St. Louis’ geospatial play | XLerateHealth | Indy Autonomous Challenge
“The application of GIS is limited only by the imagination of those who use it." — Jack Dangermond, Esri
July 9, 2020
Photo by GarryKillian for Shutterstock
Business leaders in St. Louis have set their sights on the growing geospatial sector. Geospatial firms develop technology that processes data tied to a particular location on Earth—stuff like geographical information systems, spatial analytics, global satellites, and earth observation. City leaders have released their roadmap called “GeoFutures – A Strategic Roadmap for Advancing the Geospatial and Location Technology Cluster in the St. Louis Region.” (PDF)
The roadmap calls for a guiding organization, dubbed the “STL GeoFutures Coalition” to take the lead in growing an industry around the NGA. The city has taken baby steps to jumpstart the infrastructure, including incubator T-Rex and startup investor Arch Grants. Saint Louis University has launched a Geospatial Institute to focus on developing talent.
The roadmap also includes a focus on developing underinvested communities, which the report calls a “largely untapped talent resource.” The plan calls for scholarships for students from poor neighborhoods, especially those near the NGA campus.
“The effort needs to focus on making sure that children growing up right now near the NGA’s new site don’t see it as a threat, as something displacing their neighborhood, but instead as a pathway for them to live a prosperous life in St. Louis,” said Jason Hall, a member of the roadmap’s task force.
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INNOVATIVE HELP WANTED
KSTC seeks catalysts for innovation and entrepreneurship
Entrepreneur and AOL founder Steve Case saw the need and opportunity to foster economic growth in mid-sized cities across the U.S. With the Rise of the Rest initiative, Case and a team of investors travel the country, forging relationships and helping build the next wave of innovation.
The Kentucky Science & Technology Corporation (KSTC) is looking to hire someone who can help build that wave in Kentucky.
KSTC, an independent and innovative nonprofit leader in developing and managing creative initiatives in education, entrepreneurship, and science & technology based economic competitiveness, is looking for an Executive Director to lead the Kentucky Commercialization Ventures program.
Both the opportunity and expectation to make a significant impact on Kentucky’s economic growth is great. The Executive Director will develop and execute commercialization services with universities across Kentucky. Success will be driven by building strong relationships at these institutions and leveraging the entrepreneurial and investment programs at partner organizations to rapidly network, develop, and commercialize research and intellectual assets at participating schools.
This role requires expertise across a variety of industries as well as the ability to be a bridge between academia and business. "Kentucky is the heart of America. We exist at the nexus of urban and rural. We have an opportunity to fuel our state industries, expand entrepreneurship, and enrich our culture. Are you up to the challenge?”, asks KSTC Vice President Rick Johnson.
Additional details can be found here.
To apply, please email your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Healthcare accelerator selects 2020 Flint cohort
XLerateHealth, a healthcare accelerator based in Louisville, Kentucky and Flint, Michigan, has chosen six companies to support as its 2020 cohort. The company supports innovative startups that contribute to the revitalization of Flint and its region. The 2020 startups are:
• Bell Tech Communications, an assistive-technology startup that translates sign language into real-time conversations.
• Crosby Innovations, developer of a hand-held ultraviolet-light device that eradicates viruses like COVID-19.
• HealthOpX, maker of software that helps non-native English speakers access the healthcare system.
• Insubiq, makers of an AI-powered wearable device that detects digital biomarkers for diseases.
• SafetyCo, makers of SafetySit, a device that helps patients undergoing physical therapy.
The 2020 XLerateHealth cohort will begin a boot camp this month that will culminate with a virtual demo day of pitching to investors in September.
XLerateHealth is funded by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and 100K Ideas.
FUELING THE FUTURE
$1.5 million prize for students
Photo by pathdoc for Shutterstock.
Engineering simulation company Ansys, headquartered south of Pittsburgh, is empowering university students around the world to design, build and test next-generation autonomous vehicle (AV) software through the Indy Autonomous Challenge (IAC).
The goal of the competition is to enable commercialization of fully autonomous vehicles and advanced driver assistance systems. And the challenge is to program modified Dallara racecars to participate in the first ever autonomous race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in October.
Ansys has provided training in using AV simulation through hackathons and workshops, and it has given competitors free access to its Ansys Autonomy suite. The solution allows them to develop and test automated driving software in a simulation environment. The competition will award a total of $1.5 million to the first three teams to cross the finish line in the 20-lap race.
Silicon Valley investor has a plan to help minority-owned businesses in the Midwest
Investment professional Ash Shrivastav has devised a funding model aimed at supporting minority-owned companies in Kansas City, Tulsa, and Detroit. Shrivastav, who works for Buckhill Capital, a private equity and VC firm based in Silicon Valley, proposes a fund that would operate in a standard fashion—except for one thing. The money for the fund would come from the US government. With this model, the government would be a limited partner in the fund, just like a typical investor. The general partner would be a team of professional fund managers.
Shrivastav thinks his funding model could help minority entrepreneurs and women in the Midwest, who are commonly bypassed by coastal VC firms and struggle to find investors.
“We have to focus on what income inequality is doing to this country,” he said. “The fix is either you become an employee or you start an enterprise. The sad part is that venture capital only goes to about 2% of companies and 98% of them are typical white and male and with a similar educational and professional background. Women and minorities are left out.”
University of Michigan venture fund lands gift from Amazon
A University of Michigan philanthropic venture fund designed to help commercialize technology developed at the school has gotten a $200,000 boost from Amazon. The fund, called Accelerate Blue Fund, is raising $2 million to support UM-born startups. Besides Amazon’s gift, the fund has also received gifts from two prominent UM alumni. All investment returns the fund earns will go back into the fund to further support new startups.
There should be plenty of opportunity for the fund to invest, as the university saw a record 28 new startups emerge in fiscal 2020.
Indy revenue intelligence platform lands $2M in funding
Canopy, a “revenue leadership hub” based in Indianapolis, recently acquired $2 million in seed funding. Leading the round was High Alpha and Elevate Ventures. Other investors were IU Ventures and Service Provider Capital.
10 startups receive Launch Minnesota grants
Launch MN has given 10 startups $255,000 in its fourth round of Innovation Grants. The group has awarded almost $1.5 million of the $1.6 million allocated for this year.
NIH grant goes to statistics innovator BioRankings
St. Louis-based consulting firm BioRankings has been awarded a $1.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
NSF gives Northwestern $200K for COVID-19 detection device research
Northwestern University researchers have received a $200,000 National Science Foundation grant to help advance their work on developing a wearable device that can detect early signs of COVID-19.
OSU scientists develop medical breakthrough using alcohol
Okay, perhaps that headline misled you into thinking some chemists got drunk and made a brilliant medical innovation, and maybe they did. We can’t be sure. That’s not what we meant, but the real story is just as cool: Chemists at Ohio State have converted alcohol into amino acids at the molecular level. The discovery could lead to new medicines to fight bacterial infections and viruses.
In the words of noted philosopher Homer J. Simpson, “To alcohol! The cause of – and solution to – all of life’s problems.”
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