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$3B fund closes, top movers and shakers, and more trending Houston energy transition news from the week

Here are the top stories for the week within Houston energy transition news. Photo via Getty Images

Editor's note: It's been a busy news week for energy transition in Houston, and some of this week's headlines resonated with EnergyCapital readers on social media and daily newsletter. Trending news included the closing of Ara Partners' $3 billion fund, a report on Houston as a climate tech hub, and more.

Houston energy tech PE group raises $3B third fund

Ara Partners has announced the closing of its third fund. Photo via Getty Images

A Houston-based private equity firm that focuses on industrial decarbonization investments has closed its latest fund.

Ara Partners has secured over $3 billion of new capital commitments for its Ara Fund III, closing $2.8 billion of limited partner commitments, which represents an oversubscription of its $2 billion initial target.

"We are grateful for the extraordinary interest in Fund III demonstrated by Ara's increasingly global, blue-chip investor base," Charles Cherington, managing partner of Ara, says in a news release. "The strong support from new and existing investors, is a testament to their confidence in our talented team, our investment strategy, and the compelling opportunities in the industrial decarbonization sector." Continue reading.

Houston energy workforce-focused startup raises $2.5M seed funding

Digital Wildcatters, founded by Collin McLelland (right) and Jacob Corley, just raised $2.5 million in funding. Photo courtesy

With $2.5 million in fresh funding, Digital Wildcatters is on its way to keep empowering the evolving energy workforce.

Digital Wildcatters, a Houston company that's providing a community for the next generation of energy professionals, has closed its seed plus funding round at $2.5 million. The round by energy industry veteran Chuck Yates, who also hosts his podcast "Chuck Yates Needs a Job" on the Digital Wildcatters' podcast network.

"Our industry's survival depends on recruiting the next generation of energy workers. We must adapt to their digital, content-rich world, as we currently lag behind, like a VHS tape in a Netflix world. Digital Wildcatters is our path to modernization," Yates, based in Richmond, Texas, says in the news release. Continue reading.

Movers and shakers: Top executive moves in Houston energy transition of 2023

Promotions, corporate ladder climbing, and other top mover and shaker stories on EnergyCapital this year. Photos courtesy

From new board seats to internal promotions, this year marked a big one for some of Houston's energy leaders. Here were the top five most-read articles covering the mover and shaker news of 2023. Continue reading.

Report evaluates Houston's potential as a climatetech hub with 6 key takeaways

The Texas Climate Tech Collective issued its 2023 report tracking Houston's progress as a climatetech hub. Photo via Getty Images

Three Houston energy tech innovators sought to quantify Houston's growth as an energy tech ecosystem, and, after 200 survey respondents and dozens of interviews, they've created six calls to action for the city.

Taylor Chapman, Gabe Malek, and Deanna Zhang created the Texas Climate Tech Collective to issue the Houston's Climate Tech Ecosystem 2023 report. The trio revealed some of its key takeaways at Greentown Houston's Climatetech Summit last month.

"We wanted to understand how the city has evolved," Malek, who's also chief of staff at Fervo Energy, said at the event. "We went into this project with a shared belief that Houston has unique characteristics that set it apart from the other cities thinking about climate, and if we could really lean into those characteristics, develop them, and amplify them, we could help grow the ecosystem in Houston and build climate solutions ... to accelerate the energy transition." Continue reading.

City of Houston takes step toward resiliency with $1.7B project milestone

The plant has the capacity to provide the city with over 400 million gallons of clean drinking water daily due to the state-of-the-art intake pump system located 900 feet from the shore of Lake Houston. Photo courtesy of the Mayor's Office

A new project that will increase Houston's resilience in the face of climate change-driven storms has delivered.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Houston Public Works and other water provider organizations celebrated the newly operational Northeast Water Purification Plant Expansion, which is the culmination of a $1.7 billion project.

The multi-year construction project began in 2017. The plant has the capacity to provide the city with over 400 million gallons of clean drinking water daily due to the state-of-the-art intake pump system located 900 feet from the shore of Lake Houston. Continue reading.

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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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