LiNova will use the funds to advance its polymer cathode battery technology. Photo via Getty Images

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.

CTV has announced its newest fund to deploy capital to innovative clean energy tech. Photo via Getty Images

Chevron launches $500M clean energy fund to target low carbon fuels, advanced materials

fresh funding

Chevron Technology Ventures has announced its latest fund raised to deploy capital into clean energy technology.

CTV's Future Energy Fund III has reportedly launched with $500 million — an increase from its second fund from 2021 that was valued at $400 million. The inaugural Future Energy Fund was established in 2018. Each fund has targeted separate technologies — from capture, emerging mobility, and energy storage in fund I to industrial decarbonization, emerging mobility, energy decentralization, and circular economy in fund II.

"Future Energy Fund III, launched in 2024, will continue to look forward in the areas of focus for the earlier two funds and aims to expand investment in the areas of novel low carbon fuels, advanced materials, and transforming carbon to higher-value products," reads Chevron's website describing the Future Energy Funds.

The first two funds have invested in over 30 companies and has more than 250 other investors supporting low-carbon innovations.

CTV, based in Houston, has strategic partnerships with organizations within the Houston innovation ecosystem, including Greentown Labs, Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship, the Ion, The Cannon, and the HX Venture Fund.

"CTV engages a range of startup companies, investors, incubators and accelerators to access technology that can be used across Chevron now and in the future to enable us to operate more efficiently, to lower the carbon intensity of our operations and launch viable new businesses," reads the CTV site.

Founded in 1999, CTV invests in emerging energy technologies as well as incubating startups in its Catalyst Program. Last month, CTV added Cerebre, a software-as-a-service company that works with its customers to unlock and leverage data to tap into AI tools and digitization, to the Catalyst Program.

Cerebre is a software-as-a-service company that works with its customers to unlock and leverage data to tap into AI tools and digitization. Photo via cerebre.io

Chevron names SaaS startup to Houston accelerator program

ready to grow

A Boston-based startup that provides software for manufacturing plants has joined a Houston-based corporate accelerator.

Cerebre, a software-as-a-service company that works with its customers to unlock and leverage data to tap into AI tools and digitization, has joined Chevron Technology Ventures as part of its Catalyst Program.

“We are thrilled and honored to be selected by Chevron as part of the Catalyst Program," Founder and CEO Jeff Robbins says in a news release. "We are witnessing an explosion and convergence of technology never seen before.

"As the world races to build AI, we have worked extensively to help companies feed their AI models with high-quality data that represents the plant and their business," he continues. "We are energized to be recognized by Chevron as having a potential role to play in the industry’s transformation.”

Founded in 2017, the Catalyst Program accelerates early-stage companies that are working to transform the energy sector. CTV launched in 1999 to support externally developed technologies and new business solution.

Houston-based Milestone Environmental Services, which provides environmental services and carbon management, named energy leader and former Chevron executive Barbara J. Burger to its board of managers. Photo courtesy

Environmental services firm names Houston energy leader to board

onboarding

Barbara Burger has joined the board of one of the largest energy waste sequestration companies.

Houston-based Milestone Environmental Services, which provides environmental services and carbon management, named energy leader and former Chevron executive Barbara J. Burger to its board of managers, effective February 17.

“I am very pleased to welcome Dr. Barbara Burger to the Milestone Board and look forward to her invaluable insights and contributions,” Milestone President and CEO Gabriel Rio says in a news release. “Barbara’s impressive career in the energy industry coupled with her passion for education, sustainability, and resolving the challenges facing the energy transition will undoubtedly prove beneficial for Milestone, our customers, and our other stakeholders.”

Burger, who previously served as vice president of innovation at Chevron and president of Chevron Technology Ventures, also holds adviser roles and board positions at other innovative companies.

“I look forward to working with the Milestone team as they build on their leading environmental services business and develop an energy transition-critical carbon capture and sequestration business,” Burger adds.

Burger, who was awarded InnovationMap's inaugural Trailblazer Award in 2021, is senior adviser to Lazard, on the board of directors of Heliogen, and more. She also actively serves the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Activate, and the Houston Symphony.

Last fall, Milestone Environmental Services announced that it has been acquired by affiliates of SK Capital Partners for an undisclosed amount.

At last year's awards program, Cemvita Factory's co-founders, Tara and Moji Karimi, accepted the award for the Green Impact Business category. This year, Moji Karimi served as a judge

18 Houston energy startups named finalists for innovation awards program

companies to watch

The 2023 Houston Innovation Awards announced its 52 finalists — a large portion of which are promising energy transition startups.

The awards program — hosted by EnergyCapital's sister site, InnovationMap, and Houston Exponential — will name its winners on November 8 at the Houston Innovation Awards. The program was established to honor the best and brightest companies and individuals from the city's innovation community.

The following startups, which all have an energy transition element to their business, received a finalist position in one or two categories.

Click here to secure your tickets to see who wins.

  • ALLY Energy, helping energy companies and climate startups find, develop, and retain great talent, scored two finalist positions — one in the Female-Owned Business category and the other in the Social Impact Business category.
  • Eden Grow Systems, next generation farming technologies, is a finalist in the People's Choice: Startup of the Year category.
  • Feelit Technologies, nanotechnology for preventive maintenance to eliminate leaks, fires and explosions, increase safety and reduce downtime, is a finalist in the Female-Owned Business category and the People's Choice: Startup of the Year category.
  • Fervo Energy, leveraging proven oil and gas drilling technology to deliver 24/7 carbon-free geothermal energy, scored two finalist positions — one in the Sustainability Business category and the other in the People's Choice: Startup of the Year category.
  • FluxWorks, making frictionless gearboxes for missions in any environment, is a finalist in the Hardtech Business category.
  • Helix Earth Technologies, decarbonizing the built environment and heavy industry, is a finalist in the Hardtech Business category.
  • INOVUES, re-energizing building facades through its non-invasive window retrofit innovations, making building smarter, greener, and healthier for a better and sustainable future, was named a finalist in the SustainabilityBusiness category.
  • Kanin Energy, helping heavy industry monetize their waste heat and decarbonize their operations, was named a finalist in the BIPOC-Owned Business and the SustainabilityBusiness categories.
  • Mars Materials, developing a carbon-negative pathway for carbon fiber and acrylamide production using CO2 and biomass as raw materials, is a finalist in the BIPOC-Owned Business category.
  • Molecule, an energy/commodity trading risk management software that provides users with an efficient, reliable, responsive platform for managing trade risk, is a finalist in the Digital Solutions Business category.
  • Rhythm Energy, 100 percent renewable electricity service for residential customers in Texas, is a finalist in the People's Choice: Startup of the Year category.
  • Sage Geosystems, a cost-effective geothermal baseload energy solution company, also innovating underground energy storage solutions, was named a finalist in the Sustainability Business category.
  • Solugen, decarbonizing the chemical industry, is a finalist in the Hardtech Business category.
  • Square Robot, applying robotic technology to eliminate the need to put people into dangerous enclosed spaces and eliminate taking tanks out of service, is a finalist in the HardtechBusiness category.
  • Syzygy Plasmonics, a deep decarbonization company that builds chemical reactors designed to use light instead of combustion to produce valuable chemicals like hydrogen and sustainable fuels, is a finalist in the HardtechBusiness category.
  • Tierra Climate, decarbonizing the power grid faster by helping grid-scale batteries monetize their environmental benefits and change their operational behavior to abate more carbon, was named a finalist in the SustainabilityBusiness category.
  • Utility Global, a technology company converting a range of waste gases into sustainable hydrogen and syngas, was named a finalist in the SustainabilityBusiness category.
  • Venus Aerospace, a hypersonics company on track to fly reusable hypersonic flight platforms by 2024, is a finalist in the HardtechBusiness category.

Additionally, two energy companies were named to the Corporate of the Year category, which honors corporations that supports startups and/or the Houston innovation community. Aramco Ventures and Chevron Technology Ventures are two of the four finalists in this category.

Lastly, Jason Ethier, co-founder of Lambda Catalyzer and host of the Energy Tech Startups podcast, and Kendrick Alridge, senior manager of community at Greentown Labs, scored finalist positions in the Ecosystem Builder category, as individuals who have acted as leaders in developing Houston’s startup ecosystem.

Click here to see the full list of finalists.

The Cannon and Chevron Technology Ventures are looking for startups that will improve operations. Photo courtesy of The Cannon

Houston organizations call for startups to pitch at unique industry event

call for companies

Two Houston organizations are collaborating on a pitch competition and event that will focus on technologies that will transform operations.

The Cannon and Chevron Technology Ventures are partnering to present "Facilities of the Future," an event taking place at The Cannon West Houston on September 21.

"For over 100 years, Chevron has been a leader in leveraging technology to reduce risk and optimize efficiency in our facilities. Facilities that span all portions of the energy value chain including distributed unconventional wells, offshore deepwater platforms, and complex processing facilities, i.e. refineries, LNG plants," reads a statement about the competition. "But we also recognize the pace of change for technology is rapidly increasing and that our greatest potential lies in our ability to capitalize on these emerging technologies."

The companies, which must have at least $25,000 in annual revenue to qualify, will be selected by CTV and The Cannon and have until September 1 to apply online. The program is seeking participants with technology addressing one or more of Chevron's goals at its facilities:

  • Removing people from hazardous environments (e.g., confined spaces, working at heights)
  • Reducing the environmental impact (e.g., leak detection, emissions monitoring),
  • Increasing the operational efficiency (e.g., autonomous operations, advanced inspection capabilities, predictive asset health capabilities)

Each company will conduct a five-minute pitch followed by 10 minutes of Q&A. The winner, which will be announced at the conclusion of the event, have the opportunity to work on a field trial with Chevron and six months of free workspace at The Cannon.

Tickets for the event, which will provide drinks and networking, are free and registration is available online.

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Houston's energy industry deemed both a strength and weakness on global cities report

mixed reviews

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.

New collaboration to build data center microgrid in Houston

coming soon

Two companies are teaming up to build a natural gas microgrid in Houston that will reduce emissions by 98 percent.

Provider of prime and backup power solutions RPower has teamed up with Houston’s ViVaVerse Solutions to build a 17-megawatt (MW) microgrid at the ViVa Center campus in Houston, which is expected to be commissioned by the end of the year.

The microgrid plans to employ ultra-low emissions and natural gas generators to deliver Resiliency-as-a-Service (RaaS), and this will connect to ViVaVerse's colocation data center operations during utility outages.

RPower will also deploy the microgrid across different ERCOT market programs, which will contribute to assist with essential capacity and ancillary services for the local grid. ERCOT has increased its use of renewable energy in recent years, but still has faced criticism for unstable conditions. The microgrids can potentially assist ERCOT, and also help cut back on emissions.

“RPower's pioneering microgrid will not only deliver essential N+1 resiliency to our data center operations but will also contribute to the local community by supplying necessary capacity during peak demand periods when the electric grid is strained,” Eduardo Morales, CEO of ViVaVerse Solutions and Morales Capital Group, says in a news release.

ViVaVerse Solutions will be converting the former Compaq Computer/HPE headquarters Campus into an innovative technology hub called the ViVa Center, which will host the High-Performance Computing Data Center, and spaces dedicated to mission critical infrastructure and technical facilities . The hub will host 200 data labs.

“We are thrilled to partner with ViVaVerse to deploy this `first of its kind' microgrid solution in the data center space,” Jeff Starcher, CEO of RPower, adds. “Our natural gas backup generation system delivers the same reliability and performance as traditional diesel systems, but with a 98 percent reduction in emissions. Further, the RPower system provides critical grid services and will respond to the volatility of renewable generation, further enabling the energy transition to a carbon free future.”