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Global Green Energy Startups Select Houston as Centralized Hub

Published Apr 15, 2022 by Ernesto Becerra

Greentown Labs Houston

As Houston leads the global energy transition, emerging startups are gaining interest in calling Houston home and relocating or expanding operations. With demand on the rise, incubators and accelerators such as The Ion and Halliburton Labs, have expanded their member acquisitions to provide lab and office space, engage potential customers, and work with early-stage companies interested in cementing Houston as a global hub for innovation, human capital and green energy. 

We talked with three companies headquartered at Greentown Labs, North America’s largest climatetech incubator, that emerged abroad but opted to relocate to Houston for greater opportunity. The companies include Lignium Energy, which has developed technology to turn cow manure into combustion; SeebeckCell Technologies, which develops and manufactures cells that convert industrial waste heat into electricity; and Boxes, a company that developed a refilling device for retail to help eliminate single-use plastics.

Why did you choose Houston as your new headquarters location?

“Lignium’s project mainly involves two aspects: livestock and energy. Texas is one of the leading cattle states in the U.S., and Houston is the Energy Capital of the World, with strong growth in innovation and alternative energy sources, so it seemed like a great place to start our operations. Houston also has excellent organizations that support startups.”
Agustin Rios, COO of Lignium Energy

“Houston, being the Energy Capital of the World, houses the headquarters for nearly all energy segments, with many industry giants adopting a focus on energy transition and clean energy. We knew this is the place to connect and grow as a clean energy company.”
Ali Farzbod, Co-Founder and CEO of SeebeckCell Technologies

“For Boxes, equity is central to our value system. Taking into account the energy transition happening in Texas and Houston being the largest, most diverse city, we decided to apply at Greentown Labs and have our U.S. headquarters in Houston.”
Fernando Machín Gojdycz, CEO of Boxes

What’s your startup's trajectory looked like since the launch in Houston?

“Thanks to the support we have received from Greentown Labs, infinite doors have been opened for us, facilitating the implementation of our Roadmap in record time, managing to generate the necessary key partners despite arriving in Houston from Chile less than three months ago.”
Rios with Lignium Energy

“SCT has interacted and taken advantage of networking with other energy companies by participating in Rice Alliance Clean Energy Accelerator and joining startup communities such as Greentown Labs. In addition, we have built relationships with companies like Chevron through the catalyst program offered by the Chevron Technology Venture and were able to recruit for our team.”
Farzbod with SeebeckCell Technologies

“Boxes has had great progress not only developing our devices but also building a strong network since joining Greentown Labs, The Ion Accelerator and Capital Factory.”
Machín Gojdycz with Boxes

What makes Houston uniquely prepared to lead the energy transition and how does your company fit in?

“There is a huge intention in Houston in the search for new sources of energy, mainly renewable. Our project not only delivers a fuel with a much lower carbon footprint both in its production and consumption than traditional sources, but also solves a huge environmental problem allowing a reduction in the greenhouse gases (GHG) at the source of origin (manure), generating a process with negative carbon which gives the opportunity to not only reduce the GHG from the energy generated but also from the origin source.”
Rios with Lignium Energy

“Aside from the fact that Houston houses hundreds of companies that provide supporting activities to the energy industry, I believe Houston has the elements of a thriving startup ecosystem. The diverse talent pool at universities such as Rice and the University of Houston is the perfect place to find angel investors, incubators, and venture capitals focused on energy markets. We want to take advantage of this ecosystem and grow our company to be a leading clean technology company based in Houston.”
Farzbod with SeebeckCell Technologies

“With a great number of fortune 500 companies, Houston has a great potential to be one of the largest sustainable cities in the world. Boxes has a strong focus on single-plastic issues, so our goal is to fuel the circular economy starting in Houston and expanding nationwide.”
Machín Gojdycz with Boxes

What has been the latest milestone for your cleantech startup?

“Lignium Energy began its journey four years ago with the generation of a pilot plant and the validation of our product and process, generating sales of our pellets in Chile. We managed to move the operation to the USA with the beginning of the construction of the first pilot plant on American soil, allowing us to validate what we already do in Chile before the eyes of world-class experts.”
Rios with Lignium Energy

“SCT joined the Chevron Technology Venture Catalyst program marking a historical step for the company in the right direction. Moreover, we have expanded our executive team by recruiting our new Chief Financial Officer, Syed Biabani, former Vice President of Global Business Development for BP.”
Farzbod with SeebeckCell Technologies

“Boxes is currently working on accelerating our commercialization strategy and hope to be working with one of the largest consumer companies to launch. We’re hoping to share more news with you soon!”
Machín Gojdycz with Boxes

As a company with international roots, what do you see as the global implications for your technology?

“Being a historically invisible problem, cow manure itself is a difficult issue to address. The Netherlands, for instance, plans to reduce the number of cattle by 30% to address the issue, but Lignium not only solves it, but we also generate renewable energy from it. Since we know that our solution is global, we have an international patent process with a very high state of progress, being granted in 39 countries and with non-provisional patents filed in 19 countries.”
Rios with Lignium Energy

“On the global scale, few countries, like Canada, developed policy incentives for waste heat recovery at an industrial scale. We are developing a platform technology that enables waste heat as a source of energy and offset carbon emissions.”
Farzbod with SeebeckCell Technologies

“In order to address the global issue of plastic packaging, we are building a state of the art retail platform to allow consumers to reduce single-use plastic usage, that will also allow them to save money, while also enabling retailers and brands to deliver basic needs products in a smart, affordable and sustainable way with zero waste.”
Machín Gojdycz with Boxes

What makes Houston a prime hub for a potential global business?

“Houston is investing greatly in innovation right now, making it a prime location for a company like Lignium Energy that seeks to transform the way energy is produced. The amount of resources and competence available allows the solutions offered to be not only local, but global. Also, Houston is a very accessible city, making it easier for a South American company like ours to enter the U.S. market in comparison to other big American metro areas. Given the giant problem we're solving, we need to be in the right place to deliver this global solution, and once you have validation in a city like Houston, you have global validation.”
Rios with Lignium Energy

“Houstonian diversity plays a crucial role in achieving global business entrepreneurship; currently, Houston is the center of foreign investment in energy, and I think it will continue to be in upcoming years with centralized mobilization through airports. It’s also lovely obtaining the additional perks of the multicultural assets such as the culinary culture in Houston.”
Farzbod with SeebeckCell Technologies

“I would say that there is a combination of factors from Houston’s strategic geographical location to its human capital with great universities, a fast growing economy and of course its diversity that have placed Houston as a global business hub that will continue to bring additional investors and opportunities from and for foreigners.”
Machín Gojdycz with Boxes

Learn more about the importance of international companies operating in Houston and our region’s ties to the rest of the world during International Business Month in May. The main event will be the State of Houston’s Global Economy on May 20. 

Executive Partners