Reflections on Greentown Houston’s First Year and What’s Next for the City’s Energy Transition

This past week we celebrated a major milestone in Greentown Labs’ history—the first anniversary of Greentown Houston—and I am so proud to share a year’s worth of growth and achievement with you!

Houston is the nation’s fourth largest city and home to some of the world’s largest energy companies. It’s also committed to helping solve the climate crisis and to leading a global energy transition—but it can’t do it alone. 

Houston has a unique opportunity for climate impact, but previously lacked the convening organization to bring together innovators and entrepreneurs and build a strong and supportive ecosystem around them. Our goal in opening Greentown Houston was to serve as an on-the-ground catalyst for the energy transition. In searching for our first out-of-state location, Houston—as the energy capital of the world—was the only city that had the engineering strength, talent, and assets to broaden our impact and help to accelerate the energy transition through innovation and entrepreneurship. 

We believe the city of Houston has a critical role to play in helping to solve the climate crisis. If we are successful, if the global corporations headquartered in Houston can incorporate climatetech solutions into their operations at scale, we have the potential to decarbonize not just one city, but create a model for similar cities across the globe, and build the diverse and inclusive energy workforce of the future we need in the process. 

We opened Greentown Houston’s doors one year ago with 16 startups; today are home to 62 members. Our Houston startups have made incredible progress this year in the national and international climatetech ecosystem.

We also challenged ourselves to make Greentown Houston THE convening place for Houstonians to learn about climatetech and find their place in the energy transition. We took that challenge to heart, and hosted 80+ events this year including a round table with U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, a Climatetech Saloon at the Houston Tech Rodeo, and Houston’s first-ever Climatetech Summit. Read more about all we are celebrating about the first year of Greentown Labs Houston from Juliana Garaizar, the head of our Houston incubator.

To honor this year of growth and achievement,  we celebrated our first anniversary with a Texas-sized display of collaboration and innovation that will power Houston’s climate-focused entrepreneurs. Our anniversary celebration featured Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, whose inspirational climate journey first attracted Greentown to Houston, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, who delivered motivational remarks on how Houston is at the crossroads of energy security, a startup showcase, a panel discussion, and of course, birthday cake! Let me introduce you to the members who pitched at the event—just a subset of our incredible Houston startup community:

  • Applied Bioplastics is commercializing plant-based polymers that are healthier and more sustainable than their petrochemical-based analogues—at competitive pricing.
  • Bucha Bio is creating novel biomaterials by combining infinitely renewable bacterial nanocellulose, plant-based polymers, and additives.
  • Micronic Technologies is commercializing a patented wastewater concentration technology.
  • Moonflower Technologies is using space-age technology to provide communities year-round access to safe, high-quality produce with minimal environmental impact.
  • Fysikes Biosolutions is developing renewable green fuels via the production of hydrogen and concentrated CO2 from direct air capture and industrial CO2 capture technologies.
  • Parasanti is delivering a full data orchestration platform that operates both within the cloud and independently at the extreme edge.
Greentown Houston startups showcase at the incubator’s First Anniversary Celebration.

The excitement in Houston around energy innovation and climatetech is incredible; you can feel it everywhere you go! I’d like to thank everyone who joined us at our anniversary celebration—in-person or virtually. We’ve had an amazing first year in Houston, but our work has just begun!  

We know the energy transition will take decades of work, but the urgency of the climate crisis requires immediate action. 

In the race to drive a clean energy transition, pilot projects and deployment opportunities are now a top priority for startups. To meet this demand, Greentown is hard at work building bridges across ecosystems, finding new ways to partner, pilot, and test new technologies faster than ever before. Houston’s growing hydrogen economy and the launch of our Greentown Go Low-Carbon Hydrogen Accelerator is a perfect example of how we must deploy the technologies available today, but still develop the new ideas and solutions to solve the challenges of tomorrow! 

While there is more momentum—and investment—for climatetech than ever before, we know gaps remain. In many cases, challenges for women and other underrepresented founders in climatetech actually increased during the pandemic, including access to investors and funding for their businesses. Looking ahead, Greentown Labs is partnering with groups including Browning the Green Space to help bring down these barriers, prioritize DEI across the climatetech ecosystem, and most importantly, ensure climatetech solutions reach vulnerable communities most impacted by climate change. 

We also know that we need all hands on deck to solve the climate crisis and that Houston—the most diverse city in the U.S. and the energy capital of the world—is a great place to be doing this work. Greentown Houston is committed to ensuring that everyone is welcomed, encouraged, and invited to participate and collaborate in the transition. The Houston team has a calendar full of events in store for the days and months ahead. Visit Greentown’s events page or sign up for our Houston newsletter to receive the latest updates and invitations for future events. 

Greentown’s mission is to convene, connect, and inspire. Whether you are an entrepreneur or ecosystem partner, a seasoned professional or a student just starting out, there is a place for you in climatetech. I hope you will join us!