Events not to miss, a new app launches for the energy industry, and more things to know this week. Photo via Getty Images

Editor's note: It's a new week — start it strong with three quick things to know in Houston's energy transition ecosystem. Meet the new leaders of ERCOT, an app you probably should download, and events not to miss this week.

Energy networking: There's an app for that

This Houston-based media company launched a networking platform to help solve the energy crisis. Screenshots via

The Digital Wildcatters have created a platform for individuals to get their questions answered by experts and a space for companies seeking qualified talent. Collide is structured to ignite the next generation of energy innovators, as Collin McLelland, co-founder and CEO of Digital Wildcatters, tells EnergyCapital.

“If you look at what we’ve done historically with Digital Wildcatters, we’ve built an extremely engaged community of energy professionals — it’s a next generation community, very young forward thinking professionals that are working towards solving the world’s energy crisis,” McLelland says.

The roll out of Collide has been intentionally gradual, McLelland says because they want to shape the user experience based on feedback from ongoing focus groups. Currently they have about 1,000 users and are examining how they can make the app valuable to them before providing the platform to a wider audience.

McLelland says there are two major issues within the energy sector that Collide hopes to address — a lack of knowledge about energy verticals and difficulty recruiting talent.

“What we really see with our platform is being able to bring people together where if you want to find a piece of information, you need to find a subject matter expert, or if you want to find your next job, it happens on the Collide platform,” McLelland says. Read the full story.

Upcoming must-attend events to put on your radar

Two events this month the energy transition community needs to know about. Photos by Jeff Fitlow/Rice University

  • September 14-15 — The Ninth Annual Digitalization in Oil & Gas Conference will focus on digitalization, decarbonization, and innovation within the energy industry across five tracks: IoT, blockchain, digital twins, edge computing, and connectivity for upstream, midstream, and downstream operators.
  • September 21 — The Rice Alliance Energy Tech Venture Forum is an opportunity to learn about the latest emerging technologies, meet investors to seek funding, see promising companies, and more.

People to know this week

A quick who's who roundup from last week's EnergyCapital coverage. Photo via Getty Images

Missed some of EnergyCapital's news from last week? Catch up on who to know here.

  • The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, announced a reorganization amongst its leadership. Effective September 1, four ERCOT leaders have new titles and positions: Woody Rickerson has been named to the newly created position of senior vice president and COO; KristiHobbs, who previously served as vice president of corporate strategy and public utility commission relations, will replace Rickerson as vice president of system planning and weatherization and will report directly to Rickerson; BettyDay, vice president of security and compliance and chief compliance officer, has assumed oversight of business continuity; and RebeccaZerwas will serve as director of state policy and public utility commission relations, board liaison. Read the full story.
  • Launched in 2022, The Texas Southern University Division for Research & Innovation is spearheading the institutions efforts in attaining the highest-tier classification for research in higher education institutions. Michelle Penn-Marshall, who serves as vice president for the division, recently sat down with the Houston Energy Transition Initiative to talk about the university’s mission to become a leader in research and the long-term goals for engaging students in the energy sector and advancing the energy transition. Read the full story.
  • With over a billion cars currently on the road — each with four tires that will eventually end up discarded, one Houstonian is hoping to create the infrastructure to sustainably dispose of tire waste now and into the future. VibhuSharma founded InnoVent Renewables to establish production facilities that utilize a proprietary continuous pyrolysis technology that is able to convert waste tires, plastics, and biomass into fuels and chemicals. In a Q&A with EnergyCapital, Sharma explains his plans to sustainably impact the tire waste space and his vision for his company. Read the full story.

Michelle Penn-Marshall, who serves as vice president for The Texas Southern University Division for Research & Innovation, answers questions from the Houston Energy Transition Initiative. Photo via

Q&A: Texas Southern University leading the way in the energy transition


Launched in 2022, The Texas Southern University Division for Research & Innovation is spearheading the institutions efforts in attaining the highest-tier classification for research in higher education institutions.

Michelle Penn-Marshall, who serves as vice president for the division, recently sat down with HETI to talk about the university’s mission to become a leader in research and the long-term goals for engaging students in the energy sector and advancing the energy transition.

HETI: Can you give our audience an overview of the Division of Research & Innovation at Texas Southern University?

Michelle Penn-Marshall: The Division of Research and Innovation is the latest in Texas Southern University’s (TSU) efforts to attain the highest-tier classification for research in accordance with the Carnegie Classification of Research Institutions of Higher Education. As an elite Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Carnegie Classified R2 research institution, TSU provides meritorious research and innovation for the world-renowned Texas Medical Center and greater Houston community. The legacy of TSU is one of public service while responding to the needs of our stakeholders and community partners. The solutions and measured outcomes created through our research transforms high-performance computing, autonomous vehicles, energy, environmental and climate justice, cancer prevention, drug discovery, emergency preparedness and responsiveness, criminal justice, nutrition, transportation, affordable housing, health disparities and more. Maintaining our R2 status on a trajectory toward R1 status along with bringing in top talented scholars, researchers and principal investigators for our division will fortify our commitment and mission of providing data-driven solutions and outcomes for urban communities and beyond.

HETI: In partnership with HETI and several regional universities, Texas Southern University was recently named a semi-finalist for the National Science Foundation Engines grant. What role will TSU play in the program and how will your efforts help to advance the energy transition?

MPM: The Greater Houston Partnership and the Houston Energy Transition Initiative (HETI), in partnership with five regional universities, including Texas Southern University, the University of Houston, University of Texas at Austin, Rice University and Texas A&M University, were recently named semifinalists for the National Science Foundation Regional Innovation Engine (NSF Engines) program. Texas Southern University is recognized for embracing challenges and finding innovative solutions to contemporary issues and problems facing urban communities – more specifically traditionally marginalized and underrepresented stakeholders. As a catalyst for urban transformation, TSU is equipped to assist the region create a sustainable future in a manner that advances social equity and economic growth and sustainability. Investigating in areas that devise solutions toward producing more natural gas, a lower carbon alternative to coal and a complement to renewables. Collectively, we can all play an integral part to advance lowering carbon emissions in partnership with other like-minded researchers, institutions and collaborators.

HETI: The demand for green jobs seems to outpace the number of professionals with green skills. What are some ways that TSU is developing and enhancing students’ workforce skills to engage the energy workforce?

MPM: The Houston Energy Transition Initiative has the potential to advance our regional workforce across all skill levels ensuring an equitable energy transition throughout the region. This becomes out time to showcase our knowledge, skills and abilities in becoming the global exemplar for HETI. It is my charge to position TSU prominently in pursuing a comprehensive approach that will advance equity in innovation and entrepreneurship programs required for a just energy transition for all, including others who have been historically underserved, marginalized, and those areas affected by environmental and social injustice in the region.

We can enhance students’ workforce skills by:

  • Aggressively participate in national events and programs that increase awareness of energy careers
  • Intentionally nurture partnerships with organizations and agencies that can support a diverse talent funnel that creates meaningful skill development for our students
  • Strategically assess the creation of certificate programs for energy careers and pathways at TSU

HETI: How can community partners, organizations and energy tech giants help to close the green skills gender gap?

MPM: Research and data recognize that women are over-represented in sectors that traditionally have paid less and don’t have the opportunities for pay progression and/or advancement. However, diversity of perspective and world views are essential for innovation and technological progression. Employers, partners, and energy companies should find ways to deliberately expose young women to sustainable career paths and role models. Ideally, this exposure and learning process must begin with young girls during the middle school years. Opportunities might include, but are not limited to, arranging for female engineers (It is paramount that we embrace and appreciate the governance of difference in all aspects in these emerging energy and technology fields and workspaces. We must nurture and celebrate the gifts and contributions from women in these spaces from all races, cultures and communities, but more specifically from underrepresented and marginalized groups – representation matters, it is of prime interest to our national security and future competing in a global marketplace.) to give public testimonies in schools or community settings and increase the opportunities for dedicated internship or apprenticeship programs for career-ready females. The ideas for prospects for exposure and learning are infinite.


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

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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.”