the view from heti

HETI, collaborators open pitch competition applications for annual CERAWeek event

The pitch day will feature more than 40 energy ventures driving efficiency and advancements toward the energy transition showcasing their companies. Photo via htxenergytransition.org

The Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship, the Houston Energy Transition Initiative (HETI) and TEX-E have opened applications for their Energy Venture Day and Pitch Competition at CERAWeek, set to take place in the Agora program on March 20.

The pitch day will feature more than 40 energy ventures driving efficiency and advancements toward the energy transition showcasing their companies. The fast-paced competition is designed to connect energy startups with venture capitalists, corporate innovation groups, industry leaders, academics and service providers.

Ventures will be showcased across three industry tracks, spanning materials to clean energy. Industry experts and investors will judge the pitches, and the top three ventures from each track will be named at the conclusion of the event. The pitches from energy ventures will include a university track, the TEX-E Prize, highlighting the innovation of five Texas student-led energy startups. With mentorship leading up to the competition, these student startups will compete for $50,000 in cash prizes.

“The goal of the TEX-E Prize is to support, encourage and inspire students across the state of Texas to pursue entrepreneurship as a means of reducing emissions and building a healthier, more resilient society,” said David Pruner, executive director at TEX-E.

Energy ventures for all tracks of the competition are asked to apply by Feb. 9. More details about eligibility can be found at alliance.rice.edu/EVD.

“The Energy Venture Day and Pitch Competition at CERAWeek bring together key members of the energy ecosystem, investors and startups to showcase innovations and emerging technologies that create value from the world’s transition to low-carbon energy systems,” said Jane Stricker, senior vice president at the Greater Houston Partnership and executive director of HETI. “We are thrilled to partner with our ecosystem partner, Rice Alliance, on this exciting event at CERAWeek and build on the momentum of the last few years.”

“In addition to the access to investors and awareness at CERAWeek, this is an invaluable opportunity to pitch in front of active investors, corporates and key players in the energy industry,” said Brad Burke, executive director of the Rice Alliance and vice president for industry and new ventures in Rice’s Office of Innovation. “The Energy Venture Day and Pitch Competition at CERAWeek is a platform designed to foster innovation, collaboration and investment in the ever-evolving energy landscape.”

Learn more about this year’s pitch day here.

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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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