Changing the Future

Major energy conference returns to Rice University with invaluable networking opportunities

Photo by Natalie Harms

The 20th Annual Rice Alliance Energy Tech Venture Forum, which unites energy ventures with industry investors, is returning Thursday, September 21, at Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business.

For two decades, the Energy Tech Venture Forum — hosted by the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship — has served as the premier conference, bringing together energy industry leaders, venture capital investors, and promising energy and cleantech ventures to propel the future of energy.

Across interactive panels, keynotes speeches, and venture pitches, attendees can explore emerging energy sources, enhancements and efficiencies within existing energy resources, and advances in clean or renewable technologies — and, perhaps most importantly, learn where investors are contributing to the acceleration of these advancements.

More than 90 startup technology ventures commercializing energy transition innovations will participate and meet investors looking for disruptive energy technologies that can accelerate clean and renewable energy.

The full list of both presenting companies and pitching startup can be found here.

Keynote speakers include:

  • Christina Karapataki, partner at Breakthrough Energy Ventures, the venture capital fund cofounded by Bill Gates
  • Scott Nyquist, vice chairman at Houston Energy Transition Initiative, founded by the Greater Houston Partnership
  • Jeff Tillery, chief operating officer at Veriten, founded by Rice alumus Maynard Holt, formerly with Tudor Pickering Holt

The event also includes pitches from Rice Alliance’s Clean Energy Accelerator Class 3 Demo Day, plus the announcement of “Most Promising Company” chosen by the energy tech industry experts and participating investors.

You'll want to register now for this invaluable conference, but if you still need some convincing then check out the forum's agenda here.

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A View From HETI

HEXASpec was founded by Rice Ph.D. candidates Tianshu Zhai and Chen-Yang Lin, who are a part of Lilie’s 2024 Innovation Fellows program. Photo courtesy of Rice

A group of Rice University student-founded companies shared $100,000 of cash prizes at an annual startup competition — and three of those winning companies are focused on sustainable solutions.

Liu Idea Lab for Innovation and Entrepreneurship's H. Albert Napier Rice Launch Challenge, hosted by Rice earlier this month, named its winners for 2024. HEXASpec, a company that's created a new material to improve heat management for the semiconductor industry, won the top prize and $50,000 cash.

Founded by Rice Ph.D. candidates Tianshu Zhai and Chen-Yang Lin, who are a part of Lilie’s 2024 Innovation Fellows program, HEXASpec is improving efficiency and sustainability within the semiconductor industry, which usually consumes millions of gallons of water used to cool data centers. According to Rice's news release, HEXASpec's "next-generation chip packaging offer 20 times higher thermal conductivity and improved protection performance, cooling the chips faster and reducing the operational surface temperature."

A few other sustainability-focused startups won prizes, too. CoFlux Purification, a company that has a technology that breaks down PFAS using a novel absorbent for chemical-free water, won second place and $25,000, as well as the Audience Choice Award, which came with an additional $2,000.

Solidec, a company that's working on a platform to produce chemicals from captured carbon, and HEXASpec won Outstanding Achievement in Climate Solutions Prizes, which came with $1,000.

The NRLC, open to Rice students, is Lilie's hallmark event. Last year's winner was fashion tech startup, Goldie.

“We are the home of everything entrepreneurship, innovation and research commercialization for the entire Rice student, faculty and alumni communities,” Kyle Judah, executive director at Lilie, says in a news release. “We’re a place for you to immerse yourself in a problem you care about, to experiment, to try and fail and keep trying and trying and trying again amongst a community of fellow rebels, coloring outside the lines of convention."

This year, the competition started with 100 student venture teams before being whittled down to the final five at the championship. The program is supported by Lilie’s mentor team, Frank Liu and the Liu Family Foundation, Rice Business, Rice’s Office of Innovation, and other donors

“The heart and soul of what we’re doing to really take it to the next level with entrepreneurship here at Rice is this fantastic team,” Peter Rodriguez, dean of Rice Business, adds. “And they’re doing an outstanding job every year, reaching further, bringing in more students. My understanding is we had more than 100 teams submit applications. It’s an extraordinarily high number. It tells you a lot about what we have at Rice and what this team has been cooking and making happen here at Rice for a long, long time.”


This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

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