TX Roundup: New Funding for Software, Cleantech, & Health IT Startups

There’s just over a week until Christmas. How is your shopping going? As you wait in checkout lines or for e-retailers to process your orders, catch up with the latest innovation news from Xconomy’s Texas bureau, such as funding news and new startup partnerships in Houston.

Rebellion Photonics, a Houston energy startup, has received $4.25 million from the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). The federal program invested a total of $60 million in 22 projects designed to detect and measure methane emissions and to develop thermal management systems to reduce the amount of energy needed to heat and cool buildings. Rebellion, which makes a hyperspectral camera that can detect poisonous or potentially explosive gas leaks from oil refineries or rigs, raised a Series A round of $10.4 million in January 2014.

—Austin, TX-based Wisegate, a software developer, has raised $4 million to build out its “brain trust” of IT professionals.

—Item-of-the-month subscriptions are increasingly popular. Austin e-retail software developer Cratejoy provides the web infrastructure to help them do business.

—The Texas Medical Center’s new accelerator digs at TMCx has hosted its first startups in a partnership with Washington, DC-based social venture firm Village Capital. The VilCap USA program focuses on digital health startups.

OutboundEngine, an Austin-based startup that makes marketing and business development software for real estate agents, mortgage brokers, and other small independent businesses, raised $11 million in a Series B round.

—Virtual reality gaming startup Virtuix raised $2.7 million. The Houston-based startup has developed the Virtuix Omni, a treadmill of sorts that, when paired with an Oculus Rift headset and available video game systems, enables players to control characters’ movements by running, jumping, and turning on the platform.

—The Houston Technology Center has paired up with the McNair Group to form the McNair Houston Ignition Fund to award $25,000 to as many as 30 Houston tech startups in 2015.

Experiment Engine has raised $1 million in a seed round to further develop its conversion rate optimization software. The Austin-based startup helps companies test and different versions of their websites to see which versions turn more visitors into customers.

—Houston-based Mercury Fund announced it closed its third fund of $105 million. The venture capital firm currently has about $200 million under management and has invested in startups such as Infochimps, which was acquired last year by Computer Sciences Corp.

—Houston co-working space Start Houston and Presidio Venture Capital, also in Houston, have formed the Start Investment Network, which will make seed investments of between $25,000 to $50,000 in local tech startups.

—The promise and challenges around using big data analytics to offer patients better treatment is a priority for Lynda Chin, chair of the department of genomic medicine at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. I spoke recently with Chin, who is also an Xconomist, about her work at the newly created Institute for Applied Cancer Science, as well as bringing a commercial mindset to academia and the role of technology in healthcare reform.



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