This Houston AI expert is calling the city's business leaders to step up when it comes to AI. Photo via Getty Images

Houston's industrial and energy landscapes are at a pivotal juncture. We're witnessing an undeniable gap in technical expertise that's hard to ignore. At the same time, there's a rising wave of artificial intelligence-driven solutions that could be the answer we've been searching for.

The expertise shortfall

Our city has always been the pulse of the energy and industrial sectors. We've grown, we've innovated, and we've set benchmarks for the world. But as we steer ahead, a pressing concern looms large: the dwindling pool of technical expertise. This isn't about not having enough hands-on deck; it's about not having the right hands to navigate our industries' intricate machinery and complex systems. Pipelines, refineries, renewable energy solutions – these are the cornerstones of Houston's legacy, and we need adept professionals to keep pushing boundaries.

AI: The game changer

But here's the thing: Houston isn't just the hub of traditional energy and industrial operations. We're sitting on a goldmine of data, real-world use cases, and the drive to innovate. Enter AI. It's not just tech jargon; it's a tool with untapped potential, waiting to be harnessed.

We have the industry foundation, the data reservoirs, and the prime use cases that make AI not just viable, but indispensable. Houston is uniquely positioned to lead this AI revolution. We're not just talking about implementing AI; we're talking about innovating with AI, tailoring it to our city's and our industry’s needs, and setting a precedent for the global stage. This is where the challenge meets opportunity. We have what it takes to mold AI solutions that can fill the expertise gap and propel our industries to new heights.

Houston's call to action

If there's any city poised to be the epicenter of AI, it's Houston. We've always been pioneers, and this is our chance to solidify our position as global leaders once again. Houston has everything: the industries, the data, the use cases, and most importantly, the ambition. The question isn't whether we can usher in an era of AI-enhanced operations; it's how swiftly we can do it.

Our city is on the brink of something monumental. It's time we leverage AI to not just bridge the expertise gap but to create an industrial future that's resilient, innovative, and unparalleled. So, to industry leaders, stakeholders, and visionaries, here's the pitch: Houston's at a crossroads, and the path we choose now will shape our legacy for decades. It's time we lean into AI, harness its potential, and ensure that our city remains the powerhouse it's always been.

However, this one question remains: Are you, this city's industry leaders, ready to redefine Houston's legacy in the face of an expertise challenge, or will you stick to the status quo and risk stagnation?


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Marty Dytrych is the co-founder and CEO of Industrial Data Labs.

Industrial Data Labs announced the close of its $1.5 million seed round of funding. Photo via Getty Images

Houston AI startup raises $1.5M seed round of funding

money moves

A Houston startup that's on a mission to transform and expedite data processing for its industrial clients has raised seed funding.

Industrial Data Labs announced this week that it's closed a $1.5 million seed round of funding. The company has created an applied artificial intelligence technology for the pipe, valve, fitting, and flange, or PVF, industry's inside sales team. The terms of the seed round were not disclosed.

"Our groundbreaking AI-Powered Inside Sales Copilot is transforming the way inside sales teams operate in the PVF industry," Marty Dytrych, co-founder and CEO of Industrial Data Labs, says in a news release. "By embedding our solution into existing BOM and MRO workflows, we empower teams to achieve unmatched efficiency, accuracy, and sales performance.”

Dytrych founded the company with COO Aaron deOliveira and CTO Tige Richardson in 2020. Per the release, Industrial Data Labs will use the funding to continue growing to continue delivering its "solutions that enhance efficiency and create new opportunities" within the PVF industry.

The company did not disclose its seed investors, but reported that Marshal Kushniruk is among the investors and is a member of the company's board of directors.

"Industrial Data Labs' innovative application of AI technology has the potential to bring significant transformation to the industrial sales landscape," Kushniruk says in the release. We are thrilled to support their mission and drive impactful change within the PVF industry.”

Mark Janzen is an early investor in Industrial Data Labs.

"Industrial Data Labs is at the forefront of Applied AI solutions in the industrial sector," he adds. "We believe their commitment to delivering unparalleled value to clients through their Inside Sales Copilot will have a lasting impact on the industry.”

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Houston cardiac health startup raises $43 million series B to grow AI-backed platform

money moves

A Houston-based tech company that has a product line of software solutions for cardiac health has raised funding.

Octagos Health, the parent company of Atlas AI — a software platform for cardiac devices like pacemakers, defibrillators, ambulatory monitors and consumer wearables — has announced a $43 million series B raise that will bring their technology to many more hearts.

Morgan Stanley Investment Capital led the investment, which also included funds from Mucker Capital and other continuing strategic investors. The goal of the raise is to supply funds to accelerate Atlas AI’s growth across the United States and to expand into other areas of care, including ambulatory monitors, consumer wearables, and sleep.

"This investment will enable us to accelerate enhancements to our platform, in addition to scaling our commercial team and operations. We are currently the only company that helps cardiology practices migrate their historical data from legacy software providers and fully integrates with any EHR (exertion heart rate) system. We do this while enabling customized reporting supported by patient and practice decision-support analytics," says Eric Olsen, COO of Octagos Health, in a press release.

Octagos Health was founded by a team of healthcare pros including CEO Shanti Bansal, a cardiologist and founder of Houston Heart Rhythm, an atrial fibrillation center. The goal was to find a new way to deal with the massive amount of data that clinicians encounter each day in a way that combines software and the work of human doctors.

According to the Octagos Health website, “Our solution allows clinicians to focus on other ways of delivering meaningful healthcare and more efficiently manage their remotely monitored patients.”

It works thanks to customizable reporting features that allow patients’ healthcare teams to get help while monitoring them, but to do it precisely as they would if they were crunching numbers themselves.

"We are excited to partner with Octagos Health and support their vision of transforming cardiac care," says Melissa Daniels, managing director of Morgan Stanley Expansion Capital. "Octagos Health has demonstrated exceptional growth and innovation in a critical area of healthcare. We believe their platform and vertically integrated software and services significantly improve patient care and streamline cardiac monitoring processes for healthcare providers."

Will Hsu, co-founder and partner of Mucker Capital, agrees. “Octagos Health is poised for scale – industry leading gross margins, a very sticky product that doctors and clinical staff love, and a market ready for disruption with artificial intelligence. This is the new wave for diagnostic care,” he says. And with this raise, it will be available to even more clinicians and patients across the country.

Houston biotech company expands leadership as it commercializes sustainable products

joining the team

Houston-based biotech company Cemvita recently tapped two executives to help commercialize its sustainable fuel made from carbon waste.

Nádia Skorupa Parachin came aboard as vice president of industrial biotechnology, and Phil Garcia was promoted to vice president of commercialization.

Parachin most recently oversaw several projects at Boston-based biotech company Ginkjo Bioworks. She previously co-founded Brazilian biotech startup Integra Bioprocessos.

Parachin will lead the Cemvita team that’s developing technology for production of bio-manufactured oil.

“It’s a fantastic moment, as we’re poised to take our prototyping to the next level, and all under the innovative direction of our co-founder Tara Karimi,” Parachin says in a news release. “We will be bringing something truly remarkable to market and ensuring it’s cost-effective.”

Moji Karimi, co-founder and CEO of Cemvita, says the hiring of Parachin represents “the natural next step” toward commercializing the startup’s carbon-to-oil process.

“Her background prepared her to bring the best out of the scientists at the inflection point of commercialization — really bringing things to life,” says Moji Karimi, Tara’s brother.

Parachin joins Garcia on Cemvita’s executive team.

Before being promoted to vice president of commercialization, Garcia was the startup’s commercial director and business development manager. He has a background in engineering and business development.

Founded in 2017, Cemvita recently announced a breakthrough that enables production of large quantities of oil derived from carbon waste.

In 2023, United Airlines agreed to buy up to one billion gallons of sustainable aviation fuel from Cemvita’s first full-scale plant over the course of 20 years.

Cemvita’s investors include the UAV Sustainable Flight Fund, an investment arm of Chicago-based United; Oxy Low Carbon Ventures, an investment arm of Houston-based energy company Occidental Petroleum; and Japanese equipment and machinery manufacturer Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

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This article originally ran on EnergyCapital.

3 Houston innovators to know this week

who's who

Editor's note: Every week, I introduce you to a handful of Houston innovators to know recently making headlines with news of innovative technology, investment activity, and more. This week's batch includes a logistics startup founder, a marketing expert, and a solar energy innovator.

Matthew Costello, CEO and co-founder of Voyager Portal

Houston logistics SaaS innovator is making waves with its expanded maritime shipping platform. Photo courtesy of Voyager

For several years now, Matthew Costello has been navigating the maritime shipping industry looking for problems to solve for customers with his company, Voyager Portal.

Initially, that meant designing a software platform to enhance communications and organization of the many massive and intricate global shipments happening every day. Founded in 2018 by Costello and COO Bret Smart, Voyager Portal became a integral tool for the industry that helps users manage the full lifecycle of their voyages — from planning to delivery.

"The software landscape has changed tremendously in the maritime space. Back in 2018, we were one of a small handful of technology startups in this space," Costello, who serves as CEO of Voyager, says on the Houston Innovators Podcast. "Now that's changed. ... There's really a huge wave of innovation happening in maritime right now." Read more.

Arielle Rogg, principal and founder of Rogg Enterprises

Arielle Rogg writes in a guest column for InnovationMap about AI in the workforce. Photo via LinkedIn

Arielle Rogg isn't worried about artificial intelligence coming for her job. In fact, she has three reasons why, and she outlines them in a guest column for InnovationMap.

"The advent of AI pushes us humans to acquire new skills and hone our existing abilities so we can work alongside these evolving technologies in a collaborative fashion. AI augments human capabilities rather than replacing us. I believe it will help our society embrace lifelong learning, creating new industries and jobs that have never existed before," she writes in the piece. Read more.

Nathan Childress, founder of Solar Slice

Solar Slice Founder Nathan Childress says his new venture offers a fulfilling way to encourage and promote solar energy and a greener planet. Photo via LinkedIn

Nuclear engineer and entrepreneur Nathan Childress wants consumers to capture their own ray of sunlight to brighten the prospect of making clean energy a bigger part of the power grid. That's why he founded Solar Slice. The new venture offers a fulfilling way to encourage and promote solar energy and a greener planet.

Although trained in nuclear power plant design, solar power drew his interest as a cheaper and more accessible alternative, and Childress tells InnovationMap that he thinks that the transition to cleaner energy, in Texas especially, needs to step up.

Recent studies show that 80 to 90 percent of the money invested into fighting climate change “aren’t going to things that people actually consider helpful,” Childress says, adding that “they’re more just projects that sound good, that are not actually taking any action." Read more.