SCS Technologies named Jane Stricker, executive director of HETI, as the executive chairperson of its inaugural urban reforestation event next month. Photo via GHP

One of Houston's foremost energy transition leaders has been named to a community urban reforestation project from a Texas energy company.

Big Spring, Texas-based SCS Technologies named Jane Stricker, executive director of the Greater Houston Partnership’s Houston Energy Transition Initiative, as the executive chairperson of its inaugural urban reforestation event next month.

SCS, a provider of liquid hydrocarbon, water, and CO2 measurement systems, is holding the event on March 23 at the Galena Park Resource and Training Center in Galena Park, Texas, in collaboration with One Tree Planted and Trees for Houston.

“We are honored that Jane Stricker is spearheading our Galena Park tree-planting effort. As a revered leader in the energy transformation movement, Jane's impact is profound across Houston’s diverse energy sector and internationally,” Cody Johnson, CEO of SCS Technologies, says in a news release. “Jane's stewardship of this event underscores the vital importance of fostering partnerships between the community and industry to improve local environments and make strides in reducing our collective carbon footprint.

"Our donation of trees to the Galena Park area—a community just east of Houston materially affected by emissions from surrounding petrochemical plants—is one step towards environmental restoration and tree equity," he continues.

The goal for the event is to give out 1,125 shade, flowering, and fruit trees to community members, who will be asked to plant at their homes and businesses.

“The vast undertaking of the energy transformation requires more than just technological innovation; it demands a shared commitment from all sectors to enact real change. SCS Technologies is leading by example, demonstrating how innovative solutions and community-focused actions can drive meaningful change,” Stricker adds in the release. “As the executive chairperson, I am proud to be part of the Galena Park tree distribution event, an initiative that illustrates our shared dedication to environmental sustainability and community enrichment. The impact of these trees extends beyond carbon sequestration, bringing beauty and much-needed shade from our hot summer sun to the Galena Park community.”

The initiative is a part of SCS's goal to plant 100,000 trees in "economically challenged urban neighborhoods" across Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana by 2030. The company, per its environmental initiatives, is also participating in SME Net Zero by 2050.

The week, which will be hosted at the Ion and around Houston, will gather investors, industry leaders, and startups from across the energy industry to showcase Houston's growing sustainability community. Photo via the Ion

Houston to host inaugural climate tech and energy-focused week

coming soon

Three organizations are teaming up to put on a week of programming and events focused on energy and climate startups.

Greentown Labs, Halliburton Labs, and the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship have announced Houston Energy and Climate Startup Week 2024 taking place September 9 to 13.

“These organizations will execute events that will serve as a launching pad for an Energy and Climate Startup Week in Houston, showcasing the city as a national hub for the energy future,” Brad Burke, executive director of the Rice Alliance, says in the release. “We welcome the community to bring other energy and climate events to the week, which we’ll cross-promote as the dates approach.”

The week will assemble investors, industry leaders, and startups from across the energy industry and from around the world to showcase Houston's growing sustainable, low-carbon energy future.

The initiative is in collaboration with the Houston Energy Transition Initiative, or HETI, an initiative of the Greater Houston Partnership, as well as Activate, Digital Wildcatters, Renewable Energy Alliance Houston, and TEX-E.

“As the energy capital and one of the most diverse cities in the world, Houston stands as a center point for these solutions. The region is welcoming, diverse and has the know-how to play a critical role in building an energy abundant, low-carbon future," Jane Stricker, executive director of HETI and senior vice president at GHP, says in the release. "We welcome all who want to be part of the solution to join for this exciting, inaugural week of events.”

Attendees can expect tech and startup showcases, panels, pitches, discussions, and networking events to be hosted across Houston and at the Ion, Rice's innovation hub in Midtown. More details on the events will be added to the Ion's website as they become available.

“We look forward to the opportunity to highlight talented founders and connect them with investors, industry practitioners and university resources to help accelerate energy innovation,” Dale Winger, managing director of Halliburton Labs, says in the release. “The collaboration to launch Energy and Climate Startup Week reflects how Houston works together to scale solutions."

———

This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

The pitch day will feature more than 40 energy ventures driving efficiency and advancements toward the energy transition showcasing their companies. Photo via htxenergytransition.org

HETI, collaborators open pitch competition applications for annual CERAWeek event

the view from heti

The Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship, the Houston Energy Transition Initiative (HETI) and TEX-E have opened applications for their Energy Venture Day and Pitch Competition at CERAWeek, set to take place in the Agora program on March 20.

The pitch day will feature more than 40 energy ventures driving efficiency and advancements toward the energy transition showcasing their companies. The fast-paced competition is designed to connect energy startups with venture capitalists, corporate innovation groups, industry leaders, academics and service providers.

Ventures will be showcased across three industry tracks, spanning materials to clean energy. Industry experts and investors will judge the pitches, and the top three ventures from each track will be named at the conclusion of the event. The pitches from energy ventures will include a university track, the TEX-E Prize, highlighting the innovation of five Texas student-led energy startups. With mentorship leading up to the competition, these student startups will compete for $50,000 in cash prizes.

“The goal of the TEX-E Prize is to support, encourage and inspire students across the state of Texas to pursue entrepreneurship as a means of reducing emissions and building a healthier, more resilient society,” said David Pruner, executive director at TEX-E.

Energy ventures for all tracks of the competition are asked to apply by Feb. 9. More details about eligibility can be found at alliance.rice.edu/EVD.

“The Energy Venture Day and Pitch Competition at CERAWeek bring together key members of the energy ecosystem, investors and startups to showcase innovations and emerging technologies that create value from the world’s transition to low-carbon energy systems,” said Jane Stricker, senior vice president at the Greater Houston Partnership and executive director of HETI. “We are thrilled to partner with our ecosystem partner, Rice Alliance, on this exciting event at CERAWeek and build on the momentum of the last few years.”

“In addition to the access to investors and awareness at CERAWeek, this is an invaluable opportunity to pitch in front of active investors, corporates and key players in the energy industry,” said Brad Burke, executive director of the Rice Alliance and vice president for industry and new ventures in Rice’s Office of Innovation. “The Energy Venture Day and Pitch Competition at CERAWeek is a platform designed to foster innovation, collaboration and investment in the ever-evolving energy landscape.”

Learn more about this year’s pitch day here.

The Houston Energy Transition Initiative has added six new members. Photo via htxenergytransition.org

Houston organization names 6 new members working toward a low-carbon future

the view from heti

The Greater Houston Partnership’s The Houston Energy Transition Initiative welcomes six new member companies including, one executive level and five investor level. HETI members are champions in their fields, each creating innovative solutions for a sustainable and low-carbon future. Our members are critical to continue to position our region to lead the global energy transition.

Executive Member

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is one of the world’s leading industrial groups, spanning energy, smart infrastructure, industrial machinery, aerospace, and defense. MHI Group combines cutting-edge technology with deep experience to deliver innovative, integrated solutions that help to realize a carbon neutral world, improve the quality of life and ensure a safer world.

Investor Level Members

Eni Next LLC is a corporate venture capital company, created to integrate corporate research, with open innovation, enhancing the value of dynamic and innovative start-ups through early-stage financing and successive capital increases. Eni Next evaluates and invests in companies developing technologies with a lower carbon footprint for energy production, improved efficiency for our industrial operations and digital solutions.

Honeywell International Inc. invents and commercializes technologies that address some of the world’s most critical challenges around energy, safety, security, air travel, productivity, and global urbanization. They are a leading software-industrial company committed to introducing state of the art technology solutions to improve efficiency, productivity, sustainability, and safety in high growth businesses in broad-based, attractive industrial end markets.

Natixis Investment Managers is a global asset management company. Ranked among the world’s largest asset managers, Natixis delivers a diverse range of solutions across asset classes, styles, and vehicles. The company is dedicated to advancing sustainable finance and developing innovative ESG products.

Stantec is a global design and delivery leader in sustainable engineering, architectural planning, and environmental services. Stantec’s multidisciplinary teams address climate change, urbanization, and infrastructure resiliency. The company is at the forefront of innovations to enhance environmental and social opportunities. The Stantec community unites more than 26,000 employees working in over 400 locations across six continents.

Vopak North America is an independent infrastructure provider with an unrivaled network of 78 terminals in 23 countries and 25+ joint venture partners, connecting the supply and demand for products that are essential to the economy and the daily lives of people around the world. Vopak takes pride in improving access to cleaner energy and feedstocks for a growing world population, ensuring safe, clean and efficient storage and handling of bulk liquid products and gases.

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This article originally ran on the Greater Houston Partnership's Houston Energy Transition Initiative blog. HETI exists to support Houston's future as an energy leader. For more information about the Houston Energy Transition Initiative, EnergyCapitalHTX's presenting sponsor, visit htxenergytransition.org.

Promotions, corporate ladder climbing, and other top mover and shaker stories on EnergyCapital this year. Photos courtesy

Movers and shakers: Top executive moves in Houston energy transition of 2023

year in review

Editor's note: As the year comes to a close, EnergyCapital is looking back at the year's top stories in Houston energy transition. From new board seats to internal promotions, this year marked a big one for some of Houston's energy leaders. Here were the top five most-read articles covering the mover and shaker news of 2023 — be sure to click through to read the full story.

Global consulting firm names new Houston energy practice leader​

Alvarez & Marsal announced the appointment of Jay Johnson as senior adviser to its energy practice. Photo via alvarezandmarsal.com

A top global professional services firm named a Houston-based energy leader amid industry evolution and regulatory changes.

Alvarez & Marsal, or A&M, announced the appointment of Jay Johnson as senior adviser to its energy practice.

“I enjoy bringing together teams of people to solve the complex challenges facing companies today,” Johnson says in a news release. “I’m looking forward to working with A&M’s energy team to build leadership and capabilities to address industry challenges.”

Click here to read the article from November.

Houston carbon storage solutions company names new energy transition leader at pivotal time of growth

Graham Payne, the new director of energy transition at Caliche Development Partners II, is bullish on Houston. Photo courtesy

Graham Payne sees a bright future for the multibillion-dollar energy transition economy in Houston.

“It’s been said that Houston is poised, like no other city, to lead the energy transition. And I’d have to agree, because we have all the requisite natural resources, industry, and talent,” says Payne, the new director of energy transition at Houston-based carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) company Caliche Development Partners II.

Caliche and other Houston-based energy transition companies secured $6.1 billion in private funding last year, up 62 percent from 2022, according to the Greater Houston Partnership.

Click here to read the article from October.

Investment banking firm launches cleantech group, names Houston-based co-leader

Moelis hired Arash Nazhad as Houston-based managing director and co-head of its newly formed clean energy technology group. Photo via rice.edu

A Houston investment banker has been tapped as co-leader of a new team at investment bank Moelis & Co. that will mine the energy sector for cleantech deals.

Publicly traded Moelis said September 7 that it hired Arash Nazhad as Houston-based managing director and co-head of its newly formed clean energy technology group. Nazhad joins Moelis from financial services giant Citigroup, where he was managing director of its clean energy investment team. He worked at Citigroup for nine years.

During his tenure at Citigroup and, before that, Norwegian energy company Equinor (which operates a Houston office), Nazhad helped carry out more than $50 billion in M&A advisory activities and helped raise over $40 billion in capital for clients. He’s been involved in the rollout of more than 20 IPOs.

Click here to read the article from September.

Houston energy transition leader joins California company's board with investment

Bobby Tudor has joined the board of an energy tech company. Photo via Houston.org

A Houston business leader has taken a seat at the table of a San Francisco-based tech company.

Puloli, an IoT solutions-as-a-service company has announced an investment from, Artemis Energy Partners, a Houston group founded by Bobby Tudor. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

With the transaction, Tudor joins Puloli's board of directors, bringing expertise from a storied career in energy transition from his roles at Tudor Pickering Holt & Co. and the Greater Houston Partnership.

"Bobby brings a tremendous amount of credibility and energy industry insight to Puloli and complements what Jodi Jahic and Aligned Partners bring to Puloli," Kethees Ketheesan, CEO of Puloli, says in a news release. "Bobby's endorsement of Puloli solution will be a big boost in accelerating our growth."

Click here to read the article from July.

Energy exec to take the reins of the Greater Houston Partnership

Steve Kean will transition from leading Kinder Morgan to assuming the role of president and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership later this year. Photo courtesy of the GHP

A longtime energy executive has been named the next president and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership. He'll take on the new role this fall.

The GHP named Steve Kean, who currently serves as the CEO of Kinder Morgan Inc., to the position. He's expected to transition from CEO to board of directors member at Kinder Morgan on August 1. Kean will then assume his new position at GHP no later than Dec. 1.

Dr. Marc L. Boom, GHP board chair and president and CEO of Houston Methodist, made the announcement at a press conference June 21.

“Steve brings incredible business acumen and leadership skills to the organization," Boom says in a statement. "Coupled with an extraordinary passion for Houston, he will build on the Partnership’s momentum to continue to advance greater Houston as a region of extraordinary growth and opportunity.”

Click here to read the article from June.

Jeremy Pitts of Activate joins the Houston Energy Transition Initiative for a Q&A. Photo via LinkedIn

Q&A: Houston organization empowers science entrepreneurs paving the way to a low-carbon future

THE VIEW FROM HETI

Founded in 2015, Activate Global Inc. is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that partners with US-based funders and research institutions to support scientists at the outset of their entrepreneurial journey by providing personalized expertise, tools, and resources that may otherwise be inaccessible. The organization recently launched its fifth community in Houston, and just closed the application window for the 2024 Activate Fellowship Cohort.

We recently connected with energy industry veteran and Activate Houston Managing Director Jeremy Pitts to learn more about how Activate is empowering scientists and engineers as they pave the way to a low-carbon future.

HETI: Activate was founded in 2015 and has established fellowship programs in Silicon Valley, Boston, New York, and a remote Anywhere Community. Why was Houston the next logical choice for an Activate Community?   

JeremyPitts: There is no doubt that Houston is going to be a major player in the energy transition, so it’s a logical place for Activate to be as we do our part to help bring ground-breaking technology out of the lab and deploy it to solve the world’s biggest challenges.

Houston is already the best place to scale a company working on the types of hard tech solutions that Activate focuses on. Houston has the talent, capital, and resources to build and deploy things at the scale needed to have a global impact. There is a good chance that many of our current Activate companies and alumni will end up in Houston as they pursue their scale-up plans. Activate alum Tim Latimer and Fervo Energy are great examples of this.

Houston is also an interesting fit for Activate as we believe we can fill a gap in the current ecosystem by providing support for entrepreneurs at the earliest stages of their journey. By providing funding and support, we can keep those entrepreneurs in Houston as opposed to moving to the coasts. We are hopeful that not only can we directly support a small number of the most promising entrepreneurs, but we can indirectly support many more by creating an ecosystem where early-stage capital starts to find its way to Houston to support these revolutionary and impactful technologies.

HETI: Activate Communities work closely with climate tech programs at leading colleges and universities, including UC Berkeley, U Mass Boston, and Columbia University. What can you tell us about Activate Houston’s plans for collaboration with area colleges and universities?

JP: Activate’s goal is to be as inclusive as possible. One of our main goals is to find fellows who we can have as big of an impact on as possible, potentially being the difference between whether they are successful or not. To that end, we plan to partner and engage with all of the research institutions across Houston and the surrounding areas. In just our first few months of being on the ground in Houston and recruiting for our first cohort, we have already engaged with Rice, UH, Prairie View A&M, TSU, Texas A&M, UT, and the Texas Medical Center. We have also begun outreach and preliminary conversations with institutions outside of the Houston area, like UT Dallas, SMU, Baylor, UTEP, etc. Our goal is to find the most promising entrepreneurs and the most impactful technologies that we can help and support, regardless of where they come from.

We will also be looking to engage with some of these institutions to make resources available to our fellows to support the research they are doing once in the Activate program. These conversations are in the early stages, but the facilities at UH Technology Bridge and TMC’s Innovation Factory are great examples of how the Houston ecosystem can support our fellows.

HETI: How do fellowships like Activate differ from traditional accelerator programs and why are they such an important component of the energy transition?

JP: Accelerators in general are a great resource for entrepreneurs to quickly learn the fundamentals around building a company and gain access to a network of investors, mentors, and partners that they would have trouble accessing on their own.

While Activate has a lot of overlap with accelerators in terms of what we provide, we classify ourselves as a fellowship and not an accelerator. The reasons for this primarily lie in the fact that we are a non-profit. This allows us to do a few things different from traditional accelerators. First, our program does not charge any fees or equity. Because our success is not tied to the financial outcomes of the companies, we are able to take much bigger risks in terms of the technology we support and we are also able to take a fellow first approach, as sometimes the best outcome for the fellow as a person is not the best financial outcome for the company. Second, we are much more patient, offering a full two years of support for our fellows and continuing to support our alumni community after they have left the program.

Activate’s unique fellowship program can play an essential role because many of the technologies and breakthroughs necessary to solve the world’s biggest challenges are really hard. It can take a long time to develop these technologies and often they are too risky and unproven at the early stages to be able to attract the capital they need to turn the technology into a commercial solution. Activate can support these hard technologies and provide a two-year safety net for our fellows as they work through those early challenges and progress their solution to a point that the private markets will support the business coming out of our program. We have been quite successful with this approach thus far, as the 145 companies we have created have raised nearly $1.4B in follow-on funding, representing a 23X multiplier on the funds Activate has directly deployed to support the fellows.

HETI: You’re the co-founder of Greentown Labs, now the nation’s biggest climate tech incubator. How does that experience help in your new role as MD at Activate Houston?

JP: The biggest takeaway for me from my time building Greentown is the power of community. Early-stage deep tech founders face monumental challenges. Having a community of like-minded individuals nearby who are facing their own similar challenges and serve as both a support network and a sounding board to help work through those challenges can be the difference between success and failure. I hope to leverage those learnings to really focus on Activate Houston being an incredibly strong community where the founders can lean on each other, and me, for the support they need.

In addition, Greentown also serves as a gathering place for bringing the larger climate community together, which is so vital in pushing forward the energy transition. In the early days of Greentown, those events happened on an almost ad hoc basis, as there wasn’t previously a place for people interested in climate to gather. Greentown has changed a lot over the years – the facilities are quite a bit nicer than where we started – but it has done an amazing job continuing to fill that role as the center of the climate ecosystem and bringing together a community of like-minded individuals. Anyone who attended the recent Greentown Climatetech Summit and experienced the standing-room-only crowds of passionate people can attest to that. Certainly, Greentown already fills that role for Houston and does it well, but my experience with the power of community will lead me to lean into Houston’s climate community and encourage our fellows to do the same, to be active members in strengthening the entire climate and innovation ecosystem in Houston. All boats rise together in the rising sea that is Houston’s climate and innovation ecosystem.

HETI: What are you most looking forward to with the upcoming launch of Houston’s 2024 Cohort?

JP: I’m looking forward to getting started – welcoming our first cohort into Houston and showing the rest of the country that Houston can hold its own when it comes to hard tech and world-changing innovation.

———

This article originally ran on the Greater Houston Partnership's Houston Energy Transition Initiative blog. HETI exists to support Houston's future as an energy leader. For more information about the Houston Energy Transition Initiative, EnergyCapitalHTX's presenting sponsor, visit htxenergytransition.org.

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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.

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.