Tag Archives: innovation

Start something… and here’s who can help.

Startup Lifecycle (thanks YallaStartup for the image!)

See the image to the left? If you’ve drawn this on a paper napkin, and then scratched your head at the checklist…

Chances are: you need this list.

Over the last few days, there have been multiple meetups, CED Cafes and TiE Carolina events that have offered opportunities for entrepreneurs like you to connect with the Research Triangle region’s rich resources of support organizations to help make that light bulb idea of yours a reality.

A huge thanks to CED for starting this list, and the many more who pinged me with others. As they say, I only know what I know. SO. If you want to be included on the list, leave a comment with your organization’s name, description, and contact information and any special packages you have to support our entrepreneurs.

And now… the list:

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The Expanding Digital Influence

TrueParallel’s president, Mark Rosenberg, started with saying, “Thanks.”  It certainly struck a chord with me, and as I listened to his presentation at Innovation in RTP last Wednesday (August 10th), I realized it was just another example of how Mark doesn’t always follow convention when it comes to doing business.

Mark sat down with us before his presentation to talk about what TrueParallel does and about his presentation at Innovation in RTP:

During his talk, Mark focused on discussing various market shifts and the new center of digital strategies.  According to Mark, even with an aggressive digital initiative, it’s important to be aware of the impact that users have on the web process and how that must be incorporated into an overall strategy.  He reminded us that the customer’s voice is loud and clear from anywhere on Earth these days and that feedback and information exchange is instantaneous.  Because of this, it’s likely that change must also happen almost immediately. Read more »

Bridging the Gap

Have you ever been prescribed a drug or therapy that didn’t seem to agree with your system?  Or diligently taken your medicine but experienced no improvement in your condition?  I’ve certainly dealt with this before, and after I finish feeling annoyed with my doctor, I wonder why on earth someone hasn’t figured this out yet!

In fact, many people ARE figuring this out – it’s called companion diagnostics.  And lucky for us, the folks at bioMONTR, a start-up in RTP’s Park Research Center, are making progress in our backyard.

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Wanted: Cloud Professionals

Despite the dark economic clouds, revenue growth attributed to “cloud computing” has become a major point of emphasis of companies with operations in RTP including: IBM, NetApp, and EMC.

More and more businesses are eyeing cloud architectures, hosted or in-house, as a means to lower infrastructure costs, quickly scale capacity as required, and standardize IT across offices and divisions.

By 2020, large U.S. companies that use cloud computing can achieve annual energy savings of $12.3 billion and annual carbon reductions equivalent to 200 million barrels of oil – enough to power 5.7 million cars for one year.

This is according to a new study by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), “Cloud Computing: The IT Solution for the 21st Century,” conducted by independent analyst research firm Verdantix and sponsored by AT&T. Download the full cloud computing report here.

What is cloud computing?

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Raleigh Leads the Charge for Electric Vehicles

PEV at a Downtown Raleigh charging station

This Wednesday at Marbles Museum in Downtown Raleigh, several RTP staff had the opportunity to attend Plugging In: Progress and Opportunities for Electric Vehicles. The forum, presented by The City of Raleigh, Progress Energy, and Advanced Energy, intended to raise awareness of opportunities and successes in electrified transportation technology.

As the event began, one thing that was quickly apparent was that Raleigh is in the cutting edge of the national rollout of plug-in vehicles. The forum was MC’ed by Paula Thomas, the City of Raleigh’s Sustainability Initiatives Manager, and featured remarks from Mayor Charles Meeker, Assistant City Manager Julian Prosser, and several other City staff. All expressed their eagerness to get Raleigh prepared for electric vehicles.

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The Science of Start-ups

On the heels of President Obama’s and the White House Jobs and Competitiveness Council’s visit to the RTP and the Triangle region, it struck me as I listened in on the entrepreneurship and innovation/biotechnology sessions with corporate executives: one thing is clear, access to capital is critical. And investors aren’t investing. And if they are, they’re difficult to find.

To Ted Zoller of UNC-Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flager School of Business and Director for the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, creating new jobs and companies goes beyond great ideas and ample capital.

“If we’re able to figure out where the opportunities lie and use networking as a tool, that will broaden the ability to focus each venture to the group of people that would best positioned to support that venture through success,” said Zoller.

His research relates to entrepreneurial networks. Dealmakers, as Zoller defines, are investors who have equity in three or more companies concurrently, are an part of the critical catalyst to bring entrepreneurs and investors together. Read more »

Coming to the Neighborhood: Wake Technical Community College

Wake Tech RTP Campus

Over 90 business leaders from across the region gathered at RTP Headquarters this week to hear a presentation on the new campus of Wake Technical Community College. Wake Tech, as we commonly call it, is a thriving institution now preparing to establish their 8th major location which will be on RTP’s doorstep. For a region that prides itself on educational capital, and for an economy that is in need of transformation through workforce development, this couldn’t come at a better time.

Speakers at the presentation included Dr. Stephen Scott, President of Wake Tech, and Jay Smith of O’Brien Atkins Associates, serving as Master Planner. Dr. Scott gave an informative overview of Wake Tech’s network of campuses, emphasizing that it is a rare opportunity to design a new campus from scratch. Although with the college’s burgeoning demand for classes, he has now had that privilege twice in his career as president. Attendance at Wake Tech is over 65,000 students per year. About two-thirds of those students are enrolled in continuing education courses, and around 15,000 already have a bachelors degree or higher. This past fall, there were nearly 10,000 students on waiting lists because the classes they needed were full. Lifelong learning is certainly alive and well!

Dr. Stephen Scott, President of Wake Technical Community College

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In 2008, Wake Tech purchased 86 acres of undeveloped land in Morrisville. The site offers a blank slate for the new RTP campus, oriented towards continuing education and technology training. This strategic location is at the intersection of 540 and NC 54, in the heart of Perimeter Park, and within a 5-10 minute drive for anyone in the Research Triangle Park.

Once developed, Wake Tech will have a greater capacity to partner with corporate clients in RTP and develop customized course offerings for their employees. The attendance and engagement at Tuesday’s event clearly shows the interest on the part of RTP companies in leveraging such partnerships. Donna Rhode, Vice President, Centers of Excellence of Cisco Systems Global Sales Operations, was one of the participants who praised the efforts to connect the local workforce with the development needs of RTP companies. As she points out, a technologically-skilled workforce is a key factor in attracting and retaining companies, here in the Research Triangle Park and across the region.

Donna Rhode, Vice President, Centers of Excellence of Cisco Systems Global Sales Operations

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Although Wake Tech has always been a commuter school, they do pay close attention to designing true campuses. The RTP campus will be no different. The intention is to cluster buildings around gathering spaces, rather than parking lots. Through structured parking and careful land management, the RTP campus will be designed with walkability and community in mind. All facilities will be LEED Certified, as has been Wake Tech’s practice across the board in recent years.

New learning facilities that meet the demand of students and businesses, all in an attractive and sustainable setting. How soon will this get here? Master planning and stakeholder engagement will continue throughout the summer. A bond referendum is expected in Spring or Fall 2012. Dr. Scott’s goal is to hold the first classes at the RTP campus in 2015.

An exciting aspect of Tuesday’s session was the rich and active discussion that followed the core presentation. Attendees offered numerous suggestions on what type of programs should be offered at the Wake Tech RTP campus. Many were in keeping with the strengths of RTP’s industries: Biotechnology, Software, Gaming, Clean Tech. Other ideas were based on locational advantages: Aviation, considering the proximity to RDU; or the resources that the RTP campus itself will offer: Green Building, Ecosystems.

Further discussion revolved around potential facilities and other possible partnerships. Public meeting facilities, for example, were a popular idea for encouraging collaboration among business and education groups. Teacher certification and K-12 enrichment programs would be an excellent means to integrate our educational institutions. And on-site services such as child care, dining and recreation could further enhance the student experience.

Wake Technical Community College will continue to engage students, faculty, local officials and the general public in its master planning process. If you have input of your own for the new campus, whether it concerns campus design or course offerings, be sure to leave your comments below.

SageWorks: RTP-grown Rosetta Stone for raw data analysis

Brian Hamilton gets it. People don’t look at raw numbers and immediately make qualitative assessments. There has to be context for campaign polling to matter or for people to care about NBA final stats. The same is true for financial analysis. Even CPAs and banking professionals need more than digits and decimals to do their job well. That’s where SageWorks, Hamilton’s online financial data review service, comes into play.

SageWorks offers three online software packages to bank employees and accountants to input numbers in one end and find numeric syllogisms inside. From this, the data can be evaluated more efficiently by the human eye, eventually being turned into real, layman’s English that professionals can understand.

SageWorks CEO Brian Hamilton doing some financial advising on cable TV

“The whole idea is numbers to words,” said Hamilton, who addressed this month’s Innovation@RTP series at the Park Headquarters Wednesday. “Can we reduce all those numbers to a meaningful plain language report? That’s why we started the company.”

A Duke B-School grad, Hamilton started SageWorks with his business partner at RTP’s First Flight Venture Center in 1998. Back then, he was jumping for joy when the first client bought his product for $14. Now, SageWorks kicks out more than 1,000 company reports a day.

In fact, Hamilton claimed it’s become the largest source of accurate private company financial data. Plus, there’s not much competition from other companies because it’s such a unique concept and SageWorks has a patent on the technology.

Hamilton stressed that while SageWorks takes care of the grunt work, human cognition and judgment is still very much necessary to ensure company improvement.

“It’s like we invented the reaper,” he said, referencing the farming machine used to cut crops during a harvest. (Not the bony guy with the big black robe; that wouldn’t be good ROI.) “We can help you get 80% of the way there in seconds. But I like the idea that you have to think, too. At end of the day, we still need judgment to be applied.”

I sat down with Brian and asked him about his experience cultivating a software start-up in the Research Triangle Park. He couldn’t wait to talk about all the resources available for budding entrepreneurs: First Flight, CED, the Chambers of Commerce, etc.

“What was absolutely riveting to me when I came down here was…the opportunity and intellectual curiosity of the people and the energy around new business formation,” Hamilton said.

“I came down here for business school thinking a lot of areas would be that way. But of course you travel around the country and realize that’s not the case.”

CityCamp Raleigh – building leadership to create change

You know when headlines promoting CityCamp Raleigh include “Techies beckoned to Raleigh for CityCamp”, I was a little uncertain as to what role I play as a self-proclaimed non-techie, especially since the ‘camping gear’ for the event listed items other than marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers.

CityCamp Raleigh, the ‘unconference’ aimed to connect Raleigh to its people by re-imaging how technology can empower communities and draw connections for a more participatory and transparent government.  Bringing together government, business, neighborhood, non-profit, and academic communities, the 3-day event kicked off with speakers from the government perspective and the business perspective. This provided a working foundation and understanding of technology, transparency, collaboration, and open source in government, while at the same time highlighting the importance of citizen participation. Doing just that, the floor opened up for comments and questions – providing a foreshadowing of the types of solutions that fueled the following days ideas and work sessions. Read more »

AG-Tech Landscape Grows in RTP

Agriculture is big business in North Carolina, bringing in $70.1 billion to the state annually – that’s 18% of N.C.’s income.  More than 4,000 North Carolinians work in over 70 ag-tech companies, which include RTP-based BASF Group, Bayer CropScience, Monsanto Company, and Syngenta. And soon, the landscape will grow with the exciting announcements made this week!

With the N.C. Biotechnology Center as its backdrop, a non-profit organization working to strengthen biotech initiatives in the state, two major announcements were made:

Alexandria AG-Tech Center

Announced Tuesday, the Alexandria AG-Tech Center is a $13.5 million, 50,000-square-foot agricultural research center near the Research Triangle Park that would include 18,000 square feet of greenhouse space.

The center will provide individual greenhouse modules and support areas along with shared amenities, according to Alexandria. Each greenhouse will have separate environmental controls, planting and support spaces. Completion is expected Summer 2012. Read more »