I don’t usually attend industry breakfasts because, to be quite honest, I can rarely get up that early. But an invitation to the Houston Technology Center (HTC) breakfast piqued my interest.
Partly it was to hear Houston Mayor Annise Parker speak. Having previously seen her during a taping of the National Public Radio show “Wait, Wait – Don’t Tell Me,” I knew she had a great sense of humor. And she didn’t disappoint.
What was more surprising was the showcase of new technology on hand. The HTC focuses on four main areas of technology – energy, IT, life sciences, and NASA-originated technology – and companies from three of those disciplines gave brief presentations to showcase their wares. None of them was particularly related to E&P, but I found them fascinating nonetheless.
First was a company called Bluenergy Solarwind Inc. (www.bluenergyusa.com), which has devised a unique helical-shaped wind turbine outfitted with solar panels. Standing 20 ft (6.1 m) high, these could easily be confused for decorative sculptures and require much less space than a standard wind turbine. The turbines begin spinning in winds of 4 mph (6.4 km/h), making them ideal for urban settings that don’t get much wind.
I want one for my house.
The second presentation was IT company Playnormous LLC (www.playnormous.com). The “normous” might be a clue to the company’s mission – to reverse childhood obesity. It provides a number of video games that help kids make better food choices. I’m hoping it works for adults as well.
Finally, Jeffery Sheldon of Houston Medical Robotics Inc. (http://www.houstontech.org/en/dir/1172/) discussed his company’s development of image guided hand-held medical robotics for use in various therapeutic applications. Combining ultra-sound imaging with the equipment needed for catheterization helps medical caregivers be much more precise with the placement of needles and tubes.
These three companies are among the 1,000 entrepreneurs who collectively have raised US $1 billion in funding over the center’s 11 years of existence. Sponsored by Houston businesses, the HTC is the largest business incubator in Texas. It accelerates the commercialization of emerging technology companies by providing in-depth business guidance, access to capital and service providers, and entrepreneurial education. It also promotes Houston as a technology city and serves as a hub for the local technology business community.
Most recently it was written up in Forbes as one of the nation’s top 10 technology incubators. In the introduction to the list, Forbes’ Christopher Steiner wrote, “Some of the biggest companies in the world, such as Hewlett-Packard and Google, were born in garages and basements – romantic, perhaps, but inefficient. A better option for intrepid entrepreneurs: technology incubators.”
Will one of these companies eventually dominate the landscape the way Google dominates the Internet? Watch this space.
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