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    We're ready to capitalize your ideas in energy, together.

    The Rice Alliance team is a group of individuals with a passion for empowering startups to achieve their visions. We see ourselves as a mix of like-minded thinkers and doers, who empower you to do what you set out to do (and then some). We will surround you with the best people, skills, tools and program to set you up for success. We strive to achieve a culture of advocacy that demonstrates an unyielding commitment to enabling the entrepreneurial pursuit of our founders.


    A long-time Rice Alliance team member, Kerri has over a decade of startup acceleration experience through her leadership roles with the OwlSpark and SURGE Accelerators.  She has extensive experience in setting strategic direction, establishing priorities, and leading a portfolio of initiatives that maximize and drive startup success.  Since joining Rice University in 2004, Kerri has played a lead role in enabling entrepreneurship, building capacity, and accelerating the formation of a number of tech-enabled startups.

    An experienced research scientist and teacher, Matthew Peña is the Associate Director of the Rice Alliance Clean Energy Accelerator, where he acts as a liaison and guides transformative clean energy startups through a structured training program. Matthew, a serial entrepreneur, is also a mentor to OwlSpark and Red Labs Accelerator startups, and runs the Rice Alliance "Oppstart" program.

    An experienced educator and program manager, Chelsea is the Program Director of the Clean Energy Accelerator, where she manages the day-to-day operations and mentor connections for the participating startups. Chelsea has worked in the Houston innovation ecosystem for the last five years, collaborating with startups, mentors, and academic institutions.  Chelsea also leads and manages the educational programs at the Ion District.


    The XiR supports early stage clean energy startups through key milestone development and enables access across our network of advisors and service providers that enable progress toward commercialization.

    Tim leads Prime NRI, an industrial holding company that invests in differentiated manufacturing businesses on behalf of a New York-based hedge fund. His role extends from opportunity sourcing to portfolio management of product companies in the energy and medical device sectors. Before Prime, Tim led strategy consulting engagements for large North American energy companies after starting his career in upstream oil & gas in the Middle East.  Tim also invests in early-stage manufacturing, materials, and life sciences companies and proactively supports leadership teams through capital raising, corporate strategy, and human capital management.

    John is an accomplished energy industry executive who has dedicated his 32-year career to tackling some of the sector’s most critical emerging challenges. His journey spans global upstream oil and gas, technology, and strategic leadership roles with ExxonMobil, Schlumberger, and Southwestern Energy.

    Since leaving his corporate role in 2020, John has focused on helping early stage companies succeed by mentoring and advising entrepreneurs on customer discovery, product development strategy, strategic partnership opportunities, fundraising and building scalable businesses.  His interests include all facets of energy transition, including improving efficiency, reducing the environmental impact of legacy energy sources, and development of economically viable, scalable alternatives. 

    He is a co-founder of Revolution Turbine Technologies, a waste energy recovery technology aimed at decarbonizing natural gas operations.  He is a member of SWAN Impact Network, a Texas-based angel network.  John has served as a CEA mentor since 2020, and is also a member of the Houston-based Global Energy Mentors.  He holds a bachelor’s degree in geology from Dartmouth, a masters from Rice, and has completed executive education coursework at SMU’s Cox School of Business. 

    Ritu is a leader with over 20 years of experience in energy infrastructure and transition investing. Recently, she was the Managing Director at Riverbend Energy Group, a private equity firm investing successfully in energy, where she established the first Energy Transition fund.

    Before Riverbend, Ritu served as the Chief Strategy Officer of Innowatts, a leading AI-enabled decarbonization SaaS platform managing company strategy, fundraising, strategic growth opportunities and partnerships. Innowatts is backed by global investors across four continents including Shell Ventures, Energy Impact Partners, and Iberdrola.

    Ritu has also served in senior management positions in Fortune 500 and FTSE 100 energy companies. At BG Group (a Shell company) and Baker Hughes, she held several roles in strategy & corporate development. Ritu drove strategy, invested, and monetized assets and companies across the energy value chain worth $15 billion.

    Ritu holds a Bachelor in Economics (with Honors), an MBA from the University of Delhi, and a Masters in Energy Finance from The University of Texas at Austin.

    Nick is passionate about helping energy innovators develop and implement successful commercialization strategies by understanding and communicating how their solutions create value to potential customers, industry partners and investors. 

    Nick is the former Director of Energy Acceleration at the Houston Technology Center, where he advised, mentored, and trained hundreds of energy startups throughout the United States, Canada, France, Israel, Russia, Thailand, and the UK.  Nick’s earlier experience with ConocoPhillips included strategy management, technology commercialization, and business development projects in the US, Europe, South America and the Middle East, and leading Conoco’s business in Poland. 


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