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Meet the top energy startups in Houston, events not to miss, and more to know in Houston news this week

Here are three things to know in Houston energy transition news 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: events not to miss, a podcast to stream, and more.

Put it on your calendar

This week's must-attend energy transition events:

  • October 30-31 — Fuze is a must-attend event for executives, investors, and founders serious about solving the energy crisis and boosting company efficiency. Learn more.
  • November 1 — The Greentown Labs Climatetech Summit 2023 will feature energy transition startups, thought leaders, and more both in person and online. Learn more.
  • November 8 — The Houston Innovation Awards will honor the city's startups, entrepreneurs, and ecosystem, including energy tech innovators. Learn more.

Pretty big deals

The 2023 Houston Innovation Awards announced its 52 finalists — a large portion of which are promising energy transition startups.

The awards program — hosted by EnergyCapital's sister site, InnovationMap, and Houston Exponential — will name its winners on November 8 at the Houston Innovation Awards. The program was established to honor the best and brightest companies and individuals from the city's innovation community.

Eighteen startups, which all have an energy transition element to their business, received a finalist position in one or two categories. Click here to reveal this year's finalists.

Stream it: Podcast to listen to

In the rapidly evolving world of energy technology, few innovations hold as much promise as the solutions being developed by Earthen.

We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Manas Pathak, the CEO and co-founder of Earthen, to delve into the company's groundbreaking thermo-mechanical energy storage system. In this Q&A, we explore the core of Earthen's technology, its potential impact on the energy sector, and what the future holds.

Manas Pathak's insights offer a glimpse into the future of energy storage and the innovations that companies like Earthen are bringing to the table. As the energy sector continues to evolve, solutions like these will play a pivotal role in shaping a sustainable future. Click here to read the Q&A.

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A View From HETI

HEXASpec was founded by Rice Ph.D. candidates Tianshu Zhai and Chen-Yang Lin, who are a part of Lilie’s 2024 Innovation Fellows program. Photo courtesy of Rice

A group of Rice University student-founded companies shared $100,000 of cash prizes at an annual startup competition — and three of those winning companies are focused on sustainable solutions.

Liu Idea Lab for Innovation and Entrepreneurship's H. Albert Napier Rice Launch Challenge, hosted by Rice earlier this month, named its winners for 2024. HEXASpec, a company that's created a new material to improve heat management for the semiconductor industry, won the top prize and $50,000 cash.

Founded by Rice Ph.D. candidates Tianshu Zhai and Chen-Yang Lin, who are a part of Lilie’s 2024 Innovation Fellows program, HEXASpec is improving efficiency and sustainability within the semiconductor industry, which usually consumes millions of gallons of water used to cool data centers. According to Rice's news release, HEXASpec's "next-generation chip packaging offer 20 times higher thermal conductivity and improved protection performance, cooling the chips faster and reducing the operational surface temperature."

A few other sustainability-focused startups won prizes, too. CoFlux Purification, a company that has a technology that breaks down PFAS using a novel absorbent for chemical-free water, won second place and $25,000, as well as the Audience Choice Award, which came with an additional $2,000.

Solidec, a company that's working on a platform to produce chemicals from captured carbon, and HEXASpec won Outstanding Achievement in Climate Solutions Prizes, which came with $1,000.

The NRLC, open to Rice students, is Lilie's hallmark event. Last year's winner was fashion tech startup, Goldie.

“We are the home of everything entrepreneurship, innovation and research commercialization for the entire Rice student, faculty and alumni communities,” Kyle Judah, executive director at Lilie, says in a news release. “We’re a place for you to immerse yourself in a problem you care about, to experiment, to try and fail and keep trying and trying and trying again amongst a community of fellow rebels, coloring outside the lines of convention."

This year, the competition started with 100 student venture teams before being whittled down to the final five at the championship. The program is supported by Lilie’s mentor team, Frank Liu and the Liu Family Foundation, Rice Business, Rice’s Office of Innovation, and other donors

“The heart and soul of what we’re doing to really take it to the next level with entrepreneurship here at Rice is this fantastic team,” Peter Rodriguez, dean of Rice Business, adds. “And they’re doing an outstanding job every year, reaching further, bringing in more students. My understanding is we had more than 100 teams submit applications. It’s an extraordinarily high number. It tells you a lot about what we have at Rice and what this team has been cooking and making happen here at Rice for a long, long time.”

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This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

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