Roundup: UT’s Food Lab, Houston Angel Network, SecureNok, & More

Here is the latest innovation news from around Texas in the last couple of weeks.

—The Houston Angel Network announced that it had invested a total of $15.3 million in 66 deals during 2014, the highest number of both investment dollars and transactions since its founding in 2001. In 2013, the angel group invested $9.3 million in 33 deals. Among the investments last year were Virtuix Omni, Molecular Match, and Houston Health Ventures.

—The University of Texas at Austin’s Food Lab announced five startups as winners of its Challenge Prize contest. More than 60 teams applied last year to participate with innovations in inputs and production; processing, packages, and safety; storage and distribution; and health eating and food education. The top prize of $10,000 went to Ten Acre Organics, which runs an aquaponics farm in Austin. Category specific awards of $5,000 each were awarded to four other startups.

SecureNok, which makes software that can detect and defuse malware in oil and gas operations, has signed a three-year contract with National Oilwell Varco, the Houston-based energy equipment supplier. The $5 million contract calls for SecureNok to install its software on NOV’s drilling rigs this spring and into the summer.

—The world may know Houston as the hub of space innovation but the Texas capital of Austin is gearing up to try to be a hub of private-sector space companies in its own right.

—Houston-based Fannin Innovation Studio launched a new biotech company called Acelerox, which is developing a nanoparticle technology that it says may be able to treat autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis.

—Momentum is building for this year’s South By Southwest Interactive Festival with the organizers of the Hatch pitch contest for tech startups announcing their 2015 lineup.

Upcounsel, a California-based startup with an online marketplace for attorneys, has expanded into Texas, where it’ll now serve major markets like Dallas, Austin, Houston, and San Antonio. Its clients are small- and medium-sized businesses who need to hire attorneys for ad hoc legal assistance.

—The top Kickstarter projects in Texas ranged from an attachment to fill 100 water balloons at one time to a 3-D printer to a sort of AC for your AC unit.

Graylog, which makes open-source data analytics software, raised $2.5 million and moved its headquarters to Houston from Germany. The funding round was led by Houston-based Mercury Fund.

 

Angela Shah is the editor of Xconomy Texas. She can be reached at ashah@xconomy.com or (214) 793-5763. Follow @angelashah

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