When Iowa-native Brandon Jorgensen was serving four years active duty in the US Army, he became very interested in their use of virtual reality (VR). After his stint was up, he began taking classes at Iowa State in industrial engineering and business administration.
One of his business professors suggested he apply for a grant from Iowa State to take a 12-week business accelerator course at the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center in Iowa City.
Jorgensen was accepted in the 12-week program and by the end, he was convinced that he could build a viable business on VR technology.
“At the end of that program, I knew that a VR business had a great shot at succeeding. I knew that the cities between the coasts were a little behind on VR tech and I wanted to change that,” he said.
A startup is born
That’s how Iowa Virtual Reality Labs (IAVR) came about. Jorgensen’s company provides come-to-you rent-able VR for public events, team-building exercises, conventions, and parties. The company can set up in an indoor facility but can also provide custom virtual reality trailers.
Currently it has 40 VR games to choose from, including 3-D drawing and sculpting, exploring Earth and other worlds, flight and racing simulation, boxing and sword fighting, shooting guns at friends or zombies, and crewing a submarine or even the USS Enterprise. It also offers age-appropriate games and takes care in rating each game in order to inform parents.
“We recently were hired at the Central Iowa Airshow,” Jorgensen said. While ticket holders could watch the world’s greatest pilots do their thing, they also had the opportunity to experience it through IAVR’s flight simulator that was set up there.
The company’s systems are cutting edge. According to its website, “our systems make phone VR look like it came out of a cereal box.” It strives to keep its systems as up to date as possible, using wireless headsets and high-powered computers to ensure the ultimate experience in VR gaming.
According to a report from Markets and Markets, the virtual reality market is expected to grow to USD 44.7 billion by 2024, at a CAGR of 33.47% during the forecast period.
Indy's TechPoint growth accelerator going strong
TechPoint, “Proudly headquartered in Indianapolis," launched in 2003 and has become a driving force in turning Indy into a flourishing tech hub. You could call it a tech-focused growth initiative, a nonprofit tech advocacy group, or an accelerator for Indiana’s tech ecosystem—and you’d be right on all counts.
TechPoint helps startups and scale-up companies obtain the resources they need to gain traction in the business world by developing, attracting, and retaining talent, connecting with investors and customers, and showcasing their products and potential.
TechPoint also excels in helping those interested in a tech career get the education and experience they need. For instance, its “ultimate tech internship experience,” a program called Xtern, matches promising students with Indy’s leading tech companies.
Another program, VC Speed Dating (yes, you heard us right), gives “high-potential” companies a chance to pitch their products and growth strategies to a selection of investors.
OneOme Best Overall Genomics Company
Minneapolis-based OneOme was crowned Best Overall Genomics Company in this year's MedTech Breakthrough Awards, thanks to RightMed, a test it co-developed with the Mayo Clinic.
Medical technology—medtech, to its friends—has exploded in the past few years. A glance at the list of award winners, which were announced in May, will make your head spin. There are dozens of awards, including the best Biometric Sensor Solution, Computerized Decision Support, Healthcare Big Data Platform … you get the picture. Step aside Gregory House.
And here’s a new word to add to your lexicon: pharmacogenomics, which studies how your genes may affect your response to certain drugs.
OneOme's RightMed test is similar to those DNA tests designed to help you find out if you’re descended from Pocahontas or the Habsburg dynasty: You grab a little cheek swab and send the test kit back for DNA analysis. But the similarity ends there. RightMed is designed to “optimize medical selection”—in other words, it helps healthcare providers choose the best medicine based on your genetic makeup.
RightMed test results offer insights into a host of medications used to treat various conditions, including cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, heart failure, and mental health disorders. It also offers complementary tools, such as the RightMed Advisor and RightMed reports.
GoPoint Technology takes the wheels
The dreaded check engine light. We don't know about you, but we've always been a little suspicious when taking the car in for service based on that little red light alone. The mechanic could make up something that will cost hundreds and we would never know it, like you have a bad shplanel or your engine has bronchitis.
Brennan Hamilton is the founder of the Michigan-based company. GoPoint’s device uses an app to communicate with your car, which tells you what’s going on without being at the mercy of a shady mechanic.
And mechanical issues are just the beginning. GoPoint makes various apps that use data to reduce distracted driving, increase fuel economy, monitor inexperienced drivers, and more. Hamilton’s GoPoint apps are giving vehicle owners control over their automotive data and bringing connectivity to any car.
Gordon Ramsay brings steakhouse to KC
He’s known for a fiery temper and frequent use of expletives, but his restaurants have been awarded 16 Michelin stars in total. Now Gordon Ramsay is bringing another one of his restaurants to Kansas City.
The chef, restaurateur, writer, television personality, and food critic announced that he will be bringing “a contemporary spin on the traditional American steakhouse” to a location in Harrah's North Kansas City. Here’s video of his announcement.
“I’ve been wanting to expand to the Midwest for some time and found Harrah’s North Kansas City to be the perfect location for Gordon Ramsay Steak,” Ramsay said. “My team is thrilled to introduce some of my most signature items, including the popular beef Wellington and my all-time favorite dessert, the sticky toffee pudding, to the Heartland.”
The location is a first for the Midwest and is the restaurant's fourth location, all within Caesars Entertainment Corp. (Nasdaq: CZR) casino resorts. Gordon Ramsay Steak's other locations are in Las Vegas, Baltimore, and Atlantic City.
Middle Bit: Google awards $175,000 to five Iowa nonprofits (ClayandMilk)
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