The Minnesota High Tech Association honored 15 Minnesota organizations Wednesday evening for their innovation and technological breakthroughs at the 2013 Tekne Awards in Minneapolis.
Sponsored by the association, the annual awards celebrate Minnesota businesses and organizations that are improving lives, businesses and education. The association presented its 2013 Tekne Awards to the following recipients:
Advanced manufacturing: 3M Co.
The 3M LED advanced light is an innovative replacement light bulb that delivers the form and function of an incandescent bulb, but uses light guide technology to transform the light from a directional point source to a beautiful uniform source of light in a home or business. This innovative product required new manufacturing techniques, processes and significant collaboration across multiple disciplines within 3M. R&D, scale up and commercialization all happened simultaneously, with close cooperation between engineering, manufacturing and business development. The result is a revolutionary new design, built in New Ulm, Minnesota, which exemplifies 3M’s corporate vision.
Agricultural technology: The Toro Co.
Humans are biased toward over-watering, whether at the home-lawn or professional level. Toro provides science-based information and tools to increase the efficiency of water use in agriculture and landscape maintenance. This product uses a rapid, sensor-based mapping system, Toro Precision Sense, to analyze variability in key sites across a landscape. Combined with in-situ soil moisture sensors (Toro Turf Guard) and sophisticated Toro irrigation-control systems, Precision Sense can achieve significant water savings through precision irrigation of large turf areas including golf courses and sports fields. Precision Sense defines site-specific irrigation-management zones, assigns individual sprinkler heads to those zones and pinpoints representative locations in each zone with in-situ soil moisture sensors that provide continuous feedback on soil moisture and salinity conditions.
Computer hardware and electronic devices: Honeywell
Honeywell built its legacy around the home thermostat, which was introduced in the late 1800s. The thermostat remains a core product that directly supports Honeywell’s mission of making the world more energy efficient. In 2013, Honeywell introduced its most advanced thermostat ever, the Prestige IAQ. Smaller by 60 percent than the previous model, the Prestige IAQ is among the smallest, sleekest thermostats on the market. Its touch screen can be customized to any color to complement home decor, or change to purple and yellow during Vikings season. This thermostat uses internal intelligence and smart sensors to control a home’s humidity and ventilation in addition to its temperature. Honeywell’s Total Connect Comfort Services thermostat app allows the thermostat to be controlled remotely with a smart phone, tablet or any Web-connected device.
Education tech: myON, a business unit of Capstone
Within a period of just six months, students at Hillsborough Country Public Schools read over 21 years’ worth of content. The district is not unusually literate: its students are participating in the myON literacy program. MyON is a personalized literacy program that matches the interests and reading levels of students from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade to an extensive collection of enhanced digital books. The program includes unlimited access to more than 5,000 digital books, along with flexible reading supports such as text highlighting, an embedded dictionary and recorded audio that help students model fluency. Using students’ reading preferences and abilities as a guide, myON provides recommended reading lists designed to motivate and engage readers of all abilities. Students and educators can measure and track their reading progress through embedded assessments and end-of-the-book quizzes. To date, more than 300 districts are using myON in their schools.
Health care delivery (established company): HealthPartners
Combining proven, evidence-based clinical practices with the convenience of 24/7 access to care and prescriptions, Virtuwell is an online clinic that diagnoses to treat more than 40 common conditions such as sinus infections, flu, allergies and even minor skin conditions. At virtuwell.com, consumers complete an interview and are then connected with nurse practitioners who provide personalized diagnoses and treatment plans. If the condition cannot be treated through Virtuwell, consumers are referred to a medical office. Consumers do not need to be HealthPartners health plan members to use Virtuwell. The service keeps health and payment information secure, and files for insurance. The affordable, convenient, quality care provided by Virtuwell is one of the ways HealthPartners meets its mission to improve the health of members, patients and community.
Health care delivery: (small and growing company): Corventis Inc.
Early detection and effective management of cardiac arrhythmias can help improve the quality of a patient’s life, reduce the risk of complications and lower healthcare costs. Traditional cardiac monitors can be bulky, conspicuous and difficult to use for patients. Corventis’ NUVANT Mobile Cardiac Telemetry (MCT) System helps physicians around the world better diagnose and treat cardiac arrhythmias. Patients are continually monitored via PiiX, an unobtrusive, water-resistant, wearable device designed for patient compliance and comfort. When an arrhythmia is detected, the PiiX device automatically transmits the patient’s ECG via zLink, a wireless data transmitter device, to a cloud-based data-review application. Certified cardiographic technicians at the Corventis Monitoring Center review and analyze the collected ECGs, and provide complete Clinical Summary Reports to prescribing physicians.
Impact on industry (established company): Ecolab
Hydris from Ecolab is an innovative system that combines water, electricity and natural minerals with patented electrolytic cell technology to produce affordable and sustainable cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting solutions for large public and commercial facilities. Combining cutting-edge electrically activated water technology with Ecolab’s expertise in dispensing system control and industry-leading understanding of the interactions between cleaning chemistries and soiled substrates, Hydris delivers three output solutions that meet daily cleaning performance targets and eliminate the need to ship in traditionally-packaged products. This significantly simplifies inventory management, reduces the environmental impact of product shipment, and minimizes packaging waste. Hydris exemplifies Ecolab’s mission of leadership in the field of electrically activated water systems and provides customers with a cost-effective means of delivering cleaner, safer, healthier environments in a sustainable manner.
Impact on industry: (small and growing company): BankCard Services Worldwide
BankCard Services Worldwide (BCSW) created ClientPay to streamline the payment process for law firms. Before ClientPay, law firms needed to manually enter data and cross-reference payment information in three or four different systems in order to process credit card payments. It was a costly and time-consuming process with a high margin of error. Launched in 2012, ClientPay is a credit card processing interface that seamlessly integrates with law firms’ financial-management systems. It has transformed the accounts receivable processes in the legal industry by converting a multistep, multiplatform procedure into an automated and integrated process. ClientPay delivers superior efficiency, security, data accuracy, reporting and customer service, while improving accounting workflow efficiency. It reduces opportunities for human error and keeps transaction data secure. BCSW is working to make ClientPay the preferred payment processing solution for law firms.
Innovative collaboration of the Year: Boston Scientific
Academic and industry partnerships fuel vital discoveries and spur economic growth but their disparate approaches can impede effective collaboration. By forging a thoughtful, synergistic working relationship that combines the resources and industry know-how of Boston Scientific Corp. (BSC) with University of Minnesota researchers and University-based hospitals and clinics, these two entities are identifying unmet clinical needs in a variety of spaces. The University of Minnesota, a leader in research and discovery, teaching and learning, created the new Minnesota Innovation Partnerships (MN-IP) program to facilitate company-sponsored University research. By streamlining collaboration agreements, several projects already have been initiated between the U of M’s medical devices center and BSC’s cardiovascular division. BSC transforms lives through innovative medical solutions that improve the health of patients around the world. Both parties have gained access to facilities and resources that otherwise would not have been available.
Mobile technologies: XRS Corp.
The XRS wireless data collection and analysis system is the first fully functional mobile solution for the trucking industry. It helps trucking firms slash costs, reduce accidents and make life easier for drivers. XRS is a convergence of wireless trends in the important trucking industry: It goes anywhere because it’s mobile; it’s flexible because it’s in the cloud; it’s social because it operates on the driver’s personal communication device; and it collects and manages mission-critical compliance and performance data for trucking firms. XRS operates on the newest, fastest bands on the mobile spectrum, collecting data from truck and driver, and transferring it wirelessly to an analytical “dashboard,” where this trucking industry ‘Big Data’ is analyzed to improve operations, safety and regulatory compliance.
Safety and security: MPC
MPC is an IT services firm that’s focuses on mitigating risk surrounding off-network electronic equipment. The company has launched a complete suite of services to help organizations prevent problems associated with end-of-life or end-of-current-use IT hardware and equipment. MPC securely manages the entire disposition process for IT assets, and provides chain-of-custody tracking to customers through its new reporting portal, myMPC. This service safely streamlines the disposition process, including execution, efficiency, data flow and vendor management. That gives customers confidence in the secure elimination of company data and responsible handling of old equipment.
Software (established company): Navitaire
Navitaire has offered industry-leading airline solutions for over 20 years. Navitaire software was founded on the premise of effective, streamlined processes that are not wedded to the often-dated industry ‘norms’. Instead, the software is clearly focused on processes and technology to make it more cost-effective for clients to run their business, and easier for customers to do business with them. Navitaire’s unique innovative Ticketless software is the cornerstone of their New Skies reservation and Travel Commerce ancillary revenue systems. These systems are often called an airline’s ‘heart and lungs’. This is a radical new approach to the critical process of selling inventory and maintaining customer reservation records “ticketless travel” is a step well beyond electronic tickets. Using Ticketless software, clients have grown their businesses with very low distribution costs, keen insight into customer-buying behavior, highly efficient call center operations, streamlined self-service airport check-in processes and minimal up-front investment in software and information technology.
Software (small and growing company): UpNet Technologies
UpNet Technologies designed and developed iEDeX (Information Enterprise Data Exchange), a SaaS-based platform that can integrate any type of data regardless of the origination of the data. This dynamic solution successfully advances the speed of data conversion, partner integration and access to global-business analytics. And it enables companies to customize business solutions to fit all of their business needs, a certain project or even a specific process. The possibilities of iEDeX are endless because of its flexibility and customizable features. UpNet designed and owns all parts of the platform, making it easy and cost-effective to customize the technology for any organization’s business needs.
CogCubed has invented a new approach to identify and treat cognitive disorders like ADHD and autism in all ages. Using gaming systems that leverage multiple sensors, clinicians, educators and consumers can understand and improve cognitive health. Developed by a team of data scientists, computer scientists, neuroscientists and psychiatrists, these products have the potential to give at-risk children alternatives to powerful prescription drugs, and provide an objective tool in a subjective industry to provide early detection and/or treatment. CogCubed has designed, developed and tested games in the consumer market while building clinical efficacy in the clinical markets.
STEM education and digital learning: University of St. Thomas School of Engineering
The STEPS camp at the University of St. Thomas is designed to spark girls’ interest in STEM careers at a critical stage in their development. Through its hands-on, immersion-based philosophy, STEPS has engaged more than 3,000 girls over the past 14 years in workshops covering such fields as electronics, physics, renewable energy, computer programming and manufacturing processes, weaving in arts, creativity and fun with the exploration of science and engineering. Participants stay overnight for a week at the university during the program, which is sponsored by the School of Engineering with support from parents, community STEM advocates, volunteers and nearly $2 million in corporate foundation support. The no-cost camp gives girls from all backgrounds the confidence to take the next step into a STEM field.