The new supercomputer is expected to be one of the world’s most powerful owned by an enterprise. Photo courtesy of HPE

A Houston tech company is building a next-generation supercomputer for one of the world’s largest energy providers.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise announced its plans to build HPC6 for Italian energy company Eni. Eni will use the system to advance scientific discovery and engineering toward accelerating innovation in energy transition to help aid its goal in getting to net zero. HPC6 is expected to be one of the world’s most powerful supercomputers owned by an enterprise.

HPC6 will be built with the same innovations that power the world’s fastest supercomputer to support data and image-intensive workloads across artificial intelligence, modeling, and simulation. According to a news release from HPE, the system will “augment Eni’s existing research that is focused on studying and identifying new energy sources, including renewable energy.”

Eni’s HPC6 will be installed in the company’s energy Green Data Center in Italy. The center will be upgraded to support HPE’s direct liquid-cooling (DLC) capabilities.

"Businesses are finding themselves balancing the huge business opportunities enabled by their AI investments with the responsibility of mitigating the environmental impact of these powerful systems," Antonio Neri, president and CEO of HPE, says in a news release.

"As the leader in developing energy efficient AI and supercomputing solutions, HPE is uniquely positioned to help organizations minimize power consumption while maximizing business outcomes," he continues. "We are excited to play a role in Eni’s commitment to decarbonization supported by digitalization and innovation."

Originally announced in 2020, HPE moved its headquarters to Houston in 2022.

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This article originally ran on EnergyCapital.

The transaction, which was approved by both companies' boards, is expected to close either later this year or early next year. Photo courtesy of HPE

Houston-based HPE to acquire cloud infrastructure co. in $14B deal

M&A moves

Hewlett Packard Enterprise is buying Juniper Networks in an all-cash deal valued at about $14 billion, which is anticipated to double HPE's networking business.

Shares of both companies rose before the market open on Wednesday. A Wall Street Journal report about a potential deal saw Juniper's stock surge 22 percent and HPE's stock dip 9 percent before an official announcement was made.

HPE will pay $40 per Juniper share.

Juniper, based in Sunnyvale, California, helps companies access the cloud infrastructure that serves as the foundation of digital and AI strategies.

“This transaction will strengthen HPE’s position at the nexus of accelerating macro-AI trends, expand our total addressable market, and drive further innovation for customers as we help bridge the AI-native and cloud-native worlds, while also generating significant value for shareholders," HPE President and CEO Antonio Neri said late Tuesday in a statement.

Juniper CEO Rami Rahim will lead the combined HPE networking business. He will report to Neri. HPE was spun off from Hewlett-Packard, one of the founding companies of Silicon Valley, in 2015 and is now based in Houston.

The transaction, which was approved by both companies' boards, is expected to close either later this year or early next year. It still needs approval from Juniper shareholders and regulators.

Last March, HPE announced its plans to acquire OpsRamp, a software-as-a-service company with an IT operations management, or ITOM, platform that can monitor, automate, and manage IT infrastructure, cloud resources, and more.

Houston-based Hewlett Packard Enterprise announced its plans to acquire a Silicon Valley startup. Photo courtesy og HPE

Houston tech company to acquire IT infrastructure startup

M&A moves

Hewlett Packard Enterprise has announced its plans to acquire a San Jose, California-based startup.

HPE, which relocated its headquarters to Houston from the Bay Area a couple years ago, has agreed to acquire OpsRamp, a software-as-a-service company with an IT operations management, or ITOM, platform that can monitor, automate, and manage IT infrastructure, cloud resources, and more.

According to a news release from HPE, the OpsRamp platform will be merged with the HPE GreenLake edge-to-cloud platform, which supports more than 65,000 customers, powers over two million connected devices, and manages more than one exabyte of data with customers worldwide.

The new integrated system "will reduce the operational complexity of multi-vendor and multi-cloud IT environments that are in the public cloud, colocations, and on-premises," per the statement.

“Customers today are managing several different cloud environments, with different IT operational models and tools, which dramatically increases the cost and complexity of digital operations management,” says HPE's CTO Fidelma Russo in the release. “The combination of OpsRamp and HPE will remove these barriers by providing customers with an integrated edge-to-cloud platform that can more effectively manage and transform multi-vendor and multi-cloud IT estates.

"This acquisition advances HPE hybrid cloud leadership and expands the reach of the HPE GreenLake platform into IT Operations Management,” she continues.

HPE's corporate venture arm, Pathfinder, invested in OpsRamp in 2020. The company raised $57.5 million prior to the acquisition. Other investors included Morgan Stanley Expansion Capital and Sapphire Ventures, per TechCrunch.

“The integration of OpsRamp’s hybrid digital operations management solution with the HPE GreenLake platform will provide an unmatched offering for organizations seeking to innovate and thrive in a complex, multi-cloud world. Partners and the channel will also play a pivotal role to advance their as-a-service offerings, as enterprises look for a unified approach to better manage their operations from the edge to the cloud,” says Varma Kunaparaju, CEO of OpsRamp, in the release.

“We look forward to leveraging the scale and reach of HPE’s global go-to-market engine to deliver our unique offering and are excited for this journey ahead as part of HPE.”

A new ranking looks at the Houston companies with the most patents granted in 2022. Photo via Getty Images

These are the Houston companies with the most patents granted last year

by the numbers

Two major players in Houston’s energy industry are also major players in the patent arena.

A new ranking from the analytics arm of patent law firm Harrity & Harrity puts Saudi Aramco, whose North American headquarters is in Houston, and Halliburton, whose global headquarters is in Houston, puts them in a tie for the number of U.S. patents with 963 patents received in 2022. Saudi Aramco and Halliburton now share the title of Houston’s patent king.

Saudi Aramco saw a 12 percent rise in patents granted in 2022 compared with 2021, according to Harrity & Harrity’s Patent 300 report, while Halliburton experienced a 5 percent jump. Each company tied for 44th place among the top 300 U.S. patient recipients in 2022.

According to the report, Samsung Electronics (8,513 patents) knocked IBM off its longtime pedestal as the No. 1 recipient of U.S. patents. IBM (4,743 patents) now holds the No. 2 position.

Many of Aramco’s U.S. patents come from its R&D centers in Houston, Boston, and Detroit. The Houston R&D hub opened in 2014 and underwent an expansion three years later.

Aramco, a Saudi Arabia-based supplier of oil and natural gas, also generates patents through academic partnerships, such as the one it established last year with Rice University’s Carbon Hub. Aramco has committed $10 million over five years to the carbon initiative.

“While patents are a leading indicator of innovation, the ultimate goal is to create value through the development of solutions that help to address a particular need,” Aramco says. “Such results are often only possible with significant upfront investments, and patents make it possible to recoup these costs and potentially generate additional revenue through commercialization.”

Last year, Aramco boasted that it ranked first in the oil and gas industry for U.S. patents (864) granted in 2021. Until 2011, Aramco had received only 100 U.S. patents over a 78-year span.

“Many of the patents are for innovations Aramco uses itself for competitive advantage, although they can also be licensed to others, creating extra value for the company,” Jamil Bagawi, then the company’s chief engineer, wrote in 2021.

Halliburton also has ramped up its patenting efforts in recent years.

According to Houston law firm Yetter Coleman, those efforts kicked into high gear after Halliburton lost a fracking patent lawsuit to Tomball-based BJ Services, which is now out of business. In 2003, a Houston jury awarded $98 million in damages to BJ in the case, and Halliburton had to stop selling the system that allegedly infringed on BJ’s patent.

In the five years before the verdict, Halliburton averaged 142 patent awards a year, according to Yetter Coleman. The law firm reported in 2013 that Halliburton subsequently averaged 234 patents a year.

Today, of course, Halliburton has far exceeded those numbers. And it vigorously defends its growing patent portfolio. In September 2022, for instance, three subsidiaries of the oilfield services giant filed two lawsuits against Houston-based rival U.S. Well Services alleging infringement of 14 Halliburton patents.

IAM, a website that reports about the intellectual property industry, noted that when Halliburton sued U.S. Well Services, “IP professionals in the oil and gas industry may well have reached for the popcorn. Battles of this magnitude rarely break out in their slice of the patent world.”

Halliburton and Aramco may be the goliaths in Houston’s patent world, but they’re not the only local organizations to appear on the Patent 300 list for 2022. Other Houston-area companies that made the cut are:

  • Spring-based Hewlett Packard Enterprise, No. 84. The tech company received 511 U.S. patents in 2022, down 4 percent from the previous year.
  • Houston-based SLB (Schlumberger), No. 117. The oilfield services company received 372 U.S. patents in 2022, down 14 percent from the previous year.
  • Houston-based Baker Hughes, No. 123. The oilfield services company received 350 U.S. patents in 2022, down 11 percent from the previous year.
  • ExxonMobil, No. 156. The oil and gas company received 281 U.S. patents in 2022, down 8 percent from the previous year. It is in the process of moving its headquarters from Irving to Spring.
  • United Imaging Healthcare, No. 253. The Chinese healthcare equipment company, whose North American headquarters is in Houston, received 175 U.S. patents in 2022, up 31 percent from the previous year.
The Houston area boasts some top-tier employers. Photo by Getty Images

These Houston businesses punch in among Texas' best employers, report says

workin' it

A slew of Houston-area companies may soon see a surge of inquiries and resumes, thanks to a new ranking.

Great Place to Work, which helps employers improve their workplace culture, and Fortune magazine teamed up to select the Best Companies to Work For in 2022 in two categories: small and midsize employers, and large employers.

In the new report, powerhouse Houston-based builder/developer David Weekley Homes tops the list of the top 20 large employers in Texas — a big jump from its No. 20 spot last year.

“We are incredibly honored to be recognized as the top company on the Best Workplaces in Texas list,” said Robert Hefner, vice president of Human Resources for David Weekley Homes, in a statement. “We’re very proud to offer an amazing workplace culture as well as competitive benefits and perks for our team, which inspires them to delight our customers.”

Powerhouse business IT firm Hewlett Packard Enterprise follows on the large employer list at No. 2, followed by apartment owner and operator Camden Property Trust at No. 3. Mortgage lender Cornerstone Home Lending, commercial real estate company Transwestern, and community college system Lone Star College also land on the prestigious list.

Meanwhile, four of Texas’ top 20 small and midsize employers to work for are right here in the Houston area. They are: mortgage provider Republic State Mortgage, online education hub Continued, oil and gas consulting firm E.A.G. Services, and AI-based e-commerce firm PROS.

Here’s the list of the top 20 small and midsize employers on the list of the Best Companies to Work For:

  1. Credera, Addison
  2. Bestow, life insurance company, Dallas
  3. Publishing Concepts, collector of oral histories, Dallas
  4. Pariveda Solutions, business and technology consulting firm, Dallas
  5. 49 Financial, financial planning provider, Austin
  6. Highland Homes, homebuilder, Plano
  7. AIM, provider of special education services, San Antonio
  8. Republic State Mortgage, mortgage provider, Houston
  9. Continued, provider of online continuing education, Houston
  10. Freese and Nichols, engineering, planning, and consulting firm, Fort Worth
  11. OJO Labs, home search platform, Austin
  12. Dialexa, digital product consulting firm, Dallas
  13. Granite Properties, commercial real estate developer, investor, and manager, Plano
  14. E.A.G. Services, oil and gas consulting firm, Houston
  15. Ontic Technologies, producer of “protective intelligence” software, Austin
  16. PROS, provider of AI-based software for e-commerce, Houston
  17. Scribe Media, book publisher, Austin
  18. Embark, business advisory firm, Dallas
  19. ProPath, operator of pathology practices, Dallas
  20. CerpassRX, pharmacy benefits manager, The Colony

Here’s the list of the top 20 large employers in Texas, according to Great Place to Work and Fortune:

  1. David Weekley Homes, homebuilder, Houston
  2. Hewlett Packard Enterprise, provider of business IT, Spring
  3. Camden Property Trust, apartment owner and operator, Houston
  4. Texas Health Resources, healthcare system, Arlington
  5. Vizient, healthcare consulting firm, Irving
  6. Ryan LLC, tax services and consulting firm, Dallas
  7. Hilcorp Energy, energy exploration and production company, Houston
  8. PrimeLending, a Plains Capital Company, mortgage lender, Dallas
  9. Cornerstone Home Lending, mortgage lender, Houston
  10. Transwestern, commercial real estate company, Houston
  11. Dell Technologies, seller of personal computers, network servers, data storage services, and software, Round Rock
  12. NuStar Energy, pipeline and terminal operator, San Antonio
  13. Mr. Cooper (Nationstar Mortgage), mortgage lender, Coppell
  14. Lone Star College, community college system, Houston
  15. USAA, financial services provider, San Antonio
  16. Sailpoint, provider of identity security software, Austin
  17. Enhabit Home Health & Hospice, home health and hospice provider, Dallas
  18. Epicor Software, provider of software for business process management, Austin
  19. Hilti, provider of tools and technology for construction companies, Plano
  20. Alcon Laboratories, producer of eye care products, Fort Worth

Great Place to Work selected the Best Companies to Work For in 2022 based on feedback from employee surveys and data from Great Place to Work-certified employers.

“As workers struggle with the Great Resignation, burnout, and COVID disruptions, these exceptional companies offer workplace experiences as strong as prior to the pandemic,” says company CEO Michael Bush.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

Here's what workplaces young professionals are the most happy. Photo via Getty Images

These 10 Houston companies rank among best U.S. employers for young professionals

workplace praise

Ten businesses in the Greater Houston area are clocking in among the country's best employers for millennials, according to a new report.

The Best Workplaces for Millennials list is published annually by Fortune magazine and compiled by Great Place to Work, a company that focuses on improving workplace culture.

Looking at the 10 Houston-area employers, mega developer David Weekley homes takes the top spot. The company appears at No. 12 on the list of large employers.

"It's an honor to once again be recognized as a top company for working millennials," said Robert Hefner, David Weekly vice president of human resources, in a statement. "We are very proud to offer a rewarding workplace culture as well as competitive benefits and amazing perks to draw this group of young talent to our award-winning team."

In that survey, 97 percent of staffers called David Weekley Homes a great place to work. The home builder previously ranked at number 26 on the 2020 list.

Joining David Weekly on the list are these large, mid-size, and small Houston-area companies:

Large employers:

  • Camden Property Trust, No. 32
  • Hilcorp, No. 37
  • Cornerstone Home Lending, No. 38
  • Transwestern, No. 65
  • Hewlett Packard Enterprise, No. 95

Small and mid-sized employers:

  • Continued, No. 33
  • Venterra Realty, No. 49
  • Republic State Mortgage, No. 90
  • E.A.G. Services, No. 91

Here's how employers in Texas' other major metro areas fared.

Dallas

  • Plano-based Granite: No. 6
  • Addison-based Credera, No. 36
  • Dallas-based Pariveda Solutions, No. 76
  • Dallas-based Embark, No. 97
  • Dallas-based PrimeLending lands at No. 29
  • Dallas-based Ryan LLC at No. 35.

Austin

Large employers:

  • Round Rock-based Dell Technologies, No. 75

Small and mid-sized employers:

  • Austin-based OJO Labs, No. 51
  • Austin-based SailPoint, No. 60
  • Austin-based Sedera Health, No. 69
  • Austin-based The Zebra, No. 86

San Antonio

Large employers:

  • San Antonio-based NuStar Energy, No. 91
  • San Antonio-based USAA, No. 98

"The Best Workplaces for Millennials treat their employees like people, not just employees," says Michael Bush, CEO of Great Place to Work. "These companies foster caring and respect for one another, at every level of the organization. The result is millennial employees who say they look forward to coming to work and — as our research says — are 50 times more likely to stay a long time."

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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Houston researchers create AI model to tap into how brain activity relates to illness

brainiac

Houston researchers are part of a team that has created an AI model intended to understand how brain activity relates to behavior and illness.

Scientists from Baylor College of Medicine worked with peers from Yale University, University of Southern California and Idaho State University to make Brain Language Model, or BrainLM. Their research was published as a conference paper at ICLR 2024, a meeting of some of deep learning’s greatest minds.

“For a long time we’ve known that brain activity is related to a person’s behavior and to a lot of illnesses like seizures or Parkinson’s,” Dr. Chadi Abdallah, associate professor in the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Baylor and co-corresponding author of the paper, says in a press release. “Functional brain imaging or functional MRIs allow us to look at brain activity throughout the brain, but we previously couldn’t fully capture the dynamic of these activities in time and space using traditional data analytical tools.

"More recently, people started using machine learning to capture the brain complexity and how it relates it to specific illnesses, but that turned out to require enrolling and fully examining thousands of patients with a particular behavior or illness, a very expensive process,” Abdallah continues.

Using 80,000 brain scans, the team was able to train their model to figure out how brain activities related to one another. Over time, this created the BrainLM brain activity foundational model. BrainLM is now well-trained enough to use to fine-tune a specific task and to ask questions in other studies.

Abdallah said that using BrainLM will cut costs significantly for scientists developing treatments for brain disorders. In clinical trials, it can cost “hundreds of millions of dollars,” he said, to enroll numerous patients and treat them over a significant time period. By using BrainLM, researchers can enroll half the subjects because the AI can select the individuals most likely to benefit.

The team found that BrainLM performed successfully in many different samples. That included predicting depression, anxiety and PTSD severity better than other machine learning tools that do not use generative AI.

“We found that BrainLM is performing very well. It is predicting brain activity in a new sample that was hidden from it during the training as well as doing well with data from new scanners and new population,” Abdallah says. “These impressive results were achieved with scans from 40,000 subjects. We are now working on considerably increasing the training dataset. The stronger the model we can build, the more we can do to assist with patient care, such as developing new treatment for mental illnesses or guiding neurosurgery for seizures or DBS.”

For those suffering from neurological and mental health disorders, BrainLM could be a key to unlocking treatments that will make a life-changing difference.

Houston-based cleantech unicorn named among annual top disruptors

on the rise

Houston-based biotech startup Solugen is making waves among innovative companies.

Solugen appears at No. 36 on CNBC’s annual Disruptor 50 list, which highlights private companies that are “upending the classic definition of disruption.” Privately owned startups founded after January 1, 2009, were eligible for the Disruptor 50 list.

Founded in 2016, Solugen replaces petroleum-based products with plant-derived substitutes through its Bioforge manufacturing platform. For example, it uses engineered enzymes and metal catalysts to convert feedstocks like sugar into chemicals that have traditionally been made from fossil fuels, such as petroleum and natural gas.

Solugen has raised $643 million in funding and now boasts a valuation of $2.2 billion.

“Sparked by a chance medical school poker game conversation in 2016, Solugen evolved from prototype to physical asset in five years, and production hit commercial scale shortly thereafter,” says CNBC.

Solugen co-founders Gaurab Chakrabarti and Sean Hunt received the Entrepreneur of The Year 2023 National Award, presented by professional services giant EY.

“Solugen is a textbook startup launched by two partners with $10,000 in seed money that is revolutionizing the chemical refining industry. The innovation-driven company is tackling impactful, life-changing issues important to the planet,” Entrepreneur of The Year judges wrote.

In April 2024, Solugen broke ground on a Bioforge biomanufacturing plant in Marshall, Minnesota. The 500,000-square-foot, 34-acre facility arose through a Solugen partnership with ADM. Chicago-based ADM produces agricultural products, commodities, and ingredients. The plant is expected to open in the fall of 2025.

“Solugen’s … technology is a transformative force in sustainable chemical manufacturing,” says Hunt. “The new facility will significantly increase our existing capabilities, enabling us to expand the market share of low-carbon chemistries.”

Houston cleantech company tests ​all-electric CO2-to-fuel production technology

RESULTS ARE IN

Houston-based clean energy company Syzygy Plasmonics has successfully tested all-electric CO2-to-fuel production technology at RTI International’s facility at North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park.

Syzygy says the technology can significantly decarbonize transportation by converting two potent greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide and methane, into low-carbon jet fuel, diesel, and gasoline.

Equinor Ventures and Sumitomo Corp. of Americas sponsored the pilot project.

“This project showcases our ability to fight climate change by converting harmful greenhouse gases into fuel,” Trevor Best, CEO of Syzygy, says in a news release.

“At scale,” he adds, “we’re talking about significantly reducing and potentially eliminating the carbon intensity of shipping, trucking, and aviation. This is a major step toward quickly and cost effectively cutting emissions from the heavy-duty transport sector.”

At commercial scale, a typical Syzygy plant will consume nearly 200,000 tons of CO2 per year, the equivalent of taking 45,000 cars off the road.

“The results of this demonstration are encouraging and represent an important milestone in our collaboration with Syzygy,” says Sameer Parvathikar, director of renewable energy and energy storage at RTI.

In addition to the CO2-to-fuel demonstration, Syzygy's Ammonia e-Cracking™ technology has completed over 2,000 hours of performance and optimization testing at its plant in Houston. Syzygy is finalizing a site and partners for a commercial CO2-to-fuel plant.

Syzygy is working to decarbonize the chemical industry, responsible for almost 20 percent of industrial CO2 emissions, by using light instead of combustion to drive chemical reactions.

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This article originally ran on EnergyCapital.