Sepsis has been the No. 1 killer hospitals, but this Houston startup has a tech to help mitigate the risk. Photo via Getty Images

Anyone can die of sepsis. The number one killer in hospitals has a reputation for felling the infirm and elderly, but while the immunocompromised are at highest risk, sepsis isn’t that selective.

Take 12-year-old Rory Staunton. In 2012, the healthy boy scratched his arm diving for a ball in gym class at his school in Jackson Heights, NY. Bacteria entered his arm through the cut and he died days later of septic shock.

His story is not unique. Physician Sarma Velamuri saw this firsthand in his internal medicine practice at St. Luke’s Health Center and his residency at Baylor, both in Houston. But it really struck home when he watched helplessly as a friend’s 22-year-old daughter lost her life to sepsis. He had to tell his friend that she would not be coming home.

“There are 300,000-plus people a year who die of sepsis,” says Velamuri. “It’s important that people understand it’s not just those who are most susceptible to infections.”

This fact is not only unfortunate, but preventable. And that’s why Velamuri, who describes himself as “a recovering hospitalist,” co-founded Luminare in 2014. A full-time CEO since 2017, Velamuri, who runs the company with co-founder and CTO Marcus Rydberg, is based in the TMC Innovation Factory.

“Because of the complex workflows in hospitals, sometimes it takes 10 people to get the patient the care they need,” Velamuri explains.

And because of the pervasiveness of sepsis, it’s important to screen every patient who enters an institution before it gets to that point.

Luminare’s technology allows nurses, who are notoriously spread thin, to automatically screen patients in 10 seconds using 50 different parameters.

“We’re looking at a vast amount of data simultaneously,” says Velamuri. “We’re not generating any new data, we’re taking data that exists and shining a light on it.”

In 2020, the technology found a new application when Velamuri and his team created a version of Luminare that helped with the hospital workflow surrounding COVID PCR testing and vaccine management. Since then, it has also been used to help identify and treat monkeypox.

Though Velamuri says he doesn’t want to distract Luminare from its goal of making sepsis the number-two killer in hospitals, he is also aware that his technology can be instrumental in identifying and treating patients at risk for countless other maladies, including heart failure and stroke, and even helping with oncology workflows.

Velamuri says that his team is Luminare’s biggest strength, far more than the AI that they have designed.

“I have this saying that AI is a great servant but a terrible master. It doesn’t solve the problem,” says Velamuri.

Though the company is distributed as far afield as Stockholm, about half of its people live and work in Houston. Of the company’s placement in TMC’s Innovation Factory, Velamuri says, “They’ve been tremendous partners to us. The company would not be as successful today without their supportive partnership.” Not least of that is working with in the same space as other founders who can share their expertise as easily as a trip to the coffee machine.

And the company is growing quickly. Last year, Luminare participated in Cedars-Sinai’s accelerator program. Thanks to that partnership, the hospital is now using Luminare’s technology for sepsis screening. The team is working to partner with even more large hospital systems on solutions for one of the health industry’s biggest problems. And data that shows that Luminare can be the path to preventing death from hospitals’ most prolific killer.

Sarma Velamuri went from MD to CEO when he founded Luminare. Photo via luminare.io

The Texas Medical Center Innovation Factory has named the 16 companies making up the inaugural cohort in the Innovate UK Global Incubator Programme. Photo via tmc.edu

TMC names inaugural cohort for unique accelerator with UK

coming to HOU

Sixteen digital health and medical device startups founded in the United Kingdom have been selected for a customized accelerator at the Texas Medical Center's Innovation Factory.

In partnership with Innovate UK, TMCi created the Innovate UK Global Incubator Programme, a new accelerator that supports UK businesses as they build their United States go-to-market plan. The program builds the BioBridge relationship between TMC and the UK that was originally established five years ago.

“The TMC UK BioBridge program was launched with the UK Department for Business and Trade in 2018 to serve as a gateway for advancing life sciences and foster innovation and research between our two countries," says Ashley McPhail, chief external affairs and administration officer for TMC, in a news release. "We saw an opportunity to work with Innovate UK to develop a larger program with the UK after the success of the 11 companies that previously participated in our health tech accelerator."

The 16 companies will participate in the program from June to November. The cohort is expected to arrive in Houston on June 5 and have access to TMCi's facilities, network of mentors and potential clients, funding, potential customers, and curated programing — all while being a unique entry point into the US. The new offering joins three other globally recognized curriculums: Biodesign, Accelerator for Cancer Therapeutics, and Health Tech.

“TMCi nurtures long-term growth, development, and competitiveness to increase startups chances of success and global expansion," says Emily Reiser, associate director of TMC Innovation. "By bringing their novel technologies and exposing them to a curated selection of TMC’s expert network, startups receive support and evaluation to build, scale, and expand in the US market."

Two of the cohort's specialties include cardiovascular and oncology — two of TMC's strongest areas of expertise — with solutions ranging from surgical devices to AI-enabled risk stratification and hospital efficiency.

Innovate UK is the country's national innovation agency dedicated to supporting business-led innovation in all sectors.

“The United Kingdom is fully committed to improving global healthcare through scientific collaboration," says His Majesty’s Consul General in Texas Richard Hyde in the release. "Through the expansion of the TMC UK BioBridge and in partnership with Innovate UK, this programme will help to expose the brightest and best British companies to the world’s largest medical city. Our companies will collaborate and grow as they work to develop cutting edge technology. The partnership between the UK Government and TMC demonstrates that international collaboration can drive both economic growth and improvement to quality of life.”

The 16 companies making up the inaugural cohort are as follows, according to TMC.

  • AINOSTICS aims to revolutionize the treatment and prevention of neurological conditions, such as dementia, by developing innovative AI-enabled solutions that draw novel insights from routinely acquired non-invasive medical scans to deliver accurate diagnosis and outcome prediction, and in turn facilitate personalized care and timely access to disease-modifying treatments for patients.
  • Alvie is a blended human plus AI-enabled digital solution providing personalised pre and rehabilitation coaching and supportive care for cancer and surgery. Alvie's technology combines data profiling, risk-stratification and tailored prescriptions of health and well-being with curated educational content, targeted behaviour change coaching and expert support through chat messaging and virtual consultations.
  • C the Signs™ is a validated AI cancer prediction platform, which can identify patients at risk of cancer at the earliest and most curable stage of the disease. Used by healthcare professionals, C the Signs can identify which tumor type a patient is at risk of and recommend the most appropriate next step in less than 30 seconds. The platform has detected over 10,000 patients with cancer, with over 50 different types of cancer diagnosed, and with a sensitivity of >98% for cancer.
  • At PEP Health, We believe all patients deserve the best care possible. Our cutting-edge machine-learning technology enables healthcare organisations, regulators, and insurers the real-time, actionable insights they need to have a direct and dramatic impact on patient experiences.
  • PreciousMD improves the lives of lung-cancer and other lung-related illnesses patients worldwide by enabling imaging-based diagnostics needed for personalized treatment pathways.
  • Ufonia is an autonomous telemedicine company, we use large language models and voice AI to increase the capacity of clinical professionals.
  • My mhealth offers digital therapeutics for a range of long-term conditions- COPD, Asthma, Diabetes and Heart Disease. Our product has been successfully deployed in the UK and India, with >100,000 users registered to date. Our solutions empower patients to self-manage their conditions, resulting in dramatic improvements in outcomes, as evidenced through multiple clinical trials and real-world evaluations.
  • At Surgery Hero, we offer a clinically backed solution that ensures whole-human support before and after surgery. We help health systems, employers and health plans cut costs without sacrificing quality of care.
  • Panakeia's software platform enables extremely rapid multi-omics profiling in minutes directly from routinely used tissue images without needing wet lab assays.
  • QV Bioelectronics are striving to deliver longer, better quality lives for brain tumour patients. Using their first-of-its-kind implantable electric field therapy device, GRACE, QV will provide effective, focal & continuous treatment without impacting patient quality of life.
  • 52 North is a med-tech company focused on improving health outcomes and health equity by reinventing care pathways. The NeutroCheck® solution is a finger-prick blood test and digital platform built to significantly improve safety and quality of life for cancer patients, by helping to identify at-home those patients who are at risk of the most fatal side-effect of chemotherapy: neutropenic sepsis.
  • Somnus is fulfilling an unmet need in global healthcare by developing real-time, point of care blood propofol monitoring. Its products will improve the care of sedated and anaesthetised patients, save money for hospitals, and facilitate a major reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
  • ScubaTx is a breakthrough organ transplant preservation company established to solve the global unmet need for cost-efficient and longer-duration organ preservation technology. ScubaTx has developed a simple, small and affordable device which uses Persufflation to extend the preservation of organs.
  • IBEX is on a mission to help people live active, healthy and productive lives by increasing their access to early diagnosis of osteoporosis. The IBEX BH software as medical device delvers routine, automated assessment of fracture risk from routine radiology for earlier detection and more equitable treatment of osteoporosis.
  • NuVision produces products derived from donated human amniotic membrane that are used in ophthalmology to help patients with chronic, traumatic and post-surgical wounds of the eye to be treated earlier and recover more fully and more quickly. The company’s products are also used in the management of dry eye disease, a debilitating conditions that affects around 17m people in the USA.
  • Calon Cardio-Technology is on a mission to improve quality of life for patients with Left Ventricular Assist devices (LVAD) and reduce the common post operative complications associated with these implantable heart pumps. We plan to do this by introducing a completely wireless heart pump system and augment patient follow-up with built-in remote monitoring capabilities.
A TMC-founded medical device startup has made a grand exit. Image via TMC.edu

Houston health tech startup acquired by medical device company

exit strategy

A Houston health tech business that has created a medical device to enhance and improve surgery has been acquired.

Illinois-based Northgate Technologies Inc. announced the acquisition of Allotrope Medical earlier this month. The Houston startup has designed an electrosurgical ureter identification system for optimizing surgery for both robotic and non-robotic laparoscopic surgical procedures. The StimSite technology is a hand-held device used by general and OBGYN surgeons and has received a Safer Technologies Program designation from the FDA.

“By bringing the StimSite product platform into NTI’s existing portfolio of innovative insufflation and smoke removal products, we have taken a significant step in fulfilling our vision to optimize the surgical environment for minimally invasive surgery,” says Dave McDonough, vice president and general manager at NTI.

NTI, an affiliate of the Trudell Medical Limited group of companies, develops and manufactures innovative tools for surgery that improve patient outcomes. The company has distribution in over 100 countries.

Allotrope Medical was founded in 2016 by Dr. Albert Huang and has raised over $5 million in venture capital investment, with contribution from Y Combinator, Texas Halo Fund, and more. Huang, according to his LinkedIn, is now chief medical officer for NTI.

"To have taken this from idea to exit has been a true honor," Huang writes in a post on LinkedIn. "To all those that have generously given me their time, their input, their investment, and even more importantly, those that believed in me and this technology, thank you."

Huang was a general surgery resident and innovation fellow at Houston Methodist before serving as innovation strategist at Texas Medical Center Innovation while growing his company and developing his technology. Allotrope Medical was housed out of TMC Innovation and was a member of TMC's third medical device accelerator cohort.

"For now, the focus is the transition and ensuring that the new sales team learns everything about StimSite, and gets the technology into more surgeon hands as we continue to drive it towards becoming part of the standard of care," the post reads.

Allotrope Medical was founded in 2016 by Dr. Albert Huang. Image via LinkedIn

Proxima Clinical Research has announced an office expansion — and more Houston innovation news. Photo via Twitter

Med tech firm expands footprint, Houston innovator assumes new role, and more local innovation news

short stories

Houston's innovation ecosystem has had some big news this month, from new job titles for Houston innovators to expanding office space.

In this roundup of Houston startup and innovation news, a Houston organization expands its footprint in the TMC, Rice University opens applications for a cleantech accelerator, and more.

Organization expands footprint in Houston

Proxima CRO has announced its expansion within TMCi. Photo via Twitter

Proxima Clinical Research, a contract research organization headquartered in Houston, announced that it is expanding its office space in the Texas Medical Center Innovation Factory.

"Texas Medical Center is synonymous with innovation, and the TMC Innovation space has proven an ideal location for our CRO. It's an important part of our origin story and a big part of our success," says Kevin Coker, CEO and co-founder of Proxima CRO, in a news release.

The expansion will include around 7,500-square feet of additional office space.

"The resources found across TMC's campuses allow for companies such as Proxima Clinical Research to achieve clinical and business milestones that will continue to shape the future of life sciences both regionally and globally. We are excited for Proxima to expand their footprint at TMC Innovation Factory as they further services for their MedTech customers," says Tom Luby, director of TMC Innovation, in the release.

$20M grant fuels hardtech program's expansion

Activate is planting its roots in Houston with a plan to have its first set of fellows next year. Photo via Activate.org

A hardtech-focused nonprofit officially announced its Houston expansion this week. Activate, which InnovationMap reported was setting up its fifth program here last month, received a $20M commitment by the National Science Foundation to fuel its entrance into the Bayou City.

“Houston’s diversity offers great promise in expanding access for the next generation of science entrepreneurs and as a center of innovation for advanced energy," says NSF SBIR/STTR program director Ben Schrag in a news release.

The organization was founded in Berkeley, California, in 2015 to bridge the gap between the federal and public sectors to deploy capital and resources into the innovators creating transformative products. The nonprofit expanded its programs to Boston and New York before launching a virtual fellowship program — Activate Anywhere, which is for scientists 50 or more miles outside one of the three hubs.

“We are delighted to be opening our newest Activate community in Houston,” says Activate Anywhere managing director Hannah Murnen, speaking at the annual Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy Innovation Summit. “Houston is a city where innovation thrives, with an abundance of talent, capital, and infrastructure—the perfect setting for the Activate Fellowship.”

Activate is still looking its Houston’s first managing director is actively underway and will select fellows for Activate Houston in 2024.

TMC names new entrepreneur in residence

Zaffer Syed has assumed a new role at TMC. Photo via TMC.org

Houston health tech innovator has announced that he has joined the Texas Medical Center's Innovation Factory as entrepreneur in residence for medtech. Zaffer Syed assumed the new role this month, according to his LinkedIn, and he's been an adviser for the organization since 2017.

Syed has held a few leadership roles at Saranas Inc., a medical device company founded in Houston to detect internal bleeding following medical procedures. He now serves as adviser for the company.

"As CEO of Saranas, he led the recapitalization of the company that led to the FDA De Novo classification and commercial launch of a novel real-time internal bleed monitoring system for endovascular procedures," reads the TMC website. "Zaffer oversaw clinical development, regulatory affairs and strategic marketing at OrthoAccel Technologies, a private dental device startup focused on accelerating tooth movement in patients undergoing orthodontic treatment.

"Prior to working in startup ventures, Zaffer spent the first 13 years of his career in various operational roles at St. Jude Medical and Boston Scientific to support the development and commercialization of Class III implantable devices for cardiovascular and neuromodulation applications."

TMC is currently looking for an entrepreneur in residence for its TMCi Accelerator for Cancer Therapeutics program.

Applications open for clean energy startup program

Calling all clean energy startups. Photo courtesy of The Ion

The Clean Energy Accelerator, an energy transition accelerator housed at the Ion and run by the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship, has opened applications for Class 3. The deadline to apply is April 14.

The accelerator, which helps early-stage ventures reach technical and commercial milestones through hybrid programming and mentorship, will host its Class 3 cohort from July 25 to Sept. 22.

“Accelerating the transition to a net-zero future is a key goal at Rice University. Through accelerating the commercial potential of our own research as well as supporting the further adoption of global technologies right here in Houston, the Rice Alliance Clean Energy Accelerator is proof of that commitment,” says Paul Cherukuri, vice president of innovation at Rice, in a news release. “The Rice Alliance has all the critical components early-stage energy ventures need for success: a corporate innovation network, energy investor network, access to mentors and a well-developed curriculum. This accelerator program is a unique opportunity for energy startups to successfully launch and build their ventures and get access to the Houston energy ecosystem.”

According to Rice, the 29 alumni companies from Class 1 and 2 have gone on to secure grants, partnerships, and investments, including more than $75 million in funding. Companies can apply here, learn more about the accelerator here or attend the virtual information session April 3 by registering here.

These nine companies are headed to Houston. Photo courtesy of TMC

TMC Innovation names 9 companies to its latest bootcamp

coming soon to Hou

Nine startups hailing from as far away as Sydney, Australia, are en route to Houston to participate in a week-long program at the Texas Medical Center's Innovation Factory.

The 2022 TMCi Accelerator for HealthTech Bootcamp is looking to accelerate these startups, which specialize in health tech innovation across the spectrum — maternal medicine, mental health, diagnostics, patient experience, and artificial intelligence.

“One of the things I love about Bootcamp is the opportunity to showcase the diversity of innovation our ecosystem attracts," says Devin Dunn, head of the Accelerator for Healthtech, in a news release. "The breadth of clinical and operational expertise in our Medical Campus creates a unique learning ground, truly unmatched. Our tailored accelerator program allows for an experience that is personalized to each company’s stage, specialty and growth objectives.”

After the week at TMC, a smaller group of startups will be accepted into the TMCi Accelerator, a six-month program focused on maturing strategic relationships.

“Startup companies who are impacting the future of healthcare need clinical evidence to validate their value proposition and grow their businesses," says Emily Reiser, associate director of TMC Innovation, in the release. "Our platform at the TMC sources the best talent from around the world, performs rigorous diligence, and brings entrepreneurs together with our dedicated network to drive value for each stakeholder. We are seeing this value proposition resonate with entrepreneurs, including international companies preparing to enter the US market”

The nine startups that will be participating in the program, per the news release, include:

  • Based in Roseville, Minneapolis, Bloom Standard is deploying the first self-driving pediatric ultrasound to earlier diagnose heart and lung conditions in primary care, remote and under-resourced settings.
  • Echo IQ, headquartered in Sydney, is a screening program that applies a proprietary algorithm to produce risk assessments for patients using their echocardiographic measurements.
  • San Francisco-based Ejenta automates remote monitoring and care using AI technology exclusively licensed from NASA. “Intelligent agents” learn from connected devices, claims and EMR data to monitor patients, predict health and to provide automated support for patients and automated workflow for clinicians.
  • Kintsugi, based in Berkley, California, is on a mission to see mental health more clearly by developing novel voice biomarker infrastructure to detect signs of depression and anxiety from short clips of free-form speech.
  • San Francisco-based Lana Health is modernizing patient experiences, across the care continuum with an end-to-end, scalable platform, enabling frictionless care transitions, high patient satisfaction, and better clinical outcomes.
  • Liberate Medical, from Crestwood, Kentucky, improves outcomes for mechanically ventilated patients using its breakthrough, non-invasive, respiratory muscle-protective, neurostimulation device, VentFree.
  • Limbix, headquartered in Palo Alto, has a mission to improve mental health with accessible technology.
  • Nua Surgical, from Galway, Ireland, Nua Surgical is an award-winning Irish start-up dedicated to innovating in women’s health.
  • Houston-based Prana Thoracic is developing solutions for the detection and intervention of early-stage lung cancer.
Check out these conferences, pitch competitions, networking, and more in the month of August. Photo via Getty Images

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

where to be

Houstonians are transitioning into a new summer month, and the city's business community is mixing in networking and conference events with family vacations and time off. Here's a rundown of what all to throw on your calendar for August when it comes to innovation-related events.

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


August 1 — Beyond Bias: Essentials for an Equitable Community

During this seminar, Tracie Jae, Founder of The Quiet Rebel, will share a paradigm shift designed to disrupt the current DEI model.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) is the accepted workforce best practice. As organizations continue to find the mix of techniques for their particular culture, we began to see the addition of other words like Belonging, Justice, and Access. Meanwhile, the impact appears the same - a focus on making space for “others” rather than actively creating a welcoming environment of mutual respect and acknowledgement. We have chosen to modify rather than innovate.

The event is Monday, August 1, 10 am to noon, at The Ion. Click here to register.

August 3 — Bayou Startup Showcase

The showcase features 24 companies from four accelerators: RED Labs, OwlSpark, RED Launch and BlueLaunch. You will be able to engage with these businesses, sign up for pre-orders, and buy products at their booths. Teams have recorded their pitches for you to learn about them in advance, watch during the event, or review afterward.

The event is Wednesday, August 3, 5 to 8 pm, at Saint Arnold Brewing Company. Click here to register.

August 4 — National Cancer Institute | SBIR Funding Opportunities

The TMCi Accelerator is excited to partner with the National Cancer Institute for a discussion about small business funding opportunities.

The event is Thursday, August 4, 1 to 3 pm, online. Click here to register.

August 8 — Intro to Finance Automation

Understand the benefits of finance automation and how to identify meaningful automation opportunities in your business. Learn from firsthand experiences of FinOptimal’s Founder & CEO, Jesse Rubenfeld.

The event is Monday, August 8, 10 am to noon, at The Ion. Click here to register.

August 11 — Illuminate Houston: An Innovation Conversation

Illuminate Houston is an event series highlighting business leaders who challenge the way we think about the future, featuring dynamic formats where speakers and attendees discuss trends, technologies, and issues that define how we do business. The Partnership welcomes Roberta L. Schwartz, Ph.D., Executive Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer of Houston Methodist on Thursday, August 11.

The event is Thursday, August 11, 1 to 2:30 pm, at Partnership Tower. Click here to register.

August 11 — Summer in the City: UH Students' Showcase Day

Throughout the "Summer in the City" class, students from the University of Houston Honors College have learned about creativity, leadership, entrepreneurship, and smart cities. Taking a mixed-media approach, and benefiting from guest lectures by Robert Cremins, Director of Creative Work: A Pre-Professional Program at UH, as well as panel discussions featuring entrepreneurs, innovators, and founder at the Ion, students have developed their design thinking and innovation skills and tackled problems experienced in Houston.

The event is Thursday, August 11, 5:30 to 7 pm, at the ion. Click here to register.

August 16 — Softeq Venture Studio Public Demo Day 

The Softeq Venture Studio invested $125,000 in cash and services in each of the fourteen early-stage startups to help them refine their business model, build their technology, and prepare them to scale. With 14 startups, the Q2 2022 cohort is the largest yet and brings the total portfolio to 27 companies. In this capstone event, founders have seven minutes each to present their pitch deck, demo their product, outline their ask, and answer questions.

The event is Tuesday, August 16, 5 to 7:30 pm, at The Ion. Click here to register.

August 16 — Enventure "Inspire" Seminar Series - Entrepreneurship

The "Inspire" Seminar Series was developed by Enventure to help students learn about the reality of working in the biotech and biomedical fields. The series consists of a number of events starring guest speakers coming from different areas in the biotech and biomedical industries. Dr. Lauren Cornell is an experienced research scientist with a strong history of military collaborations.

The event is Tuesday, August 16, 6 to 7:30 pm, online. Click here to register.

August 18 — Evolve Houston Relaunch Event

This past year, Evolve introduced a new logo and website to continue embarking on its mission to improve air quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions through transportation electrification.

The event is Thursday, August 18, 8:30 am to 12:30 pm, at George R. Brown Convention Center. Click here to register.

August 18 — Transition on Tap

Transition On Tap is Greentown Labs' monthly networking event devoted to fostering conversations and connections among the climate and energy transition ecosystem in Houston and beyond. Entrepreneurs, investors, students, and friends of climatetech are invited to attend, meet colleagues, discuss solutions, and engage with our growing community. I

The event is Thursday, August 18, 5 to 7 pm, at Greentown Houston. Click here to register.

August 22 — Startup-Inside-a-Business 102: How to Find SIB Without Spending Any Money

Founders will learn how to look at their companies differently, to see how the capabilities and systems they’ve already created can be reconfigured to multiply growth, value, and valuation. Learn a step-by-step approach to finding the best potential startup inside and insights for estimating the potential value that’s waiting to be unlocked.

This workshop is the second in a series of three Startup-Inside-a-Business Workshops.

The event is Monday, August 22, 10 to 11:30 am, at The Ion. Click here to register.

August 29 — Startup-Inside-a-Business 103: Build One w/out Disrupting Existing Business

Founders will learn how getting investors involved early can end the need for founder cash investments while simultaneously establishing a higher company valuation. They’ll also learn how to manage the tradeoff between cost, risk, and reward by using proven techniques to gain proof before scaling up.

This workshop is the last in a series of three Startup-Inside-a-Business Workshops.

    The event is Monday, August 29, 10 to 11:30 am, at The Ion. Click here to register.

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    $1M donation to Rice establishes pioneering neuro-policy center in Houston

    brainy support

    A big donation to Rice University will soon help researchers better understand the workings of the human brain.

    Harry Yan and Weiman Gao have bestowed $1 million on the Baker Institute of Public Policy to establish the interdisciplinary Neuro-Policy Program.

    Neuro-policy is a newer field that explores how brain health and function can help to fuel economic growth.

    “The Neuro-Policy Program is at the forefront of pioneering data analysis, empirical research and policy application,” says Harris Eyre, the lead for the program, as well as a senior fellow in brain health at the Baker Institute, in a news release. “Investing in evidence-based strategies for prevention, diagnosis and treatment can reduce brain and mental health disparities, optimize cognitive development and performance and foster innovation to build more resilient communities.”

    Eyre describes the collective value of the human brain as “brain capital.” That’s because brains that are suffering from any number of neurodegenerative or mental health disorders (including depression, anxiety, brain injury and Alzheimer’s disease) have actually taken a toll on the U.S. economy, Eyre explains.

    The Neuro-Policy Program seeks to improve brain performance, and consequently enhance economic growth, national security, and our overall standing as a nation of healthy brains. The program’s primary projects include establishing a task force to advise Texas “brain and mind” legislative efforts as well as a Texas Brain Capital Dashboard, collaborating on Texas Forward (Texas Brain Health Plan) with the UT Dallas Center for BrainHealth, thereby working toward U.S. brain capital policy and investment advances. These projects are expected to yield deliverables as early as 2026.

    “The Neuro-Policy Program aims to leverage the university’s proximity to the Texas Medical Center and the institute’s strong connections to state and federal policymakers. This is an important yet underrepresented area of research that Houston is poised to lead,” says David Satterfield, the director of the Baker Institute.

    Yan and Gao said in a press release that they were inspired to gift the grant funds to Eyre and his research after attending a March 28 Baker Institute event on brain health that featured U.S. Rep. Morgan Luttrell, a co-chair of the Congressional Neuroscience Caucus.

    "We are honored to support Dr. Harris Eyre and the Neuro-Policy program he leads. Dr. Eyre’s work has greatly impressed us, highlighting the critical importance of brain health in our society today,” say Yan and Gao. “We hope our contribution can inspire further support and advocacy in the field, helping individuals lead healthier lives through a comprehensive approach to prevention.”

    Houston HR software startup rolls out platform at local hospital system

    tapping into tech

    More than 14,000 nurses at one of the largest nonprofit health care providers in Texas have access to a new skills and competency management software.

    Kahuna Workforce Solutions has officially deployed its platform at Memorial Hermann Health System, consisting of 17 hospitals and more than 250 care delivery sites. The platform will streamline onboarding processes and increase transparency and accessibility for staff.

    “Kahuna will enhance our clinical competency experience and fully aligns with our nursing strategy to optimize our processes, prioritize innovation and safety, and excel as a top provider of care and clinical advancement for clinicians,” Bryan Sisk, senior vice president and chief nursing executive for Memorial Hermann, says in a news release.

    “Memorial Hermann is committed to the Houston community and helping to develop the next generation of nurses,” Sisk continues. “The Kahuna platform will help improve the transparency, autonomy and efficiency of our competency management and development processes for our nurses to better support them in their roles, while also ensuring we provide high-quality care for our patients.”

    The rollout comes six months after the software-as-a-service company raised a $21 million series B round of funding.

    “We are thrilled to work with Memorial Hermann as they enrich all aspects of their clinical competency management practices with Kahuna’s skills management software,” adds Jai Shah, CEO of Kahuna Workforce Solutions. “This collaboration unites two Houston-based organizations and demonstrates a joint commitment to enhancing the standard of health care through digitized competency management in our Houston community and far beyond.”

    Houston geothermal company grows Google partnership to provide power to Nevada

    feeling lucky

    Houston-based Fervo Energy’s geothermal energy soon will help power the world’s most popular website.

    Through a first-of-its-kind proposal, Las Vegas-based public utility NV Energy would supply 115 megawatts of geothermal power generated by Fervo for Google’s two data centers in Nevada. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

    In 2021, Google teamed up with Fervo to develop a pilot project for geothermal power in Nevada. Two years later, electricity from this project started flowing into the Nevada grid serving the two Google data centers. Google spent $600 million to build each of the centers, which are in Henderson, a Las Vegas suburb, and Storey County, which is east of Reno.

    The proposed agreement with NV Energy would bring about 25 times more geothermal power capacity to the Nevada grid, Google says, and enable more around-the-clock clean power for the search engine company’s Nevada data centers.

    A data center gobbles up 10 to 50 times the energy per square foot of floor space that a typical office building does, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

    “NV Energy and Google’s partnership to develop new solutions to bring clean … energy technology — like enhanced geothermal — onto Nevada’s grid at this scale is remarkable. This innovative proposal will not be paid for by NV Energy’s other customers but will help ensure all our customers benefit from cleaner, greener energy resources,” Doug Cannon, president and CEO of NV Energy, says in a Google blog post.

    Utility regulators still must sign off on the proposal.

    “If approved, it provides a blueprint for other utilities and large customers in Nevada to accelerate clean energy goals,” Cannon says.

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    This article originally ran on EnergyCapital.