Fervo Energy scored a $244 million round of funding thanks to existing and new investors. Photo via Fervo Energy

An Oklahoma-based shale oil and gas leader has backed Fervo Energy's latest round of funding, supporting the startup's geothermal technology yet again.

Fervo announced its latest round of funding this week to the tune of $244 million. The round was led by Devon Energy, a company that's previously backed the startup.

“Demand for around-the-clock clean energy has never been higher, and next-generation geothermal is uniquely positioned to meet this demand,” Tim Latimer, Fervo CEO and co-founder, says in a news release. “Our technology is fully derisked, our pricing is already competitive, and our resource pipeline is vast. This investment enables Fervo to continue to position geothermal at the heart of 24/7 carbon-free energy production.”

Founded in 2017, Fervo provides carbon-free energy through development of next-generation geothermal power. The company has recently reported its success at its Cape Station project, a400 MW project in Beaver County, Utah, as well as at its full-scale commercial pilot, Project Red, in northern Nevada and made possible through a 2021 partnership with Google.

Galvanize Climate Solutions, John Arnold, Liberty Mutual Investments, Marunouchi Innovation Partners, Mercuria, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries also contributed to the round with existing investors Capricorn’s Technology Impact Fund, Congruent Ventures, DCVC, Elemental Excelerator, Helmerich & Payne, and Impact Science Ventures.

“The energy trilemma is one of the defining global challenges of our time; how can we generate power that is affordable, reliable, and clean,” Houstonian John Arnold, founder of Centaurus Capital and co-chair of Arnold Ventures, says in the release. “Fervo has transformed geothermal into a scalable carbon-free resource ready to meet the moment.”

The fresh funding, according to the company, will go toward Fervo’s work in Cape Station, that is slated to begin delivering clean electricity to the grid in 2026.

“Fervo’s approach to geothermal development leverages leading-edge subsurface, drilling, and completions expertise and techniques Devon has been honing for decades,” David Harris, chief corporate development officer and executive vice president at Devon, says in the release. “We look forward to deepening our partnership with Fervo to capture the full value of Fervo’s first-mover advantage in geothermal and the adjacencies to Devon’s core business.”

In 2022, Fervo raised a $138 million series C round to support the completion of power plants in Nevada and Utah and evaluate new projects in California, Idaho, Oregon, Colorado, and New Mexico, as well as in other countries. This latest investment brings the company's total funds raised to $431 million since its inception in 2017, according to Crunchbase.

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This article originally ran on EnergyCapital.

A Houston energy professional shares his advice for those looking for a job in climate tech. Photo via Getty Images

5 tips for people looking to expand their career into climate tech, according to this Houston expert

guest column

If hard times build strong people, then extreme weather events build strong climate tech ecosystems. Nobody knows this conventional wisdom better than Houston.

The past six years alone have seen the second costliest natural disaster in United States history (Hurricane Harvey), the longest power outage in Texas history (Winter Storm Uri), and this June, a heat wave that pushed the ERCOT power grid to record levels.

Combine our ever more volatile climate with a post-COVID-19 reckoning of what it means to work for what you believe in, and you get a recipe for the most significant workforce shift the world has ever seen. This workforce shift rules in favor of climate tech, and it will largely target those who’ve grown up, come of age and started their careers in the midst of this increasing volatility. Climate tech will no longer be considered a standalone industry; it will be baked into all existing industries, and those that don’t accept it will die.

I’m proud to be a climate optimist, but I’m also a realist. The truth is no matter what we do, our volatile climate is going to get worse before it gets better. But if extreme weather events build strong climate tech ecosystems, I can live with that.

To students and young professionals considering a jump into climate tech: There is no better place to be right now. Here are five things to keep in mind as you make that jump.

1. Meet as many people from diverse backgrounds working on as many different things as you can. You will likely feel awkward at first, especially if you don’t naturally gravitate toward conferences and happy hours. At the risk of sounding trite, just treat every stranger like a friend you haven’t met yet. Some of us could probably use more friends anyway.

2. The advice in the self-help book How to Win Friends and Influence People, originally published in 1936, is timeless. Possibly the most useful (and most obvious) point is this: Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language. Whenever possible, repeat your new friends’ names when you meet them. Especially if you’re seeking a business development, sales or other external-facing role, perfecting this point should be your Holy Grail.

3. Depending on how new you are to energy and climate tech, you’ll hear lots of unfamiliar lingo. Ask questions, take note of what you still don’t get, and do your best to fill in the gaps on the side. Eventually, acronyms will become your best friend. For example: Have you seen what the ITC and the PTC from the IRA will do to the LCOE of PV according to NREL? IYKYK.

4. Coachability is key. You may feel like you’re getting rejected 99 percent of the time, but the way you respond to and learn from those experiences will ensure the other one percent makes all the difference. At the end of the day, climate tech is so vast that it’s impossible to become an expert in everything, and that’s okay. We may not know what’s going on 70 percent of the time, but I’ll take a .300 batting average any day.

5. It may be impossible to become an expert in everything, but you should proactively learn as much as you can, especially given how quickly the ecosystem is expanding. If you’re not embarrassed by how little you knewone year ago, two years ago or even five years ago, then you’re probably not trying hard enough.

These are only five of my takeaways over the past few years and I’ll be the first to admit that I have a long way to go in implementing them. In a way, that’s what makes this journey what it is. I just can’t wait to see what we build.

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Ryan Davidson is business development lead for CalWave Power Technologies, a California-based company and Greentown Houston member that's focused on converting ocean waves’ hydrokinetic energy into reliable electricity. This article originally ran on EnergyCapital.

Greentown Labs has announced a new accelerator that's dual located in its Houston and Boston-area locations. Photo via GreentownLabs.com

Greentown announces startup accelerator with multinational manufacturer

go make

A climatetech incubator with locations in Houston and Somerville, Massachusetts, has announced an accelerator program with a corporate partner.

Greentown Labs andSaint-Gobain, a multinational manufacturer and distributor of high-performance materials, have opened applications forGreentown Go Build 2023. The program intends to support and accelerate startup-corporate partnerships to advance climatetech, specifically focused on circularity and decarbonizing the built environment per a news release from Greentown.

It's the third Greentown Go Build program the incubator has hosted. Applications, which are open online, are due by August 31.

“The Greentown Go Build program is an opportunity for innovative startups to share how they are disrupting the construction market with innovative and sustainable solutions that address the need for circularity and sustainability and that align with our mission of making the world a better home,” says Minas Apelian, vice president of external and internal venturing at Saint-Gobain. “Through this program, we are eager to identify companies dedicated to reducing our reliance on raw materials and associated supply chain risk to ensure circular solutions result in profitable, sustainable growth for business and sustainable construction solutions for our industries.”

For the six months of the program, the startups selected for the program will have access to mentorship, networking opportunities, and workshops. Program benefits for the participating startups, according to Greentown, include:

  • Access to a structured platform to engage leadership from Saint-Gobain and explore potential partnerships
  • A $25,000 stipend per startup
  • Access to Greentown's community of mentors, partners, and community of climatetech startup experts
  • Access to Saint-Gobain network
  • Desk space and membership within Greentown for the duration of the program

“We are thrilled to be building on our successful track record of Greentown Go programs with Saint-Gobain and look forward to driving decarbonization of the sector through startup-corporate partnerships,” says Kevin T. Taylor, CFO and interim CEO at Greentown Labs. “Saint-Gobain has been an exemplary partner for our Greentown Go programs and for Greentown more broadly—working collaboratively with our startups and deploying many of their technologies. We are eager to meet the world-class building tech startups that apply for the program.”

Greentown Houston is asking its current and potential members what they want in a wet lab. Photo via GreentownLabs.com

Greentown Houston announces plans for wet lab, calls for feedback from members

seeing green

Greentown Houston has announced it's building a new wet lab facility — but first, they need some help from the community.

Greentown Labs, which is dual located at their headquarters in Somerville, Massachusetts, and in the Ion District in Houston, has announced that they are building out a wet lab in their Midtown space.

"We have heard from several startups as well as corporate partners in the ecosystem that are looking for wet lab space," says Lara Cottingham, vice president of strategy, policy, and climate impact at Greentown Labs. "Greentown has experience running wet labs from our location in Somerville. We're excited to be able to offer wet lab space to climatetech startups as an additional amenity to the Ion District.

Although Greentown's Boston-area location has wet lab space, Cottingham says the organization is not interested in copying and pasting that same facility. Greentown wants to provide the tools that the Houston ecosystem needs, and that requires getting feedback from its current and potential members.

"We want to announce to the community that this is something we're going to build — but we still need a lot of feedback and input from startups so we can learn what exactly they need or want to see from the wet lab," Cottingham tells InnovationMap. "No two wet labs are the same."

Right now, there aren't any details available about timeline or specifics of the new facility. Greentown is prioritizing getting feedback from its members and having conversations with potential sponsors and corporate partners.

"Corporate partners are a big part of the ecosystem and the community at Greentown. They can be so many things to our startups — mentors, customers, investors," Cottingham says. "And in this space, they can help us sponsor and financially support the wet lab. We're still fundraising — we have some partners that have committed to funding, but we're still looking for more funding."

In addition to monetary contribution, Cottingham says they are looking for other options as well, from partnerships with equipment providers, hazardous materials management, and more.

Startups that need wet lab space are encouraged to fill out the online form, which will be open through the summer, and potential corporate partners can express their interest online as well.

Greentown Houston opened its doors in 2021 and has since grown to house more than 75 energy and climatetech startups, as well as several accelerators, thanks to support from dozens of corporate partners.

DexMat, a Houston-based materials science startup with tech originating at Rice University, has raised $3 million. Image via Getty Images

Houston climate tech startup closes $3M seed led by Shell

money moves

A material science startup with technology originating at Rice University has announced it has closed its seed round of funding.

DexMat raised $3 million in funding in a round led by Shell Ventures with participation from Overture Ventures, Climate Avengers and several individuals. The company transforms hydrocarbons, renewable fuels, and captured carbon into its flagship product Galvorn.

“DexMat presents an opportunity to capture methane, an abundant and inexpensive resource, and use it to replace materials such as steel, aluminum, and copper with a more sustainable option. We are excited to be part of DexMat’s journey going forward and to realize their ambitions,” says Aimee LaFleur, investment principal at Shell, in a news release.

Alongside the announcement of the seed round, DexMat has named Bryan Guido Hassin as its new CEO. Hassin, who was previously a member of the company's board of directors, has been at the helm of multiple climate tech startups and most recently co-founded Third Derivative. Dmitri Tsentalovich, the previous CEO, is transitioning to CTO.

Bryan Guido Hassin has been named CEO of DexMat. Photo via LinkedIn

“Before joining DexMat, as CEO of Third Derivative, I was introduced to easily over 2,000 innovative new concepts and technologies. DexMat’s solution was one of the most impactful I came across, which is precisely why I’m so excited to be joining the team,” says Hassin in a news release. “The opportunity to eventually cut up to 3 gigatons of CO2 annually in one of the most underserved markets of the clean energy transition — heavy industry — was too important for me to pass by.”

The product impacts the climate tech space on two levels. First, in the production process, the carbon is 'locked' into the Galvorn material structure as a form of long-term carbon storage, according to the release. On the use side, the material displaces carbon-intensive materials — like steel, aluminum, and copper.

"The world's net zero future is entirely dependent on electrifying everything and decarbonizing the built environment," says Shomik Dutta, co-founder and managing partner at Overture Ventures, in the release. "Metals like copper and steel sit at the heart of these trillion-dollar markets, and DexMat's technology promises carbon-negative, lighter, and stronger versions of what we currently mine and melt. Companies like this can help cement America's leadership in the most important transition of our lifetimes."

DexMat was founded to commercialize materials science technology that originally developed in the Rice University laboratory of co-founder Professor Matteo Pasquali. According to the release, the company was built on over $20 million in non-dilutive funding — including grants from from the Air Force Research Laboratory, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, U.S. Department of Energy, NASA, Advanced Functional Fabrics of America, and the National Science Foundation — with Rice University included in the list of original investors.

Chevron Technology Ventures, which has an office in the Ion, has applications open for entrepreneurs looking for an opportunity in cleantech. Photo courtesy of Gensler

Q&A: Chevron introduces unique clean energy studio to Houston entrepreneur community

Seeing green

Calling all innovators looking for the next big climate technology — Chevron wants to help you find your next big opportunity.

Houston-based Chevron Technology Ventures has applications open for its second Chevron Studio cohort that matches entrepreneurs with promising technologies coming out of universities and labs. The overall goal of the studio — a collaboration between Chevron and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, or NREL — is to scale up and commercialize early-stage technologies that have the potential to impact the future of energy.

Applications for entrepreneurs are open through March 14. Once selected, there are three phases of the program. The first includes matching the selected entrepreneurs with the inventors of the selected intellectual properties, which will occur over three to four months. The next phase includes scaling up the product — something that will take one to two years, depending on the tech. The last step would be a trial or a pilot program that includes rolling out a minimum viable product at commercial scale at Chevron or an affiliate.

Gautam Phanse is the strategic relationship manager for Chevron Technology Ventures. He joins InnovationMap for a Q&A to explain more about the opportunity.

Gautam Phanse of Chevron Technology Ventures answers questions about this unique program. Photo courtesy

InnovationMap: What types of technologies is Chevron looking to bring into commercialization through this program? How is the program different from existing accelerators/incubators/etc.?

Gautam Phanse: Chevron Technology Ventures brings external innovation to Chevron. Key focus areas for CTV are industrial decarbonization, emerging mobility, energy decentralization, and the growing circular carbon economy. Chevron Studio is one of the tools to achieve this goal. The current focus areas for Chevron Studio are: carbon utilization, hydrogen and renewable energy, energy storage systems, and solutions for circular economy. These focus areas will be reviewed every year and additional areas could be brought into the mix.

The goal of Chevron Studio is to scale up and commercialize technology developed in the Universities and National Labs. We curate the intellectual property developed at universities and national labs and provide a platform to match entrepreneurs with the IP. The program provides seed funding and a pathway through incubation, pilot and field trials to scale up the technologies. The uniqueness of this program is its target and the breadth of its scope — all the way from incubation to field trials.

IM: How does Chevron Technology Ventures and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory collaborate on this project? What role does each entity play?

GP: CTV has a long history of supporting innovation and the startup community. And over the years we’ve seen the consistent gaps and the struggles that the startup companies have in scaling up technologies. We also have a long history of working with national labs and universities and have seen the challenges in getting these technologies out of the labs. The idea for Chevron Studio grew out of these challenges.

NREL’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center manages Chevron Studio, working closing with entrepreneurs and guiding them through the program while leveraging capabilities at the lab and activating the IEC’s network of cleantech startups, investors, foundations, and industry partners.

IM: What are you looking for from the entrepreneur applicants? Who should apply?

GP: We are looking for entrepreneurs who are seeking their next opportunity. They should have a passion in lower carbon solutions and the patience to work on early-stage technologies to see them through scale up and commercialization. Aspiring entrepreneurs with demonstrated passion are also welcome to apply. The entrepreneurs are expected to build a team, raise funds and grow the business providing competitive solutions to the industry.

IM: Tell me about cohort 1. How did it go and what were the participants able to accomplish?

GP: We were really excited about the response we got from both the entrepreneur community and the universities and national labs. We had a strong pool of entrepreneurs and a great mix of IP and frankly had a tough time making the selection. The first cohort had four entrepreneurs in the initial discovery phase. Some of them have now graduated, and we will be announcing the participants in the next phase — for scaling up — shortly.

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This conversation has been edited for brevity and clarity.

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Houston organizations launch collaborative center to boost cancer outcomes

new to HOU

Rice University's new Synthesis X Center officially launched last month to bring together experts in cancer care and chemistry.

The center was born out of what started about seven years ago as informal meetings between Rice chemist Han Xiao's research group and others from the Baylor College of Medicine’s Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center at the Baylor College of Medicine. The level of collaboration between the two teams has grown significantly over the years, and monthly meetings now draw about 100 participants from across disciplines, fields and Houston-based organizations, according to a statement from Rice.

Researchers at the new SynthX Center will aim to turn fundamental research into clinical applications and make precision adjustments to drug properties and molecules. It will focus on improving cancer outcomes by looking at an array of factors, including prevention and detection, immunotherapies, the use of artificial intelligence to speed drug discovery and development, and several other topics.

"At Rice, we are strong on the fundamental side of research in organic chemistry, chemical biology, bioengineering and nanomaterials,” Xiao says in the statement. “Starting at the laboratory bench, we can synthesize therapeutic molecules and proteins with atom-level precision, offering immense potential for real-world applications at the bedside ... But the clinicians and fundamental researchers don’t have a lot of time to talk and to exchange ideas, so SynthX wants to serve as the bridge and help make these connections.”

SynthX plans to issue its first merit-based seed grants to teams with representatives from Baylor and Rice this month.

With this recognition from Rice, the teams from Xiao's lab and the TMC will also be able to expand and formalize their programs. They will build upon annual retreats, in which investigators can share unpublished findings, and also plan to host a national conference, the first slated for this fall titled "Synthetic Innovations Towards a Cure for Cancer.”

“I am confident that the SynthX Center will be a great resource for both students and faculty who seek to translate discoveries from fundamental chemical research into medical applications that improve people’s lives,” Thomas Killian, dean of the Wiess School of Natural Sciences, says in the release.

Rice announced that it had invested in four other research centers along with SynthX last month. The other centers include the Center for Coastal Futures and Adaptive Resilience, the Center for Environmental Studies, the Center for Latin American and Latinx Studies and the Rice Center for Nanoscale Imaging Sciences.

Earlier this year, Rice also announced its first-ever recipients of its One Small Step Grant program, funded by its Office of Innovation. The program will provide funding to faculty working on "promising projects with commercial potential," according to the website.

Houston physicist scores $15.5M grant for high-energy nuclear physics research

FUTURE OF PHYSICS

A team of Rice University physicists has been awarded a prestigious grant from the Department of Energy's Office of Nuclear Physics for their work in high-energy nuclear physics and research into a new state of matter.

The five-year $15.5 million grant will go towards Rice physics and astronomy professor Wei Li's discoveries focused on the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS), a large, general-purpose particle physics detector built on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, a European organization for nuclear research in France and Switzerland. The work is "poised to revolutionize our understanding of fundamental physics," according to a statement from Rice.

Li's team will work to develop an ultra-fast silicon timing detector, known as the endcap timing layer (ETL), that will provide upgrades to the CMS detector. The ETl is expected to have a time resolution of 30 picoseconds per particle, which will allow for more precise time-of-flight particle identification.

The Rice team is collaborating with others from MIT, Oak Ridge National Lab, the University of Illinois Chicago and University of Kansas. Photo via Rice.edu

This will also help boost the performance of the High-Luminosity Large Hadron Collider (HL-LHC), which is scheduled to launch at CERN in 2029, allowing it to operate at about 10 times the luminosity than originally planned. The ETL also has applications for other colliders apart from the LHC, including the DOE’s electron-ion collider at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Long Island, New York.

“The ETL will enable breakthrough science in the area of heavy ion collisions, allowing us to delve into the properties of a remarkable new state of matter called the quark-gluon plasma,” Li explained in a statement. “This, in turn, offers invaluable insights into the strong nuclear force that binds particles at the core of matter.”

The ETL is also expected to aid in other areas of physics, including the search for the Higgs particle and understanding the makeup of dark matter.

Li is joined on this work by co-principal investigator Frank Geurts and researchers Nicole Lewis and Mike Matveev from Rice. The team is collaborating with others from MIT, Oak Ridge National Lab, the University of Illinois Chicago and University of Kansas.

Last year, fellow Rice physicist Qimiao Si, a theoretical quantum physicist, earned the prestigious Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellowship grant. The five-year fellowship, with up to $3 million in funding, will go towards his work to establish an unconventional approach to create and control topological states of matter, which plays an important role in materials research and quantum computing.

Meanwhile, the DOE recently tapped three Houston universities to compete in its annual startup competition focused on "high-potential energy technologies,” including one team from Rice.

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This article originally ran on EnergyCapital.