3 ways innovation ecosystems are uniting to foster growth
“If I were giving a young man advice as to how he might succeed in life, I would say to him, pick out a good father and mother, and begin life in Ohio." - Wilbur Wright
APRIL 3, 2020
Ohio-wide nonprofit dedicated to tech and innovation
Photo courtesy OhioX
Akron native and OhioX president Chris Berry is bullish on the Buckeye State. Leading the state's first nonprofit dedicated to fostering Ohio's economy through technology and innovation, Berry sees big things on the horizon when it comes to economic opportunities across Ohio.
With an impressive advisory board representing leaders from practically every sector in the state—healthcare, education, finance, sports & entertainment, manufacturing, and startups—OhioX is well-positioned to fulfill its chief mission to “represent and connect those committed to growing Ohio's economy through technology and innovation.”
OhioX numbers are growing quickly, with nearly 40 member organizations representing more than 50,000 employees throughout the state.
Through social media storytelling, advocacy, event planning, networking, and continuing education opportunities, OhioX offers its members both the tangible and intangible: resources and connectivity to develop and prosper in every corner of the state.
Berry noted, “Ohio is really lucky and blessed to have a lot of great groups and organizations in different regions. [OhioX will] unite and promote those building the future across all 88 counties of Ohio.”
For more information on how to join, visit OhioX.org.
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Ekos launches an accelerator for Charlotte startups
Charlotte is getting a new tech accelerator program. Ekos, a Charlotte startup that provides business-management software for breweries and wineries, has created the accelerator it’s calling “Base Camp.” The program aims to boost Charlotte’s tech talent pool.
Base Camp will be housed in Ekos’ new headquarters, a former hosiery factory.
Adopting new tech in the construction sector
The construction industry, which has long been reluctant to embrace new technology, is finally starting to understand that it may be the best way to address current challenges, such as a pronounced shortage of skilled labor.
Recently, a panel of experts in both the construction sector and tech sector met for a round-table discussion about the current state of affairs. Among the experts were Ben Schultz of Kansas City-based workforce management company LaborChart and Kristine Sutherlin of Kansas City-based engineering firm Burns & McDonnell.
The discussion covered a wide range of issues facing them in the present day, including a dive into the various applications and products that are currently in testing. Among them are Assemble, a product that helps estimators and subcontractors interact with each other; Procore, a tool that helps owners share design models; and SketchUp, another tool that helps bridge gaps among stakeholders in a construction project.
NAVIGATING THE TURBULENCE
OU Health Sciences Center is researching a COVID-19 vaccine
University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center is joining the effort to develop a vaccine to fight COVID-19.
It has partnered with Austin-based biotech company Pure MHC, which specializes in disease-specific target identification. The goal of the project is to help the immune system’s T-cells target and kill virus-infected cells.
Lead researcher William Hildebrand, PhD, explained how the process works.
“The body’s T-cells are able to distinguish virus-infected cells from healthy cells and, for the most part, they are able to eliminate infected cells without harming healthy cells,” he said.
Unfortunately, because coronavirus is new, T-cells don’t recognize it, so the virus can get ahead of the immune system’s defenses.
The OU Health Sciences Center and Pure MHC have been teaming up for more than 20 years on similar projects, and the combination of their resources and expertise could accelerate the development of a viable vaccine.
aSTEAM Village launches free virtual school app
With many schools getting closed for the remainder of the year, the need for at-home learning opportunities has grown exponentially for busy parents-turned-teachers.
A Kansas City nonprofit called aSTEAM Village is helping to fill that void.
The organization launched a free virtual school last week for students and adults, along with an accompanying low-cost online certification program. The nonprofit was already developing a video school for kindergarten through the senior year of high school before the coronavirus pandemic, but the program has been adapted for more widespread use.
“Since the coronavirus hit, schools have been canceled and students are at home. Many parents are working from home or lost their jobs and are at home searching for a new career,” aSTEAM Village founder and executive director William Wells told KSHB-TV. "We have free online tools and one low-cost online certification program for teens and adults."
The certification modules, which cost $19.99 each, include topics such as fundamentals, web and graphic design, information technology support, leadership and management, and video production.
Milwaukee keeping tech and startup communities connected
In Milwaukee, several organizations are tackling the issue of social isolation head on with a number of programs aimed to keep their tech and startup communities connected and engaged in these uncertain times.
NEWaukee, a self-described “social architecture agency,” just launched a multi-channel series called “The Cloud Café,” designed to offer the Milwaukee business community a slew of online resources, including speaker series and performances, health and wellness programs, virtual meetups, and access to NEWaukee's virtual workspace via Slack.
Startup accelerator Gener8tor also introduced a virtual program to help small businesses and local startups navigate their way through the COVID-19 crisis and secure the necessary resources to weather the storm. Other Milwaukee organizations rolling out online programming and virtual assistance include Startup Milwaukee, Startup Wisconsin, and 5 Lakes.
While physical isolation is critical in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, we need not feel utterly disconnected. With a robust variety of virtual connectivity programs coming online, Milwaukee is showing exactly how we beat this thing—together.
FUELING THE FUTURE
ShiraTronics lands $3M in Series A funding
Private medical device company ShiraTronics, based in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Park, recently announced it has completed $3 million in Series A funding. This brings the company’s Series A financing to $36 million.
Chicago tech company raises $10M
Chicago’s Forager, which develops cross-border solutions for the logistics industry, has raised a $10 million Series A financing round. Forager’s total funding since it launched is $14.5 million.
Irish distributor buys Twin Cities’ Amerilab Technologies
Dublin-based DCC has made its third acquisition of an American healthcare company, buying Amerilab Technologies for $85 million. Amerilab produces effervescent nutritional powders and tablets.
ZynBit raises $250K from investors
Raleigh software startup ZynBit has raised $250,000. The self-described “sales acceleration” company plans to raise $500,000.
St. Louis-based Perficient acquires Catalyst Networks Inc.
Perficient, an IT sales and consulting firm, has announced the acquisition of Georgia-based Catalyst Networks Inc., along with its European affiliate. Catalyst Networks (doing business as Brainjocks), is a digital consultancy that focuses on Sitecore software.
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