Together, the city and HCC will train Houstonians in resiliency preparedness. Image via Getty Images

Last week, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner looked back on the past five years since Hurricane Harvey and made a lofty goal to provide the community with resiliency training.

The city of Houston and Houston Community College signed a memorandum of understanding that will address the city's goal to train 500,000 citizens, employees, small businesses, volunteers, and first responders in new resiliency training programs starting this fall.

The agreement was signed last week at the "Embracing Resiliency Symposium" hosted by the Resilience Innovation Hub, Amegy Bank, and HCC in front of 175 business, civic, community, education, and government leaders attending.

“I am pleased to announce the City of Houston’s partnership with Houston Community College’s new Resilience Center of Excellence and the Operations Training Facility and all the many ways we will collectively pave the path for a stronger and more prepared citizens, workforce, and community and a more resilient future,” Mayor Turner says at the event.

“Five years back, as we faced the wrath and impacts of Hurricane Harvey, it was a moment of reckoning for us as a city. It spurred us to think more cohesively about response and recovery; and most importantly, it urged us to think about building forward from recovery, from response towards resilience," he continues.

Starting this fall, the Houston community will have access to the following seven resiliency courses:

  • Resiliency 101 + Community Emergency Response Training (CERT)
  • Disaster Case Management
  • Facilities and Infrastructure
  • Disaster Recovery
  • Drones, Data Science, and Internet of Things
  • Public Safety and Rescue
  • Medical Triage

An additional 30 courses and programs will follow in 2023.

“As Mayor Turner recently stated, the lessons learned from Hurricane Harvey and subsequent disasters have identified one common take-away: When we work together as a team, Greater Houston is always resilient,” HCC Chancellor Cesar Maldonado says at the event. “In light of this observation, we must remain vigilant so these disasters will not continue to harm our families, our neighborhoods, our companies, our facilities and the community-at-large."

Earlier this summer, HCC announced that it is developing the Resilience Center of Excellence to aid the city’s resilience campaign. At the heart of this project is the 65,000-square-foot, $30 million Resiliency Operations Center, which will be built on a five-acre site HCC’s Northeast campus. The complex is scheduled to open in 2024.

"The HCC Resiliency Center of Excellence and Operations Training Facility will contribute to addressing preparedness and long-term mitigation from future floods, storms, snow and ice, pandemics and other challenges that have cost the region in the loss of lives, community, operations, and economic competitiveness," Maldonado continues.

In this roundup of short stories, Houston has been recognized as an emerging hub for life sciences, HCC wins an award for entrepreneurship, and more local innovation news. Photo by Dwight C. Andrews/Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau

Houston named growing hub for life sciences, cybersecurity startups win contest, and more innovation news

short stories

Houston's innovation ecosystem has been booming with news, and it's likely some might have fallen through the cracks.

For this roundup of short stories within Houston innovation, see why Houston has been named a top emerging hub for life sciences, Hatch Pitch reveals its cybersecurity startup winners, and more.

Houston named an emerging life science hub

A new report finds that Houston's life sciences scene — soon to be home to TMC3 — is growing. Courtesy of Elkus Manfredi Architects

According to a new report from CBRE, Houston is on track to be a top market for life sciences. The report factored in size and growth of life-sciences employment, the venture capital and National Institutes of Health funding, and more.

"Interest in Houston's life sciences sector from developers, investors and financial backers has grown significantly in recent years," says Nelson Udstuen, senior vice president at CBRE, in a press release. "Several factors have contributed to this, including an increase in both federal funding from NIH and private venture capital, a growth in R&D employment and commitments from Texas Medical Center member institutions and other private developers to establish new life science buildings and campuses."

Houston's life-sciences industry, which comes in at No. 2 on the list behind Pittsburgh and ahead of Austin, ranks within the 20 largest in the U.S. by employment. In terms of growth, Houston is expanding at a 6.5 percent pace from 2018 to 2019. Houston institutes received around $600 million in funding from NIH last year, which amounted to the 12th-largest sum by market.

"Houston is also a draw for the life sciences industry due to its large cluster of life science employees," continues Udstuen. "Our market is home to a large population with the technical ability to perform Research and Development, meaning employers do not have to focus as heavily on recruiting from other markets."

Inaugural pitch competition names winners

pitch

Hatch Pitch named the winners of its inaugural cybersecurity-focused competition. Photo via Getty Images

Houston-based Hatch Pitch announced its Cyber Pitch competition in December, and, other than having to pivot to virtual, the competition went off without a hitch. The winners at the Houston Cyber Summit were revealed on October 22.

  • Toronto-based Paqt took first place
  • PixoAnalytics, based in Bonn, Germany, came in second
  • And Austin-based Clocr placed in third place as well as the Audience Favorite.

Hatch Pitch will return in March 2021 for the Hatch Pitch Digital Summit, but until then, check out video clips and the pitches from Cyber Pitch 2020 online.

Houston college receives national entrepreneurship award

Houston Community College has been named the 2020 Heather Van Sickle Entrepreneurial College of the Year. Photo via HCC.edu

The National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship has named Houston Community College as the 2020 Heather Van Sickle Entrepreneurial College of the Year at its 18th Annual Conference in Nashville, Tennessee, earlier this month.

"Houston Community College is a model of how colleges contribute to their local entrepreneurial ecosystems," says Rebecca Corbin, president and CEO of NACCE, in a news release. "Through persistence and entrepreneurial mindset and action, HCC has scaled replicable and sustainable entrepreneurial programs that have impacted thousands of students over the past several years. It is a pleasure to recognize this outstanding college, which was selected by an independent judging panel, as the winner of NACCE's 2020 Entrepreneurial College of the Year Award."

Energy tech startup names new CEO

Tachyus has a new head honcho. Photo via tachyus.com

Data-focused energy software startup Tachyus has announced the promotion of Fernando Gutierrez to CEO — formerly vice president of customer success.

"We are in a unique time within the upstream oil and gas space, and I truly believe Tachyus has the ability to pioneer the acceleration of the digital transformation within the industry," says Gutierrez, in a news release. "We are at the intersection of innovation and conventionalism, and I'm excited to lead the organization in a movement that continues to establish our technical solutions with our unique product signature."

Tachyus was founded in 2013 in Silicon Valley and recently relocated to Houston. The fresh funds will go into growing its cloud-based, artificial intelligence-enabled platform. Last year, the company raised $15 million in a round led by Houston-based Cottonwood Venture Partners.

Former CEO and Co-Founder Paul Orland has assumed the role of chairman.

Female founder selected for new program backed by Houston organization

Kim Roxie, founder of LAMIK Beauty, is among the 15 recipients of a new initiative. Photo via stacysrise.helloalice.com

Plano, Texas-based Stacy's Rise Project expanded its annual grant and mentorship program in order to give more aid to Black female business founders, who on average only receive 0.2 percent of venture capitalist funding, according to a press release. The organization teamed up with its longtime partner, Houston-founded Hello Alice, to back an additional 15 Black female founders with a total of $150,000.

Among the 15 recipients was Houston's own Kim Roxie of LAMIK Beauty. LAMIK Beauty is a beauty-tech company designed for multicultural women with products made with natural and organic ingredients.

From enlightening talks to networking opportunities, here's where you need to be in July. Getty Images

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

Where to be

If you were hoping that business events would slow down for the summer, keep hoping. While you're probably getting plenty of OOO emails during your daily communications, there's no shortage of face-to-face opportunities within Houston business and innovation.

If you know of innovation-focused events for this month or next, email me at natalie@innovationmap.com with the details and subscribe to our daily newsletter that sends fresh stories straight to your inboxes every morning.

July 3 — Is Venture Capital Right for My Business?

Venture Capital is a path that every startup has to evaluate. In this panel-led event the intent is to form a foundation for answering the question: "Is VC right for me?"

Details: The event is from noon to 1:30 pm on Wednesday, July 3 at Station Houston (1301 Fannin Street, #2440). Learn more.

July 10 — Smart Cities: How Smart is Houston?

The Center for Houston's Future presents this event with support from graduates of its Leadership Forum program and in partnership with Station Houston, City of Houston's Innovation Office, and Houston Exponential.

The City of Houston is using data and emerging technology to improve the quality of life for citizens, share information with the public, drive economic growth and build a more inclusive society. Two key Smart City initiatives will be discussed at the event, one focused on transportation and one focused on resiliency and sustainability.

Details: The event is from 7:30 to 9:30 am on Wednesday, July 10, at Station Houston (1301 Fannin Street, #2440). Learn more.

July 10 — Social Advertising 101: Training by The Black Sheep Agency

Learn the basics of Facebook and Instagram advertising as Black Sheep professionals walk through the best type of #ad for your campaign! The team will also talk you through formulating a budget, targeting your audience, optimizing your efforts, and other creative options to execute your social advertising needs.

Details: The event is from 5:30 to 7:30 pm on Wednesday, July 10, at Impact Hub Houston #PopHUB @HX (410 Pierce Street). Learn more.

July 11 — Startup Pains: What I Wish I Knew

This monthly series hosted by the University of Houston lets you learn from someone else's mistakes and successes. This month's speaker is Carlos Genty, CEO & CTO of Critical X Solutions.

Details: The event is from 4 to 5 pm on Thursday, July 11, at the UH Technology Bridge (Innovation Center, building 4, floor 2, 5000 Gulf Fwy). Learn more.

July 13 — Enventure Basecamp - Business Building Workshop

Basecamp is an inclusive environment for those who are interested in adapting their life science experiences to real business applications. All are welcome, and the event is free.

Details: The event is from 9 am to noon on Saturday, July 13, at the TMC Innovation Institute (2450 Holcombe Blvd). Learn more.

July 15 — Enventure Innovation Stories: Dan Harrington, PhD (Polyvascular)

Enventure welcomes Daniel Harrington, PhD for its Innovation Stories speaker series. Dr. Harrington is a co-founder and the chief scientific officer of Polyvascular, and an assistant professor at UTHealth.

Details: The event is from 6 to 8:30 pm on Monday, July 15, at the CUBIO Innovation Center (7707 Fannin St.). Learn more.

July 16 — Is My Idea Lucrative? A Small Business Success Series Workshop

Figure out if whether your business idea is crazy — or perhaps just crazy enough to work. Featured presenters include Ned Mueller, entrepreneur in residence at HCC Center for Entrepreneurship - Southeast, and Austin Tenette is a certified business coach with the Focal Point Coaching organization.

Details: The event is from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm on Tuesday, July 16, at the HCC Alief Hayes (2811 Hayes Road). Learn more.

July 16 — GCxN Clean Tech Start-up Pitch Competition

The Shell GameChanger AcceleratorTM Powered by NREL, GCxN, is a collaboration between Shell and the National Renewable Energy Lab to identify and advance the next generation of transformative energy technologies. GCxN addresses market gaps by providing clean tech startups with technical and business development support to move their technologies from early stage prototypes to commercially viable energy solutions.

Details: The event is from 3 to 8 pm on Tuesday, July 16, at Station Houston (1301 Fannin St., suite 2440). Learn more.

July 16 — Workshop: Mastering the Brain Dump to Reduce Business Frustrations

Christina Wright, founder of WrightNow Results, will guide you through her method to help you get clear on — and develop a plan for — your biggest challenges surrounding business and managing "it all."

Details: The event is from 5:30 to 7:30 pm on Tuesday, July 18, at Impact Hub Houston #PopHUB @HX (410 Pierce Street). Learn more.

July 17 — Fuckup Nights Houston

Failure is a part of any success story, but we don't talk about it enough. We've all been to plenty of events where people tell you how they hacked, hustled, and created their success, but very few where someone gets up and says "I totally messed up, and this is what you can learn from it."

Details: The event is from 6 to 8 pm on Wednesday, July 17, at TBA. Learn more.

July 18 — Chancellor’s Technology Bridging Fund 2019 Launch Event

In an effort to support the University of Houston's mission of building a thriving culture around innovation and entrepreneurship amongst its faculty, staff and students, Chancellor Renu Khator has allocated $2 million into launching the Chancellor's Technology Bridging Fund (CTBF). This five-year proof-of-concept program is aimed to help our faculty inventors move their technologies closer to commercialization. Goals for the CTBF include prototyping, creating industry partnerships, and preparing for further funding.


Details: The event is from 5 to 7 pm on Thursday, July 18, at the UH Innovation Center (UH Technology Bridge, Building 4, Floor 2, 5000 Gulf Fwy). Learn more.

July 18 — TMCx alpha Opening Event

TMC alpha provides a pathway for any innovator affiliated with a TMC member institution to find support for the development and commercialization of their idea or product. The program will run every third Thursday (apart from where this conflicts with another function/holiday/etc.) from noon to 5 PM. Lunch and parking validation will be available.

Details: The event is from noon to 5 pm on Thursday, July 18, at the TMC Innovation Institute (2450 Holcombe Blvd. Suite, X, TMCx17 Board room). Learn more.

July 22 — TMC Biodesign Info Session

Do you want to start your own healthcare company? The TMC Biodesign Fellowship is a one-year paid innovation program that unites the talents of innovators and entrepreneurs with diverse backgrounds to quickly bring breakthrough healthcare products to market.

Details: The event is from 5 to 7 pm on Monday, July 22, at the TMC Innovation Institute (2450 Holcombe Blvd). Learn more.

July 25 — Managing Your Sales Function

Startups with a direct sales model have to evolve from founders doing all the sales to managing a sales function. Since revenue generation is on the line, the stakes are high and the punishment for mistakes are even higher. This supplement to the quarterly Founders Academy boot camp focuses on establishing and effectively managing the sales function for an early stage company.

    Details: The event is from 2 to 4 pm on Thursday, July 25, at The Cannon (1334 Brittmoore Road). Learn more.

    July 30 — Open Project Night with Impact Hub Houston and Sketch City

    Connect and collaborate with real, passionate people who are working on projects, ventures, and collaborations to improve to the city of Houston. If you have an idea, are working on something, or are looking for ways to collaborate with people who are doing work at the intersection of innovation and impact this event is for you.

    Details: The event is from 6 to 8 pm on Tuesday, July 30, at The Black Sheep Agency (611 West 22nd Street). Learn more.

    Life Time Work opening its first Houston location is among this roundup of Houston innovation news. Courtesy of Life Time Work

    Hypergiant receives funding from Japan, UH honored for entrepreneur program, coworking space opens, and more Houston innovation news

    Short stories

    In the Houston innovation news cycle, it's hard to keep up. Three higher education institutions are celebrating big wins within innovation and entrepreneurialism, a new coworking space joins the scene, and a health tech competition launches out of the Texas Medical Center.

    Here are all the short stories within Houston innovation that you may have missed.

    Texas AI company makes international partnership

    Photo via hypergiant.com

    Hypergiant Industries, a Texas industrial AI company with a presence in Houston, announced that it has received funding from and has entered into a partnership with Japan-based Sumitomo Corporation of Americas. The relationship will allow the company to enable and accelerate Hypergiant's AI-driven innovation initiatives across over 900 Sumitomo subsidiaries and associated companies.

    "We're proud to be backed by a global leader like SCOA," says Ben Lamm, CEO and co-founder of Hypergiant, in a release. "SCOA is a company that has advanced so many industries with critical technological breakthroughs decade after decade. This relationship will ensure that both SCOA and Hypergiant remain ahead of the competition in AI for years to come."

    The funding amount wasn't disclosed.

    Bauer College of Business gets top marks

    Photo via bauerticker.uh.edu

    The Deshpande Foundation has selected The University of Houston for its 2019 Entrepreneurial University Award, recognizing the Cyvia and Melvyn Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship at the C.T. Bauer College of Business.

    "Over the past decade, the Wolff Center's reputation as one of the nation's leading entrepreneurship programs has grown tremendously, and this award from the Deshpande Foundation reinforces that Bauer College is empowering students to innovate through a world-class program that emphasizes experiential learning and personalized attention by dedicated mentors," says Paul A. Pavlou, incoming dean of the Bauer College, in a release.

    The award was announced by the Massachusetts-based organization at the Deshpande Symposium for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Higher Education at the University of Massachusetts Lowell on June 11.

    Life Time Work opens its doors

    Courtesy of Life Time Work

    Life Time Work's first Houston-area location has opened its doors in City Centre Five at 825 Town & Country Lane. The next location has already been announced to open in downtown Houston next year.

    "Life Time Work is a natural extension of the lifestyle brand we have built in our athletic resorts over the past 27 years," says Life Time Work president, James O'Reilly, in a release. "With Houston's continued growth and diversified business and entrepreneurial community, City Centre is the perfect location for us to unveil this concept. We look forward to helping our members in their pursuit of a fulfilling and healthy work life."

    The 25,000-square-foot space features 79 desks, 48 offices, lounge spaces, eight phone booths, two phone rooms, five conference rooms, and more features.

    JLABS @ TMC opens contest for health care startups

    Photo via jlabs.jnjinnovation.com

    Johnson & Johnson Innovation, the Texas Medical Center, and AngelMD have teamed up to launch the Breakthrough Medical Technologies QuickFire Challenge, which is looking for game-changing medical device ideas from all over the world for a chance to win prizes.

    The winner — or winners — will "receive up to $250,000 in convertible notes funding from TMC, entry to the TMCx accelerator program, one year of residency at JLABS @ TMC in Houston, Texas, and access to the Johnson & Johnson, Innovation - JLABS global ecosystem," according to the website. Also on the line — an additional convertible note investment up to $100,000 from AngelMD's Catalyst Fund.

    The competition is looking for innovations within a wide range of health technologies, from oncology to 3D printing.

    Houston hospital ranks No. 1 in the state for being one of America's Best Employers

    Courtesy of Methodist Hospital/Facebook

    Forbes partnered with market research company Statista to identify the best employers in each state. In Texas, Houston was represented at the top. Houston Methodist ranked as the number one company on the Texas list.

    Royal Dutch Shell, which ranks at No. 11, is the next Houston-headquartered company on the list, followed by The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (No. 19), Katy Independent School District (No. 22), and Texas Children's Hospital (No. 23.)

    HCC recognized for innovation of the year

    Photo courtesy of HCC

    Houston Community College received the Innovation of the Year Award from the League for Innovation in the Community College. HCC won for its Zero Textbook Degree initiative, which launched in 2017 and has grown from 28 to 98 sections across five HCC campuses.

    "The Z-Degree program is managed by an entire group of hardworking and forward-thinking HCC faculty who are all deserving of the accolades currently bestowed on them," says Chancellor Cesar Maldonado in a news release.

    Textbook prices have increased 88 percent since 2006, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and, according to the release, textbooks could end up costing some HCC students more than their tuition.

    Rice University hosts inaugural program for future entrepreneurs

    Photo courtesy of Lilie



    Rice's Liu Idea Lab for Innovation and Entrepreneurship got a jump on molding its young minds. Lilie hosted 44 incoming freshmen as a part of its inaugural Lilie Change Maker Summit. For four days, the to-be students had the opportunity to get get a taste of the program and entrepreneurialism through workshops, guest speakers, and more.

    The summit was led by Jamie Jones, executive director of Lilie, and Hesam Panahi, lecturer in entrepreneurship at Rice's Jones Graduate School of Business and a faculty member at Lilie.

    "We truly believe this will be a game changer in the Rice entrepreneurial ecosystem," says Caitlin Bolanos, associate director at Lilie, in an email to InnovationMap. "We were able to connect with these students and build loyalty before they even officially started in the fall, and the students are so pumped to have found each other and to continue working on their ideas while at Rice."

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    Amazon rolls out hundreds of new electric vans for Houston's holiday delivery season

    Electric avenue

    Amazon CEO/occasional space traveler Jeff Bezos is doing his best to supplant a certain jolly fellow from the North Pole as tops for holiday gift delivery.

    His latest move: Amazon is rolling out more than 1,000 electric delivery vehicles, designed by electric vehicle manufacturer Rivian, ready to make deliveries in more than 100 cities across the U.S. On the Texas good list: Houston, Austin, and Dallas. Bezos' juggernaut began deliveries in Dallas in July, along with Baltimore, Chicago, Kansas City, Nashville, Phoenix, San Diego, Seattle, and St. Louis.

    These zero-emissions vans have delivered more than 5 million packages to customers in the U.S., according to Amazon. The latest boost in vehicles now includes Houston and Austin; Boston; Denver; Indianapolis; Las Vegas; Madison, Wisconsin; Newark, New Jersey; New York, Oakland, California; Pittsburgh, Portland, Oregon; Provo, Utah; and Salt Lake City.

    Plans for the Amazon and Rivian partnership call for thousands of vehicles on the road by the end of the year and 100,000 vehicles by 2030.

    “We’re always excited for the holiday season, but making deliveries to customers across the country with our new zero-emission vehicles for the first time makes this year unique,” said Udit Madan, vice president of Amazon Transportation, in a statement. “We’ve already delivered over 5 million packages with our vehicles produced by Rivian, and this is still just the beginning—that figure will grow exponentially as we continue to make progress toward our 100,000-vehicle goal.”

    This all comes as part of Amazon's commitment to reaching net-zero carbon by 2040, as a part of its The Climate Pledge; Amazon promises to eliminate millions of metric tons of carbon per year with it s commitment to 100,000 electric delivery vehicles by 2030, press materials note.

    Additionally, Amazon announced plans to invest more than $1 billion over the next five years to further electrify and decarbonize its transportation network across Europe. This investment is meant to spark innovation and encourage more public charging infrastructure across the continent.

    “Fleet electrification is essential to reaching the world’s zero-emissions goal,” said Jiten Behl, chief growth officer at Rivian, in a statement. “So, to see our ramp up in production supporting Amazon’s rollout in cities across the country is amazing. Not just for the environment, but also for our teams working hard to get tens of thousands of electric delivery vehicles on the road. They continue to be motivated by our combined mission and the great feedback about the vehicle’s performance and quality.”

    A little about the vans: Drivers’ favorite features include a spacious cabin and cargo area, superior visibility with a large windshield and 360-degree cameras, and ventilated seats for fast heating and cooling — a must for Bayou City summers ... or winters, for that matter.

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    This article originally ran on CultureMap.

    Houston low-carbon fuel company scores United investment, plans to IPO via spac

    big moves

    It’s been a momentous month for Houston-based NEXT Renewable Fuels Inc.

    On November 15, United Airlines Ventures announced an investment of up to $37.5 million in the next-generation, low-carbon fuel producing company.

    Just a week later, the company revealed it’s going public through a SPAC merger with Industrial Tech Acquisitions II Inc. The deal, expected to close in the second quarter of 2023, assigns a $666 million equity value to NEXT. The publicly traded company will be named NXTCLEAN Fuels Inc.

    NEXT, founded in 2016, produces low-carbon fuels from organic feedstock. The company plans to open a biofuel refinery in Port Westward, Oregon, that’s set to start production in 2026. The refinery could produce up to 50,000 barrels per day of sustainable aviation fuel, renewable diesel, and other renewable fuels.

    “West Coast states are demanding a clean fuels conversion of the transportation and aviation industries with aggressive targets necessitating rapid increases in clean fuel supplies,” Christopher Efird, executive chairman and CEO of NEXT, says in a news release. “[The company] is advancing toward becoming one of the largest U.S.-based suppliers of clean fuels for these markets, and is investigating and pursuing potential vertical expansion into other clean fuels.”

    The proposed public listing of NEXT’s stock on the Nasdaq market and United’s investment are poised to help NEXT reach its goal of becoming a leader in the clean fuel sector. United’s investment appears to be the first equity funding for NEXT.

    “Right now, one of the biggest barriers to increasing supply and lowering costs of sustainable fuel is that we don’t have the infrastructure in place to transport it efficiently, but NEXT’s strategic location and assets solve that problem and provide a blueprint for future facilities that need to be built,” Michael Leskinen, president of United Airline Ventures, says in a news release.

    United’s investment arm, launched in 2021, targets ventures that will complement the airline’s goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.