Here's your one-stop shop for innovation events in Houston for July. Photo via Getty Images

From networking meetups to educational symposiums, July is chock-full of happenings for Houston innovators.

Here's a roundup of events you won't want want to miss out on so mark your calendars and register accordingly.

Note: This post might be updated to add more events.


July 6 — City of Houston Panel Discussion: Sales

Join the City of Houston’s Office of Business Opportunity and SCORE Houston for a panel discussion designed for City of Houston vendors. This is the perfect opportunity to learn more about doing business with the City of Houston and how SCORE Houston can support you while running your business. During each monthly meeting get your business questions answered by industry and Office of Business Opportunity experts and SCORE Mentors. Gain the information and support you need to provide your products and services as a City of Houston vendor.

This event is Thursday, July 6, from 1 to 2 pm at Houston Community College. Click here to register.

July 7 — UH-DGH Center for Hydrocarbon Exploration Symposium

This informative open house event showcasing the new UH Seismic Data Center will focus heavily on presentations centered around hydrocarbon basin analysis as well as relevant policy shifts within India and the opportunities that have emerged as a result. The UH Seismic Data Center arose from a collaboration between the University of Houston and the DGH, the technical arm of the Indian Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.

The event is Friday, July 7, from 9 am to 12 pm at the University of Houston Technology Bridge (Building 9, Room 135). Click here to register.

July 10 — Ion Open Accelerator: Monopolizing Your Industry Channel

In this workshop, Jared Nielsen who has participated in several startups that now dominate their respective industries, will provide insight into how small startups have grown to become global monopolies in a very short period of time. Seeing a global domination market strategy executed from the inside may give your own startup insights and techniques that you can use within your own supply chain for a truly dominant market position.

The event is Monday, July 10, from 10 am to 12 pm at the Ion. Click here to register.


July 11 — Leaders Who Lunch

Connect with influential community organizers, leaders, change makers, and likeminded C-suite executives during a 3-course family style lunch. Admission and cost of the meal is $75.

The event is Tuesday, July 11, from 11 am to 12 pm at Weights and Measures. Click here to register.

July 13 — Texas Medical Center Veterans Committee Hiring Event

TMC is hosting a career workshop for veterans interested in breaking into the healthcare field. Attendees will have the chance to network with recruiters, learn about job openings, and potentially even secure an interview on the spot so be sure to bring copies of your resume and dress to impress.

The agenda:

10:00 - 11:00 am - Registration/ Networking

11:00 - 11:30 am - Career Readiness: Resume & Interview Preparation

11:30 am - 12:00 pm - Career Branding: Social Media & Networking

12:00 pm - 12:20 pm - Lunch (provided)

12:20 pm - 1:00 pm - ERG Panel Discussion: Connecting with our Veteran Communities

1:00 pm - 2:00 pm - Networking/ Closing Hour

This event is Thursday, July 13, from 10 am to 2 pm at TMC Innovation Factory (2450 Holcombe Blvd Suite X). Click here to register.

July 13 — GROW Community Meeting

Discuss green economy resources & opportunities for disadvantaged groups to engage in the energy transition and climate action.

The agenda:

11 - 11:15 am - Welcome and Introductions

11:15 - 11:30 am - GROW Overview

11: 30 - 11:45 am - GROW Updates

11:45 am - 12 pm - Funding & Contract Opportunities

12 - 12:30 pm - Lunch

12:30 - 12:45 pm - Next steps: Community Benefits Survey, Cooperative Agreement, Letters of Support

12:45 - 1 pm - Attendee Announcements

1 PM - Closing

The event is Thursday, July 13, from 11 am to 1 pm at Hiram Clarke Multi-Service Center. Click here to register.

July 17 — Mingle Mondays Med & Health Tech

Head to this monthly mixer and get to know fellow members of Houston’s Med & Health Tech community. All who are interested in Med & Health Tech, including Med & HealthTech entrepreneurs, thought leaders, investors, healthcare professionals, and community members wanting to share their Med & Health Tech knowledge are welcome.

This event is Monday, July 17, from 6 to 7 pm at the Ion. Click here to register.

July 17 — The State of Latino Entrepreneurship Reception/Networking

The Latino Business Action Network presents “The State of Latino Entrepreneurship Reception.” Network with Latino professionals, business owners, and supporters. This is a welcoming environment for connecting with your peers, LBAN, local chambers, and other organizations. At the same time, you will learn the latest on Latino entrepreneurship from LBAN, a nationally recognized expert in the field. LBAN is a Silicon Valley-based nonprofit that partners with Stanford to research and empower Latino entrepreneurship across the U.S.

This event is Monday, July 17, from 4 to 7 pm at the Ion. Click here to register.

July 18 — Heated Dialogues Unleashed: Navigating Difficult Conversations

In this discussion, leadership veterans Debbie Danon and Michele Price will unravel the secrets of mastering difficult conversations for start-ups. For new founders looking to gain practical insights to navigate these challenges this conference will provide you with communication tools to approach these obstacles.

This event is Tuesday, July 18, from 11:30 am to 12:15 pm, virtually . Click here to register.

July 19 — Industrial Security Roadshow: Learn, Empower, & Connect

At the Industrial Security Roadshow attendees will gain insights into emerging threats, learn innovative defense techniques, and discover cutting-edge technologies to bolster your security procedures. A curated lineup of speakers will share their expertise, providing practical guidance and actionable steps to fortify your systems against cyber threats.

This event is Wednesday, July 19, from 10:30 am to 1 pm at 24285 Katy Fwy suite 300. Click here to register.

July 20 — Female Founders and Funders Meetup

Sponsored by Softeq Venture Studio and Sesh Coworking, this monthly meetup occurs every third Thursday and is ideal for female founders and funders in the Houston area who are looking to network and empower each other.

This event is Thursday, July 20, from 9 to 10 am at Sesh Coworking. Click here to register.

July 24 — Ion Open Accelerator: Getting the Highest ROI from Conferences and Events

In this workshop speaker Staccey Wright-Turner, a Houston based ROI strategist, will discuss how to maximize your time at and investment in conferences and events for a well-rounded marketing campaign.

These are the topics you can expect to be covered:

  • Whether you should do events, and which ones you should do
  • How best to invest your marketing dollars
  • Setting your objectives for events and conferences - yes, there is more than just "getting leads" - don't miss out on important revenue
  • Preparing in advance to get the most out of your event
  • Knowing how to approach attendees and get meetings booked
  • Follow through and evaluate the ROI on the events
  • Training sales staff for event-and-conference best practices
This event is Monday, July 24, from 10 am to 12 pm at the Ion. Click here to register.

July 27 —  Summer Sizzle Happy Hour with Dell for Startups

Kick off the end of a warm summer in The Cannon West Houston Kitchen with a Happy Hour, sponsored by Dell for Startups and take advantage of an opportunity to learn more about the upcoming Houston Innovation Summit in October.

This event is Thursday, July 27, from 4:30 to 6:30 pm at The Cannon. Click here to register.

July 28 - July 30 — Melanin Minds Mental Health Conference

Melanin Minds is taking over Big Brothers Big Sisters for a three day weekend of workshops, panels, & family-friendly wellness. All workshops will be centering BIPOC communities & featuring therapists, counselors, and practitioners of color. Admission prices vary depending on the level of access you want to the conference and when you register, discounted tickets for students are available up to year six of grad school ($20).

The agenda:

Friday 7/28 — Healthy Eating On The Go • Thriving Through Stigmas & Adversity • Perfectionism • Boundaries • Finances • Work-Life Harmony • 7 Types of Rest • Mindful Leadership

Saturday 7/29 — Building Mental Wealth • Finding Your Way to YOU • Nutrition As A Foundation for Healing • Yoga & Meditation • Community Talk Circle • Humor & Laughter • Reading the Cues • Relationships & Social Media • Wellness Practices & Routines

Sunday 7/30 — Advocating For Your Child • Goals Through Resilience & Stress • The Art of Self Expression • Financial Mental Health • Yoga For Youth • Big Brother Big Sister Matches Panel • Complimentary Self Care Services

This event starts Friday, July 28, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Big Brothers Big Sisters. Click here to register.

CellChorus, a biotech startup operating out of the University of Houston Technology Bridge, has secured fresh funding. Photo via Getty Images

Houston biotech startup secures $2.3M grant

cha-ching

They say it’s all in the timing. For CellChorus, it’s all in the TIMING. That’s Time-lapse Imaging Microscopy In Nanowell Grids. TIMING is a visual AI program that evaluates cell activation, killing and movement, which allows scientists to better understand how cells function.

The technology is important to the development of novel therapies in the realms of oncology, infectious diseases, and countless other disorders and diseases. By allowing scientists to observe those maladies at their roots, it will enable them to create, and ultimately deliver new medications and other therapies faster, at lower cost, and with a higher success rate.

CellChorus is a spinoff of the Single Cell Lab at the University of Houston. Part of UH’s Technology Bridge, CEO Daniel Meyer connected with co-founder and leader of Single Cell Lab, Navin Varadarajan, through co-founder Laurence Cooper.

“The company had been established, but there were limited operations,” recalls Meyer during a phone call with InnovationMap.

That was the fall of 2020. Now, the team has just announced a $2.3 million SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) Fast-Track grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.

“This funding will support development of a product offering that builds on the success of our early access laboratory,” Cooper said in a press release. “As the next frontier of cellular analysis, dynamic single-cell analysis will increase the impact that immunotherapies have in improving the lives of patients.”

Meyer is based in the Bay Area, but the rest of the team is in Houston. Meyer has a proven track record as an investor and early stage entrepreneur in life sciences companies, including work as COO of Genospace, which was acquired by HCA Healthcare.

Meyer says that what attracted him to CellChorus was a combination of a clear need for the technology and the fact that it was “very well validated.“

“Developers of immunotherapies need better functional data earlier so that they can develop and deliver better therapies,” he explains.

Another aspect of its appeal was the fact that more than 10 publications featured data from the TIMING platform.

“We’ve had both large and small biopharmas publish data,” says Meyer. “That’s important as well because it shows there’s applicability in both nonprofit and for-profit research.”

Though Meyer himself doesn’t currently live in Houston, he recognizes its importance to CellChorus. He says that it can be difficult for an early stage company to find appropriate lab space, so Technology Bridge was of exceptional importance for CellChorus. Since opening the lab a year and a half ago, Varadarajan and his team have been busy.

“Example projects we have completed include understanding mechanism of action for cell therapy products, selecting lead candidates for T cell engagers, identifying biomarkers of response to cell therapies, and quantifying potency and viability for cell therapy manufacturing technologies,” says Meyer.

And now, CellChorus is collaborating with leaders in the industry.

“These include top-25 biopharmaceutical companies and promising venture-backed biotechnology companies, as well as leading not-for-profit research institutions,” says Meyer in a press release. It’s clear that the TIMING is right for CellChorus to excel.

A remote workforce has a lot to offer Houston startups, according to the University of Houston. Miguel Tovar/University of Houston

Why Houston startups should consider a remote workforce

Houston voices

There are myriad reasons why it behooves a startup to hire remote workers. This article takes a look at the benefits of expanding your hiring pool.

Remote work by the numbers

According to the State of Remote Work 2017 report, over 60 percent of engineers working in product development work remotely about once a week. That’s 20 percent more than average. The report also sheds light on why startup settings are particularly ideal for working remotely.

The report found that small businesses are twice as likely to hire remote employees as bigger, more corporately structured companies. Startups have an advantage because of their penchant for innovation, their hiring needs, and their willingness to be flexible.

Here are three reasons why startups are idea for working remotely.

Remote work maximizes your chances for acquiring great talent. Once you remove geographical boundaries from your talent search, you will see a wider range of talent from which to cull. Chew on this: what if your ideal lead engineer is in Boise, Idaho, rather than Houston, TX where your startup is based? Removing those geographic limitations means you can hire this person!

The State of Remote Work report showed that fully remote businesses hire employees 30 percent faster than big companies. It would be wise to take advantage of that and cut down on the time it takes for a hire to be processed.

Remote controlling workflow

Diversity of perspective. When you erase geographic limitations, you will get people from all over the country, and that means people with different views. People with different ways of looking at things. Different opinions and thought processes. In fact, study from the London Annual Business Survey discovered a connection between diversity and innovation where more culturally diverse teams were more likely to come up with new products than less diverse teams.

Buildingtrust. It’s quite common for employers to worry about a remote employee’s productivity. They’re hundreds, sometimes thousands, of miles away. It’s only natural to fear that they’re at the amusement park on the company dime. But is the problem really distance? Maybe the problem is the perceived lack of trust. Have faith in your hiring process and ultimate decision. Startup companies have too much to worry about to be concerned with babysitting an employee. Let your team’s work and results do the talking, and put your focus on other things.

Work-life balance. One of the biggest reasons an employee would want to work remotely to begin with is that it allows them to balance their work with their personal life. In fact, The State of Remote Work report revealed that over half of all remote workers chose remote work for precisely that reason. This helps your startup because happier workers work better, and that positivity trickles down and invigorates the whole.

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This article originally appeared on the University of Houston's The Big Idea. Rene Cantu was the writer and editor at UH Division of Research.

The UH Tech Bridge just received fresh federal funding to expand its space for innovation. Photo via UH.edu

University of Houston receives nearly $3M grant for Tech Bridge upgrades

funds granted

The University of Houston's Technology Bridge, which focuses on providing research and development space to UH-affiliated startups and entrepreneurs, has received funding to work on some upgrades.

UH received $2.875 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development through a Community Project Funding award was included in an appropriations bill by U.S. Rep. Sylvia Garcia, who represents the region where the Tech Bridge resides.

“Congresswoman Garcia was instrumental in making this funding a reality and we are incredibly grateful for her support and for promoting the innovation ecosystem in the Houston region,” says University of Houston President Renu Khator in a news release. “The Technology Bridge is a growing community of innovators that supports the overall economic health of Houston while creating new opportunities in academia and industry."

Most of the grant will be put toward the UH Industry & International Innovation Hub, or UHI3, a rising center that will provide space for industry partner engagement, an investor and mentoring studio, startup space, training rooms, and innovation event space. The center will also have satellite office for UH’s Small Business Development Center.

The rest of the funding — $475,000 of the grant — will establish The Deck Innovation & Coworking Center, which will include eight new private offices and mail lockers for startups. According to UH, the project is expected to increase capacity by more than 20 companies.

“I am proud to have secured these funds for the University of Houston Technology Bridge. Through this investment, our community will grow stronger, and our economy will be bolstered,” says Rep. Garcia in the release. “Engagement between universities and industry is a priority as we prepare our students to be the workforce of tomorrow in a rapidly evolving world.

"The University of Houston is a world-class institution deserving of our full support, and these federal dollars are proof of that," she continues. "I am proud to represent so many UH students and faculty in Congress and will always fight to get them the resources they need to be on the cutting edge of innovation.”

Currently, the 15-building Tech Bridge and its 31,000 square feet of incubator space houses more than 20 small companies and startups that provide internship and learning opportunities for UH students, along with several federally funded research centers and institutes. The new funding will allow for the Tech Bridge to expand its impact.

“This funding will result in stronger academic and external partnerships, promote key, nationally relevant research and strengthen industry connections for our students,” says Ramanan Krishnamoorti, vice president of energy and innovation at UH. “But most importantly, it will provide an economic catalyst for startups and small businesses in the underserved communities located near the University of Houston.”

The Chancellor's Technology Bridging Fund will provide grants to UH faculty to help them bring their research and ideas into reality. Natalie Harms/InnovationMap

UH launches $2 million fund for faculty innovators to help them bring their ideas to the market

Funding the faculty

The University of Houston Technology Bridge exists to help transition university research and ideas into the marketplace, and now the UH System has gone one step further to aid in that transition process.

UH has announced a $2 million fund for faculty inventors who then could use the grants — estimated to range between $25,000 to $75,000 — to bring their invention to the commercialization stage. The fund, called the Chancellor's Technology Bridging Fund, was revealed on July 18.

"University faculty are working to solve some of the most critical problems of the day, from energy and the environment to medicine," says Renu Khator, chancellor of the UH System and president of UH, in a release. "It often requires an additional boost to get technologies from the lab to the commercial arena, and this fund is designed to help our faculty take that leap."

According to the release, UH officials plan to give out anywhere from four to 10 grants each year for the next five years.

The grants are intended to aid in the prototyping or product testing process, says Tom Campbell, executive director of the Office of Technology Transfer and Innovation in the UH Division of Research. He adds that usually that ideas in that stage of growth aren't usually granted basic research funding.

"The Technology Bridging Fund will fill a gap. It's really difficult to find funding at this early stage of development, and as a consequence, a lot of innovative concepts sit on the shelf," Campbell says in the release.

The fund directly aligns with the institution's goal of taking these UH-originated ideas, companies, and technologies and introducing them to the world, where they can be used by other companies.

"It's a way to de-risk these technologies and attract external interest," Campbell says in the release. "We want to move people and ideas closer to the market. Having access to this type of funding to do that can be extremely valuable."

Last year, UH transitioned its Energy Research Park into the Technology Bridge to better facilitate the growth for its innovators and research. The organization also works to bring in corporations that are looking to expand in Houston, and, earlier this year, two organizations set up shop in the Tech Bridge.

Earlier this year, a new ranking, new ranking, published by the National Academy of Inventors and the Intellectual Property Owners Association, puts UH at No. 88 among the world's top 100 universities for patent activity in 2018. And, according to Campbell, UH will continue this patent growth.

"As the UH research portfolio grows and the medical school starts up, we would continue to anticipate a strong IP portfolio going forward for UH," Campbell tells InnovationMap in a previous article.

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Houston cardiac health startup raises $43 million series B to grow AI-backed platform

money moves

A Houston-based tech company that has a product line of software solutions for cardiac health has raised funding.

Octagos Health, the parent company of Atlas AI — a software platform for cardiac devices like pacemakers, defibrillators, ambulatory monitors and consumer wearables — has announced a $43 million series B raise that will bring their technology to many more hearts.

Morgan Stanley Investment Capital led the investment, which also included funds from Mucker Capital and other continuing strategic investors. The goal of the raise is to supply funds to accelerate Atlas AI’s growth across the United States and to expand into other areas of care, including ambulatory monitors, consumer wearables, and sleep.

"This investment will enable us to accelerate enhancements to our platform, in addition to scaling our commercial team and operations. We are currently the only company that helps cardiology practices migrate their historical data from legacy software providers and fully integrates with any EHR (exertion heart rate) system. We do this while enabling customized reporting supported by patient and practice decision-support analytics," says Eric Olsen, COO of Octagos Health, in a press release.

Octagos Health was founded by a team of healthcare pros including CEO Shanti Bansal, a cardiologist and founder of Houston Heart Rhythm, an atrial fibrillation center. The goal was to find a new way to deal with the massive amount of data that clinicians encounter each day in a way that combines software and the work of human doctors.

According to the Octagos Health website, “Our solution allows clinicians to focus on other ways of delivering meaningful healthcare and more efficiently manage their remotely monitored patients.”

It works thanks to customizable reporting features that allow patients’ healthcare teams to get help while monitoring them, but to do it precisely as they would if they were crunching numbers themselves.

"We are excited to partner with Octagos Health and support their vision of transforming cardiac care," says Melissa Daniels, managing director of Morgan Stanley Expansion Capital. "Octagos Health has demonstrated exceptional growth and innovation in a critical area of healthcare. We believe their platform and vertically integrated software and services significantly improve patient care and streamline cardiac monitoring processes for healthcare providers."

Will Hsu, co-founder and partner of Mucker Capital, agrees. “Octagos Health is poised for scale – industry leading gross margins, a very sticky product that doctors and clinical staff love, and a market ready for disruption with artificial intelligence. This is the new wave for diagnostic care,” he says. And with this raise, it will be available to even more clinicians and patients across the country.

Houston biotech company expands leadership as it commercializes sustainable products

joining the team

Houston-based biotech company Cemvita recently tapped two executives to help commercialize its sustainable fuel made from carbon waste.

Nádia Skorupa Parachin came aboard as vice president of industrial biotechnology, and Phil Garcia was promoted to vice president of commercialization.

Parachin most recently oversaw several projects at Boston-based biotech company Ginkjo Bioworks. She previously co-founded Brazilian biotech startup Integra Bioprocessos.

Parachin will lead the Cemvita team that’s developing technology for production of bio-manufactured oil.

“It’s a fantastic moment, as we’re poised to take our prototyping to the next level, and all under the innovative direction of our co-founder Tara Karimi,” Parachin says in a news release. “We will be bringing something truly remarkable to market and ensuring it’s cost-effective.”

Moji Karimi, co-founder and CEO of Cemvita, says the hiring of Parachin represents “the natural next step” toward commercializing the startup’s carbon-to-oil process.

“Her background prepared her to bring the best out of the scientists at the inflection point of commercialization — really bringing things to life,” says Moji Karimi, Tara’s brother.

Parachin joins Garcia on Cemvita’s executive team.

Before being promoted to vice president of commercialization, Garcia was the startup’s commercial director and business development manager. He has a background in engineering and business development.

Founded in 2017, Cemvita recently announced a breakthrough that enables production of large quantities of oil derived from carbon waste.

In 2023, United Airlines agreed to buy up to one billion gallons of sustainable aviation fuel from Cemvita’s first full-scale plant over the course of 20 years.

Cemvita’s investors include the UAV Sustainable Flight Fund, an investment arm of Chicago-based United; Oxy Low Carbon Ventures, an investment arm of Houston-based energy company Occidental Petroleum; and Japanese equipment and machinery manufacturer Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

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This article originally ran on EnergyCapital.

3 Houston innovators to know this week

who's who

Editor's note: Every week, I introduce you to a handful of Houston innovators to know recently making headlines with news of innovative technology, investment activity, and more. This week's batch includes a logistics startup founder, a marketing expert, and a solar energy innovator.

Matthew Costello, CEO and co-founder of Voyager Portal

Houston logistics SaaS innovator is making waves with its expanded maritime shipping platform. Photo courtesy of Voyager

For several years now, Matthew Costello has been navigating the maritime shipping industry looking for problems to solve for customers with his company, Voyager Portal.

Initially, that meant designing a software platform to enhance communications and organization of the many massive and intricate global shipments happening every day. Founded in 2018 by Costello and COO Bret Smart, Voyager Portal became a integral tool for the industry that helps users manage the full lifecycle of their voyages — from planning to delivery.

"The software landscape has changed tremendously in the maritime space. Back in 2018, we were one of a small handful of technology startups in this space," Costello, who serves as CEO of Voyager, says on the Houston Innovators Podcast. "Now that's changed. ... There's really a huge wave of innovation happening in maritime right now." Read more.

Arielle Rogg, principal and founder of Rogg Enterprises

Arielle Rogg writes in a guest column for InnovationMap about AI in the workforce. Photo via LinkedIn

Arielle Rogg isn't worried about artificial intelligence coming for her job. In fact, she has three reasons why, and she outlines them in a guest column for InnovationMap.

"The advent of AI pushes us humans to acquire new skills and hone our existing abilities so we can work alongside these evolving technologies in a collaborative fashion. AI augments human capabilities rather than replacing us. I believe it will help our society embrace lifelong learning, creating new industries and jobs that have never existed before," she writes in the piece. Read more.

Nathan Childress, founder of Solar Slice

Solar Slice Founder Nathan Childress says his new venture offers a fulfilling way to encourage and promote solar energy and a greener planet. Photo via LinkedIn

Nuclear engineer and entrepreneur Nathan Childress wants consumers to capture their own ray of sunlight to brighten the prospect of making clean energy a bigger part of the power grid. That's why he founded Solar Slice. The new venture offers a fulfilling way to encourage and promote solar energy and a greener planet.

Although trained in nuclear power plant design, solar power drew his interest as a cheaper and more accessible alternative, and Childress tells InnovationMap that he thinks that the transition to cleaner energy, in Texas especially, needs to step up.

Recent studies show that 80 to 90 percent of the money invested into fighting climate change “aren’t going to things that people actually consider helpful,” Childress says, adding that “they’re more just projects that sound good, that are not actually taking any action." Read more.