Don’t miss this year’s most innovative stories from Flyover Country

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Our mission is to discover and spotlight the most innovative companies in the heartland and share stories from the people who make it happen. In case you missed them, here are several interviews we did in 2021.


Cincinnati-founded Physna, which is short for physical DNA, takes 3D data from a physical item and breaks it down mathematically in a way that code can understand. The company’s mission is to bridge the gap between the physical and the digital worlds by codifying 3D models. In July 2021, Physna raised $56 million in series B funding. Here’s our February interview with Physna CEO Paul Powers.


Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic develops space robotics technology for lunar and planetary missions. Recently, the company partnered with Carnegie Mellon University by bolting on the school’s Iris rover to Astrobotic’s Peregrine Lunar Lander. The Peregrine Lander is set to go to the moon in 2022 as part of NASA’s first commercial space mission to the moon. At the start of 2021, we spoke with John Thornton, a mechanical engineering graduate out of Carnegie Mellon and the current CEO of Astrobotic.

 Benson Hill

St. Louis-based Benson Hill is a company that offers a cutting-edge food innovation engine that combines data science and machine learning with biology and genetics. Earlier this year, Flyover Future spoke to Jason Bull, who is Benson Hill’s chief technology officer. Bull leads the company’s combined R&D and data science capabilities across predictive breeding, genomics, product discovery, big data engineering and software development. In the spring, Benson Hill went public in the late spring.


Computer vision is a rapidly expanding field within the realm of artificial intelligence (AI), and two guys in Iowa are using it as a transformational technology to revolutionize everyday life. Des Moines-based Roboflow, the brainchild of Joseph Nelson and Brad Dwyer, provides a framework for developers to build computer vision into their products, enabling them to upload images and videos to train custom or prebuilt computer vision models. In September 2021, the company raised $20 million in funding. Read our July interview with Joseph Nelson in which he talks about the company’s mission to harness the full power of computer vision.

 Marinus Analytics

To help stem the tide of the human trafficking epidemic, Marinus Analytics uses machine learning. The company was the third-place winner, and only American finalist, for the IBM Watson AI XPRIZE competition, which is a five-year process of paring down a list of 150 AI-focused companies. Check out our interview with Emily Kennedy, one of the company’s co-founders, as she talks about how machine learning tech can help law enforcement navigate a huge amount of data with purpose-driven algorithms.

Equine Smartbit

The traditional way of training horses for competition is using a stopwatch and a “gut feeling.” St. Louis-based Equine SmartBit has a new and safer way to do that. The company integrated micro-sensors in a horsebit in order to equip trainers with a new scientific method and analytics to greatly increase the odds of winning. Here’s our interview with Mike Saigh, inventor and co-founder of Equine Smartbit.


Flint, Michigan made the news in 2014 when it was discovered that corrosion from pipes in the water system were leaking lead into the water supply. Stemming this health crisis is not easy, as traditional methods of detecting lead pipes are expensive and sometimes inefficient. Ann Arbor, Michigan-based company BlueConduit uses data and machine learning to better predict where lead pipes are located. In November 2021, its solution was voted by TIME as one of the best inventions of 2021. We interviewed the company’s president, Ian Robinson, in May.

 READY Robotics

Columbus, Ohio-based READY Robotics makes it easier to program robots for manufacturing applications. They’ve created a platform called Forge/OS that makes robot programming possible without the hassle of learning programming languages. Earlier this month, the company announced a partnership with Futura Automation. Futura will use READY Robotics’ universal operating system, Forge/OS, to better provide robot agnostic automation solutions for manufacturers. Here’s our interview with the company’s CEO, Benjamin Gibbs.


Kansas City, Missouri-based Epigraph, which makes products for e-commerce, operates from the high-level pitch that visual content is essential to sales. The company builds scalable, customizable, engaging customer experiences in 3D and augmented reality—CGI that is indiscernible from a photograph without ever having to touch the product. In September, we spoke to co-founder Jasper Mullarney about the company.