Here's your one-stop shop for innovation events in Houston this month. Photo via Getty Images

Houstonians have the chance to start off the new year with a bang. In this batch of in-person and online innovation events, you can check out five Houston innovation and entrepreneurship events you and your tech network need to know about.

Here's a roundup of events not to miss this month — and this article will be updated as more business and tech events are announced.

January 5 — Business Planning with SCORE

A business plan is an important planning tool for raising startup capital and helping you monitor progress of your business venture. It is a “living” document that should be updated often. The webinar will help you prepare a realistic plan in a very easy way that focuses on answering audience questions rather than fitting into a prescribed format. No business should be started or maintained without a plan. The method presented in the webinar is different from following a traditional template approach which can be sometimes overwhelming and disjointed.

The event is on Wednesday, January 5, at 10 am It's free and happening online. Click here to register.

January 14 —  Innovation, Science Education, and the Enhancement of Americans' Quality of Life

Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy will host a breakfast reception and presentation – Innovation, Science Education, and the Enhancement of Americans' Quality of Life – which will examine the ways in which innovation, science and technology are used in tandem to solve the challenges society faces on both a national and global scale.

The Honorable Sethuraman Panchanathan, Director of the United States National Science Foundation and a distinguished leader in computer science, engineering and entrepreneurship, is the featured speaker.

The event is on Friday, January 14, at 7:30 am It's free and happening at James A. Baker III Hall, Rice University (6100 Main St.) Click here to register.

January 20 — Ignite Network’s Annual Fire Pitch

Ignite Healthcare Network’s Annual Fire Pitch Competition is returning as an in-person event January 20 at TMC Innovation. The unique accelerator connects female entrepreneurs leading healthcare start-ups with potential customers and investors who advise them on the strengths and weaknesses of their companies. The opportunity for direct feedback from industry experts provides competing health and med-tech companies with long-term benefits in addition to awarded cash prizes. The 2021 eight finalists, selected from a total of 125 applications, will present on January 20th at TMC Innovation. The event is open to the public and tickets are available through the Ignite website.

The event is on Thursday, January 20, at 5 pm. It's free and happening at TMC Innovation (2450 Holcombe Blvd.). Click here to register.

January 24-28 — ShiftEd: Career Camp to Relaunch Your Career

Join General Assembly for a weeklong camp to gain the skills and knowledge that will enable you to fulfill your mission without burning out. The first step to doing work that matters is identifying what ignites passion, purpose, and satisfaction in your career and in you. If you don’t have answers right away, you’re not alone. We often don’t have the time, tools, or guidance to find a clear answer. Finding work that really matters requires — well — work.

The event is on January 24-January 28. It's free and happening online. Click here to register.

(POSTPONED) January 27 — Rice Alliance's 19th Annual Energy Tech Venture Forum 

This event has been postponed to Sept. 15. The original event listing is below.

This event is an opportunity to learn about the latest emerging technologies, meet investors to seek funding, see promising companies, learn about investment opportunities, meet individuals from the energy industry, as well networking and learning opportunities for entrepreneurs, researchers, investment professional and business executives.

The event is jam-packed with quality companies and conversations and is the go-to event of the year to connect with and see where energy is headed. The conference will include industry speakers, investors, and promising startups from throughout the U.S. and beyond.

The event is on Thursday, January 27. It's happening at Jones School of Business, McNair Hall ( Rice University, 6100 Main St.). Click here to register.

January 28 — Greater Houston Partnership's Partnership Week Begins

Annual Meeting kicks off the second annual Partnership Week, a multi-day opportunity to learn more about the Partnership’s work and how members can get involved in our efforts to make Houston even greater. Details on Partnership Week activities are coming soon.

GHP's Partnership Week begins on Friday, January 28. Click here to learn more.

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Texas Space Commission launches, Houston execs named to leadership

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Governor Greg Abbott announced the Texas Space Commission, naming its inaugural board of directors and Texas Aerospace Research and Space Economy Consortium Executive Committee.

The announcement came at NASA's Johnson Space Center, and the governor was joined by Speaker Dade Phelan, Representative Greg Bonnen, Representative Dennis Paul, NASA's Johnson Space Center Director Vanessa Wyche, and various aerospace industry leaders.

According to a news release, the Texas Space Commission will aim to strengthen commercial, civil, and military aerospace activity by promoting innovation in space exploration and commercial aerospace opportunities, which will include the integration of space, aeronautics, and aviation industries as part of the Texas economy.

The Commission will be governed by a nine-member board of directors. The board will also administer the legislatively created Space Exploration and Aeronautics Research Fund to provide grants to eligible entities.

“Texas is home to trailblazers and innovators, and we have a rich history of traversing the final frontier: space,” Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick says in a news release. “Texas is and will continue to be the epicenter for the space industry across the globe, and I have total confidence that my appointees to the Texas Space Commission Board of Directors and the Texas Aerospace Research and Space Economy Consortium Executive Committee will ensure the Texas space industry remains an international powerhouse for cutting-edge space innovation.”

TARSEC will independently identify research opportunities that will assist the state’s position in aeronautics research and development, astronautics, space commercialization, and space flight infrastructure. It also plans to fuel the integration of space, aeronautics, astronautics, and aviation industries into the Texas economy. TARSEC will be governed by an executive committee and will be composed of representatives of each higher education institution in the state.

“Since its very inception, NASA’s Johnson Space Center has been home to manned spaceflight, propelling Texas as the national leader in the U.S. space program,” Abbott says during the announcement. “It was at Rice University where President John F. Kennedy announced that the U.S. would put a man on the moon—not because it was easy, but because it was hard.

"Now, with the Texas Space Commission, our great state will have a group that is responsible for dreaming and achieving the next generation of human exploration in space," he continues. "Texas is the launchpad for Mars, innovating the technology that will colonize humanity’s first new planet. As we look into the future of space, one thing is clear: those who reach for the stars do so from the great state of Texas. I look forward to working with the Texas Space Commission, and I thank the Texas Legislature for partnering with industry and higher education institutions to secure the future of Texas' robust space industry."

The Houston-area board of directors appointees included:

  • Gwen Griffin, chief executive officer of the Griffin Communications Group
  • John Shannon, vice president of Exploration Systems at the Boeing Company
  • Sarah "Sassie" Duggleby, co-founder and CEO of Venus Aerospace
  • Kirk Shireman, vice president of Lunar Exploration Campaigns at Lockheed Martin
  • Dr. Nancy Currie-Gregg, director of the Texas A&M Space Institute

Additionally, a few Houstonians were named to the TARSEC committee, including:

  • Stephanie Murphy, CEO and executive chairman of Aegis Aerospace
  • Matt Ondler, president and former chief technology officer at Axiom Space
  • Jack “2fish” Fischer, vice president of production and operations at Intuitive Machines
  • Brian Freedman, president of the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership and vice chairman of Wellby Financial
  • David Alexander, professor of physics and astronomy and director of the Rice Space Institute at Rice University

To see the full list of appointed board and committee members, along with their extended bios, click here.

City of Houston approves $13M for new security tech at renovated IAH​ terminal

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A new terminal currently under construction at George Bush Intercontinental Airport just got the green light for new security technology.

This week, Houston City Council unanimously approved the funding for the new Mickey Leland International Terminal's security equipment. The Mickey Leland International Terminal Project is part of the $1.43 billion IAH Terminal Redevelopment Program, or ITRP, which is expected to be completed by early next year.

This new IAH International Terminal will feature an International Central Processor, or ICP, with state-of-the-art technology in a 17-lane security checkpoint — among the largest in the country — as well as ticket counters and baggage claim.

“Houston Airports strives to get passengers through TSA Security in 20 minutes or less. Today, we meet that goal at Bush Airport more than 90 percent of the time,” Jim Szczesniak, director of aviation for Houston Airports, says in a news release. “This investment in innovative technology will enhance our efficiency and ensure that our passengers have a world-class experience each time they visit our airports.”

Going through security at IAH is about to be smoother sailing. Rendering courtesy of Houston Airports

The funding approval came from two ordinances, and the first one appropriates $11.8 million from the Airports Improvement Fund to buy, service, install, and train staff on nine new automated screening lanes, called Scarabee Checkpoint Property Screening Systems, or CPSS.

Per the news release, each of these CCPS automated lanes "is capable of screening more than 100 additional people and bags/hour than existing equipment used today." Currently, Terminal D's TSA is using eight CPSS Lanes, so the additional nine lanes will bring the total to 17 lanes of security.

The other appropriates another $1.2 million from the Airports Improvement Fund to buy, install, maintain, and train staff on six new Advanced Imaging Technology Quick Personnel Security Scanners.

The new scanners, which don't require the traveler to raise their arms, "is capable of screening more than 100 additional people/hour than existing equipment used today," per the release.

“These new security screening machines are faster, have fewer false alarms and have improved detection rates, which creates a safer experience for our passengers and airlines,” Federal Security Director for TSA at IAH Juan Sanchez adds.

The Mickey Leland International Terminal originally opened in 1990 and is currently under renovation. Rendering courtesy of Houston Airports