what's trending

5 most popular innovation stories in Houston this week

This week's trending news stories include startups joining a cleantech incubator, a new deal for an energy transition company, and more. Photo via Getty Images

Editor's note:Another week has come and gone, and it's time to round up the top headlines from the past few days. Trending Houston tech and startup news on InnovationMap included innovators to know, startups making moves, Houston being named a fast-growing innovation ecosystem, and more.


3 Houston innovators to know this week

This week's roundup of Houston innovators includes Bill Snyder of Vivante Health, Kelly McCormick of UH, and Sean Hunt of Solugen. Courtesy photos

In this week's roundup of Houston innovators to know, I'm introducing you to three local innovators across industries — from health tech to synthetic biology — recently making headlines in Houston innovation. Click here to continue reading.

Houston cleantech incubator adds 3 startups in its latest cohort

Halliburton Labs has announced its next set of clean energy tech companies. Photo courtesy of Halliburton

Three climatetech companies will be joining Halliburton Labs, a Houston-based energy transition incubator.

Chemergy, EVA, and Novamera will be joining Halliburton Labs, the company announced last week. The three startups will receive technical support, access to Halliburton's global connections, and more from the program.

“We are excited to help accelerate three innovative companies that emerged from our recent Finalists Pitch Day,” says Dale Winger, managing director of Halliburton Labs, in a news release. “We will work closely with these founders and their teams to achieve strategic, operational, and financial milestones with the most efficient use of their time and capital." Click here to continue reading.

Houston cleantech company receives grant to harvest waste pressure in the U.K.

Revolution's tech produces green power for digital oilfield and pipeline initiatives through the recovery of excess natural gas pressure. Photo by Anton Petrus/Getty

The United Kingdom subsidiary of Houston-based cleantech startup Revolution Turbine Technologies has received a $200,000 grant from the U.K.’s Strategic Innovation Fund to help produce zero-emission electricity.

The project, led by Revolution Turbine Technologies (RTT) in tandem with regional utility Northern Gas Networks and British government agency Digital Catapult, will explore installation of RTT’s proprietary micro-turbines within the Northern Gas Networks’ natural gas distribution network. It’ll be the first time RTT’s technology has been introduced into the global market for natural gas distribution.

RTT’s U.K. subsidiary received the grant from the U.K.’s £450 million Strategic Innovation Fund. The fund backs projects that are designed to help U.K. energy systems reach net-zero targets.

RTT’s co-founder and CEO, Christopher Bean, says in a news release that the grant “will accelerate our development efforts and be instrumental in advancing commercialization of our technology.” Click here to continue reading.

Report finds Houston is 3rd fastest growing tech ecosystem

Houston Exponential released a new report on venture capital activity in the Bayou City. Sky Noir Photography by Bill Dickinson/Getty Images

In the startup world, small funding deals are a big deal in Houston.

A new Houston Exponential analysis based on data from PitchBook shows early-stage and angel rounds accounted for 151 venture capital deals under $5 million last year. Nearly two-thirds of those VC deals were less than $1 million.

Thanks to that robust activity, Houston now ranks as the third-fastest-growing tech ecosystem for early-stage companies in the country, according to the analysis.

Meanwhile, last year’s overall VC deal count exceeded 200 for the first time, “a harbinger of future growth potential as new company creation continues to explode,” the analysis says. Click here to continue reading.

Houston expert weighs in on marketing from an investor’s perspective

What should Houston startups know about marketing? Photo via Getty Images

Just what do investors want to see from a startup with regards to the company’s marketing? I recently spoke on this topic to a cohort of early-stage technology startup entrepreneurs at Softeq Venture Studio, an accelerator program that helps founders build investable technologies and businesses. Click here to continue reading.

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Building Houston

 
 

Kerri Smith of the Rice Alliance joins the Houston Innovators Podcast to discuss Rice's Clean Energy Accelerator. Photo courtesy of Rice

Kerri Smith knows accelerators. Through her over 18 years at Rice Alliance, she's been responsible for overseeing several and was on the founding leadership team of Houston's first energy tech startup accelerator, SURGE. After years of focusing you accelerating Rice University's student-focused program, Owl Spark, she's transitioned back into the energy tech space.

"I've worked with many types of founders. There's not one unique characteristic that everyone has," Smith says on the Houston Innovators Podcast. "Our goal is to help move them along and help them move the needle. At the end of the day, we want them to have a good experience and to meet their goals and objectives."

The Rice Alliance's Clean Energy Accelerator launched last summer with its inaugural cohort of 12 cleantech startups, which represented energy sectors from solar and wind innovations to hydrogen, geothermal, and more. Smith says the startups represented a wide range of stages and were from all over — only two companies were from Houston originally. The out-of-town companies were able to make critical partnerships in town and set up a presence and a home here.

"We were able to build a family-like culture among our group, and that was something that was wildly appreciative," Smith, who serves as executive director of the program, says.

Applications for Class 2 of CEA are open until May 31. While the program will offer the same access to mentorship and opportunities, the program will change slightly. CEA will focus on seed and series A-stage companies and will be a hybrid program. Throughout the 10 weeks, which begins in the fall instead of the summer this year, founders will visit Houston three times at the beginning, middle, and the end of the accelerator. Each startup will receive a grant to cover the expenses of the equity-free program.

CEA is just one part of a greater ecosystem of innovation under the umbrella of Rice University, which includes the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship, the Liu Idea Lab for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, The Ion Houston, Owl Spark, and more. All these entities also play into the greater Houston area's innovation ecosystem.

"Rice Alliance has a strong history of demonstrating collaboration with a number of organizations," Smith says. "I think one of the primary benefits that we have in these collaborative opportunities is to ensure that we are collectively building a capable and diverse pipeline of talent to solve for these problems and provide them with access to experiencing all of the benefits of our ecosystem."

With CEA specifically, some of these collaborations include working with Greentown Houston, which is just next door to the program's home at The Ion, and the Greater Houston Partnership's Houston Energy Transition Initiative.

"We're a cog in the wheel. We do really well with that. We play well with others – in ways that the founder has a good experience and can benefit," Smith says.

Smith shares more about what she's looking for in the second cohort of CEA on the podcast episode, as well as what she sees as Houston's role in the energy transition. Listen to the full interview below — or wherever you stream your podcasts — and subscribe for weekly episodes.

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