5 most popular innovation stories in Houston this week
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 new hires at Houston startups, photos from the InnovationMap Awards, startups with fresh funding, and more.
3 Houston startups make strategic C-suite hires
Optellum, Liongard, and Cart.com have hired new members to their executive teams. Photos courtesy
A handful of Houston tech startups have recently announced new appointments to their C-suites. A med tech company with its national headquarters in Houston has a new leader, a Houston software has a new exec focused on strategy, and a e-commerce company has a new chief revenue officer. Click here to continue reading.
Photos: InnovationMap shares scenes from its inaugural awards celebration
Get a sneak peek into the inaugural InnovationMap Awards presented by Techwave. Photo by Queen's Photoworks
Last week, the inaugural InnovationMap Awards presented by Techwave honored 28 companies across eight categories.
The hybrid event, which took place on September 8, was hosted at The Cannon West Houston as well as streamed online. The in-person attendees included finalists, judges, partners, and sponsors as well as their guests. Missed the event? We rounded up some moments in an episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast as well as in the slideshow. Click here to continue reading.
Houston chemicals company raises $357M, claims unicorn status
Solugen closed its Series C funding round at $357 million to grow its chemical products. Photo via Getty Images
Houston-based Solugen, a startup that specializes in combating carbon dioxide emitted during the production of chemicals, has hauled in $357 million in a Series C funding round. That amount eclipses the size of any Houston VC funding round this year or last year.
The Series C round lifts Solugen's pre-money valuation to $1.5 billion, according to the Axios news website. This gives Solugen "unicorn" status as a startup with a valuation of at least $1 billion.
Singapore-based GIC and Edinburgh, Scotland-based Baillie Gifford led the round, with participation from Temasek Holdings, affiliates of BlackRock, Carbon Direct Capital Management, Refactor Capital, and Fifty Years. Click here to continue reading.
Houston investor launches fund to fuel early-stage energy transition startups
Ahmad Atwan founded VC Fuel in Houston to fund the future of the energy transition. Photo courtesy of VC Fuel
When Ahmad Atwan decided he was going to launch a venture capital fund focused on early-stage energy transition startups, Houston was a no brainer. But while there are similar funds on each of the coasts, Atwan learned that VC Fuel's concept was going to be kind of niche for Houston.
"We're the only early stage climate tech or energy transition firm in Houston right now, which is really surprising," Atwan tells InnovationMap, explaining that the Bay Area is home to dozens of these funds and there are even more on the East Coast. "I'm hoping there'll be more (similar funds in Houston), but it's also kind of a nice position to be in."
Atwan shares more about VC Fuel and the $100 million fund, which he's still raising for while also investing in a few startups at the same time, in an interview with InnovationMap. He also discusses how his expertise as a former founder and former private equity investor with Morgan Stanley and BlackRock makes him an opportune value-add investor. Click here to continue reading.
Houston startup raises $1.75M round with support from local female-focused investor
Ampersand and Curate Capital are working together to move the needle on the future of work. Photo courtesy of Curate Capital
A Houston-based startup focused on upskilling young professionals has closed its latest round of funding with support from a local investor.
Ampersand Professionals Inc. raised $1.75 million in pre-seed funding led by Curate Capital, a Houston-based, female-focused venture capital fund. Carrie Colbert, Curate's founding and general partner, will join Ampersand's advisory board.
Ampersand — founded in 2020 by Allie Danziger with Co-Founders Kathrin Applebaum and Scott Greenberg — has developed a platform for businesses to easily implement internship programs. The program also upskills and educates young professionals, providing them career development and job skills training. Click here to continue reading.