at the helm

Energy entrepreneur tapped to lead new Houston accelerator

Jeremy Pitts has been named the inaugural Houston managing director for Activate. Photo via LinkedIn

An organization that promotes early-stage innovation within the hardtech and energy space has named one of the founding entrepreneurs of Greentown Labs as its local Houston lead.

Activate named Jeremy Pitts as the Houston managing director this month. The nonprofit, which announced its new Houston program earlier this year, was founded in Berkeley, California, in 2015 to bridge the gap between the federal and public sectors to deploy capital and resources into the innovators creating transformative products.

For Activate Houston, the challenge is to focus on finding and supporting innovators within the energy sector.

"There are so many reasons to be excited about the energy transition and overall innovation ecosystem in Houston — the region's leadership in energy and desire to maintain that leadership through the energy transition, the many corporations leading the charge to be part of that change who are speaking with their actions and not just their words, the incredible access to talent, the region's diversity, the list goes on and on," Pitts tells InnovationMap.

"Houston is second to none when it comes to solving hard problems and is a region that knows how to build things and execute on projects at the scale needed to tackle the energy transition," he continues.

Pitts was one of the founders of Greentown Labs, and served in a leadership role for the organization between 2011 and 2015. He moved to Houston from Ohio to take the position, but has previously worked in the Bayou City's energy sector.

"Jeremy is the ideal inaugural managing director for Houston — having built a startup there, co-founding the Greentown Labs community, and demonstrating a strong track record of thoughtful mentorship," Aimee Rose, executive managing director of Activate, tells InnovationMap. "Jeremy will serve as the primary guide for our Houston fellows, helping them navigate the ups and downs facing first-time technical founders, and create and foster community among them. He will also plug Activate into the ecosystem to serve as a synergistic partner to all the other amazing initiatives across Texas."

The program finds local and regional early-stage founders — who have raised less than $2 million in funding — who are working on high-impact technology. Each cohort consists of 10 fellows that join the program for two years. The fellows receive a living stipend, connections from Activate's robust network of mentors, and access to a curriculum specific to the program.

Applications for the inaugural Houston cohort for 2024 will open September 15 and will close sometime in October.

Since its inception, Activate has supported 104 companies and around 146 entrepreneurs associated with those companies. With the addition of Houston, Activate will be able to back 50 individuals a year.

"As an impact-focused organization that focuses on turning talented scientists and technology leaders into product and business leaders, Activate enters the Houston ecosystem with no ulterior motives other than finding the right partners and being part of a community that enables scientists to solve hard problems and help make the world a better place," Pitts says. "I have a deep appreciation for all that Houston can offer having started and run a startup here previously and having experience in both traditional energy and climate tech."

Those interested in learning more can attend the event or find more information online.

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This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

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A View From HETI

The combined technology portfolios will accelerate the introduction of promising early-stage decarbonization technology. Photo via Getty Images

SLB announced its plans to combine its carbon capture business with Norway company, Aker Carbon Capture.

Upon completion of the transaction, which is expected to close by the end of the second quarter of this year, SLB will own 80 percent of the combined business and ACC will own 20 percent.

According to a SLB news release, the combined technology portfolios will accelerate the introduction of promising early-stage decarbonization technology.

“For CCUS to have the expected impact on supporting global net-zero ambitions, it will need to scale up 100-200 times in less than three decades,” Olivier Le Peuch, CEO of SLB, says in the release. “Crucial to this scale-up is the ability to lower capture costs, which often represent as much as 50-70% of the total spend of a CCUS project.

The International Energy Agency estimates that over one gigaton of CO2 every year year will need to be captured by 2030 — a figure that scales up to over six gigatons by 2050.

"We are excited to create this business with ACC to accelerate the deployment of carbon capture technologies that will shift the economics of carbon capture across high-emitting industrial sectors,” Le Peuch continues.

SLB is slated to pay NOK 4.12 billion — around $379.4 million — to own 80 percent of Aker Carbon Capture Holding AS, which owns ACC, per the news release, and SLB may also pay up to NOK 1.36 billion over the next three years, depending on business performance.

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