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New climate tech accelerator announced, Ion's new exec, and more trending Houston innovation news

Rice announced a new partnership — and other top Houston innovation news from the week. Photo courtesy of Rice University

Editor's note:It's Friday, so let's roundup the top Houston innovation news from the past few days. Trending Houston tech and startup articles on InnovationMap included a big announcement from Rice University, innovators to know, and more.

Rice University launches $12.5M climate tech accelerator

Rice University announced a new climate tech initiative backed by Woodside Energy. Photo by Natalie Harms/InnovationMap

Rice University has announced its latest initiative to advance clean energy technology into commercialization with a new partnership with a global energy company.

Woodside Energy, headquartered in Australia with its global operations in Houston following its 2022 acquisition of BHP Group, has committed $12.5 million over the next five years to create the Woodside Rice Decarbonization Accelerator.

"The goal of the accelerator is to fast track the commercialization of innovative decarbonization technologies created in Rice labs," Rice University President Reginald DesRoches says to a crowd at the Ion at the initiative's announcement. "These technologies have the potential to make better batteries, transitistors, and other critical materials for energy technologies. In addition, the accelerator will work on manufacturing these high-value products from captured and converted carbon dioxide and methane." Continue reading.

Driverless semi-truck tech to launch between Houston and Dallas later this year

Kodiak Robotics unveiled its driverless semi-truck technology this month, which is expected to hit Texas roads later this year. Photo via Kodiak

Kodiak Robotics is scaling up its driverless semi truck, which will initially carry cargo on a Houston-to-Dallas route that’s set to formally launch this year.

The most recent version of Kodiak’s truck debuted in Las Vegas at the recent 2024 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Mountain View, California-based Kodiak Robotics says the truck is equipped with safety-critical software and hardware (including braking, steering and sensors).

Kodiak’s sixth-generation truck builds on the company’s five years of real-world testing, which includes carrying 5,000 loads over more than 2.5 million miles. Continue reading.

Houston innovation leader named to new role to drive strategy, programming

Brad Burke has been named associate vice president for industry and new ventures within Rice University's Office of Innovation. Photo by Jeff Fitlow/Rice University

A longtime Houston innovation leader has added a new title to his role at Rice University.

Brad Burke, who has served as executive director of the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship for 20 years, has been named associate vice president for industry and new ventures, the university announced this week. He will take on this new role within the Office of Innovation, as well as continue leading the Rice Alliance.

Rice's Office of Innovation, which was established in 2022 with the appointment of Chief Innovation Officer and Vice President for Innovation Paul Cherukuri, exists to support new and innovative initiatives and technologies from the Rice community with mentorship, funding, pilots, and more. Continue reading.

Houston extended reality company pivots, secures NASA contract

A Houston company's technology will help space operators predict coronal mass ejections. Photo via

Following a rebrand, a Houston tech startup has secured a NASA contract for space weather technology.

Dauntless XR received a contract from NASA to advance its spatial computing platform, Aura. The technology uses satellite sensor data and mixed reality to help space operators with weather forecasting, including solar activity.

The company, which was founded by Lori-Lee Elliott as Future Sight AR in 2018 to focus on industrial construction, made a pivot to the space and defense industries and rebranded last year. Continue reading.

3 Houston innovators to know this week

This week's roundup of Houston innovators includes Sunny Zhang of TrueLeap, Jim Dillon of BiVACOR, and Livia Schiavinato Eberlin of Baylor College of Medicine. Photos courtesy

Each week, I'm introducing you to three Houston innovators to know — three individuals behind recent innovation and startup news stories in Houston as reported by InnovationMap. Learn more about them and their recent news below by clicking on each article. Continue reading.

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