The seven selected startups will have year-long curated curriculum, incubation at Greentown's two locations, a non-dilutive $25,000 grant, and access to mentors, corporates, and more from both Greentown and BGS's networks. Photo via browningthegreenspace.org

Two organizations have named the seven startup participants for their accelerator that works to advance BIPOC-led startups in the climatetech space.

Greentown Labs and Browning the Green Space named the newest accelerator for the Advancing Climatetech and Clean Energy Leaders Program, or ACCEL. The seven selected startups will have year-long curated curriculum, incubation at Greentown's two locations, a non-dilutive $25,000 grant, and access to mentors, corporates, and more from both Greentown and BGS's networks.

"Building on the momentum and success of our inaugural year, Greentown Labs is proud to welcome this incredible cohort of BIPOC-led startups to Year 2 of ACCEL," Greentown Labs CEO and President Kevin Knobloch says in a news release. "These founders and their teams are developing a dynamic array of much-needed climatetech solutions, and we're privileged to support them on their startup journeys as they advance their technologies and grow their teams."

The 2024 cohort includes:

  • AtmoSpark Technologies, based in Houston, is an atmospheric water generation company with a patented electro-condensation technology, which has a lower energy footprint than that of current water-generation methods.
  • Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Aquasaic is harnessing biology to clean water for planetary and human health.
  • Houston-based Axis Sky Renewablescreates innovative wind solutions, specializing in vertical-axis wind turbines that are less expensive to produce, deploy, and maintain than traditional wind turbines.
  • Carbon Negative Solutions, from Rock Hill, New York, is creating smart-city-ready, carbon-negative concrete products.
  • NYC-based Cellsense develops interactive bio-embellishments that create new possibilities for designers while eliminating microplastics and replacing fossil-fuel-based material at scale.
  • EcoForge, headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island, is a building-material technology company developing affordable, high-performance building materials from local agricultural residues, replacing energy-intensive, fossil-based materials.
  • Boston-based Sankofa Dynamics creates low-cost, eco-friendly solutions for water, air, and energy problems.

The program is supported by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center,Microsoft's Climate Innovation Fund, Equinor, Barr Foundation.

"These BIPOC-led startups are developing climate technologies that will lead us to a more equitable and sustainable future," MassCEC CEO Dr. Emily Reichert, the former CEO of Greentown, says in the release. "We want ALL climatetech innovators and entrepreneurs to thrive here in Massachusetts. We are proud to support the ACCEL accelerator, created and led by Greentown Labs and Browning the Green Space. The ACCEL program is helping us build a more diverse innovation ecosystem by breaking down barriers and expanding opportunities."

ACCEL was announced in 2022, and the first cohort featured six climatetech startups — two based in Houston.

"Our second year of ACCEL brings together an inspirational and diverse cohort of seven BIPOC-led startups developing tech to accelerate the distribution of climate solutions that address community needs," Browning the Green Space President and Executive Director Kerry Bowie adds. "We are thrilled to continue to strengthen our partnership with Greentown Labs and VentureWell and build on the learnings from the pilot cohort to provide critical support infrastructure for entrepreneurs of color."

The ACCEL program kicks off at an event on March 6 at Greentown's Boston location.

ACCEL has opened applications for next year. Photo via Getty Images

Applications open for inclusive cleantech accelerator

appy now

Calling all cleantech startups founded by innovators of color — an inclusive accelerator program is now accepting applications.

Advancing Climatetech and Clean Energy Leaders Program, or ACCEL, has opened applications for it's second cohort. The program — from Greentown Labs and Browning the Green Space — provides access to funding, networking connections, incubation space, mentorship, resources, and opportunities for energy tech founders of color for a year.

“ACCEL is one of the most impactful, meaningful programs we’ve run to date,” Greentown Labs CEO and President Kevin Knobloch says in a news release. “We are eager to expand upon the great success and momentum of year one, and to welcome another incredible cohort of BIPOC-led startups that are developing much-needed climatetech solutions. We’re equally committed to helping these companies accelerate and deploy their solutions, while also helping to build a more diverse, inclusive climatetech workforce—ACCEL sits at the nexus of those two critical efforts.”

The program, supported by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, accelerated six startups this year — Active Surfaces, DrinKicks, EarthBond, florrent, frakktal, and SpadXTech.

“The ACCEL Program directly aligns with our mission to ensure that climatetech jobs and wealth creation opportunities are available to all residents of the Commonwealth,” Emily Reichert, CEO at MassCEC and former CEO at Greentown, says in the release. “We are excited to see the second round of this important program, with our Equity Workforce Fund support fostering a partnership between Greentown Labs and Browning the Green Space aimed at accelerating the growth of minority and women business enterprises in Massachusetts.”

ACCEL, which doles out $25,000 in non-dilutive grant funding to each participant, is also supported by Boston-based Barr Foundation and provides programming from VentureWell, a nonprofit with expertise in climatetech.

“Through our partnership with Greentown and VentureWell, we are able to put our respective strengths together to create an ambitious program to bolster founders of color in climatetech and propel innovations that benefit communities most impacted by climate change,” Kerry Bowie, executive director and president of Browning the Green Space, says in the release. “Opening applications for Year 2 of ACCEL is an important milestone in strengthening critical support for traditionally excluded entrepreneurs in our communities.”

Applications for ACCEL are open until January 5, 2024. While entrepreneurs from anywhere can apply, preference will be given to applicants in Greater Boston and Greater Houston, where Greentown’s incubators are located.

SeisWave specializes in cost-effective, cloud-based seismic data processing. Photo via Getty Images

Texas climate accelerator names Houston company to latest cohort

ready to accelerate

An Austin-based climate accelerator announced its 2023 cohort, which includes a Houston cleantech startup.

StudioX named seven startups to its 2023 cohort, and SeisWave Corp., a seismic service company, will join the program that aims to help the world reach net-zero targets by 2050. The group comprises Studio X's third cohort since the company launched in 2020.

SeisWave specializes in cost-effective, cloud-based seismic data processing.

Other companies in the cohort include:

  • AI Technology & Systems: A NASA iTech company that provides compressed AI models and software
  • Austere Environmental: An environmental remediation solution that extracts chemical contaminants in soil, drill cuttings, and tailings
  • Economical Energy: A long-duration energy storage solution company
  • Flexergy: A developing highly efficient hydrogen gas compression, storage and distribution system
  • Onvol: An IoT power solutions tech company with applications in wind energy, transport, and mining
  • Project Geminae: A Midland, Texas-based AI-powered portfolio optimization platform advancing predictive modeling across industries

The companies will participate in a 16-week program and mentorship through the cohort, along with investment opportunities.

“Our accelerator program helps to close that gap through bringing together an engaged community that grows these companies at a faster rate, ultimately driving innovation, and helping to evolve global energy solutions,” Jeff Allyn, CEO of Studio X, says in a statement.

Studio X is fully-owned and incubated by Shell and aims to "break down the silos of traditional R&D," according to its website. Click here to view some of the accelerator's past participants.

The company will host an Accelerator Showcase Event Friday, Nov. 10, where companies will pitch their concepts and offer a Q&A session. Register here.

Another Shell-backed accelerator announced its cohort earlier this week. In partnership with Greentown Labs, the organizations announced the cohort for Greentown Go Make 2023, which aims to accelerate partnerships between startups and corporations to advance carbon utilization, storage, and traceability solutions. The cohort includes six companies from around the world, from the Netherlands and Canada to Massachusetts and Washington state.

Additionally, The Goodwill Clean Tech Accelerator will launch in Houston next year to help advance clean tech jobs. According to Accenture and Goodwill, which are partners in the accelerator, said it plans to grow the program to 20 cities in the next seven years and train an estimated 7,000 job seekers.

This autonomous freight delivery provider has entered the Texas market. Photo via VAS

Companies in Transition: June 13

ENERGY FOR ALL, BY ALL

As explained at the launch event for EnergyCapitalHTX.com on 1 June by David Gow, CEO of Gow Media, “…we plan to provide informative, unbiased coverage of the Houston-based initiatives, spanning big corporations and startups. We hope that a site dedicated to the transition will bring visibility to the city’s substantive progress and to the path forward.”

This series, Companies in Transition, highlights the latest energy transition activity happening here in the world’s Capital of Energy for companies of all sizes and stages. Natalie Harms, editor of our sister site, Innovation Map, caught up with a couple of such companies making strides last week.

Volvo Group announces new self-driving freight routes across Texas

A global car brand has expanded its autonomous transport-as-a-service company to Texas.

Volvo Autonomous Solutions, or VAS, announced it has established an office in Fort Worth to set up its first self-driving freight corridors between Dallas-Fort Worth and El Paso, as well as from Dallas to Houston. Ahead of commercial launch, VAS has started hauling freight for key customers like DHL and Uber Freight for testing purposes.

"At Volvo Autonomous Solutions, we believe the path to autonomy at scale is through reducing the friction and complications around ownership and operations for customers," says Nils Jaeger, president of VAS, in a news release. "This is why we have taken the decision to be the single interface to our customers and take full ownership of the elements required for commercial autonomous transport. With the opening of our office in Texas and start of operational activities, we are building the foundations for a transport solution that will change the way we move goods on highways."

As a part of the Volvo Group, VAS provides its Autonomous Transport Solutions — a combination of hardware, software, and services — to its customers. The company has a partnership with Aurora, which includes the integration of the Aurora Driver with Volvo's on-highway truck offering.

To learn more about how Volvo is building efficiency for the entire supply chain, head on over to InnovationMap to read more.

Multinational manufacturer partners with Greentown for new startup accelerator

A climatetech incubator with locations in Houston and Somerville, Massachusetts, has announced an accelerator program with a corporate partner.

Greentown Labs and Saint-Gobain, a multinational manufacturer and distributor of high-performance materials, have opened applications for Greentown Go Build 2023. The program intends to support and accelerate startup-corporate partnerships to advance climatetech, specifically focused on circularity and decarbonizing the built environment per a news release from Greentown.

“The Greentown Go Build program is an opportunity for innovative startups to share how they are disrupting the construction market with innovative and sustainable solutions that address the need for circularity and sustainability and that align with our mission of making the world a better home,” says Minas Apelian, vice president of external and internal venturing at Saint-Gobain. “Through this program, we are eager to identify companies dedicated to reducing our reliance on raw materials and associated supply chain risk to ensure circular solutions result in profitable, sustainable growth for business and sustainable construction solutions for our industries.”

Find out if your company is a fit for this prestigious opportunity over at InnovationMap.

Ad Placement 300x100
Ad Placement 300x600

CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Houston company expands JV to build new power generation, storage assets

team work

Houston-based Conduit Power is broadening the scope of its joint venture with Oklahoma City-based Riley Exploration Permian.

Under this deal, the joint venture, RPC Power, will build power generation and storage assets for the sale of energy and related services to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which operates the power grid for the bulk of Texas.

RPC Power, established in March 2023, owns and operates power generation assets that use Riley Permian’s natural gas to power its oilfield operations in Yoakum County, located in West Texas.

The expanded relationship will enable RPC Power to sell power and related services to ERCOT, with plans for 100 megawatts of natural gas-fueled generation and battery energy storage systems across facilities in West Texas. The facilities are expected to start commercial operations in 2025.

In conjunction with the expanded scope, Riley Permian bumped up its stake in RPC Power from 35 percent to 50 percent. Furthermore, it plans to sell up to 10 million cubic feet per day of natural gas to RPC Power as feedstock supply for the new generation facilities.

"Our JV expansion at RPC Power represents a significant milestone for our company, and we are proud to build upon our successful partnership with Riley Permian,” Travis Windholz, managing director of Conduit, says in a news release.

Conduit, a portfolio company of private equity firm Grey Rock Investment Partners, designs, builds, and operates distributed power generation systems.

Riley Exploration Permian specializes in the exploration, development, and production of oil and natural gas reserves, primarily within the Permian Basin.

Elon Musk sees more resistance against his multibillion dollar pay package

just say no

A second shareholder advisory firm has come out against reinstating a pay package for Tesla CEO Elon Musk that was voided earlier this year by a Delaware judge.

ISS late Thursday joined Glass Lewis in recommending against the package, recently valued by the company at $44.9 billion but in January had a value of about $56 billion.

Shareholders of the electric vehicle and solar panel company are voting on the package, with the results to be tabulated at Tesla's June 13 annual meeting.

ISS said in its recommendations on Tesla's proxy voting items that Musk's stock-based package was outsized when it was approved by shareholders in 2018, and it failed to accomplish board objectives voiced at that time.

The firm said that Tesla met the pay package’s performance objectives, and it recognized the company's substantial growth in size and profitability. But concerns about Musk spending too much time on other ventures that were raised in 2018 and since then have not been sufficiently addressed, ISS said.

“The grant, in many ways, failed to achieve the board’s other original objectives of focusing CEO Musk on the interests of Tesla shareholders, as opposed to other business endeavors, and aligning his financial interests more closely with those of Tesla stockholders,” ISS wrote.

Also, future concerns remain unaddressed, including a lack of clarity on Musk's future compensation and the potential for his pay to significantly dilute shareholder value, ISS wrote.

Musk plays big roles in his other ventures including SpaceX, Neuralink and the Boring Company. Last year he bought social media platform X and formed an artificial intelligence unit called xAI.

Last week the other prominent proxy advisory firm, Glass Lewis, also recommended against reinstating Musk's 2018 compensation package. The firm said the package would dilute shareholders' value by about 8.7%. The rationale for the package “does not in our view adequately consider dilution and its long-lasting effects on disinterested shareholders,” Glass Lewis wrote.

But in a proxy filing, Tesla said that Glass Lewis failed to consider that the 2018 award incentivized Musk to create over $735 billion in value for shareholders in the six years since it was approved.

“Tesla is one of the most successful enterprises of our time,” the filing said. “We have revolutionized the automotive market and become the first vertically integrated sustainable energy company."

Tesla is struggling with falling global sales, slowing electric vehicle demand, an aging model lineup and a stock price that has tumbled about 30% this year.

Tesla asked shareholders to restore Musk's pay package after it was rejected by a Delaware judge this year. At the time, it also asked to shift the company’s legal corporate home to Texas.

Glass Lewis recommended against moving the legal corporate home to Texas, but ISS said it favored the move.

California’s public employee retirement system, which holds a stake in Tesla, said it has not made a final decision on how it will vote on Musk’s pay. But CEO Marcie Frost told CNBC that as of Wednesday, the system would not vote in favor. CalPERS, which opposed the package in 2018, said it will discuss the matter with Tesla “in the coming days.”

In January, Delaware Chancellor Kathaleen St. Jude McCormick ruled that Musk is not entitled to the landmark stock compensation that was to be granted over 10 years.

Ruling on a lawsuit from a shareholder, she voided the pay package, saying that Musk essentially controlled the board, making the process of enacting the compensation unfair to stakeholders. “Musk had extensive ties with the persons tasked with negotiating on Tesla’s behalf,” she wrote in her ruling.

In a letter to shareholders released in a regulatory filing last month, Tesla Chairwoman Robyn Denholm said that Musk has delivered on the growth it was looking for at the automaker, with Tesla meeting all of the stock value and operational targets in the 2018 package. Shares at the time were up 571% since the pay package began.

“Because the Delaware Court second-guessed your decision, Elon has not been paid for any of his work for Tesla for the past six years that has helped to generate significant growth and stockholder value,” Denholm wrote. “That strikes us — and the many stockholders from whom we already have heard — as fundamentally unfair, and inconsistent with the will of the stockholders who voted for it.”

Tesla posted record deliveries of more than 1.8 million electric vehicles worldwide in 2023, but the value of its shares has eroded quickly this year as EV sales soften.

The company said it delivered 386,810 vehicles from January through March, nearly 9% fewer than it sold in the same period last year. Future growth is in doubt and it may be a challenge to get shareholders to back a fat pay package in an environment where competition has increased worldwide.

Starting last year, Tesla has cut prices as much as $20,000 on some models. The price cuts caused used electric vehicle values to drop and clipped Tesla’s profit margins.

In April, Tesla said that it was letting about 10% of its workers go, about 14,000 people.

Things to know: $17.5B oil acquisition, new accelerator focuses on sustainability, and more in Houston energy

take note

Editor's note: Dive headfirst into the new week with three quick things to catch up on in Houston's energy transition: a podcast episode with a biotech leader, a very big oil and gas deal, and events not to miss.


Big deal: ConocoPhillips to buy Marathon Oil for $17.B in all-stock deal

ConocoPhillips is buying Marathon Oil in an all-stock deal valued at approximately $17.1 billion as energy prices rise and big oil companies reap massive profits.

The deal to combine the two Houston-headquartered companies is valued at $22.5 billion when including $5.4 billion in debt.

Crude prices have jumped more than 12% this year and the cost for a barrel rose above $80 this week. Oil majors put up record profits after Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2022 and while those numbers have slipped, there has been a surge in mergers between energy companies flush with cash. Continue reading.

Podcast to stream: Carlos Estrada, head of Venture Acceleration at BioWell, joins the Houston Innovators Podcast

Bioindustrial technologies have a high potential for impacting sustainability — but they tend to need a little bit more help navigating the startup valley of death. That's where the BioWell comes in.

Carlos Estrada, head of Venture Acceleration at BioWell, says the idea for the accelerator was came to First Bight Ventures, a Houston-based biomanufacturing investment firm, as it began building its portfolio of promising companies.

"While we were looking at various companies, we found ourselves finding different needs that these startups have," Estrada says on the Houston Innovators Podcast. "That's how the opportunity for the BioWell came about." Continue reading.

Events not to miss

Put these Houston-area energy-related events on your calendar.

  • The Energy Drone & Robotics Summit is coming to Houston June 10 to 12. Join for the ultimate event in the world for UAVs, Robotics & Data/AI, 3D Reality Capture, Geospatial and Digital Twins focused on the business and technology in energy & industrial operations, inspections, maintenance, surveying & mapping. Register now.
  • Argus Clean Ammonia North America Conference will take place on June 12 to 14 at the Hyatt Regency Houston. Over the three days of the conference, explore the big questions many producers are facing around where demand is coming from, expect to hear perspectives from key domestic consumers as well as international demand centres for clean ammonia. Register now.
  • Join the over 150 senior energy and utilities leaders from June 17 to 18 in Houston for AI in Energy to unlock the potential of AI within your enterprise and delve into key areas for its development.Register now.
  • Energy Underground (June) is a group of professionals in the Greater Houston area that are accelerating the Energy Transition that connect monthly at The Cannon - West Houston. Register now.