"Companies and stakeholders across the energy spectrum need to act together and act fast." Photo via Getty Images

Houston is home to some of the nation's largest oil and gas exploration and production firms, making it one of the world’s most important energy capitals. Growing regional support for pioneering clean tech, such as carbon capture, will help achieve the crucial transition to net zero whilst maintaining economic stability, boosting local industries and creating jobs.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), North America and Asia Pacific are expected to hold the largest share in carbon capture capacity. North America’s world-leading carbon capture potential comes as no surprise given the nation’s dominance in oil and gas, and ideal geology for sequestration.

The IEA’s recently published World Energy Outlook 2023 depicts a global market that is in transition. With more companies, world leaders and governments recognizing that a shift towards sustainable energy is both inevitable and transformative, the question is no longer whether we switch to clean energy, but rather how soon the transition can happen.

For every $1 in investment spending on fossil fuels globally, $1.8 is now being spent to develop clean energy, according to the IEA. Although the clean energy market has almost doubled in the past five years to reach an estimated $2.8 trillion in 2023, investment needs to hit $4.2 trillion per year by 2030 to achieve the universally shared goal of net zero. The IEA believes around 1 Gigaton of CO2 must be captured in 2030, rising to 6 Gigatons by 2050 to achieve the Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario (termed NZE Scenario). This presents a tremendous opportunity for government stakeholders and the business community in Houston to turbocharge the economy and protect the planet from the impact of climate change.

While volatility around the energy market lingers, sustainable technologies remain one of the most dynamic areas of global energy investment. An essential ingredient to its success is bringing on board innovators, entrepreneurs, corporations, and financiers to ensure technology innovation is front and center in facilitating the clean energy transition.

Carbon capture technology is critical, but energy leaders and hard-to-abate industries are under pressure to move faster. To do that, the carbon capture industry must scale up its deployment and increase adoption if hard-to-abate sectors are to address the 30 percent of global CO2 emissions for which they are responsible. Governments have a pivotal role to play in providing financial, regulatory and policy incentives, facilitating a collaborative environment between financiers, hard-to-abate operators, and clean tech companies. While we are moving in the right direction, there is no room for complacency or procrastination given the short timescales for meaningful action.

Over the past several years, Carbon Clean, a global company that is revolutionizing carbon capture, has enjoyed significant expansion in North America. Following the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) in August 2022, we saw huge interest in our modular industrial carbon capture technology almost overnight, resulting in a 64 percent increase in inquiries from the U.S. To meet this booming demand, we have opened a U.S. headquarters in Houston, and have plans to double our U.S. headcount to meet industry requirements for our scalable and cost-effective technology, CycloneCC. In short, the United States is poised to become our biggest market. Given our latest lead investor and partner is Houston-based Chevron New Energies, there is no better place than Houston to drive innovation in the country’s energy sector.

The IRA did more than just bring in new inquiries for our breakthrough technology – it also signaled to the energy sector that the federal government is getting serious about bringing emissions down. The impact of the IRA cannot be overstated, especially for the point-source carbon capture technology pioneered by Carbon Clean. While the IRA involves billions of dollars of public investment, it is set up in such a way that companies must make substantial investments first, acting as a down payment on fostering jobs and ensuring the business community is delivering ambitious climate action. The benefits are being felt locally as well – cities like Houston are at the forefront of what the IRA has to offer, taking advantage of these investments and reducing emissions.

Companies and stakeholders across the energy spectrum need to act together and act fast. With the dramatic growth required for carbon capture to have full effect, it will be essential for government, industry, and innovators to join together to concentrate on a number of projects and clusters. We are confident that with new cutting-edge technology and broad collaboration we can rapidly get the world on the right path to net zero.

———

Prateek Bumb is CTO and co-founder of Carbon Clean and the principal innovator of Carbon Clean’s industrial carbon capture technologies.

This article originally ran on EnergyCapital.
The Ion has announced the latest companies to move into the hub. Photo courtesy of The Ion

The Ion announces new tenants that have recently moved in, expanded within the hub

moving in

Several organizations — from tech startups to a nonprofit — have moved into the Ion recently to either relocate or expand their presence in Houston.

The Ion District announced new tenants today, bringing the total space leased to 86 percent, according to a news release. The recent additions to the Ion include:

  • Carbon Clean announced its new United States HQ last month. The startup’s technology has captured nearly two million tons of carbon dioxide at almost 50 sites around the world.
  • Cognite is a Norwegian software company for asset-heavy industries that turns industrial data into customer value.
  • OpenStax, a Houston-based nonprofit, is publishing openly licensed college textbooks that are free online and low cost in print.
  • Synopic is a California-based startup that's building next-gen depth-enabled cameras to improve visualization and decision making during medical procedures.
  • Houston-based Motif Neurotech, a medical equipment manufacturing startup, is working to develop minimally invasive electronic solutions for mental health.
  • RedSwan CRE, founded in Houston, is a crowdfunding-style investment platform and marketplace of tokenized commercial real estate.
  • Nauticus Robotics, a marine robotics hardtech and software company, recently went public.
  • Rice University’s Office of Innovation and its Nexus Lab, which is under construction and designed for prototyping and scaling-up technologies, is increasing its presence in the Ion.
  • Also noteworthy is the expanded office of Ara Partners, which first moved into the Ion last year. The Houston-based, global private equity firm is focused on investing in carbon decentralization technology.
  • Dallas-headquartered flexible workspace provider Common Desk announced that it would expand its space by nearly 50 percent at the Ion last December.

“Welcoming this amazing lineup of new tenants, across the breadth of sectors they represent, demonstrates that the Ion is the place to be and do business in Houston,” says Jan E. Odegard, executive director of the Ion, in the news release. “By continuing to fill our space with new innovators across all these different offerings, from all around the globe, we’ve become the home for collisions that will create solutions to the biggest problems facing our world today.

"We pride ourselves on advancing the diverse knowledge, teams, technologies, and products that will propel our world forward. Our inspiring new tenants will do just that,” he continues.

The Ion's grand opening took place just about a year ago, and existing tenants include Chevron, Microsoft, (Schlumberger) SLB Innovation Factori, Houston Methodist. The growing Ion District is home to more than 300 businesses, including corporates, small businesses, startups, and restaurants.

“The Ion continues to see leasing demand from companies that understand the value of a creative and active work environment,” says Bryson Grover, investment manager of real estate development at Rice Management Co. “Companies are choosing Ion District because it offers more than just a solution for space needs. Workers are given the opportunity to experience a sense of community that brings together like-minded individuals and those with different perspectives.”

Carbon Clean is moving into the Ion for its United States headquarters. Photo courtesy of the Ion

U.K. carbon capture startup sets up new HQ in Houston

seeing green

A startup that produces carbon capture technology has set up its U.S. headquarters in Houston. Establishment of the HQ marks the company’s formal North American expansion.

Carbon Clean, based in the United Kingdom, says it will double the size of its U.S. workforce to meet greater demand for its CycloneCC technology. The company expects the U.S. to become its biggest market.

The startup’s technology has captured nearly two million tons of carbon dioxide at almost 50 sites around the world. Carbon Clean says CycloneCC can reduce the cost of carbon capture by as much as 50 percent with a footprint that’s 50 percent smaller than traditional carbon capture units.

CycloneCC is ideal for businesses such as cement producers, steelmakers, refineries and waste-to-energy plants, Carbon Clean says.

The U.S. Inflation Reduction Act has driven up demand for industrial carbon capture technology, with Carbon Clean logging a more than 64 percent increase in U.S. inquiries since the act was passed last August.

Aniruddha Sharma, chairman and CEO of Carbon Clean, says passage of the Inflation Reduction Act has made the U.S. “one of the best places in the world to develop industrial carbon capture projects.”

Carbon Clean is no stranger to the U.S. It’s been active in this country for more than four years. Houston-based Chevron New Energies led the company’s $150 million Series C round last May.

“Carbon Clean is experiencing phenomenal growth globally, but we expect our expansion in North America to outpace all other regions. As a result, we intend to establish a very significant base in North America, which will include developing a local supply chain to ensure we are set to ramp up commercialization,” Sharma says in a news release.

On March 8, Carbon Capture hosted a reception and panel discussion at its new HQ. The office is at The Ion, located at 4210 Main St.

Ad Placement 300x100
Ad Placement 300x600

CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Houston family's $20M donation drives neurodegeneration research

big impact

Neurodegeneration is one of the cruelest ways to age, but one Houston family is sharing its wealth to invigorate research with the goal of eradicating diseases like Alzheimer’s.

This month, Laurence Belfer announced that his family, led by oil tycoon Robert Belfer, had donated an additional $20 million to the Belfer Neurodegeneration Consortium, a multi-institutional initiative that targets the study and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

This latest sum brings the family’s donations to BNDC to $53.5 million over a little more than a decade. The Belfer family’s recent donation will be matched by institutional philanthropic efforts, meaning BNDC will actually be $40 million richer.

BNDC was formed in 2012 to help scientists gain stronger awareness of neurodegenerative disease biology and its potential treatments. It incorporates not only The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, but also Baylor College of Medicine, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

It is the BNDC’s lofty objective to develop five new drugs for Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders over the next 10 years, with two treatments to demonstrate clinical efficacy.

“Our goal is ambitious, but having access to the vast clinical trial expertise at MD Anderson ensures our therapeutics can improve the lives of patients everywhere,” BNDC Executive Director Jim Ray says in a press release. “The key elements for success are in place: a powerful research model, a winning collaborative team and a robust translational pipeline, all in the right place at the right time.”

It may seem out of place that this research is happening at MD Anderson, but scientists are delving into the intersection between cancer and neurological disease through the hospital’s Cancer Neuroscience Program.

“Since the consortium was formed, we have made tremendous progress in our understanding of the molecular and genetic basis of neurodegenerative diseases and in translating those findings into effective targeted drugs and diagnostics for patients,” Ray continues. “Yet, we still have more work to do. Alzheimer's disease is already the most expensive disease in the United States. As our population continues to age, addressing quality-of-life issues and other challenges of treating and living with age-associated diseases must become a priority.”

And for the magnanimous Belfer family, it already is.

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 a podcast with the founder of a new venture firm, a former astronaut and recent award recipient, and a health care innovator with fresh funding.

Zach Ellis, founder and managing partner of South Loop Ventures

Zach Ellis explains on the Houston Innovators Podcast that South Loop Ventures plans to invest in promising companies from across the country and bring them into Houston's ecosystem to grow and scale. Photo via LinkedIn

Houston has a lot of the right ingredients for commercialization and scaling up companies, so when Zach Ellis moved to town to stand up a venture capital firm that made investments in diverse founders, he decided to go about it in an innovative way.

South Loop Ventures, which Ellis launched two years ago, invests in pre-seed and seed-stage startups across health care, climatetech, aerospace, sports, and fintech. While the first handful of investments, which have already been made, are into Houston-based companies, Ellis explains on the Houston Innovators Podcast that the firm plans to invest in promising companies from across the country and bring them into Houston's ecosystem to grow and scale.

"Any investor wants to feel like they are looking at the best possible investment opportunities in which to deploy capital," Ellis says on the show. "So that's reason No. 1 to cast your net as widely as possible.

"At the same time, you want to give any investment that you make greatest chances of success," he continues. "The biggest factor of success outside of the team and the capital you give them, is the customers that they can call upon. In bringing targeted companies to Houston or connecting them with Houston, you introduce the opportunity for them to achieve rapid scale and work with world-class partners very efficiently." Read more.


Toby R. Hamilton, founder and CEO of Hamilton Health Box

Dr. Toby Hamilton has secured $10 million to grow his company. Photo via tmc.edu

A Houston company that is working on a value-based model for primary care has fresh funding to support its mission.

Hamilton Health Box announced the completion of a $10 million series A funding round led by 1588 Ventures with participation from Memorial Hermann Health System, Impact Ventures by Johnson & Johnson Foundation, Texas Medical Center Venture Fund, and the Sullivan Brothers.

The company, founded in 2019 by Dr. Toby R. Hamilton, will use the funding to fuel its expansion into rural areas to help assist those living in Health Professional Shortage Areas, or HPSAs. Read more.

Ellen Ochoa, former astronaut and center director at the NASA's Johnson Space Center

Ellen Ochoa was recognized for her leadership at NASA Johnson and for being the first Hispanic woman in space. Photo via NASA

Two astronauts recently received Presidential Medals of Freedom from President Joe Biden for their leadership in space.

Ellen Ochoa, the former center director and astronaut at the NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, and Jane Rigby, senior project scientist for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, were honored at the White House on May 3.

Ochoa spent 30 years with NASA, which included being the 11th director of JSC, deputy center director of JSC, and director of Flight Crew Operations. She served on the nine-day STS-56 mission aboard the space shuttle Discovery in 1993, and became the first Hispanic woman in space. She flew four more times to space with STS-66, STS-96, STS-110, and more.

“I’m so grateful for all my amazing NASA colleagues who shared my career journey with me,” Ochoa says in a NASA news release. Read more.

Houston health care institutions receive $22M to attract top recruits

coming to Hou

Houston’s Baylor College of Medicine has received a total of $12 million in grants from the Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas to attract two prominent researchers.

The two grants, which are $6 million each, are earmarked for recruitment of Thomas Milner and Radek Skoda. The Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) announced the grants May 14.

Milner, an expert in photomedicine for surgery and diagnostics, is a professor of surgery and biomedical engineering at the Beckman Laser Institute & Medical Clinic at the University of California, Irvine and the university’s Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center

In 2013, Milner was named Inventor of the Year by the University of Texas at Austin. At the time, he was a professor of biomedical engineering at UT. One of his major achievements is co-development of the MasSpec Pen, a handheld device that identifies cancerous tissue within 10 seconds during surgical procedures.

Skoda is a professor of molecular medicine in the Department of Biomedicine at the University of Basel and the University Hospital Basel, both in Switzerland. He specializes in developing treatments for myeloproliferative neoplasms, which are a group of blood diseases including leukemia.

Other recruitment grants provided by the institute to Houston-area organizations are:

  • $4 million for recruitment of Susan Bullman to the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. She was an assistant professor at Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, where she studied the connection between microbes and cancer.
  • $4 million for recruitment of Oren Rom to the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. Rom is an assistant professor of pathology and translational pathobiology at Louisiana State University Shreveport.
  • Nearly $2 million for recruitment of Lauren Hagler to conduct RNA cancer biology at Texas A&M University. She is a postdoctoral scholar in biochemistry at Stanford University.

The institute also awarded grants to five companies in the Houston area:

  • $4.7 million to 7 Hills Pharma for development of immunotherapies to treat cancer and prevent infectious diseases.
  • $4.5 million to Indapta Therapeutics for the Phase 1 trial of a cell therapy for treatment of multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
  • $2.75 million to Bectas Therapeutics for development of antibodies and biomarkers to overcome a type of resistance T-cell checkpoint therapy.
  • $2.69 million to MS Pen Technologies for development of technology that differentiates between normal tissue and cancerous tissue during surgery.
  • $2.58 million to Crossbridge Bio for development of an antibody-drug combination to treat certain solid tumors.