Several serious startup scenarios & further funding flooding flyover
"Chase the vision, not the money. The money will end up following you." – Tony Hsieh
PhysIQ uses AI to improve health care
PhysIQ founder Gary Conkright
PhysIQ, a startup focused on using artificial intelligence to improve health care, has received $500,000 in grant funding from the Purdue Foundry Investment Fund. The company uses real-time health data from wearable sensors to improve patient outcomes. PhysIQ’s tools connect patients with pharmaceutical companies to test products using live data.
Cincy startup delivers VR-driven diversity training
More and more companies are focusing their attention on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) training in an effort to recognize and overcome unconscious bias and promote an inclusive workforce. The US reportedly spends $8 billion annually on diversity training initiatives—yet the traditional training methods have been notoriously unsuccessful. In fact, they often have a negative effect, making workers defensive and reinforcing their biases.
Cincinnati startup VECTRE is taking a radically different approach. VECTRE develops immersive training experiences using virtual reality (VR), with projects ranging from safety education to product visualization. And now, it’s tackling DEI training with a platform called Perspectives.
Perspectives uses VR to create an interactive, immersive experience that lets users see what it’s like to be on the receiving end of microaggressions and bias. In an interview with Forbes, co-founder Myra LalDin explained the rationale behind Perspectives. “People are starting to experience diversity fatigue, and DEI training can often times feel punitive. Perspectives does not impart rules or tell participants what not to do; they construct their own learning by experiencing situations from someone else’s vantage point.”
PurPics raises $920,000 in funding with big Twin Cities assist
Tech startup PurPics may not call the Twin Cities home, but the Austin-based developer has been making quite a splash lately in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. 2019 alums of Techstar Ventures' Farm to Fork accelerator program in St. Paul, PurPics just announced $920,000 in a pre-seed funding round that includes backing from The Syndicate Fund, a Twin Cities-based venture capital fund that “provides exceptional early stage startups the capital and support needed to build great businesses.”
PurPics is developing a SaaS-powered platform that enables brands to connect with Gen Z consumers in a more meaningful way, offering “technology that empowers individuals to promote the brands they love to raise funds for the causes they care about.” A symbiotic relationship, that is. Increasingly, Gen Z consumers want their purchasing choices to have meaning beyond the transaction. PurPics believes that fostering more impactful relationships between brands and customers can result in a tenfold increase in quality social media engagement compared to conventional social media advertising.
Founded in 2017, Purpics has worked with more than 40 brands on various campaigns with an active presence on more than 60 college campuses across the US. Purpics CEO Aneesh Dhawan noted, “There's a fundamental shift coming in the way brands will interact with and understand this next generation of consumers, and it's going toward more authentic and purposeful strategies... We're grateful for this round of funding and are excited for our next stage of growth.”
Funding approved for four startups in Iowa
The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) just announced the latest recipients of two ongoing funding initiatives – the Demonstration Fund and Proof of Commercial Relevance (POCR) program.
West Des Moines-based Virtual Assistance Tools and Iowa City's Malum each received $100,000 loans from the Demonstration Fund, which “provide(s) assistance to companies with market-ready innovative technologies or products that have a clear potential for commercial viability.” Virtual Assistance Tools helps various players in the insurance world grow life insurance revenue, while Malum focuses on artificial intelligence-based personal performance and safety optimization tools.
Additionally, IEDA awarded low-interest POCR loans worth $25,000 each to West Liberty-based software developer Skilled Day and biotech startup Skroot Laboratory in Ames. POCR loans are designed to help companies that “demonstrate a proof-of-concept for innovative technology” successfully reach commercialization. Skilled Day develops software aimed at improving access to daily schedules for both healthcare providers and patients in skilled facilities, while Skroot Laboratory develops wireless sensor systems to help biotherapy developers improve product efficacy and viability.
Good news for people with gunky veins
A Raleigh medical device firm specializing in heart health has raised $22.3 million in funding from 10 investors. The company, Contego Medical, specializes in devices that target neurovascular, coronary and peripheral vascular diseases.
NIH awards a record-breaking $189 million to IU Medical School
The Indiana University School of Medicine has won $189 million in grant funding from the National Institutes of Health. The money will go toward all areas of the institution but will primarily focus on research into two devastating illnesses: Alzheimer’s disease and pediatric cancer. The funding was a record amount for the school.
IU has topped its NIH funding for four years in a row now. School officials say that brings with it more jobs in biotechnology, more money invested and more research being conducted in the Hoosier state.
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