Future research may benefit from both analyzing and improving current decision making processes. Photo via Getty Images

Real options represent the decisions companies can make in the face of evolving risk. In the energy and commodity industries, real options are ubiquitous, including the extraction, processing and refinement, storage, and transportation of natural resources. These choices are influenced by ever-changing market and environmental conditions.

Because of these uncertainties, the energy industry has been a key focus of the operations literature on real options. Rice Business professor Nicola Secomandi, along with University of Illinois at Chicago College of Business Administration professor Selvaprabu Nadajarah, were recently invited by the European Journal of Operational Research to conduct a review of the operations literature on real options in energy. Their review included 80 papers across 10 journals active in the field. The research was mostly conducted during Secomandi’s time at the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University.

The review examined how often different types of energy and methods of studying related business processes appeared in the operations literature. Nearly a quarter of the papers considered natural gas, more often than any other energy type. Natural gas storage was the most studied process, while the transport and sale of natural gas were less discussed.

While only 10 percent of the papers focused on electricity by itself, mostly in the context of battery management, electricity was discussed alongside emissions and the environment in 22.5 percent of the papers—almost as often as natural gas. About 11 percent of the papers examined both electricity and natural gas.

Roughly 21 percent of the papers focused on crude oil and refined products. Exploration, development, and abandonment of crude oil fields were common topics, while work on crude oil refining and gasoline logistics was rarer.

The review looked at the frequency of use of five categories: real option types, valuation methodologies, model formulations, price risk dynamics, and optimization schemes. Timing options, which irreversibly change the status of an asset when exercised, and switching options, which involve reversible changes, appeared with about equal frequency. Of the valuation methodologies, risk neutral valuation was employed the most often, appearing in nearly 78 percent of the papers. Model formulations were divided mainly between Markov decision processes, which assume that decisions are made at set times, and stochastic optimal control models, which assume that decisions are made continuously. About 63 percent of the papers discussed Markov decision processes, but at nearly 34 percent, stochastic optimal control models haven’t been entirely left out of the literature. Almost 75 percent of the papers formulated models based on spot prices as opposed to futures prices, and over 80 percent adopted normal distribution models, either alone or in combination with other models. Approximate solution approaches dominated within optimization schemes, appearing in 71 percent of the papers.

While several energy sources and analysis tools have been discussed in the literature, the possibilities for future research remain broad. The transition to clean energy sources may increase the complexity of already intricate operations. Its modeling and analysis may require more advanced models than existing ones.

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This article originally ran on Rice Business Wisdom and was based on research from Nicola Secomandi, the Houston Endowment Professor of Management – Operations Management at Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University.

The stock market has always been hard, if not impossible, to forecast. Image via Getty Images

Houston research: Can predictive tools help forecast the stock market?

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What do you think the Standard & Poor’s 500 index will do over the next year?

When Rice Business finance professor Kevin Crotty asks his MBA students this question, the answers are all over the map. Some students expect the overall return on the stock market to be 10 percent, while others predict a loss of 20 percent.

This guessing game is closer to real life than many people realize. Experienced investors, people who have watched the stock market ebb and flow for many years, know that making predictions is a risky business. “Many money managers are more confident choosing individual stocks than trying to time the market,” says finance professor Kevin Crotty.

For most of the past century, academics have applied their power of analysis to understanding and predicting the stock market. Recently, some finance researchers have taken a closer look at option prices—the price paid for the right to buy or sell a security (like a stock or bond) at a specified price in the future. Combining economic theory with high-frequency options price data, they argued that they could estimate the expected return on the market in real-time, which would represent a tremendous development for finance practitioners and academics alike.

Crotty teamed up with Kerry Back, a fellow Rice Business professor, and Seyed Mohammad Kazempour, a finance Ph.D. student at the Jones Graduate School of Business, to evaluate whether the new predictors based on option prices really are a valuable forecasting tool. “Options are essentially a forward-looking contract, so it’s possible that they could be used to create a forward-looking measure of expected returns,” says Kazempour.

Economic theory suggests that the new predictors might systematically underestimate expected returns. The team set out to test if this may be the case, and if so, whether the predictors are useful as a forecasting tool. In their paper, “Validity, Tightness, and Forecasting Power of Risk Premium Bounds,” the Rice Business researchers ran the predictors through a more rigorous set of statistical tests that provide more power to detect whether the predictors systematically underestimate expected returns. The statistical tests used in previous research on the topic were less stringent, leading to conclusions that the predictors do not underestimate expected returns.

In short, the new predictors didn’t pass the more stringent tests. The researchers found that forecasts built on stock options consistently underestimated market returns. Moreover, the predictors are enough of an underestimate that they are not very useful as forecasts of market returns.

The results were somewhat anticlimatic, the researchers admit. If the option-based predictors had panned out, it could have become an innovative new tool for thinking about market timing for asset managers as well as investment decision-making for corporate finance projects. “Trying to estimate expected market returns is closely related to whether corporations decide to invest in projects,” notes Crotty. “The expected market return is an input in estimating the cost of capital when evaluating projects, and I explain in my MBA courses that we don’t have very precise estimates for this input. During this research project, I kept thinking about how cool it would be if we really had a better estimate,” he says.

Their research doesn’t end here. Crotty and Back have already begun brainstorming ways to potentially improve the option-based forecasting tool so that it can become more accurate.

At best, though, using option prices as a forecasting tool will only be one ingredient out of many that investors use to make decisions. “This tool may inform money management, but it will never drive it,” says Back.

For now, at least, the Rice researchers believe that trying to predict the stock market is still a very risky game.

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This article originally ran on Rice Business Wisdom and was based on research from Rice Professors Kerry Back and Kevin Crotty.

People tend to have stronger reactions to unexpected news, so news that meets the public’s expectations of a company can go unnoticed. Photo via Getty Images

Houston research: How best to deliver unexpected news as a company

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According to Forbes, the volume of mergers and acquisitions in 2021 was the highest on record, and 2022 has already seen a number of major consolidation attempts. Microsoft’s acquisition of video game company Activision Blizzard was the biggest gaming industry deal in history, according to Reuters. JetBlue recently won the bid over Frontier Airlines to merge with Spirit Airlines. And, perhaps most notably, Elon Musk recently backed out of an attempt to acquire Twitter.

It can be hard to predict how markets will react to such high-profile deals (and, in Elon Musk and Twitter’s case, whether or not the deal will even pan out). But Rice Business Professor Haiyang Li and Professor Emeritus Robert Hoskisson, along with Jing Jin of the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, have found that companies can take advantage of these deals to buffer the effects of other news.

The researchers looked at 7,575 mergers and acquisitions from 2001 to 2015, with a roughly half-and-half split between positive and negative stock market reactions. They found that when there’s a negative reaction to a deal, companies have two strategies for dealing with it. If it’s a small negative reaction, companies will release positive news announcements in an attempt to soften the blow. But when the reaction is really bad, companies actually tend to announce more negative news afterward. Specifically, companies released 18% less positive news and 52% more negative news after a bad market reaction.

This may seem counterintuitive, but there’s a method to the madness, and it all has to do with managing expectations. If people are lukewarm on a company due to a merger or acquisition, it’s possible to sway public opinion with unrelated good news. When the backlash is severe, though, a little bit of good PR won’t be enough to change people’s minds. In this case, companies release more bad news because it’s one of their best chances to do so without making waves in the future. If people already think poorly of a company due to a recent deal, more bad news isn’t great, but it doesn’t come as a surprise, either. Therefore, it’s easier to ignore.

It might make more sense to just keep quiet if the market reaction to a deal is bad, and this study found that most companies do. However, this only applies when releasing more news would make a mildly bad situation worse. If things are already bad enough that the company can’t recover with good news, it can still make the best out of a bad situation by offloading more bad news when the damage will be minimal. Companies are legally obligated to disclose business-related news or information with shareholders and with the public. If it’s bad news, they like to share it when the public is already upset about a deal, instead of releasing the negative news when there are no other distractions. In this case the additional negative news is likely to get more play in the media when disclosed by itself.

But what happens when people get excited about a merger or acquisition? In these cases, it also depends on how strong the sentiment is. If the public’s reaction is only minimally positive, companies may opt to release more good news in hopes of making the reaction stronger. When the market is already enthusiastic about the deal, though, companies won’t release more positive news. The researchers found that after an especially positive market reaction to a deal, companies indeed released 12% less positive news but 56% more negative news. Also, one could argue that the contrasting negative news makes the good news on the acquisition look even better. This may be important especially if the acquisition is a significant strategic move.

There are several reasons why a company wouldn’t continue to release positive news after a good press day and strong market reaction. First of all, they want to make sure that a rise in market price is attributed to the deal alone, and not any irrelevant news. A positive reaction to a deal also gives companies another opportunity to disclose bad news at a time when it will get less attention. If the bad news does get attention, the chances are better that stakeholders will go easy on them — a little bit of bad press is forgivable when the good news outshines it.

Companies may choose to release no news after a positive reaction to a merger or acquisition, the same way they might opt to stay quiet after backlash. They’re less likely to release positive news when stakeholders are already happy, preferring to save that news for the next time they need it, either to offset a negative reaction or strengthen a weak positive reaction.

Mergers and acquisitions can produce unpredictable market reactions, so it’s important for companies to be prepared for a variety of outcomes. In fact, Jin, Li and Hoskisson found that the steps taken by companies before deals were announced didn’t have much effect on the public’s reaction. They found that it’s more important for companies to make the best out of that reaction, whatever it turns out to be.

The researchers also found that, regardless of whether the market reaction was positive or negative, as long as the reaction was strong, companies could use the opportunity to hide smaller pieces of bad news in the shadow of a headline-making deal. Overall, the magnitude of the reaction mattered more than the type of reaction. People tend to have stronger reactions to unexpected news, though, so companies prefer to release negative news when market expectations are already low.

These findings are relevant beyond merger announcements, of course; they also point to strategies that could be useful in everyday communications. A key takeaway is that negative information is less upsetting when people already expect bad things — or when it comes after much bigger, and much better, news. Bad news is always hard to deliver, but this research gives us a few ways to soften the blow.

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This article originally ran on Rice Business Wisdom and was based on research from Jing Jin, Haiyang Li and Robert Hoskisson.

Managers can nurture creativity, even in workers who appear less creative, by building a supportive environment. Image via Pexels

Workplaces need to support and encourage creativity, according to Houston research

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Give a kid a toy car, a stuffed bear, or an armful of blocks, and she is off on an imaginative romp, staging epic battles, building palaces or creating new worlds.

Coaxing creativity from adults is more challenging. But if creativity in children develops their spirits, creativity in adults enriches productivity — especially at the office.

It’s simple math. Creativity is where ideas come from; ideas form the basis for innovation. In an increasingly competitive world economy, it’s innovation that allows businesses to survive and thrive. This makes creativity a prized commodity in the job market. For managers, cultivating creativity in their workforce is a crucial professional skill.

Identifying the best circumstances to make creativity bloom is one of the driving questions in a study by Rice Business Professor Jing Zhou and colleague Inga J. Hoever, a professor at the Barcelona School of Management in Spain.

To explore the mystery of creativity, the two scholars first reviewed the hefty body of research by organizational psychologists and management scholars who’ve studied innovation in employees and teams. Most early research in this field, published since 2000, focused on the creativity of the actor — the individual or the team — or else revolved around the work environment.

Current academic research takes a more holistic look. By studying the interaction between the character traits of the worker or the team, the leader or the supervisor, and the prevailing atmosphere at the workplace, researchers are unveiling new insights.

Studies show, for example, that the benefits of benevolent leadership expand when workers recognize creativity as an important component of their role. Not only that, creativity is highest in employees who experience high levels of both positive and negative moods and feel supported by their supervisors. Other research finds that leaders who empower their workers get a greater payback in creativity.

To explore these findings further, Zhou and Hoever developed a typology that sorts out research about workplace creativity based on interactions between the worker (which they call the “actor”) and the workplace (which they call “context”).

The best-case scenario is a positive actor in a positive context, a mix that is synergistic for creativity. Worst case: When a positive actor languishes in a negative context or, similarly, when a negative actor stews in a positive context. At the extreme end of possibility, a negative actor in a negative context is downright antagonistic to creativity, Zhou and Hoever found.

There’s one final type of employee-workplace interaction: the “configurational” experience, which includes factors that are neutral in shaping creativity, but, when combined with other factors, cause a kind of chemical reaction that boosts or blocks creativity.

Zhou’s research serves up some bad news and good news for managers. Choosing and hiring employees who are creative is not enough, it turns out. If your workplace is discouraging, creativity will wither in almost anyone. On the brighter side, cultivate a nurturing environment and creative tendrils may sprout even in the most no-nonsense workers. Best of all, good managers can build a nurturing greenhouse environment. Practically speaking, it means that companies can and should train supervisors to cultivate creativity in their management choices.

Plenty of research gaps remain, however. To fill them, Zhou has outlined an ambitious agenda for future research, including a close look at the impact of workplaces on collective creativity; exploring as-yet unidentified factors in workers and work settings that spark creative thinking; and seeking ways to vanquish the effects of unsupportive environments.

Making creativity happen at work, in other words, isn’t child’s play.

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This article originally ran on Rice Business Wisdom and was based on research from Jing Zhou, the Mary Gibbs Jones Professor of Management and Psychology in Organizational Behavior at the Jones Graduate School of Business of Rice University.

Detractors are suspicious of the anonymity that comes with blockchain technology. Supporters say it's exactly the point. Photo via David McBee/Pexels

Houston expert weighs in on the trustworthiness of cryptocurrency

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Interest in cryptocurrencies reignited during the pandemic, driven in part by trillions of dollars in stimulus money that left many investors with “free money” to put to work. And while bitcoin recently tumbled nearly 55 percent from its peak, it remains the most valuable crypto asset in the world, with a market capitalization of around $589 billion. Its investors argue that it’s still a safer bet than stocks during this period of economic upheaval.

A renewed interest in cryptocurrencies — digital currencies that rely on blockchain technology, in which transactions are verified and records maintained by a decentralized system that uses cryptography — is widespread. Large corporations like Tesla, Mass Mutual and KPMG Canada have announced plans to hold cryptocurrency assets in treasury or accept them as payment. Meanwhile, major financial institutions are offering customers more digital asset investment options. Twelve years after bitcoin’s birth, mainstream investors are honing in on the currency, too.

In the midst of this market fascination, a fundamental question still remains. What exactly is cryptocurrency, and why should we care? And what about other industry buzzwords, like blockchain, decentralized exchanges or non-fungible tokens (NFTs)? Are they all just fads that will fade away?

Some have called cryptocurrency a Ponzi scheme, a tool for illicit activities, or a short-term fascination that will be irrelevant in a few years. It’s an understandable mindset, since there’s no intrinsic value in cryptocurrencies — not unlike the U.S. dollar after it stopped being backed by gold in the 1970s. But it’s also a shortsighted one. Blockchain technology, which allows users to exchange information on a secure digital ledger, is extremely useful because it automates contractual arrangements through computer programming.

I’m a firm believer that cryptocurrencies and the blockchain technology that underpins them are here to stay, and understanding how this technology has transformed our environment, and how it will continue to evolve, is critical to succeeding in business.

First steps

Bitcoin took the first major steps towards a truly electronic cash system in 2008, in the midst of one of the worst financial collapses of all time. Governments worldwide were bailing out financial institutions that had been deemed “too big to fail.” Perceptions of economic inequality spurred movements such as Occupy Wall Street, which was fueled by a distrust in banks.

Bitcoin, on the other hand, wasn’t created by a trusted source — in fact, no one knows exactly who invented it. In a 2008 white paper, “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System,” Satoshi Nakamoto — the pseudonymous individual presumed to have developed bitcoin — described the currency as a way to securely facilitate financial transactions between parties without having to involve a central intermediary. No longer would people have to put their trust in the large financial institutions that failed them during the financial crisis.

Detractors find the lack of a central authority with blockchain worrisome, but proponents say it’s exactly the point: You no longer have to trust the person or institution you’re dealing with. You only have to trust the algorithms that run the program — and presumably an algorithm will never run off with your money.

Instead, blockchain enables a cooperative of members to run the shared network ledger required to keep track of a currency’s credits and debits. No one can shut down the system so long as a group of computers anywhere in the world is able to connect to the internet and run bitcoin’s software.

Because of bitcoin, today we can uniquely own digital assets and transfer them with the certainty that people can’t spend the same cryptocurrency twice. The transactions that bitcoin-like applications make possible are registered in permanent and immutable digital records for all to see in a common ledger.

By enabling fast and easily verifiable transactions, blockchain technology is also streamlining business operations in banking, supply chains, sustainability, healthcare and even voting. Development in these sectors and others is continuing at an intense pace. Annual global funding of blockchain projects now runs in the billions of dollars. From 2020 to 2021 alone, it jumped from several billion to nearly $30 billion.

Second generation

Since bitcoin’s arrival, we’ve seen a second, more sophisticated generation of cryptocurrencies evolve, with Ethereum as their flagship. Ethereum has its own programming language, enabling users to write and automate self-executing smart contracts, allowing for the creation of tokens for a specific use. For example, imagine that when Uber was founded, it had created an Uber token, and only people who owned Uber tokens could use the rideshare service. Tokens currently power thousands of decentralized applications that give people more privacy and control in a variety of areas, such as internet browsing, financial services, gaming and data storage, among others.

Some critiques of cryptocurrency remain. One growing concern is that cryptocurrencies require a significant amount of energy to run their networks, leading to higher transaction costs, energy waste and limited scalability. Newer cryptocurrencies are attempting to find ways to verify transactions that require less energy.

Some people also worry about ongoing volatility in cryptocurrency markets. A third generation of cryptocurrencies has emerged to address this concern: so-called “stablecoins,” which are pegged to a government-issued currency, a commodity, assets, or basket of assets. For some, stablecoins are serving as an onramp into the world of crypto from the world of traditional finance.

Before a new technology becomes part of everyday life, we often see a long period of development, improvement and consumer adoption. Cryptocurrency and blockchain markets are still in this early development stage, but they’re also moving quickly into the mainstream. The total market capitalization of cryptocurrencies late last year briefly reached the $3 trillion mark, or roughly 15 percent of the U.S. GDP, and there’s been more than $100 billion locked into decentralized finance applications.

Large companies like IBM, Amazon and Bank of America are leading the way by tapping into blockchain technology in their daily business activities. It won’t be long until this market, previously characterized by speculation and wild volatility, will be transformed into a stable infrastructure framework. But companies need to get up to speed on the industry now. Those that commit to doing so will be the ones that thrive.


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This article originally ran on Rice Business Wisdom and was written by Manolo Sánchez, an adjunct professor of operations management at the Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University.

It’s time to better understand the galaxy of channels we use to shop online and in stores. Photo via Pexels

Houston research: It's time to upgrade how you think about where and how consumers shop

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Back in the Paleolithic Age of online marketing — say, 15 years ago — the idea of online sales as a significant business vehicle for brands such as Target or Walmart was almost unimaginable. Shopping meant going to a store, because stores were where sales happened.

Today, people shop with their computers, via watches and phones, even through their refrigerators. Sellers market on multiple platforms, digital and traditional, including the brick and mortar store. Even the glossy catalogues that arrive in the mail still prompt sales.

Advancing technology has made it possible for consumers to shop not only across a staggering number of channels — but to do so in a constellation of ways. Say a shopper has broken down and decided to buy a wildly popular all-purpose pressure cooker. She might start off using the internet to glean product details and prescreen options. Then she might visit a retail outlet to eyeball the product herself. Finally, after mulling for days, she may impulsively whip out her phone to make the order.

But what determines these particular choices of shopping venues? Rice Business professor Utpal M. Dholakia set out to map this new landscape of consumerism. Joining Dholakia were colleagues Barbara E. Kahn of the Wharton Business School, Randy Reeves of Macy’s Department Stores, Aric Rindfleisch of the University of Wisconsin, David Stewart of the University of California at Riverside and Earl Taylor of the Marketing Science Institute.

Consumer behavior, the researchers knew, is too complex — too all-over-the-map — to develop any sort of quantum marketing theory to explain it. So while interested in answers, the team aimed instead to frame useful questions. Their goal was to bring attention to the multi-channel retailing environment, creating a comprehensive but flexible way to investigate how shoppers navigate the intricate modern marketplace.

More specifically, Dholakia’s team wanted to learn exactly what consumers are finding. What do they do while using various internet and other tools to shop? When do different types of shoppers grab their devices and buy? What obstacles crop up as shoppers wend their ways through this maze of venues? Finally, the researchers wanted to map the vast scope of research issues surrounding this customer behavior.

It was fairly simple to answer the first question: Why do we use such diverse shopping tactics? Usually, it’s about getting the best deal. Some people, however, take their shopping seriously, savoring the idea that they are approaching their task both thoughtfully and thoroughly. Others get a genuine thrill out of the social experience of being part of a community, or from experimenting with different products and ways to buy them. And some shoppers head straight to a certain website or media source because they expect a specific price tag.

Many consumers, Dholakia and his co-researchers found, constantly change the means they use to shop. In one survey of 337 multichannel shoppers, for example, the researchers found that 52 percent reported migrating back and forth from offline to online channels across four product categories including books, airline tickets, stereo systems and wine. This hopscotching from brick and mortar to catalogues, to online and back, could be predicted by certain factors including price, the product they were looking for, how they evaluated the product and even waiting time.

The researchers also found that each type of shopper uses channels differently. Penny-pinchers don’t care where they buy, as long as the price is right. Generalists shop online or in the store because of the overall shopping experience. Traditionalists shun new ways of shopping, and multichannel enthusiasts happily bounce between stores, the internet and catalogues. Finally, the hard-core, store-focused customers will only shop in a place with doors and shelves.

To add a layer of complication, some don’t use channels to shop at all. They just want information. These are the shoppers who pop into to a store to test drive a phone before they buy it online. They study the pressure cooker in a catalogue before they go to the store.

And even within all the online options, there are innumerable detours to explore. Say you want a Nikon camera. You might go to an enthusiasts’ page such as Nikonians.org before you decide which model to buy, whether it’s online or at the local camera shop. Your friendly chat with the guy who owns the local camera store may now turn into a real-time virtual chat with a company representative.

The new marketplace, in other words, has become a dizzying landscape. Shoppers, clearly, have risen to the challenge. Nevertheless, it’s in the interests of sellers and buyers both to understand more deeply not only why we buy what we buy — but where.

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This article originally ran on Rice Business Wisdom and is based on research from Utpal M. Dholakia, the George R. Brown Professor of Marketing at Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University.

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Houston startups raise funding, secure partnerships across space, health, and sports tech

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It's been a new month and a few Houston startup wrapped up November with news you may have missed.

In this roundup of short stories within Houston startups and tech, three Houston startups across health care, space, and sports tech have some news they announced recently.

Houston digital health company launches new collaboration

Koda Health has a new partner. Image via kodahealthcare.com

Houston-based Koda Health announced a new partnership with data analytics company, CareJourney.

"This collaboration will aim to develop benchmarking data for advance care planning and end-of-life metrics," the company wrote on LinkedIn. "Koda will provide clinical and practice-based expertise to guide the construction of toolkits, dashboards, and benchmarks that improve ACP programs and end-of-life outcomes."

Koda Health announced the partnership in November..

“Beyond the checkbox of a billing code or completed advance directive, it’s important to build and measure a process that promotes thoughtful planning among patients, their care team, and their loved ones,” says Desh Mohan, MD, Koda's chief medical officer, in the post.

CareJourney was founded in 2014 in Arlington, Virginia.

"I'm hopeful next-generation quality measures will honor the patient’s voice in defining what it means to deliver high quality care, and our commitment is to measure progress on that important endeavor," noted Aneesh Chopra, CareJourney's co-founder and president.

Sports tech startup raises $500,000 pre-seed investment

BeONE Sports has created a technology to enhance athletic training. Photo via beonesports.com

Houston-founded BeONE Sports, an athlete training technology company, announced last month that it closed an oversubscribed round of pre-seed funding. The company announced the raise on its social media pages that the round included $500,000 invested.

Earlier in November, BeONE Sports completed its participation in CodeLaunch DFW 2022. The company was one of six finalists in the program, which concluded with a pitch event on November 16.

Space tech company snags government contracts

Graphic via cognitive space.com

The U.S. Air Force has extended Houston-based Cognitive Space’s contract under a new TACFI, Tactical Funding Increase, award. According to the release, the contract "builds on Cognitive Space’s work to develop a tailored version of CNTIENT for AFRL to achieve ultimate responsiveness and optimized dynamic satellite scheduling via a cloud-based API.

The $1.2 million award follows a $1.5 million U.S. Air Force Small Business Innovation Research award that the company won in 2020 to integrate CNTIENT with commercial ground station providers in support of AFRL’s Hybrid Architecture Demonstration program.

“The TACFI award allows Cognitive Space to continue supporting AFRL’s vitally important HAD program to help deliver commercial space data to the warfighter,” says Guy de Carufel, the company’s founder and CEO, in the releasee. “CNTIENT’s tailored analytics platform will enable HAD and the GLUE platform to integrate modern statistical approaches to optimize mission planning, data collection, and latency estimation.”

Houston airport powers up new gaming lounge for bored and weary travelers

game on and wheels down

Local gamers now have a new option to while away those flight delays and passenger pickup waits at Hobby Airport.

Houston's William P. Hobby Airport is now one the first airports in the country to offer what's dubbed as the "ultimate gaming experience for travelers." The airport has launched a premium video game lounge inside the international terminal called Gameway.

That means weary, bored, or early travelers can chill in the lounge and plug into15 top-of-the-line, luxury gaming stations: six Xbox stations, five Playstation stations, four PC stations, all with the newest games on each platform. Aficionados will surely appreciate the Razer's Iskur Gaming Chairs and Kraken Headsets, along with dedicated high speed internet at each PC station.

The Gameway lounge pays homage to gaming characters, with wall accents that hark to motherboard circuits Crucial for any real gamer: plenty of sweet and savory snacks are available for purchase to fuel up on those fantasy, battle, or sporting endeavors. As for the gaming console stations, players can expect high definition screens, comfortable seating, and plenty of space for belongings.

Make video games a part of your pre-flight ritual. Photo courtesy of Gameway

This gaming addition comes just in time for the holiday rush, when travelers can expect long lines, delays, and are already planning for extended time for trips. As CultureMap previously reported, Hobby will see a big boost in travelers this season — the largest since 2019. Now, those on a long journey can plug in, decompress, and venture on virtual journeys of their own.

Texan travelers may be familiar with Gameway; the company opened its first two locations at Dallas Fort-Worth Airport. The buzzy lounge an industry wave of acclaim: Gameway was awarded Best Traveler Amenity in 2019 at the ACI-NA Awards and in 2020, voted “Most Innovative Customer Experience” at the Airport Experience Traveler Awards, per press materials.

Two new locations followed in 2021: LAX Terminal 6 and Charlotte Douglas International Airport. The first of Gameway's Ultra lounge brand opened in September at Delta's Terminal 3 in LAX.

Gaming culture is a way of life in the Bayou City , which hosts Comicpalooza, the largest pop culture festival in Texas, and is home to several e-sports teams, including the pro esports squad, the Houston Outlaws.

A delayed flight never seemed so ideal for gamers flying out of Hobby. Photo courtesy of Gameway

“Gameway is the real reason to get to the airport early,” said Co-Founder Jordan Walbridge in a statement. “Our mission is to upgrade the typical wait-at-the-gate experience with a new stimulating, entertaining option for travelers of all ages.”

Here's guessing Hobby might just see an increase in missed or late flight arrivals — as travelers simply must beat those big bosses, solve puzzles, or win sports matches in the lounge.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.