quick catch up

3 things to know this week in Houston's energy transition ecosystem

Here's what you need yo know this week. Photo via Getty Images

Editor's note: It's a new week — start it strong with three quick things to know in Houston's energy transition ecosystem: Baker Hughes makes headlines for new hydrogen tech and grants, three people to know in energy, and more.

Who to know

Last week, EnergyCapital had three stories introducing you to key players within the energy transition:

  • Patrick Sullivan, president and of Hawaii-based Oceanit, explained the impact the company is having on the energy transition in Houston and beyond. Read more.
  • Ken Gilmartin, CEO of Wood, shared his company’s strategic mission for the future and their recent wins in the energy space that are driving the energy transition forward. Read more.
  • Tania Ortiz Mena was named president of Sempra Infrastructure, which is based in Houston. Read more.

What to attend

Here are two events not to miss this month. Photo via Getty Images

Put these upcoming events on your radar.

  • October 10-11 — SPRINT Robotics World Conference and Exhibition will show that many robots are in use and that the industry is accelerating and starting to scale. Learn more.
  • October 30-31 — Fuze is a must-attend event for executives, investors, and founders serious about solving the energy crisis and boosting company efficiency. Learn more.

Baker Hughes makes moves

Missed these storied about Baker Hughes? Photo courtesy of Baker Hughes

As you might have seen, Baker Hughes had two pieces of news last week.

Houston-based energy technology company Baker Hughes is rolling out two new products — pressure sensors for the hydrogen sector.

“Hydrogen plays a key role in the transition to a more sustainable, lower-emissions future but also poses challenges for infrastructure and equipment due to hydrogen embrittlement,” Gordon Docherty says. Read more.

Additionally, the Baker Hughes Foundation revealed details on a $75,000 grant to Houston Minority Supplier Development Council, or HMSDC, and a $100,000 grant to Washington, D.C.-based WEConnect International. HMSDC supports economic growth of minority-owned businesses, and WEConnect International is focused on women-owned companies. Read more.

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A View From HETI

A Houston investor is looking to target high-potential hardtech startups within the energy transition with his new venture studio. Photo via Getty Images

The way Doug Lee looks at it, there are two areas within the energy transition attracting capital. With his new venture studio, he hopes to target an often overlooked area that's critical for driving forward net-zero goals.

Lee describes investment activity taking place in the digital and software world — early stage technology that's looking to make the industry smarter. But, on the other end of the spectrum, investment activity can be found on massive infrastructure projects.

While both areas need funding, Lee has started his new venture studio, Flathead Forge, to target early-stage hardtech technologies.

“We are really getting at the early stage companies that are trying to develop technologies at the intersection of legacy industries that we believe can become more sustainable and the energy transition — where we are going. It’s not an ‘if’ or ‘or’ — we believe these things intersect,” he tells EnergyCapital.

Specifically, Lee's expertise is within the water and industrial gas space. For around 15 years, he's made investments in this area, which he describes as crucial to the energy transition.

“Almost every energy transition technology that you can point to has some critical dependency on water or gas,” he says. “We believe that if we don’t solve for those things, the other projects won’t survive.”

Lee, and his brother, Dave, are evolving their family office, which was padded following their company, Exterran Corp., getting acquired by Enerflex in a $735 million deal completed in 2022, to adopt a venture studio model. They also sold off Azoto Energy, a Canadian oilfield nitrogen cryogenic services business, in December.

“We ourselves are going through a transition like our energy is going through a transition,” he says. “We are transitioning into a single family office into a venture studio. By doing so, we want to focus all of our access and resources into this focus.”

At this point, Flathead Forge has seven portfolio companies and around 15 corporations they are working with to identify their needs and potential opportunities. Lee says he's gearing up to secure a $100 million fund.

Flathead also has 40 advisers and mentors, which Lee calls sherpas — a nod to the Flathead Valley region in Montana, which inspired the firm's name.

“We’re going to help you carry up, we’re going to tie ourselves to the same rope as you, and if you fall off the mountain, we’re falling off with you,” Lee says of his hands-on approach, which he says sets Flathead apart from other studios.

Another thing that's differentiating Flathead Forge from its competition — it's dedication to giving back.

“We’ve set aside a quarter of our carried interest for scholarships and grants,” Lee says.

The funds will go to scholarships for future engineers interested in the energy transition, as well as grants for researchers studying high-potential technologies.

“We’re putting our own money where our mouth is,” Lee says of his thesis for Flathead Forge.

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