year in review

Big deals: Most trending M&A, transaction news from Houston's energy transition in 2023

Acquisitions, joint venture deals, offtake agreements — here's what news of energy transition deals in Houston trended this year. Photo via Getty Images

Editor's note: As the year comes to a close, EnergyCapital is looking back at the year's top stories in Houston energy transition. From acquisitions to offtake agreements, this year marked a big one for some of Houston's energy transition companies. Here were the top five most-read articles covering deals of 2023 — be sure to click through to read the full story.

Innovative Houston-based CO2 capture company gets acquired

Milestone Carbon has leased more that 22,000 acres of land in the Permian Basin for the permanent geologic sequestration of CO2. Photo via milestone-es.com

Houston-based Milestone Environmental Services announced this month that it has been acquired by affiliates of SK Capital Partners for an undisclosed amount.

The New York-based private investment firm, which specializes in the materials, ingredients, and life sciences sectors, now has a controlling stake of Milestone, which will continue to be led by its president and CEO Gabriel Rio.

Rio founded Milestone in 2014. The company is one of the largest independent providers of waste management services for the U.S. energy and industrial sectors. It focuses on permanent carbon sequestration services through its proprietary slurry injection process, which stores hydrocarbon waste over a mile underground.

Continue reading the article published in October.

Equinor buys into massive CCS joint venture project near Houston

Through an acquisition, Equinor has joined a joint venture carbon capture and storage project in southeast Texas. Image via Getty Images

A Norwegian energy company with its United States headquarters in Houston has announced it has acquired a significant chunk of a carbon capture and storage joint venture.

Equinor now owns a 25 percent interest in Bayou Bend CCS LLC, which is reported to be one of the largest domestic carbon capture and storage projects. The project — a JV between Chevron, Talos Energy Inc., and now Equinor, is located along the Gulf Coast in southeast Texas. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“Commercial CCS solutions are critical for hard-to-abate industries to meet their climate ambitions while maintaining their activity," Grete Tveit, senior vice president for Low Carbon Solutions in Equinor, says in a news release. "Entering Bayou Bend strengthens our low carbon solutions portfolio and supports our ambition to mature and develop 15-30 million tonnes of equity CO2 transport and storage capacity per year by 2035. Our experience from developing carbon storage projects can help advance decarbonization efforts in one of the largest industrial corridors in the US."

Continue reading the article published in August.

Global hydrogen company makes U.S. entrance through Houston-area facility acquisition

A Belgian hydrogen company has expanded to the United States by way of the Houston area. Photo via johncockerill.com

A Belgian electrolyzer manufacturer has acquired a facility in Baytown, expanding to North America for the first time.

John Cockerill Hydrogen announced today that its acquired a manufacturing space south of Houston that will be retrofitted to become one of the largest alkaline manufacturing facilities in the country. It's slated to deliver as early as the third quarter of next year.

“We are excited for the US launch, the first step in our partnership journey with North American businesses and stakeholders who seek to decarbonize and advance the energy transition,” François Michel, CEO of John Cockerill Group, says in a news release.

Continue reading the article published in October.

Houston energy company buys in on plastic recycling

LyondellBasell bought into a joint venture, Cyclyx International, that was formed in 2020 by Spring-based energy giant ExxonMobil and Tigard, Oregon-based plastic recycling innovator Agilyx. Photo courtesy ExxonMobil

Dutch chemical company LyondellBasell, whose U.S. headquarters is in Houston, has purchased a 25 percent stake in a joint venture that seeks to accelerate advancements in plastic recycling.

The joint venture, Cyclyx International, was formed in 2020 by Spring-based energy giant ExxonMobil and Tigard, Oregon-based plastic recycling innovator Agilyx.

In 2022, Cyclyx announced it had inked a deal with ExxonMobil and LyondellBasell to develop a first-of-its-kind plastic waste sorting and processing plant in the Houston area. The estimated $100 million facility, set to open in 2024, is poised to annually produce 330 million pounds of plastic feedstock, which is made up of recycled materials that can be used to manufacture new plastics.

Continue reading the article published in November.

United Airlines signs offtake arrangement with Houston startup for sustainable fuel production

United Airlines is interested in buying Cemvita's sustainable aviation fuel when it's produced. Photo courtesy of Cemvita

An innovative Houston company is celebrating a new deal with a global airline.

Cemvita Corp. announced a new offtake arrangement with United Airlines. Cemvita's first full-scale sustainable aviation fuel plant will provide up to 1 billion gallons of SAF to United Airlines. The 20-year contract specifies that Cemvita will supply up to 50 million gallons annually to United.

It's not the first collaboration Cemvita has had with the airline. Last year, United invested in the biotech company, which used the funding to open its Houston pilot plant.

Continue reading the article published in September.

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A View From HETI

IBM and Boxes recently partnered to integrate the IBM watsonx Assistant into Boxes devices, providing a way for consumer packaged brands to find out more than ever about what its customers like and want. Photo courtesy of Boxes

With the help of a new conversational artificial intelligence platform, a Houston startup is ready to let brands get up close and personal with consumers while minimizing waste.

IBM and Boxes recently partnered to integrate the IBM watsonx Assistant into Boxes devices, providing a way for consumer packaged brands to find out more than ever about what its customers like and want.

The Boxes device, about the size of a 40-inch television screen, dispenses products to consumers in a modern and sustainable spin on the old-fashioned large vending machine.

CEO Fernando Machin Gojdycz learned that business from his entrepreneur father, Carlos Daniel Machin, while growing up in Uruguay.

“That’s where my passion comes from — him,” Gojdycz says of his father. In 2016, Gojdycz founded Boxes in Uruguay with some engineer friends

Funded by a $2,000 grant from the University of Uruguay, the company's mission was “to democratize and economize affordable and sustainable shopping,” in part by eliminating wasteful single-use plastic packaging.

“I worked for one year from my bedroom,” he tells InnovationMap.

Fernando Machin Gojdycz founded Boxes in Uruguay before relocating the company to Greentown Houston. Photo courtesy of Boxes

The device, attached to a wall, offers free samples, or purchased products, in areas of high foot traffic, with a touch-screen interface. Powered by watsonx Assistant, the device asks survey questions of the customer, who can answer or not, on their mobile devices, via a QR code.

In return for completing a survey, customers can get a digital coupon, potentially generating future sales. The software and AI tech tracks sales and consumer preferences, giving valuable real-time market insight.

“This is very powerful,” he says.

Boxes partnered in Uruguay with major consumer brands like Kimberly-Clark, SC Johnson and Unilever, and during COVID, pivoted and offered PPE products. Then, with plans of an expansion into the United States, Boxes in 2021 landed its first U.S. backer, with $120,000 in funding from startup accelerator Techstars.

This led to a partnership with the Minnesota Twins, where Boxes devices at Target Field dispensed brand merchandise like keychains and bottles of field dirt.

Gojdycz says while a company in the Northeast is developing a product similar in size, Boxes is not “targeting traditional spaces.” Its software and integration with AI allows Boxes to seamlessly change the device screen and interface, remotely, as well.

Boxes aims to provide the devices in smaller spaces, like restrooms, where they have a device at the company's headquarters at climate tech incubator Greentown Labs. Boxes also recently added a device at Hewlett Packard Enterprise headquarters in Spring, as part of HPE’s diversity startup program.

Boxes hopes to launch another sustainable innovation later this year, in universities and supermarkets. The company is also developing a device that would offer refillable detergent and personal cleaning products like shampoo and conditioner with a reusable container.

Since plastic packaging accounts for 40 percent of retail price, consumers would pay far less, making a huge difference, particularly for lower-income families, he says.

“We are working to make things happen, because we have tried to pitch this idea,” he says.

Some supermarket retailers worry they may lose money or market share, and that shoppers may forget to bring the refill bottles with them to the store, for example.

“It’s about..the U.S. customer,” he says, “….but we think that sooner or later, it will come.”

Boxes has gotten funding from the accelerator startup branch of Houston-based software company Softeq, as well as Mission Driven Finance, Google for Startups Latino Founders Fund, and Right Side Capital, among others.

“Our primary challenges are scaling effectively with a small, yet compact team and maintaining control over our financial runway,” Gojdycz says.

The company has seven employees, including two on its management team.

Gojdycz says they are actively hiring, particularly in software and hardware engineering, but also in business development.

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This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

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