Eight of the 10 most-promising life science startups named at BioHouston and the Rice Alliance's event are based in Houston. Photo courtesy of Rice Alliance

For the second time this year, Houston life science leaders and startup founders gathered to discuss the future of health care in Houston.

The annual Texas Life Science Forum hosted by BioHouston and the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship was usually held during the fall before the pandemic pushed it off schedule. In February, the two organizations hosted the previous forum, but as of this month, the annual event is back on track.

The day included panels and networking, plus over 50 companies — about half of which are based in Houston — pitched their solutions across medical device, therapeutics, pharmaceuticals, and more to the crowd.

Houston-based Bairitone Health won the Michael E. DeBakey Memorial Life Science Award, established by BioHouston in honor of the groundbreaking Houston cardiovascular surgeon. The company is creating a wearable technology that takes a more innovative approach to sleep apnea and snoring with its SOMNAR platform that detects tissue-born sounds, identifies obstructions, and more. The award was presented by Ann Tanabe, CEO of BioHouston.

Ann Tanabe, CEO of BioHouston, presented the DeBakey Award to Houston-based Bairitone Health. Photo courtesy of Rice Alliance

For the first time, the event also named a people's choice award winner, as voted on by the audience members. Baritone Health also claimed the prize.

At the conclusion of the event, the Rice Alliance and BioHouston named the 10 most promising life science companies selected by investors and presented by the Greater Houston Partnership. This year's selection included the following companies, in alphabetical order.

Autonomize

Austin-based Autonomize unlocks data and context to enable human health outcomes

bEHR Health Systems

New Orleans-based bEHR Health Systems delivers, medical, lifestyle, and social solutions to health for African Americans.

EMPIRI

EMPIRI, based in Houston, is revolutionizing cancer care with a novel technology that accurately predicts each cancer patient's treatment responses empirically, enabling doctors to make the optimal treatment selection for each cancer patient.

InformAI

Houston-based InformAI develops AI-based medical image diagnostic tools and uses large dataset synthesis to develop clinical outcome predictors for physicians, hospitals, and medical imaging/medical device companies

March Biosciences 

Houston-based March Biosciences is impacting the most challenging lymphoma and leukemia.

MRG Health-SmartCare360

MRG Health-SmartCare360, based in Houston, is a determinate of health and disease specific virtual care management technology and services company that improves patient access to care and clinical outcomes for people suffering from one or more chronic disease.

Prana Thoracic

Prana Thoracic, founded in Houston out of JLABS at TMC, is a medical device startup that's innovating for the future of early intervention in lung cancer.

Steradian Technologies

Another med device startup based in Houston, Steradian Technologies employs deep-photonics technology to diagnose respiratory diseases in seconds, all for the price of a latte.

TYBR Health

Houston-based TYBR Health makes a hydrogel that protects tendons from scarring after surgery and improves patient outcomes.

Voythos

Voythos, based in Houston, is making medical records work for today's healthcare.

Check out these conferences, pitch competitions, networking, and more in the month of November. Photo via Getty Images

10+ can't-miss Houston business and innovation events for November

Where to be

Hold onto your hats, Houston. If you thought October was a busy month for business events, November even more exciting and full of pitches, conferences, summits, and more. Here's a rundown of what all to throw on your calendar for November when it comes to innovation-related events.

This article will be updated as more business and tech events are announced.

FEATURED: November 9 — Houston Innovation Awards Gala

Find out what Houston startups and innovators go home with the big win at InnovationMap and Houston Exponential's gala. Learn more about this year's finalists by clicking here.

The event is Wednesday, November 9, at 6 pm, at the Ion. Click here to register.

November 1-3 — Urban Manufacturing Alliance's Houston Gathering

Learn about the unique challenges and opportunities within manufacturing in the current economy, as well as network with Houston manufacturing professionals.

The event is Tuesday, November 1, to Wednesday, November 3, at West Houston Institute. Click here to register.

November 2 — Greentown Labs Climatetech Summit

Hear from the climatetech industry's leaders at Greentown Labs' annual event. The morning features panels and pitches, followed by lunch, networking, and an expo. The summit continues on November 3 in Boston, and both days will be streamed for viewers.

The event is Wednesday, November 2, at 8 am, at Greentown Houston and streaming online. Click here to register.

November 4 — Enventure's 10-Year Anniversary

Join Enventure as we celebrate its 10th Anniversary — from the organization's accomplishments to a look toward what the future brings to Enventure.

The event is Friday, November 4, at 7 pm, at III by Wolfgang Puck. Click here to register.

November 5 — Tech Fest Live in-person Experience at the Ion

The Ion as partnered with Tech Fest Live to bring your family to an engaging Family Tech Day experience, designed with middle and high school students in mind.

The event is Saturday, November 5, at 9:30 am, at the Ion. Click here to register.

November 8 — Texas Life Science Forum

The Texas Life Science Forum, co-hosted by BioHouston and Rice Alliance, is the premier life science and healthtech event in Texas that brings together members from industry, emerging life science companies, academic and investors. Hear pitches from innovative and early stage life science companies, network and enjoy exciting panels, keynotes and speakers.

The event is Tuesday, November 8, at 8:30 am, at Rice University. Click here to register.

November 9 — The Future of Industrial Automation Lunch & Learn with Yokogawa

In this Lunch & Learn, Elbert van der Bijl (Director of Marketing & Solutions Consulting for Yokogawa North America), will talk about the journey from industrial automation to industrial autonomy (IA2IA). He will also speak about how new technologies are being embraced to be able to make this transition. The presentation will highlight some key developments like Open Process Automation (OPA), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), and mobile Robotics and how they will play a role in the future of Industrial Automation.

The event is Wednesday, November 9, at 11:30 am, at The Cannon-West Houston. Click here to register.

November 10 — Greater Houston Partnership's State of the Port

Join the Greater Houston Partnership at the annual State of the Port featuring Ric Campo, Chairman of the Port Commission of the Port of Houston Authority. Campo will discuss innovations taking place at Port Houston and Project 11. The highly anticipated Project 11 will deepen and widen the Houston Ship Channel and increase economic impact, jobs and address supply chain challenges.

The event is Thursday, November 10, at 10:30 am, at The Omni Riverway. Click here to register.

November 10 — BGV Pitch Tour Houston

The BGV Pitch Tour is coming to Houston November 10th in partnership with Omaze and the aid of our amazing 6 Change Agents to throw a BGV Pitch Competition. Thee BGV Change Agents are amazing Black and/or Brown women-identifying founders who are actively working to uplift and grow the city's ecosystem for Black and Brown founders in their area.

The event is Thursday, November 10, at 6 pm, at The Cannon-West Houston. Click here to register.

November 15 — Lilie's Community Celebration

Celebrate the end of the semester and take a peek into what all the Liu Idea Lab for Innovation and Entrepreneurship community has going on.

The event is Tuesday, November 15, at 6 pm, at the Lilie offices at Rice University. Click here to register.

November 17 — Rice Alliance Clean Energy Accelerator 2022 Demo Day

Rice Alliance Clean Energy Accelerator is hosting a Demo Day to showcase its Class 2 startups who are ready for investment, pilots and accelerating the energy transition.

The event is Thursday, November 17, at 1:30 pm, at the Ion. Click here to register.

November 19 — Pearland Innovation Hub Pitch Competition

Come attend this event open to the community to hear pitches from local small business owners, network, and learn about the Pearland Innovation Hub.

The event is Tuesday, November 17, at 4 pm, at Pearland City Hall. Click here to register.

November 30 — Commercial ZEV Event

This event by Houston-based Evolve is your chance to drive zero-emissions commercial vehicles and learn how you can convert your fleet to save on costs.

The event is Wednesday, November 30, at 8:30 am to 5 pm, at NRG Park. Click here to register.

This week's roundup of Houston innovators includes Brad Burke of the Rice Alliance, Trevor Best of Syzygy Plasmonics, and Nicolaus Radford of Nauticus Robotics. 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 photonics to robotics — recently making headlines in Houston innovation.

Brad Burke, managing director of the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship

Brad Burke joins this week's Houston Innovators Podcast. Photo via alliance.rice.edu

Collaboration has made a world of a difference for growing Houston's innovation ecosystem, according to Brad Burke, managing director of the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship.

"I think Houston has this culture of collaboration that I suspect that some other major cities don't have in the same way," Burke says on the Houston Innovators Podcast. "And while we're a big city, the entrepreneurial ecosystem feels like a small network of a lot of people who work really well together."

Burke has played a major role in the collaboration of Houston for the past 20 years leading the Rice Alliance, which coordinates many event programs and accelerators — including the Rice Business Plan Competition, energy and life science forums, the Clean Energy Accelerator, Owl Spark, Blue Launch, and more. Click here to read more.

Trevor Best, CEO and co-founder of Syzygy Plasmonics

A new partnership for Houston-based Syzygy will generate 1.2 million tons of clean hydrogen each year in South Korea by 2030. Image via Syzygy

Houston-area energy tech startup Syzygy Plasmonics is part of a new partnership that will develop a fully electric chemical reactor for production of clean hydrogen in South Korea.

The reactor will be installed in the second half of 2023 at Lotte Fine Chemical’s facilities in Ulsan, South Korea. Lotte Fine Chemical, Lotte Chemical, and Sumitomo Corporation of Americas are Syzygy’s partners in this venture.

“Simply improving existing tech isn’t enough to reach the world’s decarbonization goals. Stopping climate change will require industries to reimagine what is possible,” Syzygy co-founder and CEO Trevor Best says in a news release. “Our technology expands the accepted paradigms of chemical engineering. We have demonstrated the ability to replace heat from combustion with renewable electricity in the manufacture of foundational chemicals like hydrogen.” Click here to read more.

Nicolaus Radford, CEO and founder of Nauticus Robotics

Houston-based Nauticus Robotics has hit the public market. Image via LinkedIn

Fresh off its September 13 debut as a publicly traded company, Webster-based Nauticus Robotics Inc. is aiming for $90 million in revenue next year as it dives deeper into the ocean economy.

The stock of Nauticus now trades on the NASDAQ market under the ticker symbol KITT. Nauticus went public following its SPAC (special purpose acquisition company) merger with New York City-based CleanTech Acquisition Corp., a “blank check” company that went public in July 2021 through a $150 million IPO. The SPAC deal was valued at $560 million when it was announced in December.

Nauticus continues to be led by CEO Nicolaus Radford and the current executive team.

“The closing of this business combination represents a pivotal milestone in our company’s history as we take public our pursuit of transforming the ocean robotics industry with autonomous systems,” says Radford, who founded what was known as Houston Mechatronics in 2014. “Not only is the ocean a tremendous economic engine, but it is also the epicenter for building a sustainable future.” Click here to read more.

Brad Burke, managing director of the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship, joins this week's Houston Innovators Podcast. Photo via alliance.rice.edu

Houston innovation leader shares how key collaboration is to the city's startup scene

HOUSTON INNOVATORS PODCAST EPISODE 152

Collaboration has made a world of a difference for growing Houston's innovation ecosystem, according to Brad Burke, managing director of the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship.

"I think Houston has this culture of collaboration that I suspect that some other major cities don't have in the same way," Burke says on the Houston Innovators Podcast. "And while we're a big city, the entrepreneurial ecosystem feels like a small network of a lot of people who work really well together."

Burke has played a major role in the collaboration of Houston for the past 20 years leading the Rice Alliance, which coordinates many event programs and accelerators — including the Rice Business Plan Competition, energy and life science forums, the Clean Energy Accelerator, Owl Spark, Blue Launch, and more.

The latest collaborative news from Rice University is that National Science Foundation granted $15 million to Rice and a handful of other universities to expand a program that helps faculty members, researchers, and doctoral students commercialize STEM-oriented technology. The Southwest I-Corps Node was founded in 2014, and five nearby schools have teamed up to form a new hub within the node.

The program works to help bring STEM-related technologies developed at universities off of campuses and into the marketplace. Over 1,000 startups have been formed after completing the I-Corps program; they have raised more than $750 million in funding.

"There's so much federal funding that goes into universities to do research that creates new innovations and discoveries," "What NSF said is, 'We're funding so much research — what we need to do to support the economy and to grow jobs and startups is to help with the translation of that research and innovations to startup companies.'"

"They created this program to help faculty and researchers to understand what it takes to determine where the market is for the technology, who are your customers, who will pay for it, and what problem that they are solving," he continues.

Another element of collaboration — specific to Houston — is Rice's support of the Ion and the Innovation District, Burke says. The school has committed over $100 million to the district. Open to the greater Houston community, the Rice Alliance has a satellite office at the Ion and hosts programming, houses its Clean Energy Accelerator, and more in the building.

"I think that the Ion is nothing short of a game changer for the trajectory of energy technology and entrepreneurship of Houston," Burke says on the show. "I'm really excited about the Ion and for what it's done."

He shares more details about the internationality of the Rice Business Plan Competition and more goings on at the Rice Alliance on the podcast. Listen to the interview below — or wherever you stream your podcasts — and subscribe for weekly episodes.

The Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship handed out awards to the founders of the most promising companies that pitched. Photo courtesy of Slyworks Photography/Rice Alliance

Investors name most promising energy tech startups at annual Houston event

ones to watch

Nearly 100 energy tech startups pitched at the 19th annual Rice Alliance Energy Tech Venture Forum this week — and over a third of those companies are based in the Houston area.

At the conclusion of the event — which took place on Thursday, September 15, at Rice University, and included a day full of company pitches, panels, and thought leadership — 10 startups were deemed the most promising among their peers. The group was voted on by investors attending office hours ahead of the event.

The Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship facilitated nearly 700 meetings between 70 investor groups and 90 ventures, according to the organization. The group of presenting companies included participants from Rice's Clean Energy Accelerator's first two cohorts.

Here are 10 of the energy tech industry's most promising companies — and the technology they are working on that's set to disrupt the status quo.

Arolytics

Based in Calgary and founded in 2018, Arolytics is a software company that specializes in emissions management, ESG performance, and regulatory compliance. The company's platform is able to save its users up to 40 percent of their associated measurement costs and emissions management.

Atargis Energy

Atargis Energy is based in Pueblo, Colorado, and is a a member of Rice's second cohort of its Clean Energy Accelerator. The company has developed a twin hydrofoil-based wave energy converter that creates electric power from ocean waves. The technology is paired with real-time sensors and machine learning to optimize power conversion.

Compact Membrane Systems

Based in Delaware, Compact Membrane Systems, is pioneering membrane systems for decarbonizing hard-to-abate chemical manufacturing and industrial carbon capturing. The technology has the potential to revolutionize the chemicals industry.

Dimensional Energy

Dimensional Energy, based in Ithaca, New York, is transforming carbon dioxide into sustainable aviation fuels and products at market competitive prices. The technology integrates carbon capture, electrolysis, and Fischer Tropsch synthesis.

Kanin Energy

Headquartered in Houston, Kanin Energy works with heavy Industry to turn their waste heat into a clean baseload power source. The platform also provides tools such as project development, financing, and operations.

Orbital Sidekick

Orbital Sidekick, based in San Francisco, is an intelligence and analytics company that specializes in remote detection of environmental hazards by way of hyperspectral satellites. The technology provides actionable insights for its customers.

Power to Hydrogen

Based in Columbus, Ohio, Power to Hydrogen has developed an AEM-based electrolysis technology that produces high pressure, high efficiency hydrogen at low cost via water and renewable energy.

Quino Energy

Another Clean Energy Accelerator Class 2 member, Quino Energy produces flow battery systems with over eight hours of energy storage. The batteries are cheaper than lithium-ion alternatives, as well as being safer and easier to scale.

STARS Technology

Based in Richland, Washington, STARS Technology Corp. is commercializing advanced micro-channel chemical process technology that originally was designed for NASA and the Department of Energy. The company's reactors and heat exchangers are compact, energy-efficient, and more.

Syzygy Plasmonics

Houston-based Syzygy Plasmonics is commercializing its light-reacting energy, which would greatly reduce carbon emissions in the chemical industry. The technology originated out of Rice University.

Check out these conferences, pitch competitions, networking, and more in the month of September. Photo via Getty Images

10+ can't-miss Houston business and innovation events for September

Where to be

As temperatures begin to cool — hopefully, the city's business community is heating up with another month of networking and conference events. Here's a rundown of what all to throw on your calendar for September when it comes to innovation-related events.

This article will be updated as more business and tech events are announced.

September 10 — Enventure BaseCamp - Special Edition Life Science Innovation Bootcamp

We invite all those interested in life science innovation to our monthly BaseCamp! Our community-driven series returns for a special edition Bootcamp! We are breaking down key concepts, start-up case studies, and more! Join us for a morning of learning, networking, and all things science and business.

The event is Saturday, Sept. 10, 10 am to 1 pm, online. Click here to register.

September 12 — Venture Houston

Venture Houston is illuminating the power of venture capital by bringing together venture capitalists across the nation along with Houston’s most innovative corporates and high-growth startups.

The event is Monday, Sept. 12, 7:30 am to 6:30 pm, at the Ion. Click here to register.

September 14 — Access to Success Pitch Event

Underrepresented founders in climatetech face unique and growing challenges to accessing investors and fundraising in order to scale their companies and push forward the energy transition. How can startups bridge this gap, and where can investors who want to begin diversifying their portfolios find guidance?

The event is Wednesday, Sept. 14, 10 am to 2 pm, at Greentown Houston. Click here to register.

September 15 —19th annual Energy Tech Venture Forum

In its 19th year, the Energy Tech Venture Forum, hosted by The Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship, is the premier energy tech venture capital conference to connect energy innovators, investors, corporates, and the energy ecosystem. This year’s in-person forum will showcase promising energy tech companies that are boldly creating the future of energy, as well as a keynote and panel from industry leaders. You can also expect to see pitches from the inaugural class of the Rice Alliance Clean Energy Accelerator.

The event is Thursday, Sept. 15, 8 am to 5 pm, at Rice University, McNair Hall. Click here to register.

September 15 — Hispanic Business Summit

Join the U.S. Small Business Administration, Houston Baptist University, Baker Ripley, and Impact Hub for the annual Hispanic Business Summit. The event will include networking, information about the impact of Latino entrepreneurship in Houston, small business success stories, and a panel of lenders for tips on accessing business capital. Attendees will also have an opportunity to network with other business owners and local business resources.

The event is Thursday, Sept. 15, 9 am to noon, at the Ion. Click here to register.

September 15 — Meet Knightsgate Ventures

UH Technology bridge will be virtually hosting Durg Kumar, co-founder and partner at Knightsgate Ventures investment fund.

The event is Thursday, Sept. 15, noon to 1 pm, online. Click here to register.

September 16-18 — Houston Hackathon 2022

To celebrate the National Civic Day of Hacking, we invite all people who want to make a difference in our region to join us at the annual Houston Hackathon! This is a “civic” hackathon, focused on ideating, designing, and developing both policy-based and tech solutions to some of Houston’s greatest challenges. Project stakeholders will be there from the city, local organizations, and Houston's impact community.

The event is Friday, Sept. 16, to Sunday, Sept. 18, at Impact Hub Houston. Click here to register.

September 20 — State of the Texas Medical Center

Home to the largest medical complex in the world and the brightest minds in medicine, the Texas Medical Center is a leading life sciences destination taking on the greatest medical challenges of our generation. Learn more about the exciting developments planned for the TMC campus and discover how innovation and industry partnerships are helping us accelerate the pace of discovery, ensuring we will continue to be the global leader in patient care.

The event is Tuesday, Sept. 20, 10:30 am to 1:30 pm, at the Hilton Americas. Click here to register.

September 20 — LatinTech Pitch 2022

LatinTech Pitch 2022 is presented in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month by the Consulate General of Israel to the Southwest along with the Ion, Latinx Startup Alliance, and Texas Business Association.

The event is Tuesday, Sept. 20, 6 to 8 pm, at the Ion. Click here to register.

September 21 — Here For It Live in Houston

Palette, a female-focused coworking space and community created to support women in careers and life, will host its popular video series live on the road at partner spaces from coast to coast. Palette founder and Here for It LIVE host, Catherine Hover, will interview the founding partner of Curate Capital, Carrie Colbert, at Sesh Coworking.

The event is Wednesday, Sept. 21, 6 to 8 pm, at Sesh Coworking. Click here to register.

September 28 — Halliburton Labs Finalists Pitch Day

This hybrid event allows for attendees to attend in person at The Ion Houston or virtually online for a full program of innovative ideas, discussion, and inspiration — all centered on the startup finalists who are advancing the future of clean energy. The event will include a lively keynote discussion with Jack Brouwer, director of the National Fuel Cell Research Center, University of California, Irvine, hosted by Walter Isaacson, Halliburton Labs Advisory Board Member and Leonard Lauder Professor of American History and Values at Tulane.

The event is Wednesday, Sept. 28, 9 am to 12:30 pm, at the Ion or online. Click here to register.

September 29 — The Inaugural State of Infrastructure

Join the Greater Houston Partnership for the inaugural State of Infrastructure where a panel of experts from varying industries will discuss the investments needed to build equitable, resilient communities.

The event is Thursday, Sept. 29, 10:30 am to 1:30 pm, at the Omni Houston. Click here to register.

September 29 — Fort Bend County Innovation Council Launch

Houston Exponential is excited to be expanding into Greater Houston innovator communities and invite you to join us for the official launch of the Fort Bend Innovation Council. In partnership with the Fort Bend EDC, The Cannon, Born Global, and Code Launch, we'd love to invite all ingenious innovators, enterprising educators, collaborative corporates, inquisitive investors, exhausted entrepreneurs, and all friends and family to help kick things off.

The event is Thursday, Sept. 29, 5 to 7 pm, at the HCSS Development Building. Click here to register.

September 29 — Low-Carbon Hydrogen Accelerator Final Showcase

Join Greentown Labs Houston to celebrate the culmination of the Low-Carbon Hydrogen Accelerator—the 2022 program in the Greentown Go Energize track—a-first-of-its-kind startup-corporate partnerships accelerator focused on advancing innovations that are key to enabling a low-carbon hydrogen economy in partnership with EPRI, Shell, the City of Houston, and the Urban Future Lab at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering.

The event is Thursday, Sept. 29, 5 to 8 pm, online. Click here to register.

September 29 — Sesh Coworking Ribbon Cutting

Sesh Coworking began as an organization in 2017 and introduced a brick and mortar space in 2019. In 2022, the organization expanded and moved to its new location!. Join the event to check out the space and celebrate Sesh Coworking.

The event is Thursday, Sept. 29, 6 to 8 pm, at Sesh Coworking. Click here to register.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Amazon rolls out hundreds of new electric vans for Houston's holiday delivery season

Electric avenue

Amazon CEO/occasional space traveler Jeff Bezos is doing his best to supplant a certain jolly fellow from the North Pole as tops for holiday gift delivery.

His latest move: Amazon is rolling out more than 1,000 electric delivery vehicles, designed by electric vehicle manufacturer Rivian, ready to make deliveries in more than 100 cities across the U.S. On the Texas good list: Houston, Austin, and Dallas. Bezos' juggernaut began deliveries in Dallas in July, along with Baltimore, Chicago, Kansas City, Nashville, Phoenix, San Diego, Seattle, and St. Louis.

These zero-emissions vans have delivered more than 5 million packages to customers in the U.S., according to Amazon. The latest boost in vehicles now includes Houston and Austin; Boston; Denver; Indianapolis; Las Vegas; Madison, Wisconsin; Newark, New Jersey; New York, Oakland, California; Pittsburgh, Portland, Oregon; Provo, Utah; and Salt Lake City.

Plans for the Amazon and Rivian partnership call for thousands of vehicles on the road by the end of the year and 100,000 vehicles by 2030.

“We’re always excited for the holiday season, but making deliveries to customers across the country with our new zero-emission vehicles for the first time makes this year unique,” said Udit Madan, vice president of Amazon Transportation, in a statement. “We’ve already delivered over 5 million packages with our vehicles produced by Rivian, and this is still just the beginning—that figure will grow exponentially as we continue to make progress toward our 100,000-vehicle goal.”

This all comes as part of Amazon's commitment to reaching net-zero carbon by 2040, as a part of its The Climate Pledge; Amazon promises to eliminate millions of metric tons of carbon per year with it s commitment to 100,000 electric delivery vehicles by 2030, press materials note.

Additionally, Amazon announced plans to invest more than $1 billion over the next five years to further electrify and decarbonize its transportation network across Europe. This investment is meant to spark innovation and encourage more public charging infrastructure across the continent.

“Fleet electrification is essential to reaching the world’s zero-emissions goal,” said Jiten Behl, chief growth officer at Rivian, in a statement. “So, to see our ramp up in production supporting Amazon’s rollout in cities across the country is amazing. Not just for the environment, but also for our teams working hard to get tens of thousands of electric delivery vehicles on the road. They continue to be motivated by our combined mission and the great feedback about the vehicle’s performance and quality.”

A little about the vans: Drivers’ favorite features include a spacious cabin and cargo area, superior visibility with a large windshield and 360-degree cameras, and ventilated seats for fast heating and cooling — a must for Bayou City summers ... or winters, for that matter.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

Houston low-carbon fuel company scores United investment, plans to IPO via spac

big moves

It’s been a momentous month for Houston-based NEXT Renewable Fuels Inc.

On November 15, United Airlines Ventures announced an investment of up to $37.5 million in the next-generation, low-carbon fuel producing company.

Just a week later, the company revealed it’s going public through a SPAC merger with Industrial Tech Acquisitions II Inc. The deal, expected to close in the second quarter of 2023, assigns a $666 million equity value to NEXT. The publicly traded company will be named NXTCLEAN Fuels Inc.

NEXT, founded in 2016, produces low-carbon fuels from organic feedstock. The company plans to open a biofuel refinery in Port Westward, Oregon, that’s set to start production in 2026. The refinery could produce up to 50,000 barrels per day of sustainable aviation fuel, renewable diesel, and other renewable fuels.

“West Coast states are demanding a clean fuels conversion of the transportation and aviation industries with aggressive targets necessitating rapid increases in clean fuel supplies,” Christopher Efird, executive chairman and CEO of NEXT, says in a news release. “[The company] is advancing toward becoming one of the largest U.S.-based suppliers of clean fuels for these markets, and is investigating and pursuing potential vertical expansion into other clean fuels.”

The proposed public listing of NEXT’s stock on the Nasdaq market and United’s investment are poised to help NEXT reach its goal of becoming a leader in the clean fuel sector. United’s investment appears to be the first equity funding for NEXT.

“Right now, one of the biggest barriers to increasing supply and lowering costs of sustainable fuel is that we don’t have the infrastructure in place to transport it efficiently, but NEXT’s strategic location and assets solve that problem and provide a blueprint for future facilities that need to be built,” Michael Leskinen, president of United Airline Ventures, says in a news release.

United’s investment arm, launched in 2021, targets ventures that will complement the airline’s goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.