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LISNR tech startup partners with CAC for interactive museum experience


Thanks to a new partnership with LISNR audio-technology providers, the Contemporary Arts Center will soon launch a “digital docent” app to help visitors connect more deeply with installations like the current lobby exhibit “Solar Bell Ensemble” by artist Tomás Saraceno, which will run through June 18.

The app will be activated and powered by LISNR and will feature exclusive content, messages and experiences, including a personal greeting from the artist. Visitors can download the app, which is available for both iOS and Android. Pre-loaded content is then unlocked as they explore the exhibit.

“For the visitor, it's about the experience,” says LISNR co-founder Chris Ostoich. “You get to hear directly from the artist, and the app brings to life the exhibit in ways that the physical world won't allow you to. For example, the exhibit that is installed in the lobby is actually built to fly — you can be standing in front of the artwork, and then in the app you can be simultaneously watching video of that same exhibit flying through the sky.”

The idea for the partnership was born from last year’s ArtsWave “tech hackathon,” a problem-solving event that brought together the region’s most talented tech, design, marketing and creative professionals to solve real-time business problems in the arts sector.

“A participant in the event had the idea to use LISNR technology to enhance the visitor experience,” says Ostoich, who co-hosted the event. “We launched version one of the app in the winter and rolled out more formally last month.”

Ostoich and fellow co-founder Rodney Williams started LISNR in early 2012 with four other members of the local startup scene. Since then, the company has raised millions in investments and garnered international recognition, with accolades that include being named among Extreme Tech Challenge’s “Top 25” and Consumer Electronics Show’s “Top Software Product in 2017.”

Similar to Bluetooth, LISNR links digital devices, but instead of relying on radio waves, LISNR’s technology uses inaudible sound waves — a process that proponents say is faster, more efficient and more sustainable, as it requires less battery power than its traditional alternative.

Organizers say the CAC partnership is just the beginning. Whether users are attending a sporting event, visiting a museum or unlocking their car, fairly soon all those experiences could be powered by LISNR technology.

“There are myriad ways organizations can use our technology to revolutionize their business,” says Ostoich. “For example, we are working with arts organizations and venues to re-invent their ticketing process. Instead of spending money on paper tickets or expensive bar code scanners, a Smart Tone could be used as an audio ticket. We replace scanners, paper and the need to wait in line at the box office.”
 


Regional Smart Cities Initiative explores mobility and sustainability at third group discussion


Last week, the Regional Smart Cities Initiative held its third roundtable in Cincinnati, this time exploring mobility and sustainability.

“The idea of a smart city means different things to different people,” says Zack Huhn, director of RSCI. “We started with creating consensus among the stakeholders around the four pillars of smart cities: connectivity, security, mobility and sustainability.”

The first roundtable introduced the idea of smart cities and was followed by a session on connectivity and security. The programs, which have been open to the public, have drawn several dozen representatives from the private and public sector, as well as regional universities.

“We want to create an aligned brain trust of regional stakeholders to explore how we can work together to establish the first smart region,” Huhn says.

The foundation for creating a smart city or region, according to RSCI, is connectivity: getting usable, real-time feedback on the people, places and resources of a city or region.

“A smart city is similar to a smart home,” says Jon Salisbury, chief technology officer at Nexigen. “We need to look at how devices and networks communicate, and their power needs to come up with efficient solutions.”

Protecting those technology solutions, as well as ensuring overall public safety, is central to the security pillar of RSCI. Connectivity is also closely tied to the issues of mobility, including infrastructure for smart transit and opportunities for economic mobility. RSCI’s mobility pillar is also integral to its focus on sustainability.

“Next generation transit infrastructure offers a solution to three of the problems we’re talking about: smart land use, congestion and access to education,” Huhn says. “Mobility also overlaps with sustainability since so many of the particulates in the water and air come from transportation.”

One solution for future mobility and connectivity was presented by University of Cincinnati student Sid Thatham. He and his Hyperloop UC team are creating a prototype of next-gen transit, a high-speed, zero carbon pod that could move people from Cincinnati to Chicago in 30 minutes.

UC civil engineering professor Jonathan Corey addressed the need to develop smart infrastructure not only to communicate with autonomous vehicles but also to help buildings interact with the environment. Sensors used by smart cities could direct self-drive cars to parking spaces or tell buildings how to adjust temperature and lighting in response to weather changes.

“The mechanisms that built cities 100 years ago — roads, bridges, electrical lines — were the smart cities of their era,” says Chris Lawson, executive director of The Hamilton Mill. “Today, smart cities are built with fiber optics, sensors and smart meters. As we rebuild our infrastructure, we are creating opportunities for economic development.”

Following the speakers, the Pipeline H2O cohort, in town for its second week of classes, pitched their ideas for creating sustainable energy and renewable water sources.

The nonprofit RSCI, steered by a team of regional leaders, launched the roundtable series to create more engagement around the project leading up to its first smart cities summit, which will be held on April 25 at Union Hall.

Tickets for the summit are $60-125, and can be purchased here.

 


Pipeline H2O member engages in program, continues partnership with University of Kentucky

 

Lexington-based PowerTech Water, part of the inaugural Pipeline H2O class, formed to commercialize a water treatment technology developed at the University of Kentucky.

 

“We are looking forward to exploring Pipeline’s strong network and plugging into the ‘city as lab’ model to further test and validate our systems,” says Cameron Lippert, CEO of PTW.

The water purification system developed by PTW removes dissolved salts, minerals and metals such as sodium, calcium and lead from water supplies through de-ionization. Its proprietary system runs water through stacks of porous carbon and titanium plates where carbon electrodes remove the ions, cleaning the water as it moves through the system.

 

“Our system uses low energy, and has no filters to replace,” Lippert says. “The technology requires less maintenance, requires no anti-foulant chemicals, has a long lifetime and therefore will have substantially lower capital and operational costs than competing solutions.”

PTW is in the process of scaling up its module to be able to process one gallon of water per minute. The startup is also continuing to partner with the University of Kentucky.

“We have access to the scientist and engineers that developed the IP to answer any technical questions we may have, and if need be, we have access to lab space and instrumentation,” Lippert says.

The carbon electrode system can be used to clean water for disposal after being used in industrial processes, as well as reclaim water for re-use. In addition, the process is reversible and the system itself is renewable, providing significant cost savings in energy usage and replacing filters.

“We achieve a lower cost of treatment without the use of added chemicals, membranes or consumables, yielding a 60 percent reduction in cost, a 70 percent reduction in energy consumption, a 90 percent reduction in maintenance time and a 40 percent increase in water efficiency,” Lippert says.

Currently, PTW is targeting clients in the food and beverage industry, particularly distilleries and beverage bottlers.

“We are actively producing commercial prototypes that are being tested by potential customers for pilot and demo testing,” Lippert says. “Meanwhile, we are looking for pilot customers and strategic partners that can help reduce the time it takes to get to market.”

In addition to PTW, the Pipeline cohort includes two other water purification systems, Searen and WEL Enterprise.

“We are talking with both parties to see if we can all do a pilot together,” Lippert says. “Searen targets solids and VOCs, not dissolved solids or ions, and WEL is more of an engineering firm that installs technologies.”

Like several other cohort members, PTW is only on site in Hamilton each month during the week of classes and programming. Pipeline cohort members are then given assignments to work on during their time away from the program.

“Luckily the homework for Pipeline aligns well with the needed duties of running a startup,” Lippert says. “So it is a complementary process.”

Read profiles of other Pipeline members Searen, ANDalyze, kW Hydroelectric and WaterStep International

 


'Engaged' local orgs win big at Cincinnati Neighborhood Summit


Five Cincinnati grassroots organizations each received $10,000 in city grants to fund their innovative ideas at the 2017 Engage Cincy Grant Awards ceremony. The event took place last weekend at Xavier’s Cintas Center as part of the annual Cincinnati Neighborhood Summit.

The annual Neighborhood Summit is presented by Invest in Neighborhoods, in partnership with the City of Cincinnati, the Community Building Institute, LISC and the CDC Association of Greater Cincinnati. Hundreds of community leaders, volunteers, city officials and nonprofit professionals were on hand for day-long discussions focused on helping groups work more effectively to improve the quality of life across Greater Cincinnati.

More than 120 applicants submitted proposals for this year’s Engage Cincy grants. The field was then narrowed down to 10 finalists by a selection committee. City Manager Harry Black reviewed the committee’s recommendations before awarding grants of $10,000 each to the following projects:

Healthy Food for All Northsiders
Project leads: Churches Active in Northside (CAIN), Apple Street Market Cooperative Grocery Story and the Northside Farmers Market
This group’s mission is to build community through food-sharing by offering quarterly community meals and cooking demonstrations based on healthy, affordable recipes that use ingredients from community gardens and farmers’ markets.

Just Hire Me
Project lead: Lawrence Jones
This staffing platform offers a website and mobile app that works to connect neighborhood teens with businesses that are looking for employees. Participating teens age 14-18 can take part in a four-week job-readiness “boot camp” that helps them effectively interview, establish their own bank account and secure employment in the community.

Physi
Project lead: Marty Boyer
Physi’s state-of-the-art activity platform uses artificial intelligence to promote active lifestyles by connecting like-minded residents based on activities, interests, physical proximity and availability. Physi is available via mobile app and online.

Bridgeable
Project lead: Dani Isaacsohn
Bridgeable organizers collect community data and feedback and alert leaders to the conversations going on in their communities, thereby enabling conversations that lead to healthier relationships, better decisions and stronger communities.

Faces of Homelessness
Project leads: ArtWorks and Strategies to End Homelessness
This public art, public education and community engagement program was designed to encourage empathy and understanding by engaging local agencies and shelters with the populations they serve. The program pairs paid youth apprentices with professional artists on a variety of art and community-building projects that will include a permanent public art mural on Vine Street, in partnership with the Over-the-Rhine Community Housing’s Recovery Hotel.

“Every year it seems that the submissions become more creative in the ways they want to go about making our neighborhoods more engaging places to live,” says City Manager Black, who received unanimous support from the Mayor and City Council for the awards program. “We want that trend to continue for years to come.”

For photos from the event and more information about the Neighborhood Summit, check out the event’s Facebook page.
 


Dayton KY to commemorate native Slush Puppie founder with custom sculpture


Community organizers have hired local sculptor John Hebenstreit to create a six-foot bronze sculpture of the iconic Slush Puppie mascot, whose creator, the late Will Radcliff, hailed from Dayton, Ky.
 
The artwork will be displayed on the new 11-mile Riverfront Commons walking and biking trail that will connect all six Northern Kentucky waterfront communities. The sculpture will take about nine months to complete and carry a price tag of $55,000. Organizers have secured private funding and hope to gain further financial support from the Slush Puppie corporation, City of Dayton and other sources.
 
“Based on the unanimous support of all six council members at last month's meeting, I am optimistic that this is a project that ultimately through fundraising grants and donations will become a beloved hallmark on the riverfront,” says Catherine Hamilton, whose nonprofit NKY First is heading up the project.
 
Slush Puppie made his debut at last summer's River Cities Relay before attending the NKY Kite Festival in October. Last month, the furry mascot co-hosted a rededication ceremony for the Dayton Heritage Museum.
 
“The goal of creating a permanent tribute to founder Will Radcliff is twofold,” Hamilton says. “It first will capture the story of a kind and brilliant man who had a tremendous work ethic, as well as generous nature, and was a true role model for the community.”
 
Secondly, Hamilton says, the statue will signify to Riverfront Commons pedestrians that they’re entering Dayton, a welcoming gesture she feels “can reverberate for a great many miles and years.”
 
Hamilton plans to work with downtown architectural firm KZF, which is designing the Riverfront Commons project, to customize a Dayton segment that will prominently feature the new statue.

“Will everyone get it or appreciate the statue immediately? Of course not,” Hamilton says. “But I look forward to the day when a traveler from Greater Cincinnati stumbles across a Slush Puppie in the United Kingdom or South Africa and claims kinship with this sweet, icy beverage that now will have its forever home in Dayton.”
 

Nonprofit WaterStep International brings third-world water solutions to the U.S.


WaterStep International isn't the traditional accelerator program participant, as it is the only nonprofit organization in the inaugural cohort of Pipeline H2O.

“We are doing things a little backward,” says Mark Hogg, WaterStep's CEO and founder. “Usually, a corporation eventually forms a nonprofit to give back. We’re trying to figure out how we can sell, market and develop a plan for our products that will bring financial strength to our nonprofit.”

As a nonprofit, WaterStep works in developing countries to help communities get access to safe water solutions by providing water purification systems and health education, and by teaching residents how to repair and maintain their own wells. The solutions offered by WaterStep are often technologies it developed with community partners.

“There are so many engineers and innovators who want to be part of our work,” Hogg says. “During the Ebola epidemic in Liberia, we received a call from Project Hope requesting help obtaining bleach. We had developed a chlorine generator for other purposes, but we were able to work with GE and the University of Louisville to develop the product they needed.”

The chlorine generator, also known as the M-100 Chlorinator, was recognized in 2013 by Sustania as one of the 100 most promising solutions and projects in the world. The small device generates chlorine gas, which can be used to kill pathogens in water.

The portable bleach maker also won the New Product of the Year award from Environmental Protection, an online resource for environmental professionals. The device uses water, salt and a 12-volt car battery to make bleach on demand through electrolysis.

WaterStep came to Pipeline for help forming a business and for assistance in developing its latest product, a portable system that can provide safe drinking water in an emergency or disaster.

“The City of Louisville had a couple of major water main breaks and emergency management came to us asking if we had a response to provide safe water fast,” Hogg says.

The solution is a mini water-chlorination plant, about the size of a housekeeping cart at a hotel. WaterStep has already sold several to regional cities, including Louisville and Indianapolis, and is interested in expanding its market to hospitals, nursing homes and other facilities where access to clean water is critical.

In addition to seeking new clients, WaterStep has several other challenges it is exploring through Pipeline. The culture and language of nonprofits and businesses can be quite different, yet Hogg hopes to form a corporation with a culture that will complement WaterStep's existing nonprofit. In addition, WaterStep is learning how to tell its story to investors rather than philanthropists.

“We’ve proven ourselves in the developing world,” Hogg says. “We manufacture our own products. So we’re not coming to this hat in hand. Pipeline takes us seriously and challenges us. Everyone in Pipeline wants to change the world. This is the greatest moment to be working in the water field when we can do things that impact lives now and could still be making a difference in 100 years."

Read profiles of other Pipeline members Searen, ANDalyze and kW Hydroelectric.


AIGA supports future female leaders with March 31 gallery event


Cincinnati AIGA, the local chapter of a national group that supports female leaders, will extend its message to school-age girls with a Spicefire gallery event later this month.

For the second year, AIGA Cincinnati will honor Women’s History Month by presenting a “Words of Wisdom” gallery show in collaboration with the organization’s 18-month-old WomanUp initiative, which was created to address the challenges women face in obtaining creative leadership positions both locally and nationwide.

“Nationally, women only make up 11 percent of creative director jobs, despite the fact that the majority of designers, marketers and advertisers are female professionals,” says AIGA Cincinnati president and WomanUp co-founder Autumn Heisler. “We’re still having trouble getting women into that highest leadership level.”

“Words of Wisdom” will take place from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on March 31 at Spicefire art gallery in Over-the-Rhine. The exhibit will feature work from established local artists and designers, as well as work by young women from area schools. That portion of the artwork will be presented by Girls with Pearls Cincinnati, a local chapter of the national nonprofit that focuses on empowering underserved girls who are facing challenging situations.

Girls with Pearls was founded locally by Tamie Sullivan. It started at Rockdale Academy in 2016, providing elementary and junior high school girls with a safe space to talk about and work through issues like self-esteem, their bodies and body image, sexuality and healthy relationships. 

"I could not be more excited about this new partnership with WomanUp ‘Words of Wisdom’ and the opportunity to expose girls in our program to professional women in creative fields,” Sullivan says. “These African-American girls are often forced to grow up faster than their counterparts in more affluent communities. They face more difficult life circumstances and increased responsibilities, so allowing them to just be girls and dream about their futures is what it’s all about." 

Sullivan says that she and other GWP organizers are extremely invested in the success of young women in the program. “One of the girls told me she had just been elected class president,” Sullivan says. “I was so proud and excited for her, almost like she were my own daughter.”

The free AIGA “Words of Wisdom” event is open to the public, but make sure to register ahead of time. Artists and designers interested in submitting work for the show should click here for more info.
 


Thrive Impact Sourcing's disruptive methods impact local employment rates


Since Thrive Impact Sourcing started in January 2016, the company has connected 35 unemployed and underemployed local residents with high-quality IT careers.
 
Kelly Dolan and Michael Kroeger started the company to address three realities in our region:
 
  1. Greater Cincinnati has a shortage of IT professionals; there are 3,000 unfilled positions at any given time. Many organizations have looked to offshore IT services or bring offshore resources onshore to fill this IT talent gap. 
  2. This creates a number of challenges in itself, and the challenges are likely to grow exponentially with policies being discussed under the new presidential administration.
  3. Cincinnati has an alarming poverty rate, with one in four residents living in poverty due to unemployment or underemployment.  
Dolan explains that when you look at these three factors combined: “Creating a business to be used as a force for good in being part of the solution is a no-brainer.”
 
Last year, Soapbox explained the disruptive “urban impact sourcing” model that Thrive uses to create high-quality opportunities in low-employment, urban areas. Thrive partners with nonprofit IT trainers Per Scholas — which has 20 years of experience — to give individuals free training they couldn’t receive anywhere else, as well as ongoing mentorship from senior IT professionals.
 
Using this model, Thrive brings a competitive and competent pool of IT talent to the marketplace.
 
“Thrive is fortunate to have mission-aligned, client partners who were early adopters of this disruptive business model,” says Dolan. “Our services also met a real need for their growing organizations.” CareSource and Crossroads are two area employers that have partnered with Thrive in its first year of business.
 
Dolan points to personal stories from Per Scholas graduates as evidence that the program, one of only two of its kind in the nation, is working to transform lives.
 
“I was living my dream as a stay-at-home mom when I found myself widowed at 31 with five young children to raise,” says Thrive software QA analyst and Per Scholas graduate Kelly K. “I had a few part-time jobs paying around $10 per hour and was getting increasingly distressed because I didn’t have any marketable skills to find a job that pays a sustainable wage. The Per Scholas software testing course was my ‘hail Mary,’ and now that I’m working at Thrive, I have a bright future and my family’s lives are changed.”
 

kW Hydroelectric works to harness the future of hydroelectricity


Hamilton-based kW River Hydroelectric joined the water accelerator program Pipeline H2O to develop technology that could transform the future of hydroelectric power generation.

“Our module allows significant amounts of power to be extracted from the fall of water over a low-level dam,” says Paul R. Kling, chief operating officer. “This will have a significant worldwide impact in the energy industry, as well as substantial implications for humanitarian efforts supplying power to underdeveloped regions.”

At the center of the module is the Williams Cross-Flow Turbine, which was developed by retired Air Force officer Fred Williams. While working at Cintrifuse, Williams met Kling, who had recently retired from Duke Energy. Together they formed kW Hydroelectric to turn Williams’s invention into a system to generate electricity.

The turbine is designed specifically for low-head dams, weir-like structures that span the width of a river or stream, creating a drop of 1-15 feet in water level. Thousands of these dams were built in the 19th and 20th centuries to power mills, feed canals and improve municipal water supplies. Unfortunately, the dams also create dangerous currents for swimmers and boaters. In addition to generating electricity, the turbine also improves safety for recreational water users.

“The turbine is installed on the downstream side of the dam and the top of the device creates a slope from the top of the dam to the water surface,” Kling says. “The energy we’re taking out is the backflow that made the dams so dangerous. The water not going through the turbine flows over the top, allowing fish, debris and even canoes to travel safely downstream.”

Because most dams are owned by local, state or federal agencies, kW Hydroelectric has developed flexible models for deploying its system. The dam owner may purchase the equipment outright and install it themselves, or have kW Hydroelectric install the system. King and Williams are also working on agreements with dam owners where kW Hydroelectric builds, owns, operates and maintains the system directly. Each system is anticipated to last 30 years and generate enough revenue to cover costs within the first eight years.

This technology will require EPA approval, and less than a month into the Pipeline program, kW Hydroelectric has already started setting up those meetings, as well as meetings with the Department of Commerce and Small Business Administration.

“We need to get more exposure to State of Ohio officials to have them recognize how significant the development of our technology could be for the state as a renewable energy source and a source of new manufacturing jobs,” Kling says. “This is also a great example of academic and industry collaboration within the state, and can further put the state at the center of water resource development.”

kW Hydroelectric tested a laboratory-scale version of the turbine at Central State University and is completing computational fluid dynamics testing there as well. In the coming months, the team plans to implement a fully functional field test with the City of Hamilton.

“Pipeline will force a very high quality ‘investment grade’ focus as our business models and financial projections are further refined and developed,” Kling says. “We will get fantastic exposure to actual investors who will be able to assess the value of our companies using their rigorous tools and comparisons. It’s tough work, but in reality, it's exactly what needs to happen.”

Read profiles of other Pipeline members Searen and ANDalyze.
 

Chamber names new leadership director, starts Alumni Network


"If it's fun, it's never work. And if it isn't fun, it'll never work."

This quote by surfboard entrepreneur Hobie Alter appears in Amy Thompson’s email signature because she feels it accurately represents who she is and what she does. 

Thompson is the new leadership director for the Leadership Cincinnati and Leadership Action development programs within the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber's new Alumni Network is also under her purview, which aims to connect the more than 3,000 diverse alumni of Leadership Cincinnati, Leadership Action, WE Lead, WE Succeed, C-Change and Cincy Next.

Before the network existed, the Chamber had six premier leadership programs under three separate alumni boards. Each group provided great networking events, behind-the-scenes experiences and social outings, but there was a desire to take alumni engagement to a new level: collaborating as one collective.

Thompson participated in both Leadership Cincinnati and WE Lead. Upon leaving those programs, she was energized and motivated.

“There was a strong personal desire to continue learning and connecting with the community, to engage with my new network and to figure out how I could make a difference," Thompson says. “Knowing that many graduates share the desire to continue developing, connecting and engaging, I was thrilled to take on this opportunity to lead the Cincinnati Chamber’s new leadership Alumni Network.”

The Chamber is harnessing the program's momentum, energy and buzz to increase engagement where it’s needed most, providing opportunities in personal leadership development; connecting with leaders of all ages through multi-directional networking; encouraging engagement in community issues and aligning efforts toward our region's greatest challenges and assets.

The network provides the space and connections for meaningful conversations. It also helps promote intentional volunteering and helps further advance projects that come out of its highly successful leadership programs, such as Preschool Promise and Crayons to Computers.

As membership grows, so will scholarships for future leaders who are in need of financial assistance for the Chamber's many programs.

To learn more about the Leadership Network and the Chamber’s leadership programs, click here.
 

ANDalyze analyzes water contaminants through portable unit


Pipeline H2O, a new water technology accelerator program based at The Hamilton Mill, welcomed its first class last week. The eight cohort members represent local and national companies, including Champaign, Ill.,-based ANDalyze.

“ANDalyze is always on the lookout for ways to build awareness of its technology and meet new customers and water industry VIPs,” says Marty Dugan, the company's chief marketing officer. “We found the application submission invitation online and thought Pipeline looked like something ANDalyze was a great fit for.”

The company grew from technology developed in the chemistry labs at the University of Illinois. Using DNA enzymes, ANDalyze devices can detect and measure water contaminants with portable testing units.

“Existing field test kits are notoriously inaccurate and difficult to use," Dugan says. "You really need to be a trained chemist to use the old-style kits. ANDalyze products are used by water quality professionals in a variety of industries, including municipal drinking water, industrial water processes, environmental water, mining and laboratory testing. The value to these customers is the speed and accuracy of the measurement of testing water on site and the cost savings as compared to testing in a laboratory.”

The U.S. EPA provided a testing and validation report for the portable meters and its sensors in 2014. Since then, ANDalyze has sold 200 meters and more than 100,000 sensors. They're hoping Pipeline will help them grow their existing product, as well as roll out a new product.

“In 2017, we will launch an automated system that can test for two metals concurrently and send test data through a network to warn cities and towns of unacceptable levels of heavy metals in their drinking water,” Dugan says. “Trials are taking place in school systems around the country.”
 
The automated system would be installed at a specific site and run water tests on a set schedule. The results of the tests would be reported through a computer network to the system owner, allowing for consistent monitoring of water safety.
 
“Small companies like ANDalyze always struggle to get noticed,” Dugan says. “We are hoping to learn ways to better use our limited resources to get exposure to customers and strategic partner companies from the Pipeline H2O experience. We are confident that after customers try our product, it will become an integral part of their water quality operations to identify heavy metals in their drinking water supply network and in school buildings.”
 
ANDalyze is also hoping Pipeline’s “region as lab” philosophy will help them find a partner municipality or industrial customer to test their new product.
 
“We hope to understand better the needs of the water utility market,” Dugan says. “We are also looking for insight on how to develop partnerships with larger water technology companies who may be interested in ANDalyze products to sell in their sales channels.”

Read last week's profile of Searen, another Pipeline cohort member, here.
 

UC to host three-day innovation event in March


Starting Thursday, March 2, University of Cincinnati will host a three-day NEXTLIVESHERE: Social Change Innovation Summit. The event, which is the second of its kind to date, will bring together more than 200 local and national thought leaders using science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to gain a deeper understanding of the power of "backbone organizations" — groups that drive cross-sector, creative partnerships for collective impact.

NEXTLIVESHERE is unique among conferences. Instead of using the platform to simply disseminate information, the summit pools the collective knowledge of participants to showcase talents, align goals, spark imagination and shape social change.

The conference will break attendees into small groups to better understand what is working and what the contributing problems are in each community and organization. The revelations from these mini sessions will help discover new ways of thinking and involving people, then using those discoveries to design practical actions.

UC’s position in the community places it firmly as a unifier, able to engage existing partners and recruit new ones from a broad spectrum of innovators from the fields of business, industry, philanthropy and community organizations to solve pressing and complex social problems.

Community participants will include representatives from the United Way, the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, P&G, Green Umbrella, Success by 6, Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, Skyward and Cincinnati Public Schools.

A $250,000 National Science Foundation Includes grant will help cover registration and meal costs for participants. Attendees will also receive free parking. For out of town attendees, a two-night stay at the hotel will also be provided.

For more information and to see the full three-day schedule, visit cech.uc.edu or call 513-556-5745. To request an NLH application, email Kaitlyn.Johnson@uc.edu.

2017 Neighborhood Summit will feature how-to workshops that prompt big ideas


Greater Cincinnati's distinctive neighborhoods are growing at a remarkable pace, and it's thanks in part to events like the upcoming Neighborhood Summit.

The 15th annual Neighborhood Summit, which will take place March 11 at Xavier's Cintas Center, is presented by Invest in Neighborhoods, in partnership with the City of Cincinnati, the Community Building Institute, LISC and the CDC Association of Greater Cincinnati.

The event attracts hundreds of community leaders and volunteers, city officials and nonprofit professionals for a day of discussions focused on helping groups work more effectively to improve the quality of life across Greater Cincinnati. The summit also features grants and awards for community members whose projects and efforts are making a difference or bringing a neighborhood together in a new way.
 
Last year’s Neighborhood Summit drew more than 600 attendees, with the theme of “Making Your Place” that highlighted community gardens, arts festivals, neighborhood beautification projects and other placemaking initiatives.
 
According to Summit chair Elizabeth Bartley, event planners send out a community survey each year in late summer to gauge what is topically important. A steering committee made up of various Cincinnati leaders then compiles that feedback into guideposts for selecting speakers and sessions.
 
“Like everything else, the Summit evolves and changes to fit what’s going on in our city,” Bartley says. “When it was first started, many neighborhoods simply did not know how the city worked and what was available to them.”
 
Bartley says the Summit has evolved to feature a series of how-to workshops where participants can learn about everything from grantwriting and applying for city services to getting insurance. Breakout sessions are subdivided into seven key areas: health, housing, economy, transportation, education, infrastructure and safety. Click here for more information on this year’s workshops.
 
“Anyone can join in at any time to any topic, roll up their sleeves and work in small groups toward brainstorming ideas and identifying actions that can be taken, whether large or small,” Bartley says.
 
Bartley thinks that level of knowledge sharing among leaders is what makes the Summit impactful. “I have heard many exclamations of, ‘I didn’t know you were doing that! What a great idea!’ and that’s the spark that builds collaboration,” she says.

The Summit is free to attend, however registration is encouraged. Click here to RSVP. Anyone wishing to attend the kickoff dinner Friday, March 10 can purchase tickets here
 
Vendor tables are available to non-profits, city departments, and community organizations for $135.
 

Searen develops new technology to remove waste and pollutants from water


Searen is no stranger to the #StartupCincy scene. A graduate of OCEAN’s inaugural class, Searen is now joining the first cohort of the Pipeline H2O water-tech accelerator program based at The Hamilton Mill.

“The OCEAN experience was amazing,” says Emmanuel Briquet, Searen's president and co-founder. “In addition to the extremely inspiring classes, they helped us to build Searen's spiritual identity. Since then, we’ve been busy building the business. Now with Pipeline, we’ll find the best path to market, plus make connections with other startups in our sector.”
 
Searen’s origins go back to when Briquet was stymied by the constant need to remove algae and other pollutants from the water at the fish farm he operated.
 
“In the wild, the density of fish is low and the ecosystem auto regulates itself as water flows,” Briquet says. “In a fish farm, they eat, breathe and excrete in the same water. So you have to keep the water clean so they can thrive.
 
His solution to the problem of waste removal and re-oxygenation evolved into VAL, or the Vacuum AirLift. This technology developed by Searen provides low-energy, low-maintenance water treatment. The device uses vacuums and air pressure to remove particles and toxins from water. There are no filters, no moving parts and no chemicals.
 
“The VAL is a brand new technology, and is one of the rare cases when a more advanced technology is simpler than any of its predecessors,” Briquet says. “Our purely physical and multifunctional technology harnesses the power of nature, making obsolete the use of chemicals, replacing complicated tools, simplifying industrial processes and saving both energy and cost.”
 
The system is ideal for the fish farm and microalgae industries because with one device, users can circulate water, remove particles and carbon dioxide while adding oxygen back into the water.
 
“The VAL has different modes for different applications,” Briquet explains. “The slow mode is used for particle extraction and can process up to two million gallons a day. The fast mode provides gas stripping and insertion and can handle up to seven million gallons a day. These are both mono-tube systems. In the future with a multi-tube system, we believe we will be able to treat 100 million gallons a day.”
 
Briquet, along with co-founder and CFO John Brooks and investor Tom Andrews, developed a multi-pronged approach to advancing the company.
 
“Our first focus is on getting VAL into aquaculture throughout North America,” Bruiquet says. “As a former owner of a fish farming company, I know the concerns and I also know I have the solutions.”
 
Searen’s second area of development is cultivating relationships with companies in the Cincinnati region that rely on significant water usage for their business.
 
“If we come across an industry that has a need that we may be able to fulfill, we will work to develop a solution or to partner with another company to integrate our equipment into their solution,” Briquet says.
 
Searen has partnered with the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati on a trial project with the VAL at their test beds. They are also collaborating with WEL Enterprise, another Pipeline member, on the treatment of brewery wastewater.

“As an entrepreneur, I’m trying to push the limits,” Briquet says. “We are focusing on what we know we can achieve.
 

Brand builders Dooley Media launch Show & Tell marketing series


In this digital age, it seems that everyone uses social media — but very few use it well. For owners of a brand, especially, the endless catalog of social media practices and faux pas can fast become overwhelming.
 
That’s the issue local marketing gurus at Dooley Media hope to tackle with their new Show & Tell event series, which is designed to showcase the people and projects in Cincinnati that are using social media to effectively tell their brand's story.
 
The series format features three timed topics fielded by five Cincinnati thought leaders — as well as complimentary refreshments. Planners say that going forward, crowd participation will be a major focus, with planned topics that include visual storytelling, community building and customer acquisition.
 
"Social media is still considered pretty new for a lot of companies," says Dooley Media spokesperson Autumn Heisler. "We organized Show & Tell to get back to the roots of researching in a more collaborative space. That’s what social media is all about. We think it’s still best done face to face, and we want to bring together people who have lots of experience sharing ideas in an organic way."
 
The first event in the series took place last December at Cintrifuse's Union Hall and featured an open forum and panel made up of members of marketing teams for Crossroads Church, Rhinegeist and Procter & Gamble.
 
Panelist Jeremy K Smith from P&G kicked off the last session by describing a social media marketing "fail" that got a lot of negative attention last year.
 
“Red Lobster got a shout-out in Beyonce’s newest album, and everyone thought they’d respond to it right away,” Smith explained. “But they waited and came out with a cheesy joke, which led to an unsuccessful social media opportunity. Don’t be a cornball and don’t try too hard. Always be authentic with the content you’re publishing.”
 
Heisler says the idea outcome for the Show & Tell series is sharing resources and best practices. "If people who are smaller entrepreneurs or startups are feeling like, 'Oh, I can’t participate in social media because I’m not a copywriter or I’m not a graphic designer,' then we want them to know there are a lot of ways they can create content that matters to the people they’re trying to reach. The hope is that this series will empower them to take risks and create some different new things."
 
Show & Tell continues from 6 to 8 p.m. on Feb. 27 at Union Hall, with speakers Levi Bethune from local fashion startup Cladwell, Christina Duccilli from Rookwood Pottery and others. General admission is $20; student tickets are available for $10. Click here to RSVP.
 
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