A handful of Houston startups were selected for a national accelerator program. Photo via Getty Images

Four Houston startups have been selected for the 2023 cohort of the MedTech Innovator’s four-month accelerator program.

Los Angeles-based MedTech Innovator, which bills itself as the world’s largest medtech accelerator, will award $800,000 in funding to winners of its competitions throughout the 2023 program. The grand prize is $350,000.

Almost 1,200 startups applied to participate in this year’s accelerator. From that group, MedTech Innovator, its corporate partners, and more than 400 judges picked nearly 200 candidates for in-person pitching and partnering events. Sixty-one startups ultimately were chosen for the 2023 cohort, which kicks off June 14 and 15.

Forty-two of the 61 startups will participate in MedTech Innovator’s corporate mentorship program, and five companies will join a plastic surgery accelerator in conjunction with the American Society for Plastic Surgeons.

MedTech Innovator says more than 500 startups have completed its accelerator program and have secured $6.8 billion in follow-on funding.

“We are proud of our stellar track record of identifying and perfecting the most innovative medtech startups in the world,” Paul Grand, CEO and founder of MedTech Innovator, says in a news release.

The four Houston companies selected for the MedTech Accelerator’s 2023 cohort are:

  • Ankr. The startup (whose name is pronounced “anchor”) provides a caregiving platform for cancer patients in the U.S. As of 2022, there were an estimated 18.1 million cancer survivors across the country. The company won The Ion’s Houston Startup Showcase in 2021.
  • NeuraStasis. The startup is developing an electrical stimulation device to delay the effects of acute ischemic stroke. This type of stroke happens when blood flow to the brain decreases. Acute ischemic stroke affects about 700,000 people in the U.S. each year. The company was selected for last year’s cohort of the UCSF Rosenman Institute’s Rosenman Innovators program.
  • Nininger Medical. The startup is working on a device for minimally invasive replacement of the tricuspid valve. Today, an estimated 1.6 million Americans experience tricuspid regurgitation. This type of heart disease occurs when the tricuspid valve’s flaps don’t close correctly. In 2021, the company received a $256,000 National Science Foundation grant.
  • Prana Thoracic. The startup is developing a tool for minimally invasive removal of lung tissue in lung cancer patients. In March, the company announced $3 million in series A funding.

Last year, three Houston companies were selected for the program. The startups — Ad Vital, Corveus Medical, and CorInnova.

Over 1,000 companies applied to participate in the 2023 MedTech Innovator Accelerator, 200 pitched in person, and 61 startups were selected. Graphic via https://medtechinnovator.org/

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Innovative coastline project on Bolivar Peninsula receives federal funding

flood mitigation

The Galveston’s Coastal Barrier Project recently received federal funding to the tune of $500,000 to support construction on its flood mitigation plans for the area previously devastated by Hurricane Ike in 2008.

Known as Ike Dike, the proposed project includes implementing the Galveston Bay Storm Surge Barrier System, including eight Gulf and Bay defense projects. The Bolivar Roads Gate System, a two-mile-long closure structure situated between Galveston Island and Bolivar Peninsula, is included in the plans and would protect against storm surge volumes entering the bay.

The funding support comes from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and will go toward the preconstruction engineering and design phase of Ecosystem Restoration feature G-28, the first segment of the Bolivar Peninsula and West Bay Gulf Intracoastal Waterway Shoreline and Island Protection.

Coastal Barrier Project - Galveston Projects

The project also includes protection of critical fish and wildlife habitat against coastal storms and erosion.

“The Coastal Texas Project is one of the largest projects in the history of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,” says Col. Rhett A. Blackmon, USACE Galveston District commander, in a statement. “This project is important to the nation for many reasons. Not only will it reduce risk to the vulnerable populations along the Texas coast, but it will also protect vital ecosystems and economically critical infrastructure vital to the U.S. supply chain and the many global industries located here.”

Hurricane Ike resulted in over $30 billion in storm-related damages to the Texas coast, reports the Coastal Barrier Project, and created a debris line 15 feet tall and 40 miles long in Chambers County. The estimated economic disruption due to Hurricane Ike exceeded $150 billion, FEMA reported.

The project is estimated to take two years to complete after construction starts and will cost between $4 billion and $6 billion, reports Texas A&M University at Galveston.

Houston organization selected for program to explore future foods in space health

research and development

What would we eat if we were forced to decamp to another planet? The most immediate challenges faced by the food industry and astronauts exploring outside Earth are being addressed by The Translational Research Institute for Space Health (TRISH) at Baylor College of Medicine’s Center for Space Medicine’s newest project.

Earlier this month, TRISH announced the initial selection for its Space Health Ingress Program (SHIP) solicitation. Working with California Institute of Technology and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Baylor-based program chose “Future Foods for Space: Mobilizing the Future Foods Community to Accelerate Advances in Space Health,” led by Dr. Denneal Jamison-McClung at the University of California, Davis.

“TRISH is bringing in new ideas and investigators to propel space health research,” says Catherine Domingo, TRISH operations lead and research administration associate at Baylor College of Medicine, in the release. “We have long believed that new researchers with fresh perspectives drive innovation and advance human space exploration and SHIP builds on TRISH’s existing efforts to recruit and support new investigators in the space health research field, potentially yielding and high-impact ideas to protect space explorers.”

The goal of the project is to develop sustainable food products and ingredients that could fuel future space travelers on long-term voyages, or even habitation beyond our home planet.

Jamison-McClung and her team’s goal is to enact food-related space health research and inspire the community thereof by mobilizing academic and food-industry researchers who have not previously engaged with the realm of space exploration. Besides growing and developing food products, the project will also address production, storage, and delivery of the nutrition created by the team.

To that end, Jamison-McClung and her recruits will receive $1 million over the course of two years. The goal of the SHIP solicitation is to work with first-time NASA investigators, bringing new minds to the forefront of the space health research world.

“As we look to enable safer space exploration and habitation for humans, it is clear that food and nutrition are foundational,” says Dr. Asha S. Collins, chair of the SHIP advisory board, in a press release. “We’re excited to see how accelerating innovation in food science for space health could also result in food-related innovations for people on Earth in remote areas and food deserts.”

Clean energy nonprofit CEO to step down, search for replacement to begin

moving on

Greentown Labs, which is co-located in the Boston and Houston areas, has announced its current CEO is stepping down after less than a year in the position.

The nonprofit's CEO and President Kevin Knobloch announced that he will be stepping down at the end of July 2024. Knobloch assumed his role last September, previously serving as chief of staff of the United States Department of Energy in President Barack Obama’s second term.

“It has been an honor to lead this incredible team and organization, and a true privilege to get to know many of our brilliant startup founders," Knobloch says in the news release. “Greentown is a proven leader in supporting early-stage climatetech companies and I can’t wait to see all that it will accomplish in the coming years.”

The news of Knobloch's departure comes just over a month after the organization announced that it was eliminating 30 percent of its staff, which affected 12 roles in Boston and six in Houston.

According the Greentown, its board of directors is expected to launch a national search for its next CEO.

“On behalf of the entire Board of Directors, I want to thank Kevin for his efforts to strengthen the foundation of Greentown Labs and for charting the next chapter for the organization through a strategic refresh process,” says Dawn James, Greentown Labs Board Chair, in the release. “His thoughtful leadership will leave a lasting impact on the team and community for years to come.”

Knobloch reportedly shifted Greentown's sponsorship relationships with oil companies, sparking "friction within the organization," according to the Houston Chronicle, which also reported that Knobloch said he intends to return to his clean energy consulting firm.

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This article originally ran on EnergyCapital.