Startup lessons from Louisville | 3D printing body parts | AI & AgTech | Fueling the Future
“A startup community is a group of people who are fundamentally committed to helping entrepreneurs succeed.” — Ian Hathaway, Techstars
October 8, 2020
LAYOVER IN LOUISVILLE
Louisville hosts Render Capital pitch competition
Image by Thomas Kelley for Shutterstock
Ian Hathaway, an expert on startups and venture capital, gave the keynote address at the 2020 Render Capital Competition award announcement on September 25 in Louisville, KY. Hathaway is the senior director of Techstars, a Boulder, CO, seed accelerator, and the co-author of “The Startup Community Way: Evolving an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem.” At the event, Render Capital, a Louisville venture fund, awarded $100,000 each to eight startups who’d won a Shark-Tank style pitch competition. Because of COVID-19, the competition and keynote were virtual.
Hathaway, who is also a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a research fellow at Boston University, is an expert in complex systems, and he brings this knowledge to startups and startup communities. His contention is that startups thrive under a system of startup communities, where entrepreneurs can collaborate in rapidly evolving, complex environments.
Conversely, many startups are challenged when governments, large corporations and universities don’t collaborate as well as they could. “A startup community is a group of people who are fundamentally committed to helping entrepreneurs succeed,” he said.
“The reality is that a small number of entrepreneurial successes drive overall performance,” Hathaway told the Louisville audience. “What’s critical is that, once a success occurs, those resources get recycled back into the community in expertise, networks, and investment capital.”
He also stressed the difficulty of copying another city’s success. “Louisville is a fundamentally different place from everywhere else on the planet. The reality is that what might work in Louisville won’t work in 10 other cities and what works in 10 other cities won’t work in Louisville. So it’s really a process of bottom-up experimentation and learning.”
Hathaway included some advice for entrepreneurs, including taking a long-term mindset. “Think in generations. It takes time for these principles to become deeply embedded in the community.” He also stressed the importance of diversity. “Diversity is to be desired, not avoided. The nature of innovation is complex and we want all of those inputs.”
Wrapping up his presentation with a challenge, Hathaway touted the business philosophy of #GiveFirst. “My challenge to you today is to #GiveFirst. Find a tangible way to help one founder over the next week and ask them to do the same for two additional people. Engage with people and it will pay you back.”
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A discussion about loneliness, social determinants, and data
Can loneliness kill you? What’s the difference between treating diabetes and treating the diabetic? Can where I live impact the future of my health?
These are among the vital questions being answered today through a new approach to gathering and analyzing healthcare data. This week we sit down with Rebecca Brown Rice, neuroscientist turned data expert, and Director of Operations at the Louisville Healthcare CEO Council (LHCC). Hosts Ben Reno-Weber from Louisville’s Future of Work Initiative and our executive producer, Brian Eichenberger, talk with Rebecca about how LHCC’s new data collaboration is using social determinants of health to reduce loneliness and social isolation in aging care.
You can listen to this episodes on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, or wherever else you get your podcasts.
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ON THE RADAR
Carnegie Mellon student 3D prints silk body parts
Tahlia Altgold, a junior materials science and biomedical engineering major at Carnegie Mellon University, spent her summer using silk to engineer and 3D-print tissue for regenerative medicine. As in body parts. For humans. The technique was invented at Carnegie Mellon’s Regenerative Biomaterials and Therapeutics Group.
As it turns out, silk has long been used as a biomedical material for sutures. Altgold and her professors at CMU are using silk as a support structure for growing cells. Her process involves dicing up silkworm cocoons, boiling them in sodium bicarbonate, and separating the proteins.
Next, she coerces the proteins to hold the shape she needs to print, for example, an eardrum. Because silk is biocompatible, researchers hope the 3D printing technique will be a breakthrough for regenerative medicine. It’s a great time to be alive.
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AI-based AgTech solution
Can artificial intelligence and data science make food tastier and healthier? Benson Hill, a St. Louis-based agtech firm, thinks so and has won an award to bolster that claim. The crop-improvement company won the AI-based AgTech Solution of the Year award from AgTech Breakthrough, a market-intelligence company that honors the top global products in agtech.
Benson Hill’s AI-based crop design platform, CropOS, speeds up the process of crop breeding, which historically has been a lengthy slog of trial and error. It has also often brought unwelcome tradeoffs when, for example, a plant characteristic improves yield but compromises protein content.
By combining data science and machine learning with biology and genetics, CropOS allows proprietary phenotyping, predictive breeding, and environmental modeling algorithms. That’s a fancy way of saying AI can make our food more sustainable, healthier, and tastier.
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AgriNovus helps students choose an agbioscience career
Speaking of agriculture, Indianapolis' AgriNovus has launched a tool to encourage students to pursue an agbioscience career. AgriNovus (whose tagline is “where food, agriculture, science and technology converge”) rolled out Field Atlas, a platform that helps potential agbioscientists sort out their options and guides them along a path toward an “innovation-driven career.”
Degree pathways include environmental science, bioenergy, biomathematics, animal sciences, sustainability, and conservation. In fact, the Field Atlas website lists 40 possible avenues for budding agbioscience pros. Specific job roles run the gamut from agricultural engineer to animal geneticist to climate change analyst, and again, the Field Atlas team has been thorough—it lists 91 possible careers on its site. (Yes, we counted them.)
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FUELING THE FUTURE
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Attend the virtual Vogt Awards Demo Day on Oct. 15
Register now for the virtual Vogt Awards Demo Day on Thursday, Oct. 15.
Meet the six 2020 early-stage companies selected to each receive a $25,000 grant, participation in a 10-week lean startup program, coaching from scalable startup CEOs, industry mentorship, and strategic introductions. With the announcement of these winners, the Community Foundation of Louisville is honored to have supported 84 companies with $3.5 million in Vogt Award grants throughout the program's 20-year history. You don’t want to miss this celebration, register here.
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NAME THAT FLYOVER CITY!
It's time for our favorite trivia game!
Test your Flyover geographic knowledge with these three "stumpers." There are no prizes (except for bragging rights).
Click here for today's answers.
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