Since expanding to Houston, this innovative European company has saved nearly 30,000 meals from being wasted. Photo via toogoodtogo.com

Since expanding into Houston just over two months ago, an app that combats food waste has saved over 28,000 meals.

By partnering with locally owned vendors like the Village Bakery, as well as larger chains like Tiff’s Treats, Too Good To Go offers Houstonians a variety of discounted goodies. Users can browse a range of stores and sign up for a “surprise bag,” an assemblage of surplus food that typically costs $5.

The free mobile app now connects savvy shoppers to 130 Houston area stores, allowing them to enjoy food that would otherwise be thrown away. Based in Denmark, Too Good To Go previously launched in Texas in Austin in 2021, before its statewide expansion into Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio in July.

"We are excited to expand our app across Texas to partner with the dynamic food scene and culture," says Chris MacAulay, Too Good To Go US Country Director, in a press release. "In partnership with the incredible local food businesses across Texas, we want to make reducing food waste accessible to all. Together, with the great restaurant community and residents in Texas, we know we will have an immediate impact."

Sarah Soteroff, senior PR manager of Too Good To Go’s North American branch, shared the European based corporation’s scaling up of operations in Texas is part of their plan to move across the United States, going into more cities where food waste persists.

“Our goal is to reduce food waste everywhere that it occurs. So in the long term, we want to eliminate food waste globally,” Soteroff says.

The move into U.S. cities has been gradual, as Soteroff said Too Good To Go works to get an initial network of 50 businesses signed up for the app before officially launching. Beyond getting vendors to list their surplus stock on the app, Too Good To Go representatives aid in marketing and educating the stores on how to use the app.

“We want to make sure that we are setting those businesses up for success and ensuring that consumers know about it through PR, through the stories we share. That businesses do feel as though there’s a value to them for being on the app,” Soteroff explains.

Though the surprise bags are typically priced at about one-third their retail values, vendors can still bring in business through these mystery deals. Roughly 8,500 unique users in Houston have made purchases through the app since it debuted, preventing over 28,000 meals from ending up in landfills.

“For us to ensure that we are able to reduce food waste, we do have to be going into markets like Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, and Austin–in those larger cities where there’s a larger concentration of stores,” Soteroff shares.

According to the Too Good To Go website, every surprise bag purchased prevents the “CO2e emission of charging one smartphone fully 422 times,” and in 2022 the company averted nearly 200,000 tons of CO2e emissions through its community partnerships.

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Houston health care institutions receive $22M to attract top recruits

coming to Hou

Houston’s Baylor College of Medicine has received a total of $12 million in grants from the Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas to attract two prominent researchers.

The two grants, which are $6 million each, are earmarked for recruitment of Thomas Milner and Radek Skoda. The Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) announced the grants May 14.

Milner, an expert in photomedicine for surgery and diagnostics, is a professor of surgery and biomedical engineering at the Beckman Laser Institute & Medical Clinic at the University of California, Irvine and the university’s Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center

In 2013, Milner was named Inventor of the Year by the University of Texas at Austin. At the time, he was a professor of biomedical engineering at UT. One of his major achievements is co-development of the MasSpec Pen, a handheld device that identifies cancerous tissue within 10 seconds during surgical procedures.

Skoda is a professor of molecular medicine in the Department of Biomedicine at the University of Basel and the University Hospital Basel, both in Switzerland. He specializes in developing treatments for myeloproliferative neoplasms, which are a group of blood diseases including leukemia.

Other recruitment grants provided by the institute to Houston-area organizations are:

  • $4 million for recruitment of Susan Bullman to the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. She was an assistant professor at Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, where she studied the connection between microbes and cancer.
  • $4 million for recruitment of Oren Rom to the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. Rom is an assistant professor of pathology and translational pathobiology at Louisiana State University Shreveport.
  • Nearly $2 million for recruitment of Lauren Hagler to conduct RNA cancer biology at Texas A&M University. She is a postdoctoral scholar in biochemistry at Stanford University.

The institute also awarded grants to five companies in the Houston area:

  • $4.7 million to 7 Hills Pharma for development of immunotherapies to treat cancer and prevent infectious diseases.
  • $4.5 million to Indapta Therapeutics for the Phase 1 trial of a cell therapy for treatment of multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
  • $2.75 million to Bectas Therapeutics for development of antibodies and biomarkers to overcome a type of resistance T-cell checkpoint therapy.
  • $2.69 million to MS Pen Technologies for development of technology that differentiates between normal tissue and cancerous tissue during surgery.
  • $2.58 million to Crossbridge Bio for development of an antibody-drug combination to treat certain solid tumors.

Houston startup secures $10M to expand into rural communities

ready to grow

A Houston company that is working on a value-based model for primary care has fresh funding to support its mission.

Hamilton Health Box announced the completion of a $10 million series A funding round led by 1588 Ventures with participation from Memorial Hermann Health System, Impact Ventures by Johnson & Johnson Foundation, Texas Medical Center Venture Fund, and the Sullivan Brothers.

The company, founded in 2019 by Dr. Toby R. Hamilton, will use the funding to fuel its expansion into rural areas to help assist those living in Health Professional Shortage Areas, or HPSAs.

The company has pioneered a proprietary “small footprint primary care delivery model,” which is considered suitable for rural markets, employer worksites, office buildings, schools, and university campuses. The cost-effective microclinics are “prefabricated facilities” that are designed for primary care services, and employ a hybrid in-person and telemedicine care approach.

Hamilton began his career as a physician before founding Emerus Holdings, which is a micro-hospital system in the Houston area that later moved to private equity.

The recently acquired funding will help expedite the high-touch care model to 98 million Americans in HPSAs, which was a goal for when the company was established during the Covid-19 pandemic. HHB has made partnerships with Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) to provide primary care services both at existing FQHC centers and through new sites in rural areas.

"Hamilton Health Box that was designed to deliver the lowest possible price of primary and preventative care," Hamilton said in a previous interview with Innovation Map. "We built that to be able to take that care to the jobsite and meet the customer where they are at."