Energy Tech Nexus April Newsletter

Energy Tech Nexus April Newsletter
What happened at this month’s Pitch events?

RBPC: Power2Polymer and Icorium Engineering were Energy Tech Startup winners.
Even though Protein Pints, an ice cream company took home the grand prize at the 2024 Rice Business Plan Competition (RBPC) on April 6, we were really excited about the two Energy Tech Startups that made the final round:


Securing third place overall was Power2Polyers, a German company spearheading the development of safe alternatives free of forever chemicals. With a strong leadership under CEO Lily Schrameier and co-founder, chemist Tobias Riedl, the company presented a meticulous roadmap for product testing and market penetration. Their focus on the lubricants sector, a $165 billion market undergoing a transition due to the impending PFAS ban in Europe, presents a promising avenue for investors, particularly with the backing of a $3 million grant from the German government.

Icorium Engineering scored 5th place 

Icorium Engineering Company claimed the fifth position and over $180K in investments along with cash and in-kind prizes. Specializing in chemical engineering, Icorium is dedicated to pioneering technologies that facilitate sustainable, circular economies, a reality for refrigerants and other intricate chemical compositions.

Led by a dynamic team of women, Icorium is tackling the pervasive environmental challenges posed by refrigerants, which currently face low recycling rates despite their significant contribution to CO2 equivalent emissions, surpassing even the aviation industry. With a strategic vision and operational milestones already in motion, including a fully funded pilot demo phase and established commercial contracts, Icorium seems like a smart investment choice. Furthermore, their partnerships with reclamation entities are poised to streamline market access and bolster their competitive edge.

Learn more about the 7 finalists here.

2024 NRLC hosted by Lilie: Winner HEXASpec Semiconductor heat management company

The Energy Tech Nexus gave out two prizes at the 2024 H. Albert Napier Rice Launch Challenge (NRLC) hosted by Rice University’s Liu Idea Lab for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (Lilie) April 16.

HEXASpec won the top prize overall, $50,000 cash and a full membership at the Energy Tech Nexus.

Rice Ph.D. candidates Tianshu Zhai and Chen-Yang Lin — part of Lilie’s 2024 Innovation Fellows program — are using HEXASpec’s novel new material to improve heat management for the semiconductor industry, saving energy and millions of gallons of water used to cool data centers. The sustainable, inorganic fillers for next-generation chip packaging offer 20 times higher thermal conductivity and improved protection performance, cooling the chips faster and reducing the operational surface temperature.

Solidec, a company working on a platform to produce chemicals from captured carbon, also gave a stellar pitch and won a full membership to the ETN. Solidec’s platform of technologies is designed to capture carbon and manufacture chemicals using only air, water, and renewable electricity. They provide a pathway to lowering the capital and energy needed to meet net-zero goals.

Investor and Dealflow Related Events 

Mark your calendars for Houston Energy & Climate Week

Houston Energy & Climate Week is September 9-13, 2024. Stay tuned for programming from Energy Tech Nexus for that week. Get in touch with Jason if you would like to partner for our inaugural event.

Just Launched

Energy Tech Nexus and Impact Hub Houston win the 2024 U.S. Small Business Administration Growth Accelerator Fund Competition

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 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.  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.

Empowering Houston's Workforce: Goodwill and Accenture Launch Clean Tech Accelerator

The program aims at training underrepresented job seekers for careers in clean technology. The program, which provides technical training, safety certifications, and clean tech expertise, targets high-demand roles in the clean energy sector, particularly those offering competitive salaries without requiring a college degree. With plans to expand to 20 cities over the next seven years and train 7,000 job seekers nationwide, the initiative underscores a commitment to shaping sustainable energy futures and supporting workforce transitions. Led by Goodwill, participants in the program will receive compensation as they undergo training and career placement services, reflecting a dedication to empowering individuals while contributing to a more sustainable world.

Exciting News for Houston: Selected as EPIC Program Hub!

Houston is making waves in clean energy innovation as it joins the ranks of hubs supported by the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Program for Innovation Clusters (EPIC). The local initiative, named "Texas Innovates: Carbon and Hydrogen Innovation and Learning Incubator" (CHILI), has secured $150,000 to nurture energy startups and entrepreneurs. Designed to feed into the DOE's HyVelocity program and regional decarbonization efforts, CHILI is set to drive commercial success in the energy sector. Led by DOE's Office of Technology Transitions, EPIC aims to boost innovation and support startups at a local level, with winning participants eligible for up to $1 million in funding. CHILI now advances to Phase 2, gearing up for project planning and national pitch competitions, including one in June at the 2024 Small Business Forum & Expo. This recognition follows the Gulf Coast's HyVelocity Hydrogen Hub's selection for a significant portion of the $7 billion Bipartisan Infrastructure Law fund, highlighting Houston's pivotal role in shaping the future of clean energy."

Other news for Energy Tech Startups

Big Moves: NanoTech Materials' Giant Leap in Katy, Texas!

NanoTech Materials, a pioneering startup originally founded in a garage, has recently relocated to a spacious 43,000-square-foot facility in Katy, Texas. This move marks a significant milestone in the company's journey, providing ample room to scale its operations and introduce new technologies.

CEO Mike Francis emphasizes the practical implications of this expansion, stating, 'The new facility not only accommodates our growing roofing business but also enables us to diversify our product lines.' With a substantial increase in manufacturing capacity, NanoTech Materials aims to meet rising demand while exploring innovations such as wildfire protectant coatings and heat-control solutions for transportation.

As NanoTech Materials enters this exciting phase of growth, it plans to double its workforce, a testament to its commitment to the local community and the thriving business environment of Houston. Join us in congratulating NanoTech Materials on this milestone and wishing them continued success in their endeavors."

This is an exciting story about a Houstonian who built technology elsewhere but decided to bring it back home to Houston as he further penetrates the market.

Podcast Last Month

Check out our latest episode with the Founder and Executive Chairman of Vaulted Deep, Omar Abou-Sayed.

Omar shares the innovative approach his companies are taking to utilize hydraulic fracturing technology for environmental purposes, including the sequestration of waste deep underground.

Find the latest episodes here

And the episode with Alex Gupta, CEO and Founder of Break Point Energy in which we dive into  the fast evolving landscape for energy tax credits.

Here is the link to the episode.

Do you want to be on the show? Send us an email: