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

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.

This week's roundup of Houston innovators includes Gaurab Chakrabarti of Solugen, Andy Grolnick of Graylog, and Stuart Corr of Pumps and Pipes. Photos courtesy

3 Houston innovators to know this week

who's who

Editor's note: In this week's roundup of Houston innovators to know, I'm introducing you to three local innovators across industries — from software to biotech — recently making headlines in Houston innovation.


Gaurab Chakrabarti, CEO and co-founder of Solugen

Solugen has announced two major partnerships. Photo via solugentech.com

Solugen had a busy week. The Houston-based company that makes sustainable chemicals announced two new partnerships.

Solugen and Sasol Chemicals, a business unit of Saslo Ltd., revealed that they are working together to explore commercialization of sustainably-made home and personal care products. Read more.

Later last week, Solugen announced that it has scored a partnership with ADM to build a biomanufacturing facility adjacent to an existing corn complex in Marshall, Minnesota. Read more.

Andy Grolnick, CEO of Graylog

Graylog, a Houston SaaS company, has new fuel to scale and develop its product. Photo via Graylog

A Houston software-as-a-service company has secured $39 million in financing and announced its latest upgrade to its platform.

Graylog, which has created an innovative platform for cybersecurity and IT operations, raised equity funding with participation from new investor Silver Lake Waterman and existing investors Piper Sandler Merchant Banking and Harbert Growth Partners leading the round.

“The growth we are seeing globally is a response to our team’s focus on innovation, a superior user experience, low total cost of ownership, and strong execution from our Go-To-Market and Customer Success teams,” Andy Grolnick, CEO of Graylog, says in a news release. “We expect this momentum to continue as Graylog expands its reach and raises its profile in the security market.” Read more.

Stuart Corr, executive director of Pumps & Pipes

A Houston expert shares reasons to swap screen time for extended reality. Photo via pumpsandpipes.org

Virtual and augmented reality are having a moment, as Stuart Corr, executive director of Pumps & Pipes, explains in a guest column for InnovationMap.

"The COVID-19 pandemic saw an unprecedented shift to even more screen time and interactions using remote video communication platforms," he writes. "It was also around this time that wireless virtual reality headsets were, for the first time ever, economically accessible to the consumer due to the large push of one multinational corporation. Fast forward to 2023, there are even more companies beginning to enter the market with new extended reality (XR) headsets (i.e. virtual, mixed, and augmented reality) that offer spatial computing – the ability for computers to blend into the physical worlds (amongst other things)."Read more.

A Houston expert shares reasons to swap screen time for extended reality. Photo via Getty Images

Extended reality will have a big impact on business, this Houston expert says

guest column

What does your reality look like? Look around you. What do you see? It would be safe to say (almost guarantee) that you are looking at a screen right now, correct? We are consumers of information and use screens to access, view, and create information.

But why are we spending so much of our time looking at screens?

One poll stated that the average adult will spend 34 years of their lives looking at screens. It almost feels that screens (TV, laptop, or phone) have become so ubiquitous in everyday life that they have blended into our reality and are just ‘there’. Do you think the inventor of the TV, John Logie Baird, ever fully grasped how much the fabric of society would revolve around his invention? Time and time again, incredible disruptions have always come from breaking the ‘norm’ and given the vast level of integration of screens into our everyday reality, this ‘norm’ feels long overdue for innovation. This is where the world of augmented reality and spatial computing comes into play.

The COVID-19 pandemic saw an unprecedented shift to even more screen time and interactions using remote video communication platforms. It was also around this time that wireless virtual reality headsets were, for the first time ever, economically accessible to the consumer due to the large push of one multinational corporation. Fast forward to 2023, there are even more companies beginning to enter the market with new extended reality (XR) headsets (i.e. virtual, mixed, and augmented reality) that offer spatial computing – the ability for computers to blend into the physical worlds (amongst other things).

Some of our innovation engineering activities at the Houston Methodist Institute for Technology, Innovation, and Education (MITIE) have focused on specific use cases of XR in surgical education and training. One of our projects, the MITIEverse, is a VR-based platform focused on creating the first-ever metaverse for medical innovation. It is a fully immersive VR environment that allows the user to view 3D-rendered patient anatomies whilst watching the actual patient procedure, even offering the ability to meet the surgeon who performed the operation. It also affords the ability to give a ‘Grand Rounds’ style presentation to an audience of 50 participants.

We have looked at using augmented reality to control robotic-assisted surgery platforms. In our proof-of-concept prototype, we successfully demonstrated the manipulation of guide wires and catheters using nothing more than an augmented reality headset, illustrating the possibility of surgeons performing surgery at a distance. Houston Methodist is dedicated to transforming healthcare using the latest innovative technology including XR. The question we now need to ask – is society ready and willing to replace screens with XR headsets?

To learn more about our XR initiatives and other Houston’s cross-industry innovation collaborations, attend Pumps & Pipes Annual Event 2023, Problem Xchange: Where Solutions Converge next month at The Ion.

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Stuart Corr is the director of Innovation Systems Engineering at Houston Methodist and executive director of Pumps & Pipes.

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

funding the future

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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This article originally ran on EnergyCapital.

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

houston, we have a problem

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3 female Houston innovators to know this week

who's who

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

Emma Konet, co-founder and CTO of Tierra Climate

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

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

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

Cindy Taff, CEO of Sage Geosystems

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

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

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

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

Clemmie Martin, chief of staff at The Cannon

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

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

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

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