Guest column

Houston experts: Amplifying startup success is key in the energy transition era

The future energy system will be made up of countless new technologies that are actively being developed and scaled by climate and energy startups around the world. Photo via Getty Images

The global energy landscape is undergoing unprecedented challenges, influenced by post-pandemic work trends, geopolitical events like the Ukraine crisis, and the urgent need to reduce carbon emissions.

To achieve net-zero goals by 2050 and address climate change, a significant investment of $5 trillion by 2030 to USD $4.5 trillion by 2050 is required, necessitating a rapid transformation in traditional energy production, distribution, storage, and consumption methods.

High-tech energy and climate startups are pivotal for a robust economy, driving innovation, economic growth, and enhanced productivity. These startups foster healthy competition, attract crucial investments, and contribute significantly to job creation, outpacing larger companies in terms of employment generation. The U.S., a startup leader, generated over 3.7 million new jobs in 2022, showcasing the adaptability of startups to market trends. Globally, India, with the third-largest startup ecosystem, has contributed to the creation of 860,000 jobs since the stand-up of Startup India, emphasizing the importance of nurturing startups for sustained economic dynamism and innovation.

The future energy system will be made up of countless new technologies that are actively being developed and scaled by climate and energy startups around the world. These founding teams require access to scaling resources to accelerate and amplify their impact. Human talent, financial investment, demonstration opportunities and physical facilities are scaling resources that often require significant time and capital to build from scratch. This inefficient resource deployment can be particularly pronounced for hard-tech entrepreneurs. Startup community participants are organized around providing entrepreneurs with the needed access to these resources.

"Our mission is to enable hydrogen adoption by solving the key challenges in hydrogen storage and transportation," says Ayrton CEO, Natasha Kostenuk. "With Halliburton's strategic engineering and manufacturing support, we can scale our technology, execute pilot demonstrations and accelerate towards commercialization."

Halliburton Labs, is highlighted for its diverse team and the support it provides to global entrepreneurs in sustainable ventures. The future energy system is envisioned to be composed of numerous new technologies developed and scaled by climate and energy startups worldwide. These startups require access to scaling resources mentioned above, where Halliburton Labs serves as a conduit between established practitioners and startup entrepreneurs, accelerating the latter's impact by providing access to these critical resources.

Infosys launched the Infosys Innovation Fund to invest in entrepreneurial ventures around the world. Their investment philosophy is geared toward supporting innovation and purposeful solutions that are relevant to the strategic priorities of their clients. This differentiates the Infosys Innovation Fund from most other venture capital institutions, in that they have a strong motivation to create long term value for the end users of the technology and to the companies building these solutions.

Infosys actively collaborates with emerging technology startups through its Infosys Innovation Fund. Employing a Desirability, Feasibility, Viability (DFV) framework, Infosys strategically selects startups and offers advantages such as market, financial and technical scale. The Infosys Innovation Fund stands out for its motivation to create long-term value for end users and the companies building innovative solutions. Infosys also operates an incubation center called ‘Infosys Center for Emerging Technology Solutions’ (iCETS), focusing on NextGen services and offerings through collaboration with clients, startup partnerships, university collaborations, and more.

Startups working with Infosys benefit from accessing the company's know-how, market knowledge, and strategic advisors from the consulting arm of business, Infosys Consulting, who are focused on creating business value through technology innovation. The combined expertise guides entrepreneurs from idea to qualification, proof-of-concept, prototype, minimum viable product (MVP), scale, and continuous discovery and delivery.

Open innovation and trusted partnerships in the energy transition era

In the energy transition era, open innovation and trusted partnerships are becoming essential components of amplifying success for startups. Collaborative cultures and trusted partnerships with companies like Infosys and Halliburton Labs are crucial for supporting and scaling startups in this rapidly evolving energy landscape. This shift towards ‘open innovation’ reflects a broader trend in the industry toward collaboration and shared expertise as key drivers for success to accelerate and achieve global energy transition aspirations.

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Scott Gale is the executive director of Halliburton Labs. Jason Till is partner of Experience Transformation & Innovation at Infosys Consulting. Rima Thakkar is principal - Americas Energy Transition at Infosys Consulting. Laura Sacchi, Mandar Joshi, and Sonali Sakhare of Infosys Consulting contributed to this article.

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A View From HETI

Houston could have ranked higher on a global report of top cities in the world if it had a bit more business diversification. Photo via Getty Images

A new analysis positions the Energy Capital of the World as an economic dynamo, albeit a flawed one.

The recently released Oxford Economics Global Cities Index, which assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the world’s 1,000 largest cities, puts Houston at No. 25.

Houston ranks well for economics (No. 15) and human capital (No. 18), but ranks poorly for governance (No. 184), environment (No. 271), and quality of life (No. 298).

New York City appears at No. 1 on the index, followed by London; San Jose, California; Tokyo; and Paris. Dallas lands at No. 18 and Austin at No. 39.

In its Global Cities Index report, Oxford Economics says Houston’s status as “an international and vertically integrated hub for the oil and gas sector makes it an economic powerhouse. Most aspects of the industry — downstream, midstream, and upstream — are managed from here, including the major fuel refining and petrochemicals sectors.”

“And although the city has notable aerospace and logistics sectors and has diversified into other areas such as biomedical research and tech, its fortunes remain very much tied to oil and gas,” the report adds. “As such, its economic stability and growth lag other leading cities in the index.”

The report points out that Houston ranks highly in the human capital category thanks to the large number of corporate headquarters in the region. The Houston area is home to the headquarters of 26 Fortune 500 companies, including ExxonMobil, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Sysco.

Another contributor to Houston’s human capital ranking, the report says, is the presence of Rice University, the University of Houston and the Texas Medical Center.

“Despite this,” says the report, “it lacks the number of world-leading universities that other cities have, and only performs moderately in terms of the educational attainment of its residents.”

Slower-than-expected population growth and an aging population weaken Houston’s human capital score, the report says.

Meanwhile, Houston’s score for quality is life is hurt by a high level of income inequality, along with a low life expectancy compared with nearly half the 1,000 cities on the list, says the report.

Also in the quality-of-life bucket, the report underscores the region’s variety of arts, cultural, and recreational activities. But that’s offset by urban sprawl, traffic congestion, an underdeveloped public transportation system, decreased air quality, and high carbon emissions.

Furthermore, the report downgrades Houston’s environmental stature due to the risks of hurricanes and flooding.

“Undoubtedly, Houston is a leading business [center] that plays a key role in supporting the U.S. economy,” says the report, “but given its shortcomings in other categories, it will need to follow the path of some of its more well-rounded peers in order to move up in the rankings.”

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This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

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