HOUSTON INNOVATORS PODCAST EPISODE 187

University leader calls for shift in culture to advance Houston innovation

Ramanan Krishnamoorti, vice president of energy and innovation at the University of Houston, joins the Houston Innovators Podcast to talk about the university's dedication to helping the city become an innovative force. Photo via UH.edu

Ramanan Krishnamoorti has had a varied career in academia, from an engineering professor to nanotech research. While he never made the transition from researcher to entrepreneur, he managed to snag a CEO title at the university about a decade ago: Chief energy officer.

Since then his role has expanded to include advancing UH's innovation of all kinds — from health tech to the arts — as vice president of energy and innovation at UH. In his role, he oversees the UH Technology Bridge, a lab and coworking space for tenants just a short drive away from UH's main campus, as well as future plans, like a new central campus hub for innovation that's in its early stages of development.

"What we really need at the university today is to bring innovation — which tech transfer is a piece of — and connect that to real-world challenges to deliver what the world needs, which is talented folks delivering new innovative, entrepreneurial, or intrapreneurial programs," Krishnamoorti says on this week's episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast.

For Krishnamoorti, so much of what is happening on campus is directly in line with what's happening city wide in Houston. There's a need to encourage more innovation and entrepreneurship, he says, and Houston already has what it takes to do it.

"As a city, we're known to solve problems," he says on the show. "We don't talk about things here, we get stuff done. That's been the calling card for the city."

A priority for Krishnamoorti is making sure that UH has a culture — for students, faculty, and the entire community — that embraces creativity.

"We've got some incredibly innovative staff and faculty, and one of the things we do very well in academia, in spite of everything we talking about, is that we know how to stifle that creativity, especially when it comes to staff and faculty," Krishnamoorti says. "How do we change that culture?"

"Culture is the dominate thing," he continues. "We've got to be systematic about it. If we don't deliver that cultural shift about how we unleash creativity and innovation amongst our student, staff, faculty, and alumni, we're going to fail."

Krishnamoorti shares more about his vision for UH's future as a hotspot for innovation, as well as the challenges the organization faces, on the podcast. Listen to the interview below — or wherever you stream your podcasts — and subscribe for weekly episodes.

This article originally ran on InnovationMap.


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A View From HETI

Discovery Green's Earth Day event generated more than 3,800 pounds of garbage — and over 90 percent of it was diverted from landfills. Photo courtesy of Discovery Green

Discovery Green celebrated Earth Day with a major milestone this year — achieving it’s Zero Waste goal.

The nonprofit, along with Citizens’ Environmental Coalition and Houston Public Works, are announced that the 2024 Green Mountain Energy Earth Day, which generated more than 3,800 pounds of garbage, diverted the majority of that waste from landfills. "Zero Waste," as defined by the Environmental Protection Agency, is successfully diverting at least 90 percent of waste from the landfill.

On Earth Day, Discovery Green composted 2,200 pounds of waste and recycled 1,300 pounds of trash.

“Part of Discovery Green Conservancy’s mission is to serve as a village green for our city and be a source of health and happiness for all. Our goal is to sustain an exceptional environment for nature and people,” Discover Green President Kathryn Lott says in a news release. “We are beyond thrilled to have achieved Zero Waste certification.”

The achievement was made possible by volunteers from the University of Houston – Downtown.

Steve Stelzer, president of Citizens’ Environmental Coalition’s board of directors, acknowledged how rare the achievement is in a public space in a major city like Houston.

“Discovery Green Conservancy stepped up and made a commitment to weigh, measure and record everything. They should be congratulated to have done this at this scale,” Stelzer adds. “The Conservancy said they were going to do it and they did. It’s an amazing accomplishment.”

The 2024 event included:

  • 31,000 visitors in attendance
  • 60 + exhibitors
  • 100 + volunteers
  • 12 artists
    • 9 chalk artists
    • Donkeeboy and Donkeemom
    • Mark Bradford
  • 25 Mark Bradford artworks made of scrap presented in partnership with Houston First
  • 4 short films shown
  • 3,836.7 pounds of waste collected during Green Mountain Energy Earth Day

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