for the pilot program. Gold H2 says it’s been in discussions with companies in North America, Latin America, India, Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

    The pilot program is aimed at demonstrating how Gold H2’s technology can transform old oil wells into hydrogen-generating assets. Gold H2, a spinout of Houston-based biotech company Cemvita, says the technology is capable of producing hydrogen that’s cheaper and cleaner than ever before.

    “This business model will reshape the traditional oil and gas industry landscape by further accelerating the clean energy transition and creating new economic opportunities in areas that were previously dismissed as unviable,” Gold H2 says in a news release.

    The start of the Black 2 Gold demonstrations follows the recent hiring of oil and gas industry veteran Prabhdeep Singh Sekhon as CEO.

    “With the proliferation of AI, growth of data centers, and a national boom in industrial manufacturing underway, affordable … carbon-free energy is more paramount than ever,” says Rayyan Islam, co-founder and general partner at venture capital firm 8090 Industries, an investor in Gold H2. “We’re investing in Gold H2, as we know they’ll play a pivotal role in unleashing a new dawn for energy abundance in partnership with the oil industry.”

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    This article originally ran on EnergyCapital.

    3 Houston innovators to know this week

    who's who

    Editor's note: Every week, I introduce you to a handful of Houston innovators to know recently making headlines with news of innovative technology, investment activity, and more. This week's batch includes an e-commerce startup founder, an industrial biologist, and a cellular scientist.

    Omair Tariq, co-founder and CEO of Cart.com

    Omair Tariq of Cart.com joins the Houston Innovators Podcast to share his confidence in Houston as the right place to scale his unicorn. Photo via Cart.com

    Houston-based Cart.com, which operates a multichannel commerce platform, has secured $105 million in debt refinancing from investment manager BlackRock.

    The debt refinancing follows a recent $25 million series C extension round, bringing Cart.com’s series C total to $85 million. The scaleup’s valuation now stands at $1.2 billion, making it one of the few $1 billion-plus “unicorns” in the Houston area.

    Cart.com was co-founded by CEO Omair Tariq in October 2020. Read more.

    Nádia Skorupa Parachin, vice president of industrial biotechnology at Cemvita

    Nádia Skorupa Parachin joined Cemvita as vice president of industrial biotechnology. Photo courtesy of Cemvita

    Houston-based biotech company Cemvita recently tapped two executives to help commercialize its sustainable fuel made from carbon waste.

    Nádia Skorupa Parachin came aboard as vice president of industrial biotechnology, and Phil Garcia was promoted to vice president of commercialization.

    Parachin most recently oversaw several projects at Boston-based biotech company Ginkjo Bioworks. She previously co-founded Brazilian biotech startup Integra Bioprocessos. Read more.

    Han Xiao, associate professor of chemistry at Rice University

    The funds were awarded to Han Xiao, a chemist at Rice University.

    A Rice University chemist has landed a $2 million grant from the National Institute of Health for his work that aims to reprogram the genetic code and explore the role certain cells play in causing diseases like cancer and neurological disorders.

    The funds were awarded to Han Xiao, the Norman Hackerman-Welch Young Investigator, associate professor of chemistry, from the NIH's Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA) program, which supports medically focused laboratories. Xiao will use the five-year grant to advance his work on noncanonical amino acids.

    “This innovative approach could revolutionize how we understand and control cellular functions,” Xiao said in the statement. Read more.