Powderkeg’s Unvalley Virtual Conference 

Powderkeg, a digital community for tech companies, investors, and professionals, hosted its first-ever Unvalley Virtual Conference on December 17, featuring speakers such as Revolution’s Steve Case and Powderkeg’s CEO Matt Hunckler. The two-day event focuses on opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship in the land between the coasts. Also, the winners of the second annual Tech Culture Awards were presented to companies in Flyover Country for being culture leaders at a national level.

Alzheimer’s blood test

C2N Diagnostics of St. Louis have patented a blood test that would make it easier for people to learn whether they have Alzheimer’s disease. The test hasn’t been approved by the FDA but it’s being sold under more general rules for commercial labs.

Ablation tech and liver tumors

The Cleveland Clinic is the first in the world to use latest ablation tech to destroy large liver tumors. The minimally invasive procedure uses a single needle connected to a powerful 150-watt microwave generator that can burn a malignant liver tumor as large as 2.4 inches. Dr. Eren Berber led the team that successfully used the technique on a patient in October.

Using resources on Mars

NASA wants to send astronauts on a mission to Mars in a little over a decade from now. Since Mars is a little longer than your average commute, NASA is looking for ways the astronauts can use resources that are already available there. As part of that, a team of researchers from the McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University at St. Louis (WUSTL) has created a new type of electrolysis system that can convert briny water into usable products while also being compact and lightweight.

Madison team develops produce cultivation systems for NASA

Speaking of space travel, workers in Madison are developing environmental systems that can support human life and grow fresh food in space. The Madison team — formerly the company Orbitec, which Sierra Nevada Corp. acquired in 2014 — also creates propulsion engines that launch rockets into space

Microsoft launches Minecraft education platform in Louisville

The Jefferson County Public School system in Louisville, Kentucky was one of only three school districts in the world chosen to pilot the Minecraft Education Edition (MEE) on Chromebooks platform. So far JCPS has issued 70,000 Chromebooks to students and has started training teachers with Minecraft boot camps where they could get certified in how to integrate Minecraft into their instructional design.