Good morning and welcome aboard!
Today's Itinerary: We do some splainin' about our mission, talk about micro-hearables, debit cards for kids, and research that's going on at The Cortex in St. Louis. And, oh yeah, something about a shrimp.
August 12, 2019
Innovate. Celebrate. Connect.
Welcome aboard the inaugural flight of Flyover Future, a brand new daily newsletter celebrating the people, institutions and companies driving innovation in Flyover Country. Before we kick things off, we want to fill you in on the reasons behind Flyover Future with this quick read:
We all know innovation is essential for economic and civic growth in the 21st century. For cities to thrive, they must build and foster strong innovation ecosystems of businesses, universities, cultural institutions, and smart government that are the key to attracting the capital and talent that drive growth.
Breakthrough devices, services, applications, medical therapies, smart materials, transportation, artificial intelligence, and automation of all kinds are powering innovation in our society. And emerging businesses, where the bulk of new jobs and growth are created, evolve from these innovation ecosystems. Innovation attracts talent. And with innovation and talent, capital follows.
The great news is that cities and communities in the Flyover Heartland are aggressively developing and growing their innovation ecosystems. In Kansas, Michigan, Nebraska, Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, and Tennessee, among others, communities are rallying around new businesses and entrepreneurs. Cities in Missouri, Kentucky, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania are creating ecosystems that are attracting the sought-after talent and capital so fundamental to growth and quality of life.
The major Flyover Universities are fueling their engineering departments and expanding their bioscience research, adding horsepower to their tech transfer offices. Everywhere you look, Flyover Country is fast approaching mach1. And as coastal cities become increasingly unaffordable, this is the ideal time to start a business, work in, or invest in Flyover Country.
Advantages of Flyover Country
The crew at Flyover Future wants to celebrate and promote the substantial benefits of living and working in Flyover Country that all of us value: affordable housing, commutes measured in minutes not hours, and opportunities to make an impact in our communities and work with talented, forward-thinking people. And of course, the chance to enjoy a vibe that is decidedly not New York, LA, or San Francisco.
Flyover Future is our celebration of the innovation taking place in flyover country and our support for the people and institutions driving it. Every day of the week, our newsletter will give you a glimpse into the many inspiring efforts going on all around us to foster and accelerate innovation.
Our flight plan is designed to inspire you and help you learn a bit about the players in our ecosystems. We believe that for each of us to thrive, all of us must thrive. We need to embrace the diversity and the opportunities that abound in Flyover Country. So every day we will let the world know what amazing things are happening in the heartland—the research, projects, and initiatives that are providing incredible opportunities for people to innovate and attract talent and capital.
If you're not already a subscriber, grab your ticket. We are boarding now.
KC’s tech company Ear Micro Bionics launches micro-hearables
Ever notice how the more tech devices evolve, the smaller they seem to get? Micro-hearables, small computerized speakers that can be placed in the ear like earbuds, are a case in point. Micro-hearables are a fourth the size of other hearables on the market and have a 14-hour battery life.
What was that?
Ear Micro Bionics created these little marvels that not only fit comfortably in the ear canal (pay attention, Apple!), but also enable the user to listen to music, use voice commands with smart assistants like Siri and Alexa, and control apps and smart home devices.
They also serve as an activity tracker and can provide more accurate vital signs, such as heart rate and blood oxygen levels. And perhaps our favorite feature: The device can read head movements, so if your phone rings and it’s someone you don’t want to talk to, you can just shake your head no.
Greenlight debit card teaches kids to spend wisely
In a recent survey, 97% of respondents said they’d rather talk to their kids about the birds and the bees than explain how finances work.
Okay, we just made that up.
But the fact remains, parents have traditionally fallen short when it comes to preparing their children to manage money. And without that fundamental skill, those kids grow up to make poor financial decisions as adults.
Atlanta-based Greenlight Financial Technology has a better idea. Founded in 2014, the company created the Greenlight Card—a debit card for kids. It lets them learn firsthand how to earn, save, budget, and manage spending—a realistic experience without the risks that come with using cash or running amok with their parents’ credit cards.
Parents can manage their kids’ accounts via the Greenlight app and put various restrictions in place, such as limiting the stores where purchases can be made. They can also set up automatic allowance payments, receive alerts when transactions are made, send money to the account, and even set up “parent-paid interest.”
Tim Sheehan, CEO and co-founder of Greenlight, said that by using the debit card, “kids can see in real-time what's happening with their money, keeping them engaged and invested, while creating natural opportunities for parents to have financial conversations with them."
Now, about those birds and bees…
Killing it! Cortex Innovation Community soars in St. Louis
Has St. Louis upped its caffeine intake? Because there is some serious growth going on in The Cortex Innovation Community.
The Cortex is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit hub of technology, development, and biological science research that’s credited with $500 million of investment capital in the last 14 years. It’s home to more than 370 companies and 4,300 tech jobs.
Microsoft chose Cortex to house one of its tech centers in a new building called Innovation Hall. That investment will bring over $50 million in local jobs, facilities, and software grants.
Late last year, Cortex constructed the first MetroLink station to be built in more than a decade. The Cortex MetroLink Station is the first Metro Transit project to be constructed using public and private funding.
Esri, an international supplier of geographic information system (GIS) software, recently expanded its presence in St. Louis at Cortex to serve the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.
All that and a Stanley Cup!
Drake University plays host to African leaders
Twenty-five young, emerging business and entrepreneurship leaders from Africa are at Drake University in Des Moines, IA, for a Leadership Institute sponsored by the State Department. Drake is hosting the young leaders as part of the 2019 Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, according to the Drake University website.
It’s the fourth straight year the university has hosted young leaders from Africa. At Drake, the group is studying leadership best practices and participating in mentoring and local community engagement—and, if we were them—totally going to the Iowa State Fair and eating the bacon ice cream and dill pickle popcorn.
To date, the State Department has brought 3,700 young leaders from 49 African countries to the US to collaborate with professionals on leadership skills and networking. In Iowa, the young leaders are meeting with business leaders, government officials, and public works officials.
They’ll also be engaging in service projects with local nonprofits, which may or may not include touching up the paint on the world’s largest concrete gnome.
Researchers at Purdue get valuable data from… a shrimp
We look at a lot of crazy start-ups and research in the heartland, but this really caught our attention.
Sure, sharks have a legit rep for being dangerous, but who knew about the bad-azz mantis shrimp? Scientists at Purdue University did.
We're talking about this critter here ...
FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.orglicensesby2.0)]
Apparently, the mantis shrimp can take on attacks from its own species without getting injured. Its secret? Its tail appendage, called a telson, serves as a territorial shield that can stiffen and then flex inward in the case of attack. This allows it to absorb significant amounts of energy during a strike without falling apart.
And that matters because…?
A team at Pablo Zavattieri’s lab at the College of Engineering at Purdue University, along with researchers at the David Kisailus’ lab at the University of California have set out to apply the lessons of the mantis shrimp to protective gear.
Think precious cargo: What if there was a material that could prevent car ceilings from caving in on passengers during an accident, or keep fragile objects from breaking when transported over long distances?
Who knew that a group of researchers, inspired by a flinty little crustacean, could make the world safer?
- For a week in 1982, Broadlands Medical Center in Des Moines, IA, was deluged with calls from all over the world asking about a patient who had to get rabies shots. Not because he was bitten by a bat, but because he bit one. The patient was the Dark Prince, Ozzy Osbourne, and the incident that caused all the commotion (his biting the head off a dead bat) happened during a Black Sabbath concert on January 20 in Des Moines.
- Because of its modern architecture, Charlotte, NC, was the perfect backdrop for a futuristic story. It was that reason—and not that it looks dystopian and post-apocalyptic—that it was chosen as the setting of the Capitol in the Hunger Games film series.
- Bill Post, the guy who invented the Pop-Tart, hailed from Grand Rapids, MI, and still lives there today. When he was 33 and working at Keebler, he was asked to develop a breakfast treat that could be inserted into kitchen toasters. After some tweaking, he found a way to keep the pastries from catching fire and to top them with icing that wouldn’t melt. Today the breakfast treats even have microwave directions—heat on high for three seconds—in case you have no time to spare at all.
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