hou knew?

Energy transition startups to know, event not to miss, and more to be on your radar this week

This roundup of things to know this week is full of PSAs for the energy startup community. Photo courtesy of The Cannon

Editor's note: It's a new week — start it strong with three quick things to know in Houston's energy transition ecosystem. A new-to-Houston program is calling for applicants, the most promising energy tech businesses pitched here in Houston, and learn about an event not to miss this week.


Most-promising startups named at energy tech event

Ten companies from around the world were named as most promising. Photo courtesy of Rice

At Rice Alliance's annual Energy Tech Venture Forum, 10 startups were named most-promising by investors and experts — and one additional company jumped out to the audience.

"The selection process was both exhilarating and challenging given the incredible ideas we've seen today," says Jason Sidhu, director of information services business engagement at TC Energy, who announced the top companies. "I want to extend my gratitude to every company that participate din this year's Energy Tech Venture Forum. Your commitment to solving energy problems and pursuing ambitions ideas is truly commendable."

From circular economy solutions to hydrogen infrastructure, all 11 of the startups are ones to watch. Click here to find the full list.

Activate is looking for Houston applicants

Calling all hardtech innovators in Houston. Photo via Getty Images

Got an early-stage hardtech innovation? As of today, Houston innovators can apply for a new-to-Houston program that supports researchers on their entrepreneurial journeys. Activate opened the application period for its 2024 cohort, and the window closes October 17.

Applications are open across Activate's five programs. The two-year, hardtech-focused program was founded in Berkeley, California, in 2015 and expanded to Boston and New York before launching its virtual program, Activate Anywhere. Activate announced its expansion into Houston earlier this year, naming Jeremy Pitts as Houston managing director.

“Activate’s recruitment process is crucial, as it centers around finding scientists directly interested in solving urgent problems,” Pitts says. “Activate fellows are turning their technical breakthroughs into businesses that can help industries like manufacturing, energy, chemicals, computing, and agriculture, to meet their decarbonization and resiliency goals.” Click here to read more.

Chevron Technology Ventures hosting pitch competition

The Cannon and Chevron Technology Ventures are hosting a pitch competition. Photo courtesy of The Cannon

On September 28, Chevron Technology Ventures is hosting a pitch competition to identify novel technologies and innovation systems that stand to transform and improve facility-focused operational efficiencies at the Chevron Technology Ventures Pitch Competition . Six Houston companies will compete to win a tailored field trial opportunity with CTV experts, plus a six-month, complimentary, flexible-workspace membership at The Cannon.

The six companies pitching this week are:

  • Corrolytics
  • GuiseAI
  • OctoRD
  • Flite
  • Magic Asset
  • Pike Robotics

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A View From HETI

A View From UH

A Rice University professor studied the Earth's carbon cycle in the Rio Madre de Dios to shed light on current climate conditions. Photo courtesy of Mark Torres/Rice University

Carbon cycles through Earth, its inhabitants, and its atmosphere on a regular basis, but not much research has been done on that process and qualifying it — until now.

In a recent study of a river system extending from the Peruvian Andes to the Amazon floodplains, Rice University’s Mark Torres and collaborators from five institutions proved that that high rates of carbon breakdown persist from mountaintop to floodplain.

“The purpose of this research was to quantify the rate at which Earth naturally releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and find out whether this process varies across different geographic locations,” Torres says in a news release .

Torres published his findings in a study published in PNAS , explaining how they used rhenium — a silvery-gray, heavy transition metal — as a proxy for carbon. The research into the Earth’s natural, pre-anthropogenic carbon cycle stands to benefit humanity by providing valuable insight to current climate challenges.

“This research used a newly-developed technique pioneered by Robert Hilton and Mathieu Dellinger that relies on a trace element — rhenium — that’s incorporated in fossil organic matter,” Torres says. “As plankton die and sink to the bottom of the ocean, that dead carbon becomes chemically reactive in a way that adds rhenium to it.”

The research was done in the Rio Madre de Dios basin and supported by funding from a European Research Council Starting Grant, the European Union COFUND/Durham Junior Research Fellowship, and the National Science Foundation.

“I’m very excited about this tool,” Torres said. “Rice students have deployed this same method in our lab here, so now we can make this kind of measurement and apply it at other sites. In fact, as part of current research funded by the National Science Foundation, we are applying this technique in Southern California to learn how tectonics and climate influence the breakdown of fossil carbon.”

Torres also received a three-year grant from the Department of Energy to study soil for carbon storage earlier this year.

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