The 12-week program received a record number of applications, that spanned the campus' degree offerings. Photo courtesy of Rice University

Rice University's Liu Idea Lab for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, or Lilie, has named eight teams to the second cohort of the Lilie Summer Venture Studio, and two have sustainability as a goal.

According to Rice, the 12-week program received a record number of applications, that spanned the campus' degree offerings.

“We are thrilled to see such a high level of interest and excitement from Rice students for a high-growth venture accelerator,” Kyle Judah, executive director of Lilie, said in a statement. “The diversity and creativity in this year's applications were truly inspiring, and we’re excited to support these promising ventures with the resources and mentorship they need to hit escape velocity and create the next generation of pillar companies for Houston, Texas and the world.”

The selected teams will receive $15,000 in non-dilutive funding from the accelerator, along with access to coworking space and personalized mentorship in the Liu Idea Lab.

Coflux Purification, a patent-pending in-stream module that breaks down PFAS using a novel absorbent for chemical-free water, was named to the cohort, as was Solidec, a technology platform that extracts molecules from water and air, transforms them into pure chemicals and fuels without any carbon emissions.

Here are the rest of the teams for the 2024 Lilie Summer Venture Studio:

  • Docflow, focused on streamlining residency shift scheduling
  • JewelVision, building virtual fitting rooms for jewelry e-commerce retailers using generative AI
  • Levytation, using data science and AI to answer critical questions about sales and customers for coffee shop management
  • OnGuard, a marketplace to book off-duty police officers and security professionals
  • Roster, leverages data on athletes in the NCAA Transfer Portal to automatically send updates on players to coaches
  • Veloci, a running shoe venture that addresses common pains through shoe design

Lilie launched the Summer Venture Studio last year. According to Rice, two out of the six teams selected, Helix Earth Technologies and Tierra Climate, which both also tackle sustainability challenges, raised venture capital funds after completing the accelerator program.

Helix Earth Technologies also went on to earn the inaugural TEX-E Prize at CERAWeek in 2023.

“The track record of our Summer Venture Studio Accelerator speaks for itself, despite being early in our second year," Taylor Anne Adams, head of venture acceleration programs at the Liu Idea Lab, said in a statement. "This is the power of entrepreneurship programming that is designed by founders, for founders, that happens at the Liu Idea Lab.”

Last year, Lilie also named 11 successful business leaders with ties to Houston to its first Lilie’s Leadership Council. Each agreed to donate time and money to the university’s entrepreneurship programs.

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This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

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Texas named most vulnerable state to climate change in new report

lone star disappointment

The Lone Star State performed most averagely in a new report that ranked all 50 states on environmental protection.

Texas ranked No. 22 on the report from SmileHub, a nonprofit tech platform using data to evaluate charities. The report analyzed 23 metrics — from energy efficiency score and industrial toxins per square mile of land area to climate change vulnerability — factoring in data from U.S. Census Bureau, Internal Revenue Service, Department of Agriculture, and more.

"The U.S. produces over 292 million tons of waste per year, or over 4.9 pounds per person per day, according to the latest data from the Environmental Protection Agency," reads the report. "Additionally, due to pollution, California, Oregon, Michigan, Indiana and South Carolina each have over 12,000 miles of river unsuitable for human contact. Pollution and waste are issues across the U.S., but some states work harder than others to limit their impact."

In addition to its middle-of-the-pack No. 22 overall ranking, Texas took first place in the "Vulnerability to Climate Change" category. Here's how else the state measured up:

  • No. 18 – Environmental Protection Charities per Capita
  • No. 36 – Share of State Land Designated for Parks and Wildlife
  • No. 28 – Energy Efficiency Score
  • No. 28 – Share of Population Using Green Transportation
  • No. 33 – Total Tonnage of Landfill Waste per Capita
  • No. 28 – Industrial Toxins per Square Mile of Land Area

It's not the first time the state performed poorly on recent environmental reports. In April, WalletHub evaluated evaluated the current health of states' environment and residents’ environmental-friendliness. Texas ranked No. 38, meaning it was the thirteenth least green state, only scoring 50.40 points out of 100.

Additionally, Houston has stood out for the wrong reasons. In May, Houston was ranked as the No. 15 most polluted city in the U.S. according to data compiled by the National Public Utilities Council. No other Texas city appears in the ranking. Three California cities — Bakersfield, Visalia, and Fresno — took the top three spots.

Houston company breaks ground on North Texas solar project

coming soon

A Houston-area company has broken ground on a new 310-megawatt solar project located in Bosque County, Texas.

League City-based INEOS Olefins & Polymers and Florida-based NextEra Energy Resources announced the groundbreaking on INEOS Hickerson Solar, which will reportedly save over 310,000 tons of CO2 every year.

“INEOS O&P USA is committed to leading the petrochemical community in adopting renewable energy solutions,” says CEO Mike Nagle in a news release. “This solar project is a crucial step in our global efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of INEOS businesses.”

The INEOS Hickerson Solar project will be constructed, owned and operated by a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources, and the output will aim to cover the net purchased electricity load for all 14 of INEOS O&P USA’s manufacturing, fractionation and storage facilities. Commercial operation is expected by December 2025.

The project is expected to produce 730,000 megawatt-hours of clean energy annually, which is the equivalent to the annual electricity use of over 68,000 homes. INEOS hopes this will significantly contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 310,000 tons per year.

This follows the recently signed renewable power purchase agreement with NextEra Energy Resources, which is the world's largest generator of renewable energy from wind and sun.

6 sustainability-minded Houston stores giving discounts for old clothes

CLOTHES THE LOOP

Shopping is fun, but it comes with the unseen price tag of more than 92 million tons of global textile waste generated each year. With the apparel industry's global emissions predicted to increase by 50 percent in just six years, many see this as a full-blown climate crisis that is already affecting people across the globe.

To combat this problem, several retailers have committed to bolstering their sustainability efforts. From recycling linens, towels, pillows, and robes to upcycling denim, companies are finding ways for every textile to be saved from the landfill and either re-worn, repurposed, or recycled.

Stores trying to make a difference include Patagonia, North Face, J.Jill, Carter's, and DSW Shoes. To make summer vacation and back-to-school shopping more environmentally friendly, we've rounded up six Houston retailers where customers can trade in used clothing and textiles for exclusive discounts.

Gap

Gap has partnered with ThredUp, an online resale company, to recycle gently used clothing for their Gap for Good initiative. Customers can activate a kit and get a label here, fill the bag, and drop it off at any FedEx or post office location. If ThredUp selects any items for resale, customers can choose to receive either cash or store credit. Those who opt for store credit and use it at any Gap Inc.-brand stores will receive an additional 15% off their purchase. For clothes not chosen for resale, ThredUp offers recycling services, or the items can be mailed back to the customer for a fee.

H&M

According to H&M's website, its worldwide garment recycling program, launched in 2013, is "the biggest of its kind in the world." Customers can get 15 percent off their purchase by bringing unwanted clothes or textiles — from any brand and in any condition — to one of its stores. Turn them in at the cashier's kiosk and receive a coupon for their next purchase. The clothing and textiles will be sorted into three categories: re-wear, reuse, or recycling.

Levi's

Levi's aims to keep its coveted jeans in circulation and out of landfills with its trade-in program. The brand accepts denim and trucker jackets that are still in good condition; they repair any minor damage, sanitize the items, and resell them through their secondhand shop. Customers will receive a gift card ranging from $5 to $30, depending on the value of the item traded in. Customers must make an appointment to take advantage of this program, and only certain types of denim are accepted. A complete list of requirements is available here.

Lululemon

Have a drawer full of old Lululemon workout gear? Trade it in for a gift card towards a future purchase. The garment does not need to have its care tag, size tag, or price tag for this initiative; the workout brand accepts clean and gently worn (items with no damage, pilling, rips, or discoloration) women's and men's Lululemon clothing and bags for their Like New program. Except for outlet stores, every Lululemon outpost can accept items for the Like New program. Check what they're taking before going to the store, because items cycle in and out depending on seasonality and inventory. The value of the gift card customers will receive is determined by the value of the items traded in, but generally ranges in price from $5 to $25 and can be redeemed in-store or online.

Madewell

Madewell is on a mission to become fully sustainable, defined as using only fibers sustainably sourced and free of virgin plastics, by 2025. It has partnered with Cotton's Blue Jeans Go Green program to repurpose denim and keep it out of landfills by turning old jeans into housing insulation.

To participate in Madewell's recycling program, bring any brand or style of jeans in any condition to any Madewell store. If shipping is more convenient, activate a Clean Out Kit here or print out a free shipping label and mail in women's previously used clothing, handbags, shoes, and accessories from any brand. In exchange, customers will get a coupon for $20 off purchasing one new pair of Madewell jeans.

Parachute

Parachute, the beloved home essentials brand, is celebrating its 10th anniversary by launching a recycling program. In partnership with SuperCircle, they accept used towels, sheets, and robes. Although there are several recycling programs for clothing, shoes, and accessories, Parachute is pioneering this type of program in the home textile sector.

To participate in the program, customers can take their sheets, towels, pillows, and robes in any condition from any brand to Parachute's Rice Village store. They'll sort and recycle donated items for a second life – from new textiles to new projects, including furniture batting, insulation, and padding – sending nothing to landfill. In return, customers will receive a discount on their next Parachute purchase.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.