The Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship identified eight startups that are best suited for disrupting energy tech and innovation. Photo courtesy of Rice Alliance

In honor of CERAWeek, the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship hosted its annual Energy Venture Day.

After over 50 startup pitches and more than 300 meetings, venture investors identified eight startups that are the most-promising companies on a path to innovate and disrupt the energy ecosystem.

The 2023 Energy Venture Day's Most-Promising Startup winners were:

AeroShield Materials

Graphic via aeroshield.tech

Hyde Park, Massachusetts-based AeroShield Materials is creating thermally insulating transparent inserts. The inserts are only four millimeters of AeroShield's material and, when placed inside a double-pane window, provides 65 percent more energy efficiency.

Columbia Power Technologies (C-Power)

Image via cpower.co

C-Power, based in Charlottesville, Virgina, has a technology that harnesses the power of the ocean.

"C-Power delivers this renewable energy resource to the world, both through low-power solutions that bring energy and the cloud to the sea and large-scale solutions that help decarbonize terrestrial grids," the company's website reads.

EarthEn

Graphic via earthen.energy

Chandler, Arizona-based EarthEn is focused on long duration energy storage solutions that use CO2 in a closed loop to store 4 to 100 hours of energy at a low cost. The SaaS tools — with artificial intelligence and machine learning — optimize peak demand pricing and use predictive analysis to enable grid resiliency.

Group1

Photo via Twitter

Group 1, based in Austin, is focused on the commercialization of potassium-ion batteries. The core technology originates from the labs of University of Texas at Austin professor JB Goodenough, co-inventor of the lithium-ion battery.

Ionada Carbon Solutions

Photo via ionada.com

Houston-based Ionada, a member of Halliburton Labs, has created a technology that can remove up to 99 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions for the energy, marine, and e-fuels, according to the company.

"Our engineers have more than a century of combined expertise in reducing emissions for the power generation, chemical, road, rail, air and marine industries. We are here to help you find the best sustainable solution to reduce your emissions," reads the website.

H Quest Vanguard

Photo courtesy of Halliburton

Another Halliburton Labs member H Quest Vanguard, headquartered in Pittsburgh, has developed an electrically powered chemical conversion platform that leverages Microwave Plasma Pyrolysis to liberate zero-CO2 hydrogen from natural gas using only a quarter of energy required by electrolysis, while coproducing a high-value carbon or petrochemical coproduct.

Pressure Corp

Photo by Anton Petrus/Getty

Houston-based Pressure Corp is developing waste pressure power systems to help midstream gas companies solve how they reduce emissions by providing the technology, capital and expertise required to achieve their environmental, social and governance goals.

STARS Technology

Photo via starsh2.com

Based in Richland, Washington, STARS Technology Corp. is commercializing advanced micro-channel chemical process technology that originally was designed for NASA and the Department of Energy. The company's reactors and heat exchangers are compact, energy-efficient, and more.

The Greater Houston Partnership's Susan Davenport shares details on Houston House at SXSW, HETI House at CERAWeek, and taking the city on tour to spread awareness of the ecosystem. Photo via houston.org

Tapping into CERAWeek, SXSW to showcase and convene Houston tech

Houston innovators podcast episode 176

Every year, one of the biggest tech conferences in the world convenes right down the road from Houston in downtown Austin. That's a huge opportunity for the Greater Houston Partnership to showcase and congregate Housto's tech innovators.

Susan Davenport, senior vice president and chief economic development officer for the Greater Houston Partnership, shares on the Houston Innovators Podcast how the GHP has made an effort to increase Houston's presence at SXSW over the past few years. This year, the third year for Houston House, the GHP and the Houston Energy Transition Initiative are convening over 20 Houston innovators for two days of programming.

"We want to further the development of our ecosystem," Davenport says on the podcast. "Houston is so uniquely place for this — we have such well-developed industry sectors and a customer base. ... All entrepreneurs want to showcase their products and talk about what their doing. We'll have people there to answer questions and, most importantly, invite them to Houston."

Currently, the GHP is also hosting its second year of involvement at CERAWeek with its HETI team. HETI House, which is open at CERAWeek showcases unique energy transition technology originating in Houston. Returning this year is HETI's startup pitch competition on March 8 from 10 am to 3 pm.

SXSW and CERAWeek are just two examples of the GHP's mission of putting Houston tech on display. Davenport shares how every year, the GHP's team embarks on a handful of domestic and international mission trips to bring Houston to other major cities — as well as bring back ideas from other ecosystems.

"We go to these conferences to provide a glimpse into what we're doing and have an opportunity to connect, but we also take that message around the globe," Davenport says. "We believe we have a great story. We believe Texas has a great backdrop, and we put all this together and take it on the road."

She shares more about these trips and on what people can expect from Houston House at SXSW on the podcast. Listen to the interview below — or wherever you stream your podcasts — and subscribe for weekly episodes.


Are you interested in finding the best Houston tech and innovation conversations at CERAWeek this year? Look no further than this guide. Photo by Natalie Harms/InnovationMap

7+ can't-miss innovation events at CERAWeek featuring Houston speakers

where to be

If you're headed out to CERAWeek by S&P Global next week in downtown Houston, you'll want to make the most of it. Scout out Houston tech innovators at this annual energy-focused conference with this list of must-attend panels, presentations, and networking opportunities.

CERAWeek, taking place in the George R. Brown Convention Center and the Hilton Americas Hotel, is focused is on the entire energy industry, and has several themes this year — including shifting geopolitics, supply chain and infrastructure constraints, tech and innovation, future of work, and more.

Most of the innovation-themed events are organized under the Agora track. While CERAWeek is a global affair, you're sure to spot Houston-based executives, companies, and startups. Here are all the events you can't miss if learning more about Houston energy innovation is your goal.

Monday: Scaling Startups: New and efficient financial models

New startups in the energy ecosystem are providing solutions to the grand climate and climate sustainability challenges. But exciting startups need to move beyond the drawing board to eventual commercial success through necessary funding. What financial models are most successful in bringing these startups to scale?

The panel is from 12:30 to 1:10 pm on Monday, March 6. More info.

Tuesday: Chevron | Global Innovation Hubs: Where to grow your startup

The world needs a robust energy innovation ecosystem to realize decarbonization commitments. Learn about how the ecosystem’s parts are interdependent and must work together for the system to thrive and for the world to advance an energy system that’s affordable, reliable and ever cleaner.

The talk is from 2 to 2:30 pm on Tuesday, March 7. More info.

Tuesday: Gulf Coast Hydrogen Hub

With an existing ecosystem of infrastructure, producers, and consumers, the Gulf Coast has ambitions to become a global hydrogen hub. What technologies will be used? How will companies trade low-carbon hydrogen across their shared infrastructure? Join this panel to discuss how the “Energy Capital of the World” plans to lead the low carbon future.

The panel is from 5:30 to 6 pm on Tuesday, March 7. More info.

Wednesday: The Role of Private Capital in Funding the Energy Transition

While public market funds run by institutional investors have been shifting allocations toward cleantech companies, they are often hamstrung by a limited universe of pure-play cleantech equities and index-tracking methodologies that limit their ability to take longer-duration bets. The real action for energy transition investors to date has been in private equity, where funds can take duration risk and have overcome liquidity limitations by successfully raising historically large funds. The pace of private equity dealmaking, which slowed in early 2022, has accelerated sharply again for cleantech since the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act in the United States. How much of the pent-up private equity capital remains to be run through, and how will the even larger universe of public market investors gain access to these growing markets?

The event is from 7:15 to 8:20 am on Wednesday, March 8. More info.

Wednesday: Adaptation and Climate Resilience

We are witnessing a global rise in extreme weather events such as flooding, drought and heat waves. Climate change is having a variety of effects in different regions. Growing attention and investment is being directed to adaptation. What are different countries and regions doing to adapt to climate change? How will technology, policy and smart design combine to make the world more climate resilient?

The event is from 10 to 10:30 am on Wednesday, March 8. More info.

Wednesday: HETI Energy Ventures Pitch Competition

Over 15 startups and entrepreneurs will present to an audience of 1000+ investors, accelerators, and innovators for a chance to win one of many awards sponsored by Houston's energy transition community.

The event is from 10 am to 3 pm on Wednesday, March 8. More info.

Wednesday: Cities Leading the Energy Transition - World Energy Cities Partnership Mayors

Cities are at the forefront for tackling the climate and energy challenges impacting us all. Hear from the cities of Houston, Esbjerg, Perth and Calgary as they describe their visions toward a more sustainable energy plan for their communities.

The panel is from 12:30 to 1:10 pm on Wednesday, March 8. More info.

Thursday: Energy Transition Hubs: How cities are leading the charge

Increasingly, governments are transforming their communities by accelerating energy transition policies and infrastructure. Listen to how these cities are creating the blueprints for a more sustainable habitat for their citizens.

The panel is from 8:30 to 9:10 am on Thursday, March 9. More info.

BONUS: Network at these company houses

CERAWeek's Agora Partner houses exist showcase what companies are most excited about. Find your way to these three houses in between sessions to learn more about each business's tech and innovation.

  • Chevron: Back in its largest space yet, the Chevron house will highlight Chevron Technology Ventures portfolio companies, Chevron New Energies partnerships and tech experts, along with VR experiences and tech exhibits.
  • Oxy: Oxy, an international energy company based in Houston, is featuring its application of new tech, including Direct Air Capture with geologic sequestration and other CO2 utilization technologies.
  • ExxonMobil: ExxonMobil, which recently relocated its HQ to Houston, is talking about a lower-emission energy future — something that requires multiple solutions that can be implemented at scale to address some of the highest-emitting sectors of the economy.

Here's your one-stop shop for innovation events in Houston for March. Photo via Getty Images

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

where to be

It's time to look at what's on the agenda for Houston innovators for the month of March — a busy one, from the end of Tech Rodeo and the start of CERAWeek, plus many more things to add to your calendars.

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


March 2 — CodeLaunch Houston

Improving is hosting CodeLaunch Houston — a high energy startup pitch competition — which will round out Houston Tech Rodeo, which is taking place from Monday, February 17, through Thursday, March 2. Check out the finalists here.

The event is Thursday, March 2, from 6 to 9 pm, at 713 Music Hall. Click here to register.

March 4 — Softeq Chili Showdown

Softeq is hosting its chili cookoff event and official after-party of Houston Tech Rodeo. The event will include the broader Houston community, drive awareness of startup development resources available to the community, demonstrate new technology, feature local culture, and promote local startup job creation, all while benefiting Lemonade Day, a fun, experiential program that teaches youth how to start, own and operate their very own business.

The event is Saturday, March 4, from 10 am to 2 pm, at Truck Yard Houston. Click here to register.

March 6 — Energy Workforce of the Future Summit

At this year's summit, Ally Energy will unveil the Energy Workforce Outlook study on workforce transition and hear from leaders, policymakers, startup CEOs, investors, and innovators about how to take all energy forward.

The event is Monday, March 6, from 8 am to 2 pm, at The Petroleum Club of Houston. Click here to register.

March 6 — Transition on Tap at Greentown Labs

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.

The event is Monday, March 6, at 5 pm, at Greentown Houston. Click here to register.

March 6-10 — CERAWeek by S&P Global

CERAWeek by S&P Global returns to downtown Houston. The annual conference brings energy leaders from around the world to discuss the industry's trends and future. The Agora track focuses on the future of energy, which includes clean energy and innovation.

The conference is Monday, March 6, to Friday, March 10, at The George R. Brown Convention Center. Click here to register.

March 7 — Energy Tech Venture Day

The Rice Alliance Energy Venture Day is a fast-paced event connecting nearly 40 energy ventures with venture capitalists, corporate innovation groups, industry leaders, academics and service provider. Ventures will give 3-minute pitches with a networking reception so you can meet the energy ventures and learn more about their technologies.

The event is Tuesday, March 7, from 3 to 6:30 pm, at Rice University. Click here to register.

March 8 — Navigating Careers: Insights & Inspiration from Women Who Have Done It All

In today’s career landscape for C-level leaders, directors, university innovators, entrepreneurs, and founders, what does success look like? How do women navigate barriers, turn challenges into opportunities, and tackle whatever comes their way with poise and confidence? Join us at the Ion for a panel featuring high-profile women thought leaders, entrepreneurs, and influencers--all on top of their field and all with incredible journeys and stories. These women will share their wisdom and wit in authentic ways. A not-to-miss panel, followed by breakout room discussions with each panelist!

The event is Wednesday, March 8, from 8:30 to 11 am, at the Ion. Click here to register.

March 8 — International Women’s Day Luncheon

This luncheon aims to celebrate womanhood while acknowledging and getting inspired for the challenge of promoting progress.

The event is Wednesday, March 8, from 11 am to 2 pm, at Sesh Coworking. Click here to register.

March 9 — Dream Big Ventures Investor Studio Series: Energizing Latino/a Investors

Join the Ion for a fireside chat with Dream Big Ventures Founder & CEO Staci LaToison, and Angeles Investors CEO & Board President David Olivencia, to discuss trends in venture capital and angel investing, and how they are helping increase access to capital for underrepresented founders.

The event is Thursday, March 9, from 5 to 7 pm, at the Ion. Click here to register.

March 10 — TMC Innovation: Federal Health Innovation Day

TMCi is hosting a Federal Health Innovation Day with participation from various federal government agencies focused on health care and innovation. There will be opportunity for face time with the representatives and food will be provided.

The event is Friday, March 10, from 8 am to 2 pm, at TMC Innovation. Click here to register.

March 10-19 — SXSW (in Austin)

Houston founders, investors, and other tech community members will make their way to Austin for SXSW, an interactive festival that is again bringing startup pitches, thought leadership, and more. The Greater Houston Partnership's Houston House returns on March 13 at the Fairmont Hotel, and will be open to badge holders.

The conference is Friday, March 10, to Sunday, March 19, in Downtown Austin. Click here to register.

March 27-28 — Mission Innovate: Reimagining Space Technology to Solve Today’s Challenges

Innovators from around the greater Houston area will convene for a two-day event to innovate, disrupt, and create commercial space companies. Entrepreneurs will work with licensable intellectual property from NASA’s IP portfolio to solve some of the largest problems facing the industry. Experienced and first-time founders will form teams, ideate, and pitch their ideas to renown technology entrepreneurs, including members of the innovation teams at NASA! As part of the event, teams will be taught critical startup methodologies, advised by experienced business leaders, and network with an entire community that dreams of shaping the commercial space industry.

The event is Monday, March 27, to Tuesday, March 28, at The Cannon West Houston. Click here to register.

March 29 — The Cannon Fish Creek Grand Opening Party

Celebrate the opening of The Cannon Fish Creek, which is located in Montgomery, Texas, within the Woodforest community.

The event is Wednesday, March 29, from 4 to 6 pm, at The Cannon Fish Creek. Click here to register.

Houston founders — these four programs have applications open now. Photo via Getty Images

4 program deadlines Houston innovators should know about

short stories

Editor's note: It's safe to say 2023 has fully kicked off as Houston's startup and innovation ecosystem has switched into second gear. A handful of programs — local and national — have opened applications for accelerators and pitch competitions. Scroll through to find one that applies to your company or a startup you know of. Take careful note of the deadlines since they'll be here before you know it.

Is something missing? Email natalie@innovationmap.com for editorial consideration.

Carbon to Value Initiative

Greentown Labs announced its looking for innovative companies with carbon-related technology. Photo via GreentownLabs.com

Greentown Labs announced that its Carbon to Value (C2V) Initiative has opened applications for its third set of startups.

"Supported by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, the C2V Initiative is a unique partnership among the Urban Future Lab at NYU Tandon School of Engineering, Greentown Labs, and Fraunhofer USA that’s driving the creation of a thriving innovation ecosystem for the commercialization of carbontech—technologies that capture and convert CO₂ into valuable end products or services," reads the news release. "Since the C2V Initiative's inception in 2020, the program has supported 18 groundbreaking carbontech startups—chosen from an exceptional pool of more than 230 applications."

The program is looking for companies with technologies within carbon capture, management, removal, or conversion and between TRL 4 and TRL 7. Selected companies will receive a $10,000 stipend and participate in the six-month program.

Applications are due by the end of the day on March 31. For more information and to apply, click here.

MassChallenge accelerators

MassChallenge has two accelerators open for applications. Photo courtesy of MassChallenge

MassChallenge has two programs with open applications:

MassChallenge US Early Stage Accelerator (Deadline: March 3)

This three-month program is industry agnostic and provides intensive support, guidance, tools, and connectivity to the greater MassChallenge community. Around 200 startups are selected per cohort that range in stage from those currently engaged in customer discovery work to validating a technology or service. For more information and to apply, click here.

MassChallenge HealthTech Accelerator (Deadline: February 6)

The 2023 HealthTech Sprint is an eight-week program intended to work intensely with 20 to 25 startups to accelerate the tools and technologies that could transform healthcare. The HealthTech Sprint program is designed to support mid-stage companies that possess a product/solution ready for scaling. For more information and to apply, click here.

Houston Energy Transition Initiative's Energy Ventures Pitch Competition 

HETI is bringing back its CERAWeek pitch competition. Image via houston.org

The Greater Houston Partnership's Houston Energy Transition Initiative, or HETI, is looking for participants for its Energy Ventures Pitch Competition at CERAWeek this year.

"This pitch competition brings together key members of the energy industry, investors, and startups to showcase the critical innovations and emerging technologies that create value from the world’s transition to low-carbon energy systems," reads the website.

HETI is looking for companies addressing challenges and opportunities in CCUS, hydrogen, energy storage, and the circular economy, are invited to present their well-developed business concepts to a world-class investor community.

Applications close February 9. For more information and to apply, click here.

Rice Business Plan Competition

The annual Rice Business Plan Competition has opened applications for student startups. Photo by Natalie Harms

Calling all student-founded startups — the largest and richest intercollegiate student startup competition, the Rice Business Plan Competition, has applications open. According to Rice, 784 RBPC alumni have raised $4.6 billion in funding and created over 5,500 jobs. This year's event is going to be held May 11 to 13.

The RBPC is open to all students from any university around the world. Teams must include at least one graduate-level student, and every team that is invited to compete in person at Rice University is guaranteed to take home at least one of the more that 60 expected cash prizes. For more information and to apply, click here.

Twelve startups pitched at this annual Houston energy conference — and one went home with a golden ticket into Chevron Technology Ventures' catalyst program. Photo by Natalie Harms/InnovationMap

Houston showcases 12 energy transition startups at annual CERAWeek conference

winner, winner

CERAWeek by S&P Global wrapped up last week after five days of energy transition panels, leadership talks, emerging tech showcases, endless networking and so much more.

While dozens of Houston energy innovators and investors bopped around the Agora innovation section of the conference in George R. Brown Convention Center, the highest concentration of startups had to be at the Energy Transition Ventures Day pitch competition hosted by the Greater Houston Partnership's Houston Energy Transition Initiative and in collaboration with Halliburton Labs, Greentown Houston, The Ion, and more.

Twelve startups across four categories — carbon capture, use and storage, hydrogen solutions, energy storage, and circular economy — pitched to a panel of investors who then selected one winner per category. Additionally, Chevron Technology Ventures selected one lucky startup from the pitches to be a part of its catalyst program.

Of the 12 companies, most call Houston their headquarters — and the ones that aren't based in town have some connection to the city via accelerator, incubator, or venture program.

"This is Houston," says Jane Stricker, executive director of thee Houston Energy Transition Initiative and senior vice president of energy transition at the GHP, at the end of the pitches. "This is the reality of what's happening in this city right now — traditional oil and gas and traditional energy incumbent coming together with exciting new technology innovations to develop solutions for the future."

While its the first event the GHP has put on at CERAWeek highlighting energy transition startups, it won't be the last, Stricker notes.

"The energy industry is not some near-term problem to address on our path towards an energy transition future — whatever that looks like," Scott Gale, executive director of Halliburton Labs and host for the event, says. "We're here to drive that forward. To think otherwise is to assume that JFK said that we're going to the moon, but we're going to leave the aerospace industry behind — it's silly and it's not going to happen. We're so thrilled to have these companies here presenting."

The Energy Transition Ventures Day programming, which took place on Wednesday, March 9, concluded with a dinner celebration where the five winning startups were announced. Here are the 12 startups who pitched, with a note on those that were recognized by the judges:

  • Carbon capture, use and storage category:
    • OCO Chem — Washington-based startup with a technology that converts CO2 into useful products and stores renewable energy. (category winner)
    • Dsider — Houston-based tech platform that uses data to track carbon emissions.
    • Ionada — Houston-based company that develops, manufactures, and markets exhaust gas cleaning systems that reduce emissions from the marine and power generation industries.
  • Hydrogen solutions category:
    • Mote — Los Angeles-based business that converts wood waste into hydrogen and carbon.
    • Fysikes Bio — Houston-based startup with ongoing pilots on the Gulf Coast that creates BioHydrogen and Biochar from natural resources. (category winner)
  • Circular economy category:
    • Applied Bioplastics — Austin-headquartered plant-based plastics alternative. (category winner)
    • Katz Water Technologies — Houston-based innovative water purification company.
    • Pressure Corp. — Houston-based business providing industrial facilities/operators the ability to monetize their waste.
  • Energy storage category:
    • Parasanti — Austin-based edge computing hardware and software startup that's streamlining in-field data and analytics. (Chevron's catalyst program winner)
    • Revterra — Houston-based innovative flywheel energy storage system solution. (category winner)
    • Veloce Energy — Los Angeles-based innovative electric vehicle charging solution.
    • Renewell — Houston-based energy storage network that's re-purposing oil and gas infrastructure
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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

New Houston venture studio emerges to target early-stage hardtech, energy transition startups

funding the future

The way Doug Lee looks at it, there are two areas within the energy transition attracting capital. With his new venture studio, he hopes to target an often overlooked area that's critical for driving forward net-zero goals.

Lee describes investment activity taking place in the digital and software world — early stage technology that's looking to make the industry smarter. But, on the other end of the spectrum, investment activity can be found on massive infrastructure projects.

While both areas need funding, Lee has started his new venture studio, Flathead Forge, to target early-stage hardtech technologies.

“We are really getting at the early stage companies that are trying to develop technologies at the intersection of legacy industries that we believe can become more sustainable and the energy transition — where we are going. It’s not an ‘if’ or ‘or’ — we believe these things intersect,” he tells EnergyCapital.

Specifically, Lee's expertise is within the water and industrial gas space. For around 15 years, he's made investments in this area, which he describes as crucial to the energy transition.

“Almost every energy transition technology that you can point to has some critical dependency on water or gas,” he says. “We believe that if we don’t solve for those things, the other projects won’t survive.”

Lee, and his brother, Dave, are evolving their family office to adopt a venture studio model. They also sold off Azoto Energy, a Canadian oilfield nitrogen cryogenic services business, in December.

“We ourselves are going through a transition like our energy is going through a transition,” he says. “We are transitioning into a single family office into a venture studio. By doing so, we want to focus all of our access and resources into this focus.”

At this point, Flathead Forge has seven portfolio companies and around 15 corporations they are working with to identify their needs and potential opportunities. Lee says he's gearing up to secure a $100 million fund.

Flathead also has 40 advisers and mentors, which Lee calls sherpas — a nod to the Flathead Valley region in Montana, which inspired the firm's name.

“We’re going to help you carry up, we’re going to tie ourselves to the same rope as you, and if you fall off the mountain, we’re falling off with you,” Lee says of his hands-on approach, which he says sets Flathead apart from other studios.

Another thing that's differentiating Flathead Forge from its competition — it's dedication to giving back.

“We’ve set aside a quarter of our carried interest for scholarships and grants,” Lee says.

The funds will go to scholarships for future engineers interested in the energy transition, as well as grants for researchers studying high-potential technologies.

“We’re putting our own money where our mouth is,” Lee says of his thesis for Flathead Forge.

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This article originally ran on EnergyCapital.

Houston-based lunar mission's rocky landing and what it means for America's return to the moon

houston, we have a problem

A private U.S. lunar lander tipped over at touchdown and ended up on its side near the moon’s south pole, hampering communications, company officials said Friday.

Intuitive Machines initially believed its six-footed lander, Odysseus, was upright after Thursday's touchdown. But CEO Steve Altemus said Friday the craft “caught a foot in the surface," falling onto its side and, quite possibly, leaning against a rock. He said it was coming in too fast and may have snapped a leg.

“So far, we have quite a bit of operational capability even though we’re tipped over," he told reporters.

But some antennas were pointed toward the surface, limiting flight controllers' ability to get data down, Altemus said. The antennas were stationed high on the 14-foot (4.3-meter) lander to facilitate communications at the hilly, cratered and shadowed south polar region.

Odysseus — the first U.S. lander in more than 50 years — is thought to be within a few miles (kilometers) of its intended landing site near the Malapert A crater, less than 200 miles (300 kilometers) from the south pole. NASA, the main customer, wanted to get as close as possible to the pole to scout out the area before astronauts show up later this decade.

NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter will attempt to pinpoint the lander's location, as it flies overhead this weekend.

With Thursday’s touchdown, Intuitive Machines became the first private business to pull off a moon landing, a feat previously achieved by only five countries. Japan was the latest country to score a landing, but its lander also ended up on its side last month.

Odysseus' mission was sponsored in large part by NASA, whose experiments were on board. NASA paid $118 million for the delivery under a program meant to jump-start the lunar economy.

One of the NASA experiments was pressed into service when the lander's navigation system did not kick in. Intuitive Machines caught the problem in advance when it tried to use its lasers to improve the lander's orbit. Otherwise, flight controllers would not have discovered the failure until it was too late, just five minutes before touchdown.

“Serendipity is absolutely the right word,” mission director Tim Crain said.

It turns out that a switch was not flipped before flight, preventing the system's activation in space.

Launched last week from Florida, Odysseus took an extra lap around the moon Thursday to allow time for the last-minute switch to NASA's laser system, which saved the day, officials noted.

Another experiment, a cube with four cameras, was supposed to pop off 30 seconds before touchdown to capture pictures of Odysseus’ landing. But Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s EagleCam was deliberately powered off during the final descent because of the navigation switch and stayed attached to the lander.

Embry-Riddle's Troy Henderson said his team will try to release EagleCam in the coming days, so it can photograph the lander from roughly 26 feet (8 meters) away.

"Getting that final picture of the lander on the surface is still an incredibly important task for us,” Henderson told The Associated Press.

Intuitive Machines anticipates just another week of operations on the moon for the solar-powered lander — nine or 10 days at most — before lunar nightfall hits.

The company was the second business to aim for the moon under NASA's commercial lunar services program. Last month, Pittsburgh's Astrobotic Technology gave it a shot, but a fuel leak on the lander cut the mission short and the craft ended up crashing back to Earth.

Until Thursday, the U.S. had not landed on the moon since Apollo 17's Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt closed out NASA's famed moon-landing program in December 1972. NASA's new effort to return astronauts to the moon is named Artemis after Apollo's mythological twin sister. The first Artemis crew landing is planned for 2026 at the earliest.

3 female Houston innovators to know this week

who's who

Editor's note: Welcome to another Monday edition of Innovators to Know. Today I'm introducing you to three Houstonians to read up about — three individuals behind recent innovation and startup news stories in Houston as reported by InnovationMap. Learn more about them and their recent news below by clicking on each article.

Emma Konet, co-founder and CTO of Tierra Climate

Emma Konet, co-founder and CTO of Tierra Climate, joins the Houston Innovators Podcast. Photo via LinkedIn

If the energy transition is going to be successful, the energy storage space needs to be equipped to support both the increased volume of energy needed and new energies. And Emma Konet and her software company, Tierra Climate, are targeting one part of the equation: the market.

"To me, it's very clear that we need to build a lot of energy storage in order to transition the grid," Konet says on the Houston Innovators Podcast. "The problems that I saw were really on the market side of things." Read more.

Cindy Taff, CEO of Sage Geosystems

Houston-based Sage Geosystems announced the first close of $17 million round led by Chesapeake Energy Corp. Photo courtesy of Sage

A Houston geothermal startup has announced the close of its series A round of funding.

Houston-based Sage Geosystems announced the first close of $17 million round led by Chesapeake Energy Corp. The proceeds aim to fund its first commercial geopressured geothermal system facility, which will be built in Texas in Q4 of 2024. According to the company, the facility will be the first of its kind.

“The first close of our Series A funding and our commercial facility are significant milestones in our mission to make geopressured geothermal system technologies a reality,” Cindy Taff, CEO of Sage Geosystems, says. Read more.

Clemmie Martin, chief of staff at The Cannon

With seven locations across the Houston area, The Cannon's digital technology allows its members a streamlined connection. Photo courtesy of The Cannon

After collaborating over the years, The Cannon has acquired a Houston startup's digital platform technology to become a "physical-digital hybrid" community.

Village Insights, a Houston startup, worked with The Cannon to create and launch its digital community platform Cannon Connect. Now, The Cannon has officially acquired the business. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“The integration of a world-class onsite member experience and Cannon Connect’s superior virtual resource network creates a seamless, streamlined environment for member organizations,” Clemmie Martin, The Cannon’s newly appointed chief of staff, says in the release. “Cannon Connect and this acquisition have paved new pathways to access and success for all.” Read more.