FemTec Health has acquired two companies — a women's reproductive platform and a nutrition platform. Image via avawomen.com

Last month, a Houston-based, tech-enabled health and beauty sciences company made two acquisitions of startups in the femtech space.

FemTec Health, creator of the Awesome Woman comprehensive health care subscription platform, has acquired Ava AG — a women's reproductive digital diagnostics and therapeutics company — and Nutrimedy — a clinical nutrition platform.

Ava, founded by Lea von Bidder in Zurich in 2014, uses artificial intelligence and clinical trials-backed science to help women conceive faster. Per a news release, the FDA-cleared technology has helped over 70,000 women get pregnant.

"What Lea and the Ava team have built is truly innovative. We are excited to add the leader in reproductive health to our portfolio and onto our team," says Dr. Kimon Angelides, FemTec Health founder and CEO, in the July 19 release. "From fertility to contraception, pregnancy support, menopause management, and personalized health insights, Ava's technology is a great addition to make it even easier for women within the FemTec Health platform to take control of their health, all while keeping their data and personal health information one hundred percent private and secure."

FemTec Health's Awesome Woman platform will integrate Ava's technology, adding reproductive health to its list of female-focused health care services which includes vaginal health, hormone balance, sexual wellness, and beauty.

"Ava's vision has always been to be a companion to women along every stage of their lives. With Ava's female health AI integrated into FemTec's care platform, women will finally have access to a fully continuous health journey," says von Bidder in the release. "We are excited to join FemTec in building continuous support for women from puberty to menopause."

Last week, FemTec announced the acquisition of Nutrimedy, a HIPAA-compliant digital health platform founded by Karolina Starczak in Boston in 2016. With the acquisition, Awesome Women members will have access to Nutrimedy's guided nutritional support.

"For many health conditions, nutrition is a key but often neglected component," says Angelides, in the July 25 news release. "Adding Nutrimedy's robust, evidence-based clinical nutrition platform to the Awesome Woman program will be a gamechanger for our subscribers. Whether it's to optimize pregnancy planning, manage menopause symptoms, or for general wellness and prevention, research shows women are seeking personalized, science-backed nutritional support that's easy to use and that they can trust."

With its AI-powered platform, users can access real-time food recommendations and photo food logging. Nutrimedy empowers those suffering from chronic conditions and disruptive food allergies and sensitivities, to make informed dietary decisions in the moment.

"Nutrimedy was started with the mission to improve access to nutrition in healthcare and make it significantly more personalized and actionable in our hectic daily routines," says Starczak in the release. "Within the field of nutrition, conflicting and confusing misinformation is pervasive and prevents most people from making the best decision for their individual health."

Last fall, FemTec Health emerged from stealth with $35 million in fresh VC investment. The company has also acquired Birchbox, Mira Beauty, and Liquid Grids over the past year.

Angelides, a Houstonian, previously told InnovationMap that he was driven to found FemTech Health because there was no holistic platform focused on every phase of women's health.

"Women don't really have a program that's designed for them," Angelides says on the Houston Innovators Podcast. "We embarked in terms of building a platform and a company that would be a single destination for women — one that's not age specific but built around journeys."

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Houston cleantech company sees shining success with gold hydrogen

bling, bling

Houston-based cleantech startup Cemvita Factory is kicking things into high gear with its Gold Hydrogen product.

After successfully completing a pilot test of Gold Hydrogen in the oil-rich Permian Basin of West Texas, Cemvita has raised an undisclosed amount of funding through its new Gold H2 LLC spin-out. The lead investors are Georgia-based equipment manufacturer Chart Industries and 8090 Industries, an investment consortium with offices in New York City and Los Angeles.

Gold Hydrogen provides carbon-neutral hydrogen obtained from depleted oil and gas wells. This is achieved through bioengineering subsurface microbes in the wells to consume carbon and generate clean hydrogen.

Cemvita says it set up Gold H2 to commercialize the business via licensing, joint ventures, and outright ownership of hydrogen assets.

“We have incredible conviction in next-generation clean hydrogen production methods that leverage the vast and sprawling existing infrastructure and know-how of the oil and gas industry,” Rayyan Islam, co-founder and general partner of 8090 Industries, says in a news release.

Traditional methods of producing hydrogen without greenhouse gas emissions include electrolysis powered by renewable sources like wind, solar or water, according to Cemvita. However, production of green hydrogen through normal avenues eats up a lot of energy and money, the startup says.

By contrast, Cemvita relies on depleted oil and gas wells to cheaply produce carbon-free hydrogen.

“The commercialization and economics of the hydrogen economy will require technologies that produce the hydrogen molecule at a meaningful scale with no carbon emissions. Gold H2 is leading the charge … ,” says Jill Evanko, president and CEO of Chart Industries.

Investors in Cemvita include Oxy Low Carbon Ventures, an investment arm of Houston-based Occidental Petroleum, as well as BHP Group, Mitsubishi, and United Airlines Ventures.

Oxy Low Carbon Ventures and United Airlines Ventures are financing Cemvita’s work on sustainable jet fuel. United Airlines operates a hub at George Bush Intercontinental Airport Houston.

Founded by brother-and-sister team Moji and Tara Karimi in 2017, Cemvita uses synthetic biology to turn carbon dioxide into chemicals and alternative fuels.

Houston named best city in Texas and No. 11 in U.S. in prestigious report

best in tx

At least according to one new report, Houston is not only the Energy Capital of the World but also the livability capital of Texas.

A new study from Best Cities, powered by Resonance Consultancy, puts Houston at No. 11 among the best cities in the U.S. That’s the top showing among the six Texas cities included in the ranking. Houston appeared at No. 17 on last year’s list.

“Educated, diverse and hard-working, Houston is America’s stealthy powerhouse on the rise,” Best Cities proclaims.

Best Cities notes that while Austin grabs much of the best-city attention, “the promise of the Lone Star State drawing Californians and New Yorkers is quietly being fulfilled in Houston.” The website points out that the Houston metro area has gained nearly 300,000 residents in the past year, thanks to both domestic and international migration.

Here are some of the individual rankings that contribute to Houston’s 11th-place finish:

  • No. 4 for restaurants
  • No. 7 for culture
  • No. 8 for foreign-born population

“Houston is a diverse and vibrant metro where individuals can start a family, grow their business, attend world-class institutions and universities, or be immersed in the 145 languages that are spoken by our residents,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner says in a news release. “The quality of life we have in Houston is second to none, and the data we receive from placements such as … Best Cities further reaffirm the strength and resiliency that has come to define this great city of ours.”

A few spots behind Houston on the Best Cities list are No. 14 Dallas and No. 15 Austin.

What lifts Dallas to the No. 14 spot? These are some of the factors cited by Best Cities:

  • Location of more than 10,000 corporate headquarters
  • Strong showing (No. 2) in the airport connectivity category
  • Kudos for the soon-to-be-expanded Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center Dallas
  • Home of the country’s sixth largest LGBTQ+ community
  • Presence of the 28-block, 68-acre Dallas Arts District

Austin comes in at No. 15, one notch behind Dallas.

Best Cities praises Austin as “a place that’s incredibly livable. Talk to any entrepreneur leaving Silicon Valley or Seattle and chances are they’ve considered Austin.”

The website points to a number of Austin’s assets, such as:

  • Growing presence of Fortune 500 headquarters
  • Comparatively low unemployment rate
  • Location of the University of Texas’ flagship campus
  • Status as the Live Music Capital of the World
  • Home of the annual SXSW gathering

Two other Texas cities make the Best Cities list: No. 34 San Antonio and No. 94 McAllen.

Best Cities bases its list of the best U.S. cities on Resonance Consultancy’s combination of statistical performance plus qualitative evaluations by locals and visitors. Those figures are grouped into six main categories. This year’s ranking features 100 U.S. cities. To come up with the ranking, Resonance Consultancy assessed all U.S. metro areas with at least 500,000 residents.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

How a Houston med device startup pivoted to impact global health and diagnostics

HOUSTON INNOVATORS PODCAST EPISODE 153

In the span of a couple years, a Houston startup went from innovating a way for patients with degenerative eye diseases to see better to creating a portable and affordable breath-based diagnostics tool worthy of a prestigious grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation.

Steradian Technologies, founded in 2018, set out to create human super-sight via proprietary optics. In early 2020, the company was getting ready to start testing the device and fundraising. Then, the pandemic hit, knocking the company completely off course.

Co-founder and CEO of the company, Asma Mirza, says on this week's Houston Innovators Podcast that the Steradian co-founders discussed how their optic technology could detect diseases. Something just clicked, and the RUMI device was born.

"We are from Houston, Texas, which is one of the most diverse and accessible cities in the country, and we were having trouble with basic diagnostic accessibility. It was taking too long, it was complicated, and people were getting sick and didn't know if they were positive or negative," Mirza says on the show. "That's when we pivoted the company and decided we were going to pivot the company and use optics to detect diseases in breath."

Fast forward two years and the company has been recognized by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with a grant to sport the development of the tool — which costs about the same price as a latte to make. The impact for global health is huge, Mirza says, allowing for people to test their breath for diseases from their own homes in the same time it takes to take your temperature.

"You blow into a cartrige and we're able to take the air from your breath into a liquid sample," Mirza says, explaining how the device uses photons to produce quick results. "It's wild that we still don't have something like that yet."

She shares more details about the grant and the future applications for the technology — as well as the role Houston and local organizations have had on the company — on the podcast. Listen to the interview below — or wherever you stream your podcasts — and subscribe for weekly episodes.