Tech talent excelling in Flyover Country
“The best way to predict the future is to create it." - Abraham Lincoln
APRIL 6, 2020
Louisville's Interapt takes on IT skills gap
Photo courtesy Interapt
Interapt, a Louisville, KY software development and technology services firm founded in 2011, has had to be ahead of the curve on tech. Now it seems that it's ahead of the curve on another thing: creating talent in the IT field.
Instead of recruiting for top-tier talent at Stanford, MIT, and other prestigious institutions, Interapt opted to develop talent in its own backyard. It has decided to “upskill” by piloting scholarship-based training programs to underserved members of its community.
Its goal is “to provide upward economic mobility to those traditionally marginalized by society" by focusing on communities in need of economic development by training overlooked individuals and transitioning soldiers.
In the last training program, students attended class full-time (eight hours per day, for 12 weeks straight). To train the workers, Interapt worked with General Assembly, a national company referred to by its CEO Jake Schwartz as “The solution to the global skills gap.”
The instructors teach foundational programming languages, principles, and frameworks. (Side note: General Assembly is also working with Microsoft to close the skills gaps in the growing field of artificial intelligence.)
At the conclusion of the Interapt program, students enter a registered Apprenticeship Program that has been approved by the Department of Labor. Individuals are placed in year-long engagements with Interapt or other partner companies.
In its very first run, Interapt’s program graduated 35 people. Of the 35 graduates, 25 were given job offers by Interapt, and 10 were hired by other tech companies in the area.
You can see some more success stories from the program in this article from the New York Times.
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Strategic planning group aims to guide future of geospatial tech
Geospatial technology plays a role in everything from guided missile systems to smartphone maps. It’s a sprawling, rapidly growing industry—and one of its emerging leaders is St. Louis.
Last November, ground was broken for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s western headquarters, scheduled to open in 2025.
At a cost of $1.75 billion, the NGA campus is the city’s largest federal investment. St. Louis was a good choice for the project. It’s been cultivating a robust geospatial ecosystem, thanks in part to the $5 million Geosaurus innovation center and a long-standing NGA presence.
To help coordinate the various initiatives in the geospatial sector, GeoFutures, a group of public, business, civic, and academic leaders, is focused on strategic planning.
Andrew Dearing, manager of GeoFutures, explained the committee’s mission: “To win the long game, we know we need to assemble the best minds from the region to shape an intentional forward-looking strategy. We need an agenda for growth.”
NASA Startup Studio spinoff program heading to Cleveland
FedTech, a dynamic venture program made up of entrepreneurs, investors, government leaders, and corporate executives, is currently accepting applications for its eight-week-long NASA Startup Studio cohort, set to take place in July and August of 2020 in Cleveland.
Participants will have the opportunity to engage with other entrepreneurs, explore next-big-thing commercial opportunities based on groundbreaking technologies developed by NASA, and gain valuable firsthand experience building startup business models.
FedTech launched in 2015 to harness the myriad commercial opportunities borne out of the $150 billion the US government spends on research and development each year. Ubiquitous tools and technologies in use today originated in federal R&D programs of yesteryear, including a few you might have heard of before, like the internet, baby formula, SIRI, and GPS.
Participants will explore new commercial applications for some of NASA's latest technologies, with valuable access to coaching, practice pitch sessions, and “experiential lectures” to boot. Perhaps most notably, FedTech charges no fees to participate and takes no equity in projects that successfully launch from the program.
Detroit's manufacturing pivots in fight against coronavirus
Ford and GM are some of the largest companies to join the fight against coronavirus, as the former makes face shields and supplies for respirators, masks, and ventilators, and the latter repurposes factories for the large-scale manufacture of ventilators.
And now the automotive supply chain is helping the effort. 600 Michigan companies are joining the cause to supply nurses and doctors with desperately needed gear.
And Magna, a Troy, MI, manufacturer of car seats, is now sewing medical masks as part of the COVID-19 response.
The state of Michigan is also supporting the effort. The state’s Emergency Operations Center is helping manage the flow of goods from manufacturers to the hospitals and clinics that desperately need them. And the Michigan Development Corp’s “Pure Michigan Business Connect” platform, which normally focuses on business development, is helping connect medical device manufacturers.
KC GovTech company gains traction in the wake of COVID-19
Public works startup Daupler, based in Kansas City, is seeing a spike in new customers because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Techstars company offers a customizable software platform that lets municipalities access critical information to address infrastructure issues in areas like sewer systems, streets, and power and gas utilities.
The SaaS platform has been particularly helpful at a time when so many people are working from home, providing a mobile solution that consolidates remote response processes, customer service, and work order management.
CEO John Bertrand says a big advantage of the platform is the speed of deployment—it can be up and running in days rather than the months required by other companies. Since the COVID-19 outbreak started, Daupler has been contacted by about a dozen municipalities.
““They’re just trying to stay afloat,” Bertrand told Startland News. “There are some obvious ways we can help them.”
Startup creates free decision-making medical app
A health technology startup founded by doctors in the Kansas City suburb of Olathe has developed an application that can help guide health-care workers through time-sensitive decisions and ultimately prevent medical mistakes.
The app, from Redivus Health, works by giving doctors and nurses a “Google Maps” approach to dealing with a patient's symptoms, whether it be stroke, sepsis, or even cardiac arrest cases. It even integrates with many electronic medical records to help ease the paperwork burden and prevent record-keeping mistakes.
All of which is even more valuable as hospitals and clinics deal with a deluge of coronavirus patients.
The company is searching for a strategic partner to help release a module focused on COVID-19, which could help with screening, triage, and treatment of patients. Among the possibilities are healthcare systems and medical record companies.
“Redivus Health was founded by doctors—me being one—and is staffed by nurses as well," co-founder and chief executive Jeff Dunn told the Kansas City Business Journal. “So we feel a real empathy and a pull to help those frontline providers make the right decisions during these times of crisis.”
Photo by oatawa for Shutterstock
Cybersecurity researchers in Columbus recently made an interesting (and creepy) discovery. The team evaluated more than 150,000 mobile phone apps and found that 12,706 contained what the researchers termed “backdoor secrets,” which can trigger behaviors that users are unaware of.
These backdoors included access keys, master passwords, and commands that could enable hackers to gain access to user accounts.
The researchers’ findings were detailed in a paper published on the OSU website and accepted for publication by the 2020 IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy.
The team also created an open source tool called InputScope that’s designed to systematically uncover hidden functionality in mobile apps.
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