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Freshly funded startups, NASA-backed engine testing top this week's top Houston innovation stories

Venus Aerospace worked with NASA to test its tech — and other top Houston innovation news from the week. Photo courtesy of Venus Aerospace

Editor's note:Welcome back for another roundup of top Houston innovation news from the past few days. Trending Houston tech and startup articles on InnovationMap included recent startup funding rounds, two new hires, and more.

These 9 Houston startups start 2024 with fresh funding

Nine Houston startups ended 2023 with a fundraise. Photo via Getty Images

Houston startups ended 2023 with a flurry of funding news — from several seeds and series As to series C rounds and extensions.

Here are nine Houston startups that secured funding in the fourth quarter of last year, according to reporting by InnovationMap. Continue reading.

Houston rocket tech company partners with NASA on critical testing

Venus Aerospace has worked with NASA on testing its unique engine technology. Photo courtesy Venus Aerospace

A Houston-headquartered space tech company that's working on technology to enable hypersonic travel has announced a partnership with NASA to test its tech.

Venus Aerospace has partnered with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, on what is reportedly the longest sustained tests of a rotating detonation rocket engine, also known as an RDRE.

“Venus believes strongly in the performance step-change that RDREs bring for both hypersonic and space applications. The partnership with NASA has been key in maturing this new technology.” Andrew Duggleby, CTO and co-founder of Venus Aerospace. Continue reading.

Baylor scientist wins award for young chemists, scores $3M for groundbreaking cancer tech

Livia Schiavinato Eberlin was named the 2024 recipient of the Norman Hackerman Award in Chemical Research. Photo via bcm.edu

An associate professor of surgery at Baylor College of Medicine has won a prestigious award for young chemical scientists in the state and secured $3 million in funding to further develop her technology.

Livia Schiavinato Eberlin was named the 2024 recipient of the Norman Hackerman Award in Chemical Research in December. The award was established by the Houston-based Welch Foundation and recognizes the accomplishments of chemical scientists in Texas who are early in their careers. Eberlin will be granted $100,000 for this honor.

Eberlin runs the Eberlin Lab for Medical Mass Spectrometry at BCM and is known for her groundbreaking work in the application of mass spectrometry technologies, which are changing how physicians treat cancer and analyze tissues.

In the same week, Baylor College of Medicine announced that the Eberlin Lab received $3 million in funding from The Marcus Foundation to further develop the MasSpec Pen technology in breast cancer surgeries. Eberlin developed the tool in 2016 while she was serving as an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Austin. The MasSpec Pen is a device for detecting cancer directly on tissues. Continue reading.

Chicago life science innovation firm names Houston leader

Portal Innovations announced that Monique Knighten as an executive director in Houston. Photo via LinkedIn

After announcing its expansion into Houston last summer and opening its office in a new Texas Medical Center building, Portal Innovations has named its Houston leader.

Portal Innovations announced that Monique Knighten as an executive director in Houston in a LinkedIn post this week. She has over 15 years of experience in supporting research scientists and clinicians working to develop therapeutics in labs and clinics. According to her LinkedIn, she's served in the position since November.

Prior to her new role at Portal, Knighten worked as a manager level at Sartorius Stedim in Houston for five years. Before that role, she served as a technical sales consultant in Texas at Miltenyi Biotec, primarily in the immuno-oncology therapeutic market in the TMC. Continue reading.

Houston med device company names new CEO

Jim Dillon has been named CEO of BiVACOR. Photo courtesy of BiVACOR

Houston-based medical device company BiVACOR has brought aboard a new CEO.

Jim Dillon, a longtime executive in the medical device sector, has been hired to lead BiVACOR and join its board of directors. Dillon succeeds former heart surgeon Dr. Thomas Vassiliades, whose appointment as CEO was announced in January 2022.

“Jim’s leadership style, combined with his experience in building high-performance teams as well as expertise in the heart failure field, makes him the ideal person to lead BiVACOR,” Raymond Cohen, chairman of BiVACOR, says in a news release. Continue reading.

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