Evolve Houston, founded in 2018 through Houston’s Climate Action Plan and relaunched last year, has launched a new tool for EV incentivization. Photo via Evolve

Equity and environmental impact characteristics often used to describe a company’s outlook on increased sustainability and fighting climate change.

Evolve Houston, which was founded in 2018 through Houston’s Climate Action Plan and relaunched last year, is one of the organizations leading the way, and now with their Grant Tracker program, they are giving back to those who are giving back to the planet.

“Raising awareness is a critical part of accelerating a new technology, this includes awareness of incentives that individuals and fleets in the Greater Houston region may be eligible for,” Casey Brown, executive director and president, tells EnergyCapital. “Beyond understanding incentives, most Houstonians have not experienced an EV for themselves. With the support of our Founding Members (Shell, NRG Energy, CenterPoint Energy, University of Houston, and the City of Houston), we offer educational and experiential ways for Houstonians to interact with EVs and learn more about the benefits.”

The Grant Tracker aims to make it easier to find funding opportunities, and assist with current grants available to organizations and individuals that are committed to a goal of zero emissions. The tracker serves as a tool to assist with purchasing an EV and charging equipment. Ultimately, Evolve wants to assist and fund those looking to make the transition to electric.

Anup Parikh and his company Pangea Charging, through EVOLVE, was granted a project to help bring charging capacity for EVs to help build the infrastructure in areas and apartment complexes that traditionally would not have them.

“People see electric vehicles as high-end and a luxury lifestyle, when in fact it can happen for everybody,” Parikh said in a promotional video.

In addition to the Grant Tracker program, Evolve’s Mobility Microgrant Initiative will partner with local nonprofits,community reviewers, and corporate catalysts to award funding to eMobility projects aimed at serving mobility needs in Houston's underserved neighborhoods. In July, Evolve teamed up with RYDE and District D Council Member Carolyn Evans-Shabazz to bring the free on-demand electric local shuttle service to residents in the Third Ward area, which was one of the many microgrants associated with the project. RYDE’s service in the area has been extended recently into the fall and “until further notice” according to a newsletter from EVOLVE.

“Private investments in this sector follow EV adoption,“ Brown says. “Investing in areas early creates more opportunity for EV technology interaction and benefits.

"We are excited about the success of our Equity Program and the exciting projects it has funded across Houston," he continues. "Today, we accomplish this through our eMobility Microgrant Initiative, a community-led investment program focused on historically disadvantaged communities, and aimed to tackle community needs with electric vehicle technologies. We have had a very successful Round 1 of investments this year and we are excited to announce round two grant winners in January of 2024.”

As Evolve continues to evolve its sphere of influence, the company still aims for its goal to have half of the vehicles in the city be electric by 2030. The company says that EVs should be for all Houstonians, not just for some.

“Houston maintains some of the lowest population density and longest commute distances of major U.S. cities, and we have an immense amount of business and goods that flow through Houston,” Brown said. “We see a landscape that can uniquely achieve larger financial and environmental benefits of EV technologies. One way that we share these benefits is being the Presenting Sponsor of the Houston Auto Show. We also summarize the local EV sector through our R.I.S.E. report and maintain an actionable, forward view in our EV Roadmap; both sources can be found on our website and are undergoing a refresh as we close 2023.”

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Chevron, TotalEnergies back energy storage startup's $15.8M series A

money moves

A California startup that's revolutionizing polymer cathode battery technology has announced its series A round of funding with support from Houston-based energy transition leaders.

LiNova Energy Inc. closed a $15.8 million series A round led by Catalus Capital. Saft, a subsidiary of TotalEnergies, which has its US HQ in Houston, and Houston-based Chevron Technology Ventures, also participated in the round with a coalition of other investors.

LiNova will use the funds with its polymer cathode battery to advance the energy storage landscape, according to the company. The company uses a high-energy polymer battery technology that is designed to allow material replacement of the traditional cathode that is made up of cobalt, nickel, and other materials.

The joint development agreement with Saft will have them collaborate to develop the battery technology for commercialization in Saft's key markets.

“We are proud to collaborate with LiNova in scaling up its technology, leveraging the extensive experience of Saft's research teams, our newest prototype lines, and our industrial expertise in battery cell production," Cedric Duclos, CEO of Saft, says in a news release.

CTV recently announced its $500 million Future Energy Fund III, which aims to lead on emerging mobility, energy decentralization, industrial decarbonization, and the growing circular economy. Chevron has promised to spend $10 billion on lower carbon energy investments and projects by 2028.

Houston innovation leaders secure SBA funding to start equitability-focused energy lab

trying for DEI

A group of Houston's innovation and energy leaders teamed up to establish an initiative supporting equitability in the energy transition.

Impact Hub Houston, a nonprofit incubator and ecosystem builder, partnered with Energy Tech Nexus to establish the Equitable Energy Transition Alliance and Lab to accelerate startup pilots for underserved communities. The initiative announced that it's won the 2024 U.S. Small Business Administration Growth Accelerator Fund Competition, or GAFC, Stage One award.

"We are incredibly honored to be recognized by the SBA alongside our esteemed partners at Energy Tech Nexus," Grace Rodriguez, co-founder and executive director of Impact Hub Houston, says in a news release. "This award validates our shared commitment to building a robust innovation ecosystem in Houston, especially for solutions that advance the Sustainable Development Goals at the critical intersections of industry, innovation, sustainability, and reducing inequality."

The GAFC award, which honors and supports small business research and development, provides $50,000 prize to its winners. The Houston collaboration aligns with the program's theme area of Sustainability and Biotechnology.

“This award offers us a great opportunity to amplify the innovations of Houston’s clean energy and decarbonization pioneers,” adds Juliana Garaizar, founding partner of the Energy Tech Nexus. “By combining Impact Hub Houston’s entrepreneurial resources with Energy Tech Nexus’ deep industry expertise, we can create a truly transformative force for positive change.”

Per the release, Impact Hub Houston and Energy Tech Nexus will use the funding to recruit new partners, strengthen existing alliances, and host impactful events and programs to help sustainable startups access pilots, contracts, and capital to grow.

"SBA’s Growth Accelerator Fund Competition Stage One winners join the SBA’s incredible network of entrepreneurial support organizations contributing to America’s innovative startup ecosystem, ensuring the next generation of science and technology-based innovations scale into thriving businesses," says U.S. SBA Administrator Isabel Casillas Guzman.


This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

Texas-based Tesla gets China's initial approval of self-driving software

global greenlight

Shares of Tesla stock rallied Monday after the electric vehicle maker's CEO, Elon Musk, paid a surprise visit to Beijing over the weekend and reportedly won tentative approval for its driving software.

Musk met with a senior government official in the Chinese capital Sunday, just as the nation’s carmakers are showing off their latest electric vehicle models at the Beijing auto show.

According to The Wall Street Journal, which cited anonymous sources familiar with the matter, Chinese officials told Tesla that Beijing has tentatively approved the automaker's plan to launch its “Full Self-Driving,” or FSD, software feature in the country.

Although it's called FSD, the software still requires human supervision. On Friday the U.S. government’s auto safety agency said it is investigating whether last year’s recall of Tesla’s Autopilot driving system did enough to make sure drivers pay attention to the road. Tesla has reported 20 more crashes involving Autopilot since the recall, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

In afternoon trading, shares in Tesla Inc., which is based in Austin, Texas, surged to end Monday up more than 15% — its biggest one-day jump since February 2020. For the year to date, shares are still down 22%.

Tesla has been contending with its stock slide and slowing production. Last week, the company said its first-quarter net income plunged by more than half, but it touted a newer, cheaper car and a fully autonomous robotaxi as catalysts for future growth.

Wedbush analyst Dan Ives called the news about the Chinese approval a “home run” for Tesla and maintained his “Outperform” rating on the stock.

“We note Tesla has stored all data collected by its Chinese fleet in Shanghai since 2021 as required by regulators in Beijing,” Ives wrote in a note to investors. “If Musk is able to obtain approval from Beijing to transfer data collected in China abroad this would be pivotal around the acceleration of training its algorithms for its autonomous technology globally.”