Teams from three Houston-area universities have been named to the DOE's annual competition. Photo via energy.gov

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Technology Transitions selected 225 teams from 117 schools from 39 states — including three Houston-area universities — to participate in its annual startup competition.

University of Houston, Rice University, and Texas A&M University will compete in the EnergyTech University Prize, known as EnergyTech UP, in the 2024 Student Track. See the full list here.

The EnergyTech UP Student Track tasks collegiate teams to develop “actionable plans for business and commercialization opportunities around high-potential energy technologies.”

The competitors in the event, which is in its third year, will also receive free access to OTT’s Energy I-Corps curriculum. Finalists will receive mentorship from industry leaders on their proposals. Through three phases — Explore, Refine, and Pitch — with Bonus Prize winners also being selected along the way, the teams will compete for more than $400,000 in cash prizes.

Teams will present their proposals to a panel of judges in the hopes of being selected as a finalist in the first phase, the regional Explore Event.

Finalists will refine their ideas before pitching their complete plans at Zpryme’s 2024 Energy Thought Summit in April in Austin, Texas. The goal is for EnergyTech UP’s winning teams to have successfully identified promising energy technology, carefully assess its market potential, and create a business plan.

“We see immense value in supporting the next generation of clean energy leaders through EnergyTech UP” said DOE Chief Commercialization Officer and Director of OTT, Dr. Vanessa Z. Chan in a news release. “These teams are working to develop attainable, equitable, scalable energy technologies and business opportunities. They have the potential to profoundly impact the cleantech industry, and we’re proud to provide resources that can help bolster their ideas.”

Other Texas universities selected this year include:

  • The University of Texas at Austin
  • The University of Texas at El Paso
  • Texas Tech University
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.

This autonomous freight delivery provider has entered the Texas market. Photo via VAS

Companies in Transition: June 13

ENERGY FOR ALL, BY ALL

As explained at the launch event for EnergyCapitalHTX.com on 1 June by David Gow, CEO of Gow Media, “…we plan to provide informative, unbiased coverage of the Houston-based initiatives, spanning big corporations and startups. We hope that a site dedicated to the transition will bring visibility to the city’s substantive progress and to the path forward.”

This series, Companies in Transition, highlights the latest energy transition activity happening here in the world’s Capital of Energy for companies of all sizes and stages. Natalie Harms, editor of our sister site, Innovation Map, caught up with a couple of such companies making strides last week.

Volvo Group announces new self-driving freight routes across Texas

A global car brand has expanded its autonomous transport-as-a-service company to Texas.

Volvo Autonomous Solutions, or VAS, announced it has established an office in Fort Worth to set up its first self-driving freight corridors between Dallas-Fort Worth and El Paso, as well as from Dallas to Houston. Ahead of commercial launch, VAS has started hauling freight for key customers like DHL and Uber Freight for testing purposes.

"At Volvo Autonomous Solutions, we believe the path to autonomy at scale is through reducing the friction and complications around ownership and operations for customers," says Nils Jaeger, president of VAS, in a news release. "This is why we have taken the decision to be the single interface to our customers and take full ownership of the elements required for commercial autonomous transport. With the opening of our office in Texas and start of operational activities, we are building the foundations for a transport solution that will change the way we move goods on highways."

As a part of the Volvo Group, VAS provides its Autonomous Transport Solutions — a combination of hardware, software, and services — to its customers. The company has a partnership with Aurora, which includes the integration of the Aurora Driver with Volvo's on-highway truck offering.

To learn more about how Volvo is building efficiency for the entire supply chain, head on over to InnovationMap to read more.

Multinational manufacturer partners with Greentown for new startup accelerator

A climatetech incubator with locations in Houston and Somerville, Massachusetts, has announced an accelerator program with a corporate partner.

Greentown Labs and Saint-Gobain, a multinational manufacturer and distributor of high-performance materials, have opened applications for Greentown Go Build 2023. The program intends to support and accelerate startup-corporate partnerships to advance climatetech, specifically focused on circularity and decarbonizing the built environment per a news release from Greentown.

“The Greentown Go Build program is an opportunity for innovative startups to share how they are disrupting the construction market with innovative and sustainable solutions that address the need for circularity and sustainability and that align with our mission of making the world a better home,” says Minas Apelian, vice president of external and internal venturing at Saint-Gobain. “Through this program, we are eager to identify companies dedicated to reducing our reliance on raw materials and associated supply chain risk to ensure circular solutions result in profitable, sustainable growth for business and sustainable construction solutions for our industries.”

Find out if your company is a fit for this prestigious opportunity over at InnovationMap.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Houston biotech's new CFO, new Texas solar project, and more energy transition things to know this week

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 roundup of events not to miss, a new Houston energy executive to know, and more.

Big deal: Houston solar company acquires Texas project site

Aggreko’s Energy Transition Solutions division has acquired the 13 MW behind-the-meter solar power project site, and the company will oversee construction, own, and operate the facility.

“Texas is an attractive market for these types of C&I projects, thanks to its robust solar resource, ease of development, and an efficient ERCOT grid connection process for projects of this size," Prashanth Prakash, Aggreko ETS chief commercial officer, says in a news release. "This project serves as another example of how we help commercial and industrial customers meet their decarbonization goals.” Read more.

New hire: Houston sustainable biotech company names new CFO

Lisa Bromiley has joined Cemvita as CFO. Bromiley will work on spearheading capital markets, strategic positioning, and financial management of the company.

"We are thrilled to welcome Lisa Bromiley to Cemvita as our CFO,” Moji Karimi, CEO of Cemvita, says in a news release. “She joins us at an inflection point in our growth trajectory and I’m confident that Lisa's strategic financial acumen will play a pivotal role in driving Cemvita's continued success." Read more.

Events not to miss

Put these Houston-area energy-related events on your calendar.

  • Hydrogen networking at Greentown Labs is Tuesday, February 20, at 4:30 pm at Greentown Houston. Register.
  • The Future of Energy Across the Americas: Helping Lawyers Predict and Adapt — the 2024 Houston Energy Conference — is February 27 to March 1. Register.
  • CERAWeek 2024 is Monday, March 18, to Friday, March 22, in the George R. Brown Convention Center. Register.

Houston tech co. to build powerful supercomputer for global energy business to help reach net-zero goals

getting upgraded

A Houston tech company is building a next-generation supercomputer for one of the world’s largest energy providers.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise announced its plans to build HPC6 for Italian energy company Eni. Eni will use the system to advance scientific discovery and engineering toward accelerating innovation in energy transition to help aid its goal in getting to net zero. HPC6 is expected to be one of the world’s most powerful supercomputers owned by an enterprise.

HPC6 will be built with the same innovations that power the world’s fastest supercomputer to support data and image-intensive workloads across artificial intelligence, modeling, and simulation. According to a news release from HPE, the system will “augment Eni’s existing research that is focused on studying and identifying new energy sources, including renewable energy.”

Eni’s HPC6 will be installed in the company’s energy Green Data Center in Italy. The center will be upgraded to support HPE’s direct liquid-cooling (DLC) capabilities.

"Businesses are finding themselves balancing the huge business opportunities enabled by their AI investments with the responsibility of mitigating the environmental impact of these powerful systems," Antonio Neri, president and CEO of HPE, says in a news release.

"As the leader in developing energy efficient AI and supercomputing solutions, HPE is uniquely positioned to help organizations minimize power consumption while maximizing business outcomes," he continues. "We are excited to play a role in Eni’s commitment to decarbonization supported by digitalization and innovation."

Originally announced in 2020, HPE moved its headquarters to Houston in 2022.

TotalEnergies shares big circular economy win at Texas plant

reduce, reuse, recycle

For the first time in the United States, a global energy company has converted plastic waste into circular polymers.

TotalEnergies announced its milestone that took place at its polypropylene plant in La Porte, Texas. The plant, according to the company, will produce sustainably certified polymers for a wide range of purposes, including food grade packaging.

"After Europe, this first production of circular polymers from advanced recycling in the United States is a new step forward in our commitment to meeting the global market's growing demand for more innovative and sustainable plastics, as well as in our ambition to produce one million tons of circular polymers a year by 2030," Heather Tomas, Vice President Polymers Americas, says in the news release.

New Hope Energy's recycling facility in Tyler, Texas, provided the feedstock, which was converted into monomers at BASF TotalEnergies Petrochemicals facility in Port Arthur, Texas. BTP is a joint venture between BASF and TotalEnergies.

"We are excited to partner with TotalEnergies in our mutual effort to transform plastic for a cleaner world," Rusty Combs, CEO of New Hope Energy, says in the release. "This supply agreement is an important step towards achieving New Hope's goal of creating pyrolysis projects at a scale that will materially improve the nation's plastic recycling performance. We are honored by the confidence TotalEnergies has placed in both our team and our robust technology."