Goradia Innovation Grand Prize Winners: Where are they now?



The Goradia Innovation Prize was established to assist emerging technology companies in Houston to bring their innovations to the market. How is that done? By giving these companies what, many times, they need most: funding. These prizes are given in cash, which means no equity is taken, no restrictions on how the money can be used…so these companies can put this money directly where it’s most needed.

As we approach the 2014 Innovation Conference and Showcase, this will be the 5th round of prizes awarded. So where are the previous winners now? What stage of their technology and company growth are they at?

We caught up with the 2010, 2011, and 2012 winners to see:

2010 winner: Rebellion Photonics, CEO: Allison Sawyer


Rebellion Photonics, recent winner of the Wall Street Journal Startup of the Year Competition, is an advanced optics company that has invented a revolutionary technology using hyper-spectral imaging that allows users to see the chemical composition of an object in real time while simultaneously taking a still photograph or video.

Since 2010 the Rebellion has grown from 3 to 17 employees, and recently in 2013 did a $10.4 million raise from private equity. They are continuing to expand, including growing operations international for the first time. At the time of the prize Rebellion was only involved in downstream, but since 2010 they are beginning to also dive into the upstream market. “There is such an interest in safety and emissions monitoring in Oil and Gas, that this is a great time for us to be in business,” comments Allison.

“Goradia helped us to bootstrap and get to the next stage so that we could not be in a rush and find the right investor for us which was so important,” Allison explains. “Because of the difficulty to raise investments, specifically for hardware or oil & gas companies, it was harder to get through that ‘valley of death stage’ so the Goradia award could not have come at a better time.” She continues to discuss the difficulty of staying in Houston when searching for investment dollars because the network is much smaller, but has seen a lot of growth recently.

2011 winner: Oscomp, Founder and CEO: Pedro Santos


Hicor, formerly OsComp Systems, has developed a multiphase compression technology that extends the economical production of liquids-rich wells. The compressor eliminates any fugitive emissions at the wellsite while reducing the capital and operating costs of producing the associated hydrocarbons.

Since 2011 the company has grown significantly, from 6 employees to 52 and have secured multiple venture capital investors. As a result of the development of new business opportunities, the company has now split into two, with the OsComp brand dedicated to CNG-based gas transportation and flare capture services.

“The biggest impact the Goradia prize had for us is it elevated our profile for other investors, allowing us to drive negotiations without being strapped for cash and own more of our company at the end,” comments Pedro. Getting investors through the Goradia prize has helped them to set up full operations in Houston. While Oscomp has always headquartered out of Houston, due to the investor connections through Goradia, they were able to set up full operations, consolidating their staff and now housing 80% of their employees locally. Their move has allowed them to find more customers and generally more connections in their space with Houston being energy the capital, as opposed to Boston, where they were founded.

2012 winner: Procyrion, Inc., President and CEO: Benjamin Hertzog


Procyrion is developing the first catheter-deployed circulatory assist device for the long-term treatment of chronic heart failure.  Their device will be used to treat NYHA Class III-IV heart failure patients who have few treatment options because they are too sick for drugs, but not sick enough for invasive and risky surgical procedures.

 In 2012, Procyrion was in early prototyping and early proof of concept animal testing.  The company has since progressed into later pre-clinical stage validation with more advanced animal models of chronic heart failure. They are now preparing for first-in-human studies, which are planned for Q3 of 2015. The company is also preparing for a series B funding which will take them through the first-in-human feasibility studies and into a human pilot trial. In addition, they are working with Texas Children’s Hospital on new indications, including the treatment of certain congenital heart defects in pediatric patients.

 “The Goradia prize helped validate the strength of our technology and team as well as the viability of our business plan.  It enabled me to extend an offer and hire an additional team member outside our initial plans,” Ben explains. When asked about launching Procyrion in Houston, he said, “For a cardiovascular company, from a technical and clinical standpoint, there is not a better place to be. The cardiovascular strengths of Texas Medical Center are second to none.”

Make sure to register for IC&S on October 8th to hear the 2014 Goradia Innovation Finalists and Awards totaling up to $150k in prizes! www.houstontech.org/ics201