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Talos makes $1.3B acquisition, Sunnova's new tech partner, and more trending Houston news

Sunnova has a new partner — and more of the most-read articles on EnergyCapital from the week. Photo via Sunnova

Editor's note: From a new Houston energy transition exec to strategic partnerships and acquisitions, these are the top headlines that resonated with EnergyCapital readers on social media and daily newsletter this week.

New leadership team named climate tech-focused organization for Texas college students

David Pruner will lead the Texas Entrepreneurship Exchange for Energy, known as TEX-E. Photo via LinkedIn

A collaborative initiative between several colleges and Greentown Labs has named its inaugural executive director.

David Pruner will lead the Texas Entrepreneurship Exchange for Energy, known as TEX-E, which is comprised of partners including Greentown Labs, MIT’s Martin Trust Center for Entrepreneurship, and universities across Texas. Additionally, Julia Johansson was appointed chief of staff for TEX-E and will oversee operations and administration responsibilities.

“Dave is the ideal leader for TEX-E to build on the great work that’s been done to develop a robust entrepreneurial energy ecosystem across these five impressive universities in Texas and to directly inspire and support university students to pursue entrepreneurial careers that will power our clean energy future,” Greentown Labs CEO and President Kevin Knobloch says in a news release. Continue reading.

Houston solar company taps new tech partner for energy management

Through the new partnership, Sunnova will fold the Lumin Smart Panel energy management platform into its Adaptive Home product. Images via luminsmart.com

Houston-based Sunnova Energy International, a provider of renewable energy for homes and businesses, has teamed up with Lumin, a maker of energy management technology, to roll out a new offering to homeowners.

Through the new partnership, Sunnova will fold the Lumin Smart Panel energy management platform into its Adaptive Home product. The partnership is scheduled to kick off in the first quarter of 2024.

Sunnova’s Adaptive Home combines solar power, battery storage, and smart energy management.Continue reading.

Houston energy company makes strategic acquisition in $1.29B deal

Talos, a technology-based energy company that aims to work towards low-carbon solutions, acquired QuarterNorth Energy Inc. Photo via talosenergy.com

Houston-based Talos Energy Inc. announced a $1.29 billion acquisition this month.

Talos, a technology-based energy company that aims to work towards low-carbon solutions, acquired QuarterNorth Energy Inc., which has ownership in several big offshore fields, and is a privately-held U.S. Gulf of Mexico exploration and production company. The acquisition of the assets are expected to provide additional scale from high quality deepwater assets “with a favorable base decline profile along with attractive future development opportunities” from QuarterNorth. Continue reading.

This Houston energy tech company to move the needle on building efficiency, air quality

After winning CodeLaunch last year, Matt Bonasera, enterprise architect at E360, looks forward to the future of the energy tech company. Photo by Natalie Harms/InnovationMap

Houston-based energy efficiency company Energy 360 is working to balance what is often viewed as a tradeoff between high quality clean air and energy efficiency within corporate buildings.

E360 is a subsidiary of InTech Energy, a software company that provides a variety of energy efficiency solutions for commercial spaces. The enterprise architect of E360, Matt Bonasera, says the platform functions as an energy management system as it monitors air quality, greenhouse gas emissions, and can adjust electricity usage among a host of other outputs.

“We are trying to holistically look at each building instead of just looking at it purely from the energy efficiency perspective or purely from looking at it from a health perspective,” Bonasera says. Continue reading.

Oxy's sustainability subsidiary announces DAC agreement with commodities group

Here's 1PoinFive's newest customer on its Texas CCUS project. Photo via 1pointfive.com

Oxy's carbon capture, utilization and sequestration company announced it's latest carbon dioxide removal credits purchasing agreement with a global commodities group.

Trafigura has agreed to purchase carbon dioxide removal credits to be produced from 1PointFive’s first industrial-scale Direct Air Capture facility, Stratos, that is being built in Texas. Continue reading.

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A View From HETI

IBM and Boxes recently partnered to integrate the IBM watsonx Assistant into Boxes devices, providing a way for consumer packaged brands to find out more than ever about what its customers like and want. Photo courtesy of Boxes

With the help of a new conversational artificial intelligence platform, a Houston startup is ready to let brands get up close and personal with consumers while minimizing waste.

IBM and Boxes recently partnered to integrate the IBM watsonx Assistant into Boxes devices, providing a way for consumer packaged brands to find out more than ever about what its customers like and want.

The Boxes device, about the size of a 40-inch television screen, dispenses products to consumers in a modern and sustainable spin on the old-fashioned large vending machine.

CEO Fernando Machin Gojdycz learned that business from his entrepreneur father, Carlos Daniel Machin, while growing up in Uruguay.

“That’s where my passion comes from — him,” Gojdycz says of his father. In 2016, Gojdycz founded Boxes in Uruguay with some engineer friends

Funded by a $2,000 grant from the University of Uruguay, the company's mission was “to democratize and economize affordable and sustainable shopping,” in part by eliminating wasteful single-use plastic packaging.

“I worked for one year from my bedroom,” he tells InnovationMap.

Fernando Machin Gojdycz founded Boxes in Uruguay before relocating the company to Greentown Houston. Photo courtesy of Boxes

The device, attached to a wall, offers free samples, or purchased products, in areas of high foot traffic, with a touch-screen interface. Powered by watsonx Assistant, the device asks survey questions of the customer, who can answer or not, on their mobile devices, via a QR code.

In return for completing a survey, customers can get a digital coupon, potentially generating future sales. The software and AI tech tracks sales and consumer preferences, giving valuable real-time market insight.

“This is very powerful,” he says.

Boxes partnered in Uruguay with major consumer brands like Kimberly-Clark, SC Johnson and Unilever, and during COVID, pivoted and offered PPE products. Then, with plans of an expansion into the United States, Boxes in 2021 landed its first U.S. backer, with $120,000 in funding from startup accelerator Techstars.

This led to a partnership with the Minnesota Twins, where Boxes devices at Target Field dispensed brand merchandise like keychains and bottles of field dirt.

Gojdycz says while a company in the Northeast is developing a product similar in size, Boxes is not “targeting traditional spaces.” Its software and integration with AI allows Boxes to seamlessly change the device screen and interface, remotely, as well.

Boxes aims to provide the devices in smaller spaces, like restrooms, where they have a device at the company's headquarters at climate tech incubator Greentown Labs. Boxes also recently added a device at Hewlett Packard Enterprise headquarters in Spring, as part of HPE’s diversity startup program.

Boxes hopes to launch another sustainable innovation later this year, in universities and supermarkets. The company is also developing a device that would offer refillable detergent and personal cleaning products like shampoo and conditioner with a reusable container.

Since plastic packaging accounts for 40 percent of retail price, consumers would pay far less, making a huge difference, particularly for lower-income families, he says.

“We are working to make things happen, because we have tried to pitch this idea,” he says.

Some supermarket retailers worry they may lose money or market share, and that shoppers may forget to bring the refill bottles with them to the store, for example.

“It’s about..the U.S. customer,” he says, “….but we think that sooner or later, it will come.”

Boxes has gotten funding from the accelerator startup branch of Houston-based software company Softeq, as well as Mission Driven Finance, Google for Startups Latino Founders Fund, and Right Side Capital, among others.

“Our primary challenges are scaling effectively with a small, yet compact team and maintaining control over our financial runway,” Gojdycz says.

The company has seven employees, including two on its management team.

Gojdycz says they are actively hiring, particularly in software and hardware engineering, but also in business development.

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This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

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