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UC collaboration leads to biodiesel research

Fueled by a US EPA grant, University of Cincinnati faculty and students are leading an effort to transform cooking grease into biodiesel on a regional scale.

This project is a collaboration among UC, the Cincinnati Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) and Bluegrass Biodiesel of Falmouth, Ky. The partners will test three methods to extract oil from the grease, including one the University is planning to patent.

Longer term plans are that this oil could be used in a biodiesel mixture to power diesel equipment and vehicles.

Grease hauling is an industry vital to restaurants, which pay haulers to dispose of used cooking grease. But the grease has to disposed of, usually in landfills.

"MSD receives grease from haulers," says project leader Mingming Lu, UC associate professor of Environmental Engineering. "The grease -- a mix of solid and liquid -- are from restaurant grease traps. MSD also has grease from the waste water it receives. The two kinds of grease are mixed, skimmed and condensed. This is called trap grease. It's stored in a pond and then sent to a landfill."

The EPA awarded the biodiesel effort an $87,000 grant during the the 8th Annual National Sustainable Design Expo on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. in May. The project was chosen from among 300 presented by college and university innovators across the country.

Up to seven UC students will be involved in the effort, Lu says. It's set to start in September and should last two years. It will include pilot demonstrations and a 100-gallon pilot treatment facility in collaboration with MSD.

"This is technology verification. We will try several technologies and see which one is the most effective for MSD," Lu says.

By Feoshia Henderson
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Cincinnati's CrowdSpark makes online contest creation easy, affordable

Online contests allow businesses and brands to find new customers, increase awareness and engage with followers through social media.

"This is a really a fast-growing space used to create media exposure to engagement," says Cincinnati entrepreneur Elizabeth Edwards, founder of the Cincinnati Innovates business competition.

But paying someone to create a custom contest can get pricey, and there's not much guarantee you'll get the results you want. So Edwards launched a new web product, CrowdSpark, designed to make contest creation more effective and accessible for businesses on tight budgets.

"A custom-designed platform and a management platform could cost $15,000 to create," she says. "Instead of paying a web developer to create a contest, for as little as $250 you could create your own."

Developers can also use CrowdSpark so that they can spend less time on code, and more time on creating a great contest, Edwards adds.

"We make it easy and economical to create and run those contests," she says.

Edwards is using CrowdSpark, now in Beta, to run the ongoing Cincinnati Innovates Contest, which wraps up July 15.

"I've learned a lot in the last four years of running Cincinnati Innovates, which has become of the most successful regional online contests in the world," she says. "But one of the things I learned not to do is spend a lot of money to get the results you want."

CrowdSpark offers social media plug-ins, analytics, contest entry forms, custom legal rules, tech support and options to create a custom domain and accept paid entries. There will also be a best practices guide focusing on creating and managing contests.

It costs between $250 and $2,000 to start using CrowdSpark, depending on the options it includes. Hosting fees range from $100 to $200 each month the contest runs.

By Feoshia Henderson
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CincyTech plans inaugural Great Lakes Venture Fair

CincyTech is working with its counterparts TechColumbus and JumpStart in Cleveland, as well the Ohio Venture Association and the Ohio Capital Fund, to organize the inaugural Great Lakes Venture Fair, Oct. 17-18, in downtown Cleveland.
 
The Great Lakes Venture Fair is a day-and-a-half event that will gather investors and high-potential, venture-backable companies from across Ohio and the Midwest. It builds on the success of the Ohio Capital Fund’s Early Stage Summit convention, which was held in Columbus for seven years.
 
Early-bird conference registration, at a rate of $150, is available until July 1.
 
The GLVF also will follow the National Association of Seed and Venture Funds’ national conference “Advancing Innovation: Seeding Tomorrow’s Opportunities,” being held at the same location, Oct. 15-17.
 
Programming for the GLVF will begin on Wednesday, Oct. 17, at 1 p.m. with a discussion on corporate venture partners, followed by a joint reception with the NASVF addressing the state of the Ohio Capital Fund.
 
Thursday will include pitches from the region’s best startup information technology and bioscience companies, presentations on regional investment activity and conversations about building future growth in startups and investing in the Midwest.
 
Additionally, if your company is interested in presenting at the venture fair, applications for company presentations will open in mid-June at www.greatlakesventurefair.org.
 
Sponsors for the first Great Lakes Venture Fair include the Ohio Capital Fund, Early Stage Partners, CincyTech, Edison Ventures, Draper Triangle and Thompson Hine. For sponsorship opportunities, interested companies can contact admin@greatlakesventurefair.org or visit the website to download the Sponsor Prospectus.
 
The conference is providing access to hotel rooms at the Cleveland Marriott Downtown at a discounted rate on a first come, first served basis.

By CincyTech

One More Pallet helps small shippers get deals

A new Cincinnati company is a banking on a simple idea whose success will all be in the details. One More Pallet aims to link small shippers with truck drivers who have a little space to spare as they're delivering large loads.

It will work like a bit like Priceline.com where small shippers, who need to move just one or two pallets, can enter their shipping information, along with how much they're willing to pay. Through One More Pallet's custom software system, shippers will be matched with carriers willing to accept the shipment. It's a win for the carriers, who can earn a little extra money, and for the the shippers, who can save as much as 50 percent off normal shipping costs.

"We're recruiting trucking firms and customers who are flexible in their delivery schedules," says company president and local entreprenuer Bill Cunningham. He and Sandy Ambrose, of Without A Doubt Warehouse in Fairfield, are the company co-founders. "If you can be flexible, you save a lot of money.

"Sandy came up with the idea. We were talking, and she said, 'I've got some excess capacity on my trucks and one or two more pallets on them would me make more profitable."

Since the conversation that sparked the idea, Cunningham and Ambrose have been working on the business idea, including the software system that links shippers and carriers. The software is currently in the pilot stage, with plans for a regional launch this summer. Those interested can get an invitation to the system through the One More Pallet website.

"We're going through the customer development process to make sure that our customers get a great experience every time," Cunningham says.

The company is getting a lot of interest. It was one of eight chosen for UpTech, a new business informatics incubator launched by several Northern Kentucky institutions, including Northern Kentucky University, Tri-Ed, ezone and Vision 2015. It's an intense, six-month accelerator program that includes $100,000 in funding. Companies selected to participate will also be working with students and faculty at NKU's College of Informatics.

It also was selected by the Kauffman Foundation as a finalist in the Startup Open in 2011 from more than 3,000 entries worldwide.

By Feoshia Henderson
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Define My Style recruiting 500 fashionistas

Define My Style, a Cincinnati startup and an online community of next-generation designers and fashionistas, is seeking 500 Design Assistants from across the country to discover and share their sense of style and design, create and publish fashion-oriented content, interact with other members of the community and bring their designs to life.

The program is looking for young women ages 14-22 who are passionate about style, want to become a part of fashion and have a drive to help others. ??Young women can participate from home and the program is accepting nominees on a rolling basis.

?Design Assistants should be highly motivated and eager to share their opinion. They will:

•    Lead and influence more than 50,000 DefineMyStyle.com members;
•    Connect with fashion-industry professionals, including stylists, designers, models and bloggers;
•    Be granted first access to trends, tools and brand partnerships;
•    Develop a personal brand;
•    Write blog posts, snap design-inspiring photos, submit videos and contribute to social media;
•    Build their resume for college.

In return, Design Assistants can earn points, badges (credits), swag and free bags from DefineMyStyle.com.??"I'm so excited to be one of the first Design Assistants,” says Kate Richey, a Cincinnati high school sophomore and a DMS Design Assistant. “We're getting to learn about fashion and design, and then we are given projects around what we've just learned. It allows us each to be creative and have fun. It's great to know that what we say and do makes an impact on the entire community.” ??

Define My Style Design assistants each will receive an elevated page on the DMS website where their accomplishments and profile will be housed.

The idea for Define My Style came to founder and CEO Kristine Sturgeon in 2007, when her oldest daughter was getting ready to head back to school. Unable to decide on a school bag that gave her the functions she needed and was a design she loved, Sturgeon’s daughter was at a standstill. She knew exactly what she wanted out of a product – as most consumers do – but brands sold commercially weren’t interested in listening to her desires. Sturgeon saw a business opportunity.

The website has now grown into a robust community of more than 50,000 members that allows teens to bring their ideas to life as they determine the role they want to engage in social commerce: including buyer, designer, marketer, critic and influencer of products. ??“The Design Assistant program offers a unique ability to play a role in fashion and influence the DMS community,” says Sturgeon. “At Define My Style, our goal is to provide right tools and connections to this creative next generation of leaders and influencers in the world of fashion. We are excited about all we have in store in the coming months.”

??If you know a teen you think would be perfect for the program, you can nominate them for the program.

Or, young women who want to directly apply to be a Design Assistant can submit their applications through the Define My Style Web site.  

By Sarah Blazak for CincyTech

MakeupHaulic puts all the best beauty tips in one place

Go to YouTube, eHow or the Facebook pages of major beauty brands, and you'll find thousands of videos featuring everything from how to apply crackle nail polish, use an eyelash curler or apply mascara. There are no shortages of product reviews, either..

These video blogs, or vlogs, help many women decide whether or not to purchase a new product, and how to use something new or unfamiliar, explains Brinda Chattergee, a Cincinnati entrepreneur.

"It's mostly young women who are sharing information about purchases, and coming together around information," she says.

Chattergee, who has a graphic design background, discovered the beauty vlogging world while researching product design for a beauty product. During her research, she thought it would be great if there was a site dedicate to the best of the videos, both professional and amateur, where people could quickly find and create the type of content they wanted.

That's the idea behind her new website, MakeupHaulic. Chattergee describes the site, which is not yet public, as a curated destination site for all things beauty. In addition to featuring existing content, the site will also offer tutorials for those who want to become beauty vloggers. She plans to feature some sponsored content as well.

"It will feature a blend of normal folks as well as professionals," she says. "It will be very democratic. Anyone can participate."

MakeupHaulic is one of eight companies chosen for UpTech, a new business informatics incubator launched by several Northern Kentucky institutions, including Northern Kentucky University, Tri-Ed, ezone and Vision 2015. It's an intense, six-month accelerator program that includes $100,000 in funding. Companies selected to participate will also be working with students and faculty at NKU's College of Informatics.

During her time in the incubator, Chattergee plans to launch the site and rework its design or the user experience in response to user feedback.

"The launch is pretty immediate at this point. We'll be taking it to the next level in response to feedback. It's a very important phase and an exciting time for all of us involved," she says.

By Feoshia Henderson
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Metro creates greener bus fleet

This week, Metro introduces five new buses to its fleet. These buses employ a new technology named "mini-hybrid."
 
The buses aren't smaller, nor are they hybrid, but they do get almost the same MPG as hybrids, as well as cost $240,000 less than a hybrid bus. The technology was developed by Engineered Machined Products and uses an electrically powered cooling fan, which would normally be powered hydraulically and take horsepower from the engine. The mini-hybrid buses still run on diesel fuel, but get gas mileage closely comparable to that of a hybrid. 
 
"It's basically like running the air-conditioner in your car without using the power it takes from the engine," says Daron Brown, quality assurance manager for Metro. 
 
Metro is one of the first transit agencies in the country to obtain a Clean Fuels Grant, which is normally given for the purchase of hybrid buses, for the mini-hybrid technology. Brown put together a report suggesting that the new technology will give a six to seven percent increase on fuel economy compared to traditional diesel buses, while hybrid buses get about 10 percent better MPG. 
 
The Federal Transit Authority requires that buses must have at least a 12-year life before being replaced and Metro now has 70 at the 12-year mark. With a total fleet of 345 buses, Metro looks to replace 30 buses per year and has 40 more mini-hybrid buses joining the fleet in coming months. The money saved by purchasing mini-hybrid buses will allow Metro to replace more old buses and create a greener fleet. 
 
"From now on, all of the buses we purchase will have this technology," Brown says. "We try to get 30 to 35 new buses each year. If we get funding that says we must purchase a hybrid bus, obviously we will, but the mini-hybrid buses give us a cheaper option to replace buses with a more environmentally friendly option." 
 

TEDxCincy explores the intersection of technology, artisianship

The First TedxCincy, in October of 2010, presented inspiring speakers from varied career paths talking about their passions. On May 10, the second TedXCincy event explores the theme: "Plugged and Unplugged: The Crossroads of Technology and Artisanship."
 
"It's always nice to have a topic that has some kind of friction or tension," says David Volker, TedxCincy organizer. "We wanted to come up with something that shows the entire spectrum of Cincinnati." 
 
The search for speakers starts with the organizing team's personal networks and then grows from there. The team consists of Volker, Emily Venter and Michael Bergman, all from LPK, and Mary Riffe of Procter & Gamble. 
 
"We try to search through our networks and find people who are off the beaten path," Volker says. "A lot of times, conferences focus on the cool, new, tech-based things, but we want to also explore what people are creating with their hands." 
 
Volker and the rest of the team are bringing in artists like Jesse Mooney-Bullock, a puppet maker from Northside, Renee Koerner, a local caviar producer, Queen City Project, a  group of photographers and designers showing Cincinnati through a different lens. Also on the schedule are Christopher Erb, vice president of brand marketing for EA Sports, and Steve Fulton of GE Aviation. Soapbox Managing Editor Elissa Yancey will kick off the afternoon of talks.
 
"We work really hard to uncover some of the gems in the city that may be otherwise passed over," Volker says. 
 
While there will be videos, swag and other activities for attendees, Volker says that the speakers make the event what it is. 
 
"We work really hard to make it a diverse line up of speakers," Volker says. "There will be over 500 attendees and we want to have at least one speaker that connects with each person that attends." 
 
By Evan Wallis

Startup event highlights investment in region

Local startups raised nearly $67 million in seed- and venture-capital funding in 2011 – a 26 percent increase over 2010. 
 
David Willbrand, a partner at Thompson Hine and chair of the firm’s Early Stage and Emerging Companies practice, will speak about the increase in startup activity and investment in the region at the Greater Cincinnati Venture Association’s State of Startup Investment luncheon, Wednesday, April 25.  
 
The luncheon also will feature three short startup pitches, a keynote talk and a panel discussion by local investors on the state of startup investing in Greater Cincinnati. The event is being held from 11 a.m. until 1:45 p.m. at Mainstay Rock Bar, 301 W. Fifth St. More information and a link to register can be found here.
 
A total of 29 startups received venture investments in Cincinnati last year. The majority – 41 percent – of deals made in Southwest Ohio last year were in information technology companies, including batterii, Blackbook HR, Define My Style, Ilesfay Technology Group and ThinkVine.
 
The other leading category was health care/bioscience. One new health-care startup was Airway Therapeutics, a company based on 10 years of research at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center that is developing proteins that significantly improve lung development in premature infants. Another was eMerge Health Solutions, which automates documentation during treatments at ambulatory surgery centers. 
 
eMerge is a software-as-a-service provider. Other startup companies in this sector that received initial investments last year include SoMoLend, a social and mobile peer-to-peer lending technology. Balanced Insight, which provides business intelligence software to help other companies improve collaboration and productivity through intelligent data-driven decisions, received a follow-on round. 
 
A trend that seems to be growing is investment in social-sharing startups – companies that provide content based on a user’s interests and location that the user in turn shares via his or her social networks. The three companies in this sector that received investment in 2011 were Girls Guide To, VenturePax and VenueAgent. 
 
By Sarah Blazak
 

Public Allies grows local leaders

Mildred Fallen is something of a Cincinnati historian. A local journalist, you can often see the product of her verbal explorations of Cincinnati's hip-hop scene in the pages of CityBeat and other publications. Her pieces often reflect something that's been lost to time or merely overlooked. And it's with this perspective that Fallen approaches her other, newer calling: social work.
 
In fall of 2011, Fallen joined Public Allies, a non-profit organization under the umbrella of AmeriCorps and a program of the local nonprofit Bridges for a Just Community. Allies' goal is to turn socially driven, passionate people into the next generation of leaders. Allies partner with other non-profits in Cincinnati to help with programming, training and community building.
 
"I had never heard of the program," says Fallen, who joined in 2011. But she was swept up in the movement. "They believe in enticing young people to approach leadership in their own way. It's not a cookie cutter or corporate way."
 
Fallen was placed with two non-profits after joining Public Allies — The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and Bridges. She splits her time between the two groups, focusing her energies on engaging the broader community. She manages social media, like the organizations' Facebook and Twitter accounts, blogs for both organizations and circulates information to demographics that could benefit from the organizations' resources.
 
Fallen also is a natural master of the "teachable moment." After the shooting of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed Florida teenager killed in February 2012, she helped organize a race forum at Woodward High School called "What's Race Got to Do With It?" that allowed residents to have a broad discussion about race and class in America. Fallen says that by engaging the region, you develop a more just community.
 
"People talked about how violence affects people like Trayvon, but also other people in Cincinnati as well," Fallen says.
 
During her tenure at the Freedom Center, she also has helped organize a capacity event with activist and author Angela Davis that attracted nearly 800 people — 600 in person and another 200 tuned in on UStream. She also pioneered a blog within the Freedom Center called "Queen City Conductor" that explores the little-known accomplishments of Cincinnatians of color.
 
Fallen says she wouldn't have been able to accomplish what she has in the last year without Public Allies. "The biggest component that people don't know about Public Allies is the training we receive," she says. "This is the first time I've really had a lot of peer support. I'm looking at myself professionally. I've been able to do a lot in a short amount of
time."
 
Fallen also is part of a community service project in partnership with the Strive Partnership. For the last two years, Cincinnati has won the America's Promise Alliance award, which means that the city in considered one of the 100 Best Communities for Young People. Together with her team, she is hosting community conversations to find out the public's opinion about Cincinnati's accountability in areas where we were noted as being excellent.
 
Fallen's term of service with Public Allies ends June 30, and her experience has given her a lot for look forward to when she moves on. She says her experience leading up to and throughout Public Allies has made her want to be a social historian of the city while maintaining service projects and engaging the larger community.
 
"I can actually say things like I have time management skills," Fallen says. "I'm successful at completing these projects. I'm confident that once I leave Public Allies, these are strengths I can really be excited about sharing."

By Ryan McLendon

RAW: Cincinnati showcases emerging artists

If you’re a natural born artist, RAW: Cincinnati is looking for you.
 
Coming to Cincinnati in May, RAW natural born artists makes its debut as a showcase for emerging indie artists, including visual arts, film, fashion, music, performing art, hair and makeup artistry and photography. RAW: natural born artists is an independent arts organization that began in Southern California and operates in 32 cities across the United States. Its mission – to provide independent artists with the resources and exposure to expand their careers on both a local and national level (and have a fabulous time in the process).
 
It works like this. Artists can visit RAW: Cincinnati online to submit creative work for consideration. Once accepted, the artists’ work is featured in online profiles on the RAW website, and becomes part of a monthly showcase that combines work from artists across all disciplines in one event, on one night. The events are held at venues where creatives can be loud, expressive and social as they introduce their work to patrons both new and familiar. Clearly not the average gallery show, the Cincinnati version of RAW begins May 18 at Luxe Cincinnati and continues on the third Friday of each month.
 
“Expect RAW: Cincinnati to showcase visual art, live music, designer hair and makeup, and a fashion show,” says Melissa Sideris, director. About 20 to 25 artists will be featured each month in events from May through November, which means there is ample opportunity for indie artists to introduce themselves to wider audiences.
 
“RAW helps emerging artists by providing a platform to showcase their work that they might not otherwise have,” says Sideris. In addition to the public exposure that RAW events provide, on-site photographers and videographers capture each artist’s story in a three to five-minute video that the artists keep to use for creative or promotional purposes.
 
Not only does RAW provide a local platform, artists have the opportunity for exposure on the national level. The November showcase features the top artists of the year, which are entered into a national competition culminating with a year-end awards ceremony held in Southern California.
 
“One of the most exciting things about RAW is that it allows a fun platform where many art forms come to life in one night,” says Sideris. “We are currently looking for artists for our June showcase."

For more information, go online.

Ilesfay receives interest, funding

Ilesfay Technology Group LLC has closed an oversubscribed seed-stage investment round of $615,000, led by CincyTech with $250,000 and completed by Douglas Groh, Steve Turnbull and other private investors. 
 
Ilesfay was founded in 2009 and provides real-time, cloud-based synchronization services through its proprietary PointToCloud™ and MatchMaking™ software. Ilesfay’s technology replaces the slower, expensive point-to-point system of replicating data by storing project information in the cloud and transferring only data that changes between sites. 
 
Chris McLennan, James Taylor and Joe Kramer started Ilesfay with a combined 30 years of engineering experience. They had seen their clients at A&A struggle with information exchange while working on large projects.
 
For example, teams of people around the world can be contributing to the same project. Every time a small change is made to an engineering design, the teams have to exchange huge amounts of data – measured in terabytes. (For a bit of context: One terabyte equals 1,000 gigabytes. An average Blue-ray disc contains about 50 gigabytes). Right now companies transmit the data by leasing expensive fiber-optic lines or using virtual private networks (VPNs), which are not only also expensive but require a lot of manpower.
 
Ilesfay uses a cloud-based service to replicate the data.
 
Ilesfay aimed to raise a seed round of $500,000 but was met with such great interest that the round oversubscribed by $115,000. 
 
“The oversubscription confirms our interest and eagerness for Ilesfay’s technology to come to market,” CincyTech senior investment analyst Justin Thompson says. “The company’s patent-pending technology could drastically improve the way that multi-nation companies exchange information. This software will be a key investment for PLM and vaulting companies.”
 
Ilesfay has been piloting projects with Procter & Gamble since its formation. 
 
By Sarah Blazak
 

KnowledgeWorks works to change education system

What started 10 years ago as an effort to increase educational opportunities has grown into a national enterprise that has helped open up 35 small high schools and showed countless students the benefits of continued education after high school. For their decade of work, the University of Cincinnati's Economic Center has awarded KnowledgeWorks with the 2012 Community Service Award.
 
KnowledgeWorks joins the ranks of Duke Energy, the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport as recipients of the award. The award is give to organizations that make a, "important local impact and a deep commitment to supporting economic research that guides policy or business practices."
 
“We are honored to be recognized by the Economics Center as we strive to improve education not just in our community, but throughout the United States,” says Brian Ross, KnowledgeWorks president and CEO. “As education budgets constrict, it’s important that school districts are able to identify ways to operate more efficiently without impacting the quality of learning for students.”
 
KnowledgeWorks uses three main ideas to create a complete overhaul of today's education, starting with access for children everywhere, creating better schools and transforming education from schooling to learning. One main contribution to the award was the work of KnowledgeWork's subsidiary, Ohio Education Matters (OEM). With OEM's Ohio Smart School Initiative, the organization presented more than $1 billion in savings in many different areas. With the idea of doing more with less, KnowledgeWorks knows it must plan for educational system that will be much different in coming years. 
 
Not as a way to predict the future, but as a way to guide what will happen in the future, KnowledgeWorks created the 2020 Forecast: Creating the Future of Learning. The forecast highlights six major areas of change -- altered bodies, amplified organizations, platforms for resilience, a new civic discourse, the maker economy and pattern recognition. While the forecast is difficult to sum up in few words, it does integrate everything form technical advances, to citizen responsibility, to utilizing local resources.
 
By Evan Wallis

QI Healthcare helps hospitals improve quality

The U.S. health-care industry is in great need of cost efficiencies and quality of care improvements, and a new company in Cincinnati is poised to help. 

In 2010, as a country, we spent more than $2.6 trillion on health care but still ranked lower than most countries in terms of quality of care. 

Also, new federal legislation will create incentives for hospitals and health-care facilities to meet quality standards and effectively punish those that don’t. 

CincyTech’s newest portfolio company, QI Healthcare, is helping hospital meet and exceed these quality benchmarks. 

The company was created from technology developed at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center by Dr. Frederick Ryckman, professor of surgery and senior vice president for Medical Operations at Cincinnati Children’s; Paul Yelton, senior application developer; and Candace Overly, project administrator, Perioperative Services. 

What Cincinnati Children’s developed is called the Surgical Outcomes Collection System (SOCS). It’s a software application for use in hospitals and health-care facilities that aggregates data from a hospital’s various systems, including its Electronic Medical Records (EMR) system, to conduct institution-wide analyses of cases where quality of care could be improved. 

“The real power of this software is in the ability to analyze every significant patient case,” says Ryckman. “Before SOCS we spent countless hours manually gathering data. SOCS improves the process through automation and enhanced analytics – and it frees up clinical resources to focus on quality improvement.”

Leading QI’s efforts is experienced entrepreneur and health-tech executive John Atkinson. Before being named CEO of QI, Atkinson held leadership roles at WebMD, Mede America and SourceMedical. He is also co-founder of a successful mobile startup, BuzzVoice, a streaming audio news service for smartphones.

CincyTech and Cincinnati Children’s Tomorrow Fund each invested $200,000. This round of funding will go toward sales, marketing and product development, which includes securing a handful of beta test sites for the SOCS software that has been in use at Cincinnati Children’s for more than a year. 

By Sarah Blazak for CincyTech

Local startup bridges gaps between tech, business

Beth Robeson and Sharon Hall have been working on a business that drives innovation in Cincinnati since last year. In January, they launched Bridge2Tec.

Pairing their experience in both IT and consulting, Robeson and Hall plan on helping businesses use the technology they already have while finding technology to give them the highest return on investments.

“We run into situations where companies aren’t taking full advantage of the technologies they have,” Robeson says. “Business can be harmed, in terms of opportunities and wasted resources, because the pace of technology is changing so rapidly.”

Bridge2Tec is designed to help businesses by first finding out what kinds of challenges they face when adapting to new technologies. The company plans on establishing a resource portal to help create and support collaborations, while also hosting inspirational and educational events. The TecTuneUp on April 17 will bring together local tech companies such as Boot Camp Digital and Mindbox Studios, as well as global companies like IBM and Microsoft, so businesses can hear about the most up to date technological trends and ideas.

“What we are most passionate about is helping businesses to adopt more agile business models,” Hall says. “The only way to stay on top of those trends is to have the technology community involved in the conversation.”

Bridge2Tec will also serve as a conduit between the businesses and the tech world to help tech companies understand what businesses need. A perfect example is a recent conversation Hall had with a data center company that helps startup incubators and their companies have a place to store and transfer data. Hall asked the data center if they take the time to inform the startups they work with exactly why and how the data center is beneficial to their companies. The idea never occurred to them.

“That’s exactly what we want to do for both communities,” Hall says. “We have to help find gaps that can be filled and benefit both the technology industry in the region and give businesses a chance to find technologies that suit their needs at the lowest possible cost.”

By Evan Wallis
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