A HEALTHY BOOST FOR THE COOGS

University of Houston scores $1 million from top Texas foundation

The new $1 million gift will target top recruits. Photo courtesy of University of Houston

One of the most prestigious foundations in Texas has made a generous gift to a local university's fledgling medical department. The M.D. Anderson Foundation has pledged $1 million to the University of Houston College of Medicine, UH announced.

The sizable gift is meant to establish the M.D. Anderson Foundation Endowed Professorship in Medicine, specifically to recruit a leader in health care to join the College of Medicine faculty, according to a press release.

The gift, matched one-to-one by an anonymous donor to create a $2 million endowment, aims to support the new medical school's mission to improve health and health care in underserved communities in Houston and across Texas.

This isn't the first time the M.D. Anderson Foundation has supported UH. The foundation has gifted more than $6 million to UH Libraries, UH Law Center, Hobby School of Public Affairs, and the College of Medicine.

"Innovation in health care requires a fresh approach and a willingness to break down traditional silos to collaborate with experts in other health disciplines such as pharmacy, engineering, law and even data sciences, said Dr. Stephen Spann, founding dean of the UH College of Medicine," in a statement.

"By harnessing the power of data analytics, we can fundamentally change the way we deliver higher quality and cost-effective care to more people. Thanks to the M.D. Anderson Foundation's generosity and vision, we will be able to recruit a new faculty member who can help us greatly to accomplish these goals."

As previously reported, UH received a $50 million gift from an anonymous donor in 2019 to establish the "$100 Million Challenge," meant to recruit top nationally recognized and awarded research faculty for chairs and professorships, designed to inspire another $50 million in investments from additional donors.

Now, the school hopes to utilize these funds to address what the school describes as a "critical primary care physician shortage, especially in low-income and minority communities lacking access to a regular source of care and have gaps in preventative care, which leads to higher rates of sickness, hospitalization, and death."

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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Building Houston

 
 

Dream Harvest picked up funding to open a 100,000-square-foot indoor farming facility in Houston. Photo courtesy of Dream Harvest

Houston-based Dream Harvest Farming Co., which specializes in sustainably growing produce, has landed a $50 million investment from Orion Energy Partners to open a 100,000-square-foot indoor farming facility in Houston. The facility will enable the company to dramatically ramp up its operations.

The new facility, which will be built in Southwest Houston, is scheduled for completion in January 2023. Dream Harvest’s existing 7,500-square-foot facility in Southwest Houston supplies 45 Whole Foods stores in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Arkansas, as well as Sweetgreen restaurants in Texas.

The company currently employs 25 people. With the addition of the 100,000-square-foot facility, Dream Harvest’s headcount will rise to 65.

Dream Harvest relies on wind-powered, year-round indoor vertical farming to generate 400 times the yield of an outdoor farm while using 95 percent less water and no pesticides.

“Because the vast majority of America’s produce is grown in California and has to be shipped over long distances, most of the country receives produce that is old, has a poor flavor profile, and a short shelf life — a major contributing factor to the more than 30 percent of fresh vegetables being discarded in the U.S. each year,” Dream Harvest says in a December 7 news release.

Zain Shauk, co-founder and CEO of Dream Harvest, says his company’s method for growing lettuce, baby greens, kale, mustards, herbs, collards, and cabbage helps cut down on food waste.

“Demand for our produce has far outpaced supply, an encouraging validation of our approach as well as positive news for our planet, which is facing the rising problem of food and resource waste,” Shauk says. “While we have the yields today to support our business, we are pleased to partner with Orion on this financing, which will enable us to greatly expand our production and increase access to our produce for many more consumers.”

Dream Harvest expects to expand distribution to more than 250 retail locations in 2022.

“Orion’s focus on sustainable infrastructure and deep experience in building large industrial facilities will be complementary to Dream Harvest’s impressive track record of being a reliable supplier to high-caliber customers by achieving consistent yields, food safety, and operational efficiencies … ,” says Nazar Massouh, co-managing partner and CEO of Orion Energy Partners, which has offices in Houston and New York City.

Other companies in the Orion Energy Partners portfolio include Houston-based Caliche Development Partners, Tomball-based Python Holdings, The Woodlands-based Evolution Well Services, Houston-based Produced Water Transfer, and Houston-based Tiger Rentals.

Zain Shauk is the co-founder and CEO of Dream Harvest. Photo courtesy of Dream Harvest

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