Don't miss these July events — from meetups to hackathons. Photo via Getty Images

From networking meetups to expert speaker summits, July is filled with opportunities for Houston innovators.

Here's a roundup of events you won't want to miss out on so mark your calendars and register accordingly.

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

July 4 — Houston Blockchain Alliance Monthly Meetup

Check out the Houston Blockchain Alliance Monthly Meetup at The Cannon, in partnership with Lucrisma, Event Horizon Capital, and CryptoEQ. This in-person event is a great opportunity to connect with fellow blockchain enthusiasts in the Houston area. Whether you're a beginner or an expert, come and engage in lively discussions, share insights, and network with like-minded individuals.

This event is Thursday, July 4, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm at The Cannon. Click here to register.

July 9 — Software Day at the Ion: An Intro to Central Texas Seed Stage VCs

Over the course of 2-hours, first-time entrepreneurs looking for guidance or seasoned founders needing help tackling tough challenges will have access to a group of curated mentors from the Mercury network and gain insights and guidance tailored to their needs. Speakers on the panel "An Intro to Central Texas Seed Stage VCs” include: Eric Engineer, S3 Ventures; Rajiv Bala, Clutch Ventures; Cat Dizon, Active Capital; Mike Marcantonio, LiveOak; and moderator Aziz Gilani, Mercury.

This event is Tuesday, July 9, from 3:30 to 7 pm at The Ion. Click here to register.

July 9 — Tech+Tequila Talk: The Future of Tokenization and Capital Raising

Guest speaker, Ed Nwokedi, the Founder and CEO of RedSwan CRE Marketplace will unpack the process of converting ownership rights in an asset into digital tokens on a blockchain, how tokenization allows for fractional ownership, and the impact these innovations can have on capital raising and asset management.

This event is Tuesday, July 9, from 8 to 8 pm at Esperson Building. Click here to register.

July 11 — Out in Tech Mixer

Out in Tech Houston provides an inclusive networking space for LGBTQ+ people and allies working in tech. Check out this relaxed, social-mixer event, hosted on the second Thursday of every month.

This event is Thursday, July 11, from 7 to 8:30 pm at Second Draught. Click here to register.

July 15 — 2024 Young Leaders Institute: Renewable Energy and Climate Solutions

Asia Society Texas' Young Leaders Institute (YLI) is a week-long summer program for high school students that promotes global competence, elevates leadership skills, and connects students from across diverse backgrounds and experiences. The Institute invites students to explore some of the most timely, relevant global issues for young leaders today.

This event starts Monday, July 15, from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm at the Asia Society Texas Center. Click here to register.

July 17 — Open Project Night at Impact Hub Houston

A chance to work on solutions for some of Houston’s most pressing issues, the theme of this month's meeting will be gender equality. Network and workshop pitching materials with likeminded entrepreneurs.

This event is Wednesday, July 17, from 5:30 to 8 pm at 808 Travis St. Click here to register.

July 18 — First of a Kind (FOAK) Networking Lunch

Inspired by the recent FOAK Roundtable hosted by Deanna Zhang, the Energy Underground team of professionals are diving deep into the world of innovative initiatives. Whether you're a seasoned professional or just dipping your toes into the realm of groundbreaking projects, this lunch is for you. The Energy Underground is a group of professionals in the Greater Houston area that are accelerating the Energy Transition.

This event is Thursday, July 18, from 12 to 1 pm at The Cannon West Houston. Click here to register.

July 20 — FIONA: 5th Annual HACKATHON

Get ready for a day filled with coding challenges, teamwork, and innovation. Whether you're a seasoned coder or just starting out, this event is great for anyone passionate about technology and creativity. Go in person a day of brainstorming, coding, and presenting your projects to a panel of judges. Collaborate with fellow hackers, learn new skills, and showcase your talents.

This event is Saturday, July 20, from 11 am to 2 pm at 15500 Voss Rd. Click here to register.

July 24 — Houston Methodist Clinician Speaker Series

Dr. Desai, Vice President, Chief Operating Officer, and Chief Medical Officer & Chief Quality Officer at Houston Methodist Cypress Hospital, will discuss the plans for Houston Methodist's ninth hospital which is scheduled to open in early 2025.

Agenda:

4:30pm - Arrival & Registration

5:00pm - Presentation by Dr. Desai

5:30pm - Audience discussion

6:00pm - Event concludes

This event is Wednesday, July 24, from 4:30 to 6 pm at The Ion. Click here to register.

July 25 — DivInc Demo Day: Sports Tech Spring 2024

The Spring 2024 Sports Tech Demo Day will be a celebration and showcase of the growth of founders using technology to enhance human performance, fan experience, fantasy sports & betting, future of media, NIL innovation (i.e. Name, Image, Likeness), and stadium & venue innovation.

This event is Thursday, July 25, from 6:30 to 7:30 pm at The Ion. Click here to register.

July 30 — Texas Small Business Expo

Texas Small Business Expo is a trade show, educational business to business conference, exhibition & networking event for entrepreneurs, start-ups and anyone who owns a business. Network, build new business relationships, and learn from industry experts on how to enhance your business.

This event is Tuesday, July 30, from 4 to 9 pm at Wakefield Crowbar. Click here to register.


Koda Health has raised funding to fuel growth of its digital advance care planning company. Image via kodahealthcare.com

Houston digital health platform raises additional seed funding from fresh investors

money moves

A Houston-born digital advance care planning company, has secured new funding from some big names.

Koda Health achieved a successful oversubscription of additional seed round funding thanks to the participation of AARP, Memorial Hermann Health System, and the Texas Medical Center Venture Fund. The total amount raised was undisclosed, and the round was led by Austin-based Ecliptic Capital.

The tech platform improves planning for serious illness treatment and end-of-life care using a cloud-based advance care planning, or ACP, platform that pairs with in-house support. Essentially, it allows patients to do their planning ahead and make sure that their wishes are actually put into action. According to Koda Health, this results in an average of $9,500 saved per-patient, as well as improved health outcomes.

"If we’re looking at speed of market adoption, it’s clear that Koda Health is at the forefront of a crucial transformation in Advance Care Planning," says Tatiana Fofanova, PhD, CEO of Koda Health, in a press release. “In just a few years, we’ve built out a product that now serves well over 700,000 patients nationwide for industry giants like Cigna, Privia and Houston Methodist.”

Dr. Desh Mohan, the chief medical officer for Koda Health says that it was important to the company to create strategic partnerships with its investors. In fact, Memorial Hermann isn’t just helping with funding. The hospital system is also collaborating with Koda on a new pilot project.

“Koda is uniquely positioned to serve payers, providers and patients,” adds William McKeon, president and CEO of Texas Medical Center. “We rarely see a company that provides value to all three stakeholders. Seeing Koda launch from our TMCi BioDesign program to the progress they've made with our member institutions and players in the value chain is incredible.”

Beyond the TMC, Koda’s collaboration with AARP goes through the latter’s AgeTech Collaborative. That ecosystem unites founders in the realm of longevity tech to make meaningful change in their field.

"AARP research shows that there is a willingness among older adults in the U.S. to prepare for the end of their lives," says Amelia Hay, VP of Startup Programming and Investments at AgeTech Collaborative. "This indicates a need for more programs and services geared towards ensuring adults take the necessary steps, and AARP is pleased to invest in Koda Health to help address that need."

Koda raised its first seed funding in 2022, a round that totaled $3.5 million. The new round close means that Koda can accelerate its efforts to modernize ACP.

Houston Methodist's cardiovascular sciences, orthopedics and RNA therapeutics research programs will be the first to occupy the new space. Photo via houstonmethodist.org

Houston Methodist signs on at new TMC Helix Park building

moving in

Texas medical giant Houston Methodist is the latest to join the Dynamic One building within TMC Helix Park.

The hospital announced that it has signed a 75,800-square-foot lease in the building and will take over two floors of biomedical research laboratories. Houston Methodist's cardiovascular sciences, orthopedics and RNA therapeutics research programs will be the first to occupy the space.

“We are always focused on translating innovative medical discoveries into viable therapies for patients. These highly entrepreneurial programs, which translate these discoveries to the bedside, are a natural fit within the emerging biotechnology ecosystem that the TMC is cultivating,” Edward Jones, president and CEO of Houston Methodist Research Institute, said in the announcement.

Houston Methodist joins anchor tenant Baylor College of Medicine in the state-of-the-art building, which opened in Nov. 2023.

The 12-story Dynamic One building features lab space, offices, restaurants, and stores. It represents the first of four buildings planned for the 37-acre TMC Helix Park and was one of the largest life sciences projects in the U.S. set to come online last year.

Developers are slated to open three more move-in-ready Beacon Ready Labs in the building this summer, ranging from 9,000 to 15,000 square feet.

“We are excited to welcome Houston Methodist to this space; their commitment to bench to bedside innovation and track record of transformative new discoveries aligns with our vision for the campus,” William McKeon, president and CEO of the Texas Medical Center, said in a statement. “Beacon Capital has been an outstanding partner in the development of TMC Helix Park, lending their insights to our efforts to design a campus that would seamlessly blend institutions and industry.”

TMC Helix Park officially opened last October with the launch of the TMC3 Collaborative Building. The 250,000-square-foot building anchors the campus and houses research initiatives from the four founding partners: Texas Medical Center, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Texas A&M University Health Science Center, and The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.

UTHealth Houston also broke ground on its 350,000-square-foot tower on the campus last summer. It's slated to open in time for the 2026 Fall semester. And TMC unveiled plans for the fourth and final component of Helix Park, the TMC BioPort, in 2022.

The Bookout Center will focus on enhancing the use of robotics and imaging in medicine. Photo via Houston Methodist

Houston Methodist establishes new center focused on robotics, imaging

medical innovation

A groundbreaking new institution is coming to Houston Methodist.

The Bookout Center will build on the success of the Houston Methodist Institute for Technology, Innovation and Education (MITIE).

The new center will focus on enhancing the use of robotics and imaging in medicine. Virtual reality, robotics, AI, and other technologies will all play a part in the support that The Bookout Center will provide for health care professionals at all levels and specialties. High-resolution imaging and diagnostics will also be part of the forward-thinking research center.

The Bookout Center, which will be housed in the Houston Methodist Academic Institute, is the result of an undisclosed donation amount from Ann and John F. Bookout III. At the age of 100, John’s father, also named John Bookout, is an active Houston Methodist Board member and served as its chair from 1991 until 2007.

“We’re excited and humbled to have the support of the Bookout family,” Marc L. Boom, president and CEO of Houston Methodist, says in a press release. “The Bookouts believe in what our physicians, researchers and scientists do to bring life-changing treatments to our patients and community, and this gift will help us build on our legacy of leading medicine. We are so very grateful for this gift.”

A medical director for The Bookout Center has already been named. The role will be filled by Alan Lumsden, the Walter W. Fondren III Presidential Distinguished Chair in the Houston Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center and Chair of the Department of Cardiovascular Surgery. Dr. Lumsden will work alongside Dr. Stuart Corr, newly appointed director of Innovation Engineering for The Bookout Center, and associate professor of Bioengineering, to develop, implement, and lead the center’s activities.

"The Bookout Center will complement our existing programs with robust research, clinical trials and the expertise to develop further innovation in these fields,” Lumsden says. “We are grateful to the Bookouts for giving us the opportunity to lead the world in developing and refining these life-saving technologies, which will continue to improve outcomes and recovery times for patients.”

The new institute will be run by director Alan Lumsden, the Walter W. Fondren III Presidential Distinguished Chair in the Houston Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center and Chair of the Department of Cardiovascular Surgery. Photo via TMC.edu

The 2023 Houston Innovation Awards celebrated Houston's tech and entrepreneurship community. Photo by Emily Jaschke/InnovationMap

Photos: Houston innovation ecosystem celebrates wins at annual event

Houston Innovation Awards

That's a wrap on the 2023 Houston Innovation Awards — and boy did the event deliver on networking, award wins, and plenty of celebrating Houston's tech and entrepreneurship community.

With a crowd of around 600 attendees, the Houston Innovation Awards, which took place on November 8 at Silver Street Studios in partnership with Houston Exponential, celebrated over 50 finalists and a dozen winners across categories. Click here to see who won an award.

Learn more about this year's honorees in InnovationMap's the editorial series:

See below for photos from the event.

The 2023 Houston Innovation Awards took place on Nov. 8.

Photo by Emily Jaschke/InnovationMap

The 2023 Houston Innovation Awards revealed its big winners across 13 categories. Photos courtesy

Houston Innovation Awards winners revealed at 2023 event

drum roll, please...

Who are the top innovators and startups in Houston? We just found out for you.

The Houston Innovation Awards honored over 50 finalists categories, naming the 12 winners at the event. The 2023 Trailblazer Award recipient, Brad Burke, managing director of the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship, was also honored at the event by inaugural winner, Barbara Burger.

The 2023 judges — who represent various industries and verticals in Houston — scored over 200 submissions. The event, hosted November 8 in partnership with Houston Exponential and emceed by Scott Gale, executive director of Halliburton Labs, revealed the winners.

The event's sponsors included Halliburton Labs, Microsoft, The Ion, Houston Community College, Houston Energy Transition Initiative, NOV, Tito's Handmade Vodka, Uncle Nearest Premium Whisky, 8th Wonder Brewery, and 8th Wonder Cannabis.

Without further adieu, here the winners from the 2023 Houston Innovation Awards.

BIPOC-Owned Business: Milkify

The winner of the BIPOC-Owned Business category, honoring an innovative company founded or co-founded by BIPOC representation, is Milkify, a service that turns breast milk into a shelf-stable powder.

Female-Owned Business: The Postage

The winner of the Female-Owned Business category, honoring an innovative company founded or co-founded by a woman, is The Postage, a comprehensive life planning and succession software platform for families and small businesses.

Hardtech Business: Syzygy Plasmonics

The winner of the Hardtech Business category, honoring an innovative company developing and commercializing a physical technology, is Syzygy Plasmonics, a deep decarbonization company that builds chemical reactors designed to use light instead of combustion to produce valuable chemicals like hydrogen and sustainable fuels.

Digital Solutions Business: RepeatMD

The winner of the Digital Solutions Business category, honoring an innovative company developing and programming a digital solution to a problem in an industry, is RepeatMD, software platform for customer loyalty, eCommerce, and fintech solutions to enhance the patient experience and provide a new source of revenue for the aesthetics and wellness space.

Social Impact Business: ALLY Energy

The winner of the Social Impact Business category, honoring an innovative company providing a solution that would enhance humanity or society in a significant way, is ALLY Energy, helping energy companies and climate startups find, develop, and retain great talent.

Sustainability Business: Fervo Energy

The winner of the Sustainability Business category, honoring an innovative company providing a solution within renewables, climatetech, clean energy, alternative materials, circular economy, and beyond, is Fervo Energy, leveraging proven oil and gas drilling technology to deliver 24/7 carbon-free geothermal energy.

Life Science Business: CellChorus

The winner of the Life Science Business category, honoring an innovative company within the health and medical industries designing a treatment or technology, is CellChorus, using AI to evaluate immune cell function and performance to improve the development and delivery of therapeutics.

Corporate of the Year: Houston Methodist

The winner of the Corporate of the Year category, honoring a corporation that supports startups and/or the Houston innovation community, Houston Methodist, a hospital system and health care innovation leader.

DEI Champion: Calicia Johnson

The winner of the DEI Champion, honoring an individual who is leading impactful diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives and progress within Houston and their organization, is Calicia Johnson, chair of Blacks at Microsoft Houston.

Ecosystem Builder: Joey Sanchez

The winner of the Ecosystem Builder category, honoring an individual who has acted as a leader in developing Houston’s startup ecosystem, is Joey Sanchez, founder of Cup of Joey and senior director of ecosystems at the Ion.

Mentor of the Year: Wade Pinder

The winner of the Mentor of the Year category, honoring an individual who dedicates their time and expertise to guide and support to budding entrepreneurs, is Wade Pinder, founder of Product Houston.

People's Choice: 

The winner of the People's Choice: Startup of the Year category, selected via an interactive voting portal during the event, is Blue People, helping bring ideas to life through software development expertise.

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Houston chemist lands $2M NIH grant for cancer treatment research

future of cellular health

A Rice University chemist has landed a $2 million grant from the National Institute of Health for his work that aims to reprogram the genetic code and explore the role certain cells play in causing diseases like cancer and neurological disorders.

The funds were awarded to Han Xiao, the Norman Hackerman-Welch Young Investigator, associate professor of chemistry, from the NIH's Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA) program, which supports medically focused laboratories.

Xiao will use the five-year grant to develop noncanonical amino acids (ncAAs) with diverse properties to help build proteins, according to a statement from Rice. He and his team will then use the ncAAs to explore the vivo sensors for enzymes involved in posttranslational modifications (PTMs), which play a role in the development of cancers and neurological disorders. Additionally, the team will look to develop a way to detect these enzymes in living organisms in real-time rather than in a lab.

“This innovative approach could revolutionize how we understand and control cellular functions,” Xiao said in the statement.

According to Rice, these developments could have major implications for the way diseases are treated, specifically for epigenetic inhibitors that are used to treat cancer.

Xiao helped lead the charge to launch Rice's new Synthesis X Center this spring. The center, which was born out of informal meetings between Xio's lab and others from the Baylor College of Medicine’s Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center at the Baylor College of Medicine, aims to improve cancer outcomes by turning fundamental research into clinical applications.

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.”

Houston neighbor ranks as one of America's most livable small cities

mo city

Some Houston suburbs stick out from the rest thanks to their affluent residents, and now Missouri City is getting time in the spotlight, thanks to its new ranking as the No. 77 most livable small city in the country.

The tiny but mighty Houston neighbor, located less than 20 miles southwest of Houston, was among six Texas cities that earned a top-100 ranking in SmartAsset's 2024 " Most Livable Small Cities" report. It compared 281 U.S. cities with populations between 65,000 and 100,000 residents across eight metrics, such as a resident's housing costs as a percentage of household income, the city's average commute times, and the proportions of entertainment, food service, and healthcare establishments.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Missouri City has an estimated population of over 76,000 residents, whose median household income comes out to $97,211. SmartAsset calculated that a Missouri City household's annual housing costs only take up 19.4 percent of that household's income. Additionally, the study found only six percent of the town's population live below the poverty level.

Here's how Missouri City performed in two other metrics in the study:

  • 1.4 percent – The proportion of arts, entertainment, and recreation businesses as a percentage of all businesses
  • 29.9 minutes – Worker's average commute time

But income and housing aren't the only things that make Missouri City one of the most livable small cities in Texas. Residents benefit from its proximity from central Houston, but the town mainly prides itself on its spacious park system, playgrounds, and other recreational activities.

Missouri City, Texas

Missouri City residents have plenty of parkland to enjoy. www.missouricitytx.gov

The Missouri City Parks and Recreation Departmen meticulously maintains 21 parks spanning just over 515 acres of land, an additional 500 acres of undeveloped parkland, and 14.4 miles of trails throughout the town, according to the city's website."Small cities may offer cost benefits for residents looking to stretch their income while enjoying a comfortable – and more spacious – lifestyle," the report's author wrote. "While livability is a subjective concept that may take on different definitions for different people, some elements of a community can come close to being universally beneficial."

Missouri City is also home to Fort Bend Town Square, a massive mixed-use development at the intersection of TX 6 and the Fort Bend Parkway. It offers apartments, shopping, and restaurants, including a rumored location of Trill Burgers.

Other Houston-area cities that earned a spot in the report include

Spring (No. 227) and Baytown (No. 254).The five remaining Texas cities that were among the top 100 most livable small cities in the U.S. include Flower Mound (No. 29), Leander (No. 60), Mansfield (No. 69), Pflugerville (No. 78), and Cedar Park (No. 85).

The top 10 most livable small cities in the U.S. are:

  • No. 1 – Troy, Michigan
  • No. 2 – Rochester Hills, Michigan
  • No. 3 – Eau Claire, Wisconsin
  • No. 4 – Franklin, Tennessee
  • No. 5 – Redmond, Washington
  • No. 6 – Appleton, Wisconsin
  • No. 7 – Apex, North Carolina
  • No. 8 – Plymouth, Minnesota
  • No. 9 – Livonia, Michigan
  • No. 10 – Oshkosh, Wisconsin

The report examined data from the U.S. Census Bureau's 2022 1-year American Community Survey and the 2021 County Business Patterns Survey to determine its rankings.The report and its methodology can be found on

smartasset.com

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.