Greentown Labs, the big Boston-area incubator of clean technology startups, is opening a second space in Houston, the heart of the U.S. oil industry.
Driving the news: The nine-year-old outfit said it's initially providing 30,000 square feet of "prototyping lab" and office space for up to 50 startups.
Why it matters: It will be the city's first "climatetech and cleantech-focused startup incubator," per the joint announcement with city officials and business leaders.
Houston officials said Greentown will be a "catalyst" to help America's fourth-largest city meet its recently unveiled climate plan.
But more broadly, it shows efforts to accelerate changes already underway in the energy ecosystem even as fossil fuels remain dominant, and the cross-pollination between emerging and legacy industries.
What they're saying: "We believe the engineering strength, talent, and assets of the energy industry in Houston can and must be redeployed toward a decarbonized future," Greentown CEO Emily Reichert said in announcing the move.
"Climate change cannot be solved from the coasts — we need all hands on deck at this time," she said.
The big picture: I'm going to outsource to the Houston Chronicle's coverage...
- "Houston has tried in fits and starts to capitalize on its expertise and experience in fossil fuel energy to expand on the growth of renewables," it reports.
- "But the effort has been hampered by insufficient venture capital that favors coastal startups, a wary attitude about the legitimacy of climate change from the conservative oil and gas industry, and few government policies that encourage green energy."
The intrigue: Working with fossil fuel companies is not new for Greentown — which has yearslong relationships with Shell and Chevron — or startups in general.
- Large oil companies are getting more active in low-carbon energy tech and setting climate goals, even as fossil fuels receive the overwhelming share of their investment.
- The mining and oil heavyweight BHP is a new Greentown partner, and BHP's Michelle Thomas said "we need to leverage those outside our company and outside our industry to think of new ways to reach our goals."