Greentown Houston is asking its current and potential members what they want in a wet lab. Photo via GreentownLabs.com

Greentown Houston has announced it's building a new wet lab facility, and the organization is looking for feedback from its community.

Greentown Labs, which is dual located at their headquarters in Somerville, Massachusetts, and in the Ion District in Houston, has announced earlier this summer that they are building out a wet lab in their Midtown space.

"We have heard from several startups as well as corporate partners in the ecosystem that are looking for wet lab space," says Lara Cottingham, vice president of strategy, policy, and climate impact at Greentown Labs. "Greentown has experience running wet labs from our location in Somerville. We're excited to be able to offer wet lab space to climatetech startups as an additional amenity to the Ion District.

Although Greentown's Boston-area location has wet lab space, Cottingham says the organization is not interested in copying and pasting that same facility. Greentown wants to provide the tools that the Houston ecosystem needs, and that requires getting feedback from its current and potential members.

"We want to announce to the community that this is something we're going to build — but we still need a lot of feedback and input from startups so we can learn what exactly they need or want to see from the wet lab," Cottingham tells InnovationMap. "No two wet labs are the same."

There currently aren't any details available about timeline or specifics of the new facility. Greentown is prioritizing getting feedback from its members and having conversations with potential sponsors and corporate partners.

"Corporate partners are a big part of the ecosystem and the community at Greentown. They can be so many things to our startups — mentors, customers, investors," Cottingham says. "And in this space, they can help us sponsor and financially support the wet lab. We're still fundraising — we have some partners that have committed to funding, but we're still looking for more funding."

In addition to monetary contribution, Cottingham says they are looking for other options as well, from partnerships with equipment providers, hazardous materials management, and more.

Startups that need wet lab space are encouraged to fill out the online form, which will be open through the summer, and potential corporate partners can express their interest online as well.

Greentown Houston opened its doors in 2021 and has since grown to house more than 75 energy and climatetech startups, as well as several accelerators, thanks to support from dozens of corporate partners.

------

This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

EnergyTech Startups, a podcast co-hosted by two Houston clean energy experts, exists to shine a spotlight on innovative companies and Houston as a hub for energy transition businesses. Photo via Unsplash

Houston podcasters aim to showcase promising local energy tech startups

broadcasting innovation

Houston has a bit of a perception problem, according to Jason Ethier, a long-time energy tech innovator and new podcast host.

"Houston isn't viewed as a cool place to build a company if you don't know how good it is to be here," he says on the Houston Innovators Podcast.

Ethier, who serves as senior director of membership at Greentown Labs, set out to fix that when he launched the EnergyTech Startups podcast last fall with co-host Lara Cottingham, the vice president of strategy, policy, and climate impact at Greentown Labs. To date, the show has introduced listeners to over 20 energy founders and is continuing to do so on a biweekly basis.

"As an entrepreneur, sometimes you feel a gap in the market in your bones and you just have to do something about it," Ethier explains on the origin of the show.

Jason Ethier and Lara Cottingham co-host the EnergyTech Startups podcast. Photos courtesy

With his background in the Northeast, Ethier has seen first hand how Houstonians are just different — they tackle tough challenges and are heads-down focused on these innovations.

"Houston has a lot going for it as a place to build a business, and we're not going to do it the Silicon Valley. We do things the Houston way — we build new technologies, we build big projects," Ethier says. "The funny thing about Houstonians I find is that they are very understated with what they achieve and accomplish like it's no big deal. But it is a big deal."

That's where Ethier and the podcast can help shine a spotlight on the unique innovation these startup founders are in the process of commercializing.

"The premise of EnergyTech Startups is that we're building an energy ecosystem here, and energy and climate are two sides of the same coin," he says. "People working on these energy technologies made the choice to come to Houston — they made the choice not to go to Silicon Valley or Boston."

The goal is twofold — give these startups the platform to tell their story and showcase Houston as the hub for energy innovation.

"How do we tell this Houston story so that whenever folks look at the map and say, 'where do I want to build my business?' they look at Houston and see it as a place they should end up," he says.

Listen to the full episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast with Jason Ethier.

Ad Placement 300x100
Ad Placement 300x600

CultureMap Emails are Awesome

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.”

———

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.”