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Biz competition launches in southern Ohio

If you live in southern Ohio and have a bright business idea, The Ohio State University South Centers can serve as the launch pad to send your brainchild hurtling into the economic stratosphere.
 
The 2013 Biz Launch Business Plan Competition is designed to provide a space for hopeful entrepreneurs to grow and expand their ventures, says Meagan Barnes, program leader with the Ohio State extension in Piketon, Ohio.
 
The competition is open to existing businesses and individuals looking to start a company within a ten-county region of southern Ohio, including Adams, Brown, Gallia, Highland, Jackson, Lawrence, Pike, Ross, Scioto, and Vinton Counties. Fresh ideas are welcome, but those building a new product line or seeking to expand an early stage company are also eligible to apply.
 
The contest is a celebration of regional entrepreneurship, says Barnes.
 
"It's an opportunity to spur some folks who, without the competition, may not have thought about putting their ideas out there," she says. "This is an area of Ohio that doesn't have an urban setting in terms of developing entrepreneurs. Individuals can put their ideas in front of a panel and then access funds to get those ideas going."
 
Applicants must submit business plans and financial projections by Oct. 15, with judging and an awards luncheon taking place later in the month. Cash prizes will be awarded to the top three plans.
 
Barnes expects upwards of 25 participants for the 2013 competition. A five-person panel comprised of economic development experts and established entrepreneurs will choose ideas based on projected customer base, economic feasibility and other factors. Development counselors will be available to meet with individuals or businesses for one-on-one planning assistance.
 
Since its inception in 2009, the business plan contest has launched a variety of ventures, including a coffee company and doctor's office. New technologies have also emerged, such as a motion sensor from the YEI Corporation (formerly Yost Engineering), which has applications in defense, medicine and entertainment, says Barnes.
 
"We accept ideas from a wide variety of different sectors," she says.
 
A winning plan taking root in a struggling southern Ohio county is the competition's most immediate benefit, Barnes notes. There's a wider impact from a production and commercialization standpoint as well.
 
"If it's an existing business launching a new product, they will get that product manufactured within the region," Barnes says. "We want to spur economic activity in our counties."
 

Source: Meagan Barnes
Writer: Douglas J. Guth

Ohio University’s Innovation Engine Accelerator graduates six startups

Six startups founded by students and recent graduates of Ohio University and West Virginia University have emerged from Ohio University’s Innovation Engine digital media accelerator, which is a summer entrepreneurship program aimed at keeping business and technology talent within the state.
 
The fledgling companies received up to $20,000 in seed funding and underwent a 12-week boot camp featuring mentorship opportunities with established executives and venture capitalists. Lynn Gellermann, Executive Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship, taught in the program, offering his expertise in digital media IT.
 
“These six teams were selected out of 17 applications,” says Gellermann. “They were screened, interviewed and selected based on their team, their idea and application.”
 
Viable ideas with viable markets won out.
 
“We look at the prospect of [the company] being able to put together an idea or beta product in a short time that they can demo.”
 
The program is made possible through public-private partnerships that offer expert insight and financial backing. These include the Center for Entrepreneurship, the Russ College of Engineering and Technology, the Scripps College of Communication, the Voinovich School and TechGROWTH Ohio. “We also have private support from WesBanco,” notes Gellermann.
 
Participants, says Gellermann, felt as if they received a “mini-MBA” in the 2013 program, noting a majority came from engineering or communications backgrounds. And whether they continue with their startup or not, Gellermann says the accelerator “impacted the way they think.”
 
“We hope that some of them will start up, make it to the marketplace, raise capital, employ some people, and become viable startup companies in the region,” says Gellermann, adding the program is also about building a culture of entrepreneurship in southeast Ohio.
 
The 2013 companies include MyCampus, which created a mobile app that allows college students to quickly sell and purchase items. Razor Dynamics offers a product that improves mobile phone location services. AccessAble developed a website to provide travel information and booking services for people with limited mobility. Atlas Language Innovations created an educational online video game that can teach users Arabic and other languages. Foleeo developed an online portfolio tool for job seekers in the business, engineering and technical fields. Lastly, Anyvent offers software for inexperienced event planners.
 
“Students will go back home and talk to their friends,” says Gellermann. “It’s really helping to promote a culture of innovation at OU.”
 

Source: Lynn Gellermann
Writer: Joe Baur

Ohio companies garner coveted listings on the 2013 Inc. 5,000

Among other Ohio companies, two Buckeye State startups have garnered coveted national recognition.

CoverMyMeds, a Twinsburg firm that makes it easier for patients to get their prescribed medications, and Plug Smart, a Columbus energy solution company, both placed in the top 300 of Inc. Magazine's 5,000 fastest-growing companies in the United States.
 
Inc. Magazine's rankings take into consideration factors such as annual growth, revenue increases and staff expansions over a three-year period. Coming in at 96, CoverMyMeds grew 3,567 percent over the designated time frame using the magazine's criteria, garnering $5.3 million in revenue as of 2012.
 
The company, which previously received funding from Cleveland entrepreneur accelerator JumpStart, is an online service for physicians and pharmacists that provides prior authorization services and other insurance coverage for a variety of drug plans.
 
Web- and phone-based tools developed by CoverMyMeds automate the submission of authorization requests, a process that when done manually can be both expensive and frustrating, says principal/CEO Alan Scantland. The company does not charge pharmacies or doctors for using the service, instead putting the onus on  drug manufacturers that need to expedite the sluggish authorization process if they want to increase sales.
 
Being ranked by Inc. in the top 100 - and eighth overall in the healthcare sector - "brings us immediate attention, and gives us a third-party voice of credibility while adding to our brand and positioning," says Scantland. "The distinction is also great for employees, who are getting some well-deserved recognition for their efforts."
 
Lightning-fast growth has also opened the door for additional business ventures, notes the company head. "It's wonderful," he says. "We’re very excited about making such an impact in healthcare."
 
Plug Smart made the list during its first year of eligibility thanks to over 1,500 percent in growth and $6.4 million in revenue from 2009 to 2012. The energy services company helps commercial, industrial, nonprofit and utility companies implement a broad range of energy solutions, from HVAC to lighting systems. Among its goals, the TechColumbus-incubated firm seeks to aid clients in building energy efficiency projects and leveraging renewable power resources.
 
Getting your company's name out there when competing with industry stalwarts like Siemens, Honeywell and Trane is no mean feat, says Plug Smart president David Zehala. In addition to its overall ranking, the company finished number 17 on the list of Top 100 energy companies, and number eight in the list's top 100 Ohio companies.
 
"This establishes Plug Smart as a major force within the energy services sector," Zehala says. "Our teams represent the best and brightest energy engineering minds in the industry, and our success is a testament to their ability to help our clients find creative ways to implement energy projects."

CincyTech portfolio company BioRx, which enjoyed 181 percent growth over the past three years, was also listed as one of Ohio's top 100.

More than 180 Ohio companies were included on the 2013 Inc. 5000 list, including Vertex Body Science and US Logistics, which clocked in at numbers 19 and 34, respectively.

By Douglas J. Guth

Study: northeast Ohio's tech startups generated $270m in economic impact in 2012

An annual study conducted by Cleveland State University’s Center for Economic Development at the Levin College of Urban Affairs shows that startup companies in Northeast Ohio contribute significantly to the economy. The study surveyed tech-based companies that received assistance, either financially or in services, through JumpStart or the North Coast Angel Fund.
 
The 127 companies who participated in the study generated $211 million in economic benefits in Northeast Ohio in 2012, $270 million statewide. These companies helped create and retain 1,100 in-state direct jobs, with a total Ohio employment impact of 2,140. The companies and their suppliers also increased total Ohio household earnings by $125 million and contributed nearly $12 million in state and local tax impact.
 
As the early-stage companies grow, their impact increases, according to the study. Among those surveyed, 44 companies participated over three years -- from 2010 to 2012, showing 53 percent job growth and a 36 percent increase in economic impact over those three years.
 
“These numbers quantify the impact small companies made,” says Cathy Belk, JumpStart COO. “Small companies make a big difference.  It’s exciting to see the impact the companies we see every day are having. We see how hard these companies are working.”
 
With all of the organizations in Cleveland that support startups, in addition to support from Ohio Third Frontier, which provides funding to organizations like JumpStart, the region is ideal for new businesses.

“We continue to believe that Northeast Ohio is the best place in the country to have a small business or a new business,” says Belk. “We have such a robust ecosystem for startups and small business.”

 
Source: Cathy Belk
Writer: Karin Connelly


Marietta-based OffWhite launches cloud-based marketing platform

Marietta-based Offenberger & White, Inc., or "OffWhite" for short, is making waves in the small- and medium-sized business community with the expansion of its cloud-based platform, Ed.it2, which offers users without programming skills an integrated dashboard to manage communications functions, email marketing and social media.
 
“Our expanded platform is an outgrowth of our original website content management system,” explains OffWhite co-founder Bill White. “It’s an affordable, cloud-based solution, easy to use, scalable and very broad in what utilities you choose to switch on.”
 
Users frustrated with complicated, expensive marketing platforms that require programming will be delighted with OffWhite's simplified experience. “The user can access all digital media pathways via a single dashboard,” says White. “This includes website content, blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn and many other functions.” White insists users will not need an IT staff to manage the Ed.it2 cloud.
 
The cloud-based expansion is the latest evolution of Ed.it2, which OffWhite has continually optimized since the platform's launch 10 years ago per the request of a Japanese client. “Since then, it has evolved with new features and utilities as the industry evolves,” notes White.
 
Now, small- to medium-sized businesses that lack the budget for expensive content management systems can opt for OffWhite's services. “We have an affinity for emerging growth and small to medium businesses, especially technology companies,” says White. “They need common sense solutions for tapping into their own websites and social media without lots of infrastructure. That’s just a fraction of what Ed.it2 offers.”
 
 
Source: Bill White
Writer: Joe Baur

Ohio Third Frontier targets tech-based economy with new programs

Ohio Third Frontier is enhancing its commitment to innovation, adding three new programs that identify methods to move technology products to the marketplace more quickly, resulting in more jobs and a stronger tech-based economy in Ohio.
 
“Each one of the new programs introduced by Ohio Third Frontier has a specific focus on advancing technologies to a place where they can be profitable in the market, creating companies and job opportunities in the process,” explains Katie Sabatino, Senior Media Strategist at the Ohio Development Services Agency’s Office of Communications. “By designing results-driven programs, Ohio’s economy will benefit and improve our foothold as a leader in innovation and advanced technology industries, which are key to our long-term success."
 
Requests for proposals were released in May for the following:

The Commercial Acceleration Loan Fund offers Ohio tech companies loans to assist in developing products and services where they may otherwise have difficulty securing funding due to the risks associated with developing technologies. Loans range from $500,000 to $2.5 million.

The Technology Commercialization Center program invests in new technologies with the goal of creating companies and jobs while helping businesses attract capital. Centers will commercialize research from universities, medical centers or nonprofit institutions and advance the technology into the marketplace. The program offers up to $25 million to create a center with the expectation that after four years it will be self-sustaining.

The Technology Asset Grant supports shared infrastructure projects needed to develop new technologies. Program funding can go towards facilities and/or equipment when a federal procurement agency or at least two Ohio companies believe it is critical to commercialize technology. The grant program offers up to $5 million per project for up to three years.
 
These programs, the state agency believes, will better streamline the flow of new technology products to the market.
 
“When developing and commercializing new products, roadblocks can slow the process, creating a gap where generating funding can be difficult,” Sabatino explains, adding that the new programs will help bridge the gap between funding and commercialization with the goal of impacting the Ohio economy.
 
Never one to rest, Sabatino says Ohio Third Frontier is always looking for new opportunities. “We are focused on continually evaluating Ohio’s strengths and growth opportunities and creating programs that benefit the state’s tech-based economy and create jobs.”
 
 
Source: Katie Sabatino
Writer: Joe Baur

Chillicothe-based development initiative receives $126,000 grant

In an effort to improve the business climate, employment rate and quality of life in the Appalachian region, leaders of various economic development programs in four southern Ohio counties have contributed a $126,000 grant to the Joint Economic Development Initiative of Southern Ohio (JEDISO). The new Chillicothe-based association will use the grant to promote economic development in the area.
 
“JEDISO came about as a natural progression of the meetings and communications among the four county economic developers during more than a year of working with consultants on a regional strategic plan,” says Christopher Manegold, CEO of the Economic Development Alliance of Southern Ohio. “The Initiative is an unincorporated association of the principal economic development entities in Jackson, Pike, Ross and Scioto counties, governed by a two-and-a-half page partnership agreement.”
 
As for the $126,000 grant, the first priority for JEDISO is to update and validate detailed information on the region’s buildings and sites with infrastructure, environment and marketability data. The goal is to make this information readily available on a new website such that the region’s brokers, site selectors and other corporations interested in opening or relocating to southern Ohio may easily access it.
 
“For companies that are transportation sensitive, the region is framed by the Ohio River on the southern edge with the Inland Port at Rickenbacker to the north for air, rail and truck transportation,” notes Manegold. He also highlights the region’s growing market, citing a population growth that is twice as large as the statewide average. These are just some of the attributes Manegold and his colleagues hope to utilize in drawing new economic activity to the region.
 
“The strategic plan identifies a number of target industries that will be refined and pursued aggressively,” he says. “The ultimate goal is the attraction of high-quality, family-wage jobs to the region.”
 
 
Source: Christopher Manegold
Writer: Joe Baur

OU Senior aims to take the legwork out of equity crowdfunding compliance with Crowdentials

As an entrepreneurship/business management senior at Ohio University, and the president of the school’s Entrepreneurship Club, Richard Rodman has started two successful companies during his studies. Most recently, he noticed the need for some guidance in the crowdfunding trend.

So Rodman first started 530Funds in November 2012, a search engine and news site for the crowdfunding industry. “It was really hard to sift through Google to find the right platform,” he says.

But Rodman quickly realized the real need was in helping users navigate the forthcoming SEC regulations on equity crowdfunding and make sure they are compliant while raising money for their cause. Individuals, investors and crowdfunding platforms must comply with these regulations.
 
That’s when Rodman came up with Crowdentials. “Crowdentials is regulatory software for the rules SEC has created,” he explains. “It’s a simple web form -- kind of like TurboTax -- where you can cross-reference to see if you comply.”
 
Crowdentials helps take the legwork out of fundraising. Through the site and one form, investors, businesses and crowdfunding platforms ensure they are in compliance while raising money or investing in a new company. “We take care of compliance; you take care of business,” says Rodman says. “Businesses shouldn’t have to waste their time researching all the regulations.”
 
Crowdentials was accepted into the inaugural FlashStarts program, run by Charles Stack and Jennifer Neundorfer, this summer. Rodman says there was an “instant connection” in the interview process. “I think it’s going to do a lot,” he says of the program, adding that he enjoys working with the mentors and interns on hand and bouncing ideas off the other entrepreneurial teams.
 
Rodman has two partners.

 
Source: Richard Rodman
Writer: Karin Connelly

Innovation Engine Accelerator welcomes six digital startups to Athens

Six digital media startups have been accepted into the Athens-based Innovation Engine Accelerator for a 12-week intensive summer program designed to advance entrepreneurship in Ohio.
 
Selected startups are eligible to receive up to $20,000 in funding from the program, in which participants refine their business models and products with the assistance of expert entrepreneurial advice. Participants will have the opportunity to pitch their ideas to investors at the end of the summer.
 
The six participants include a diverse range of digital media startups profiled below:
 
AccessAble Travel aspires to develop services and online tools that provide information, user-based reviews and ratings of hotels, airlines, tourist destinations, public attractions and car rental companies for people with physical disabilities.

Foleeo is an online portfolio management service for business professionals, companies and organizations seeking to upload collateral work experience, talents and skills onto a single site.

Razor Dynamics seeks to improve everyday experiences and navigation for mobile devices through an augmented reality interface.

Atlas Language Innovations is developing an educational video game to teach languages, including Arabic.

MyCampus is a social mobile marketplace that gives college students the ability to buy and sell items such as tickets, textbooks and furniture to other students via mobile phones.

Lydria aims to create the next information delivery system for applications ranging from education to business and events.
 
Jennifer Simon, Director of Ohio University’s Innovation Center where the accelerator is housed, says the program was designed to respond to the surge of digital media entrepreneurs emerging from the university and throughout Ohio.
 
“The Accelerator’s goal is to rapidly prepare five startup businesses to pursue follow-on funding for their concept by facilitating development of market-tested new digital media products,” says Simon. While five of the six companies will receive up to $20,000 in seed capital, the final sixth company receives services only. If a company is not able to complete the program, the sixth company may receive part of its funding.
 
In addition to access with entrepreneurial experts, the Innovation Engine offers startups the opportunity to make use of 1,000 square feet of shared creative space, conference rooms, and cutting-edge equipment and software like Adobe Creative Suite, Final Cut Pro X, and other business essentials for launching a successful digital media enterprise.
 
Ultimately, participants will endure a more intensive schedule in this year’s accelerator with Venture Facilitators' Lynn Gellermann and Tom Parkinson providing a nine-step training program that includes everything from the basics of entrepreneurship to building a financial model.
 
Simon concludes, “This year’s program provides a more structured approach to entrepreneurial training by mixing qualified mentors and venture facilitators with exceptional results.”
 
 
Source: Jennifer Simon
Writer: Joe Baur

The Innovation Awards recognize SE Ohio entrepreneurs and innovators

The Innovation Awards, a regional celebration of entrepreneurship and creative innovation, honored eight southeastern Ohio entrepreneurs and innovators last month for their advances in business and technology.
 
Hosted by TechGROWTH Ohio, 46 finalists from across Appalachian Ohio attended the inaugural event, administered by Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs. The event was organized in conjunction with the fifth anniversary of the TechGROWTH Ohio program, a public/private partnership that delivers operational assistance to startups.
 
Andrea Gibson, Director of Research Communications at Ohio University’s Research and Technology Center, details six different categories: Entrepreneur of the Year, Outstanding Woman In Innovation, Social Innovation, Green Innovation, Outstanding Faculty In Innovation, and Outstanding Student In Innovation. Gibson continues, saying the diversity in award categories was part of the event’s goal to “acknowledge innovation throughout southeast Ohio.”
 
Finalists were chosen through a nomination process at gala.ohio.edu, and judges made their decisions using specific criteria, also listed at the website.
 
·      Entrepreneur of the Year: Francesca Hartop, Yost Engineering, Inc.
·      Outstanding Woman In Innovation: Kelly McCall, assistant professor of endocrinology
·      Social Innovation: Brad Mitchell, Ohio Appalachian Collaborative
·      Green Innovation: Geoff and Michael Greenfield, Third Sun Solar
·      Outstanding Faculty In Innovation: Jason Trembly, Russ College of Engineering and Technology, Ohio University
·      Outstanding Student In Innovation: Huiwen Cheng, Ohio University doctoral student in chemistry
 
In addition, two individuals were selected by the Ohio University Foundation for the Konneker Medal for Commercialization and Entrepreneurship, named after distinguished Ohio University (OU) alumnus and entrepreneur, Wilfred Konneker. Recipient David Scholl grew Diagnostic Hybrids from a four-person stratup to the Inc. 500 list during his tenure as president and CEO. John Kopchick, a Goll-Ohio Eminent Scholar and OU professor of molecular biology, developed the FDA-approved drug, Somavert. Besides benefiting thousands of patients, the drug has additionally generated significant licensing income for the university.
 
Based on the reception, Gibson says Ohioans can expect to see the Innovation Awards back in 2014. “We were very pleased with how the first event unfolded,” she says. “I know we’re looking forward to doing the event again next year, and we’re hoping even more people from the region get involved.”
 

Source: Andrea Gibson
Writer: Joe Baur

Portsmouth's Yost Engineering sensor offers solutions to movement and orientation challenges

Housed in an historic Portsmouth shoe factory dating back to 1890, Yost Engineering is doing cutting-edge work on sensors to provide a solution to movement and orientation challenges.
 
The company’s new YEI 3-Space Sensor took three years to complete. “It’s an inertial sensor,” explains Francesca Hartop, ceo. “This means it can be attached to a person or object to provide precise information on that person’s or object’s motion and acceleration, as well as any impact experienced.”

Hartop notes that, while some highly accurate sensors exist, they’re very expensive. And, she points out, affordable versions are not very accurate.  “We wanted to combine high accuracy with low cost to provide the benefits of inertial sensors to a broader range of products and industries. Usually, you have to balance cost versus quality. With our YEI 3-Space Sensor, however, there’s no longer that trade off.”

The sensor has several applications. “Because it measures the motion and acceleration of objects, it’s used to control the navigation of autonomous vehicles, robots or marine vehicles,” she explains. The device is also used in sports analysis to study how the movement of an athlete or equipment affects performance.

Yost is also working with partners in physical medicine and rehabilitation and related patient support services that would like to use the sensors for applications such as tremor analysis in Parkinson’s patients and monitoring joint angles in recovering knee-replacement patients.
 
In addition, the YEI 3-Space Sensor is currently being tested by the Department of Defense (DOD) in several situations in which navigation needs can’t be feasibly or consistently accomplished by GPS, Hartop explains. “This includes tracking people and objects, as well as aiding in automated mapping, a technique in which a person or robot quickly runs through an area and the sensor data provides a full map without anyone having to draw or measure it out.” It’s anticipated that the DOD testing will be completed this year.
 
The company, which has received Third Frontier funding, has 28 staff members.
 

Source:  Francesca Hartop, Yost Engineering
Writer:  Lynne Meyer
 

Intern in Ohio program launches this week, connects students with internships

This week, Detroit-based Digerati launched its Intern in Ohio program to the public, which is sponsored by the University of Toledo. Like eHarmony, the program uses an advanced matching algorithm to match students with internship opportunities.
 
Intern in Ohio is free to both students who are looking for internships and businesses who want to post internships. To register, students and employers visit Intern in Ohio’s website to sign up and create a profile or post internship opportunities. Students fill out a short questionnaire about their preferences, and employers share information about the position. The system then identifies the top seven matches for each student, as well as for each position. When the match is made, both the student and employer are notified, and they must show interest before any contact information is shared.
 
“We encourage diverse companies—large and small, for-profit and nonprofit, government and corporate,” says Wendy Pittman, director of Digerati’s Classroom to Career. “It’s a great chance for employers to broadcast their company and internship program across the state and reach a larger pool of applicants.”
 
Only companies in Ohio can post opportunities to the Intern in Ohio website, but all types of internships are welcome. There are posts for marketing, engineering and social media, among others, says Pittman.
 
The program is open to all students who live in Ohio, whether they’re in-state or out-of-state students. Research shows that not only do internships often lead employment offers after graduation, but that students are more likely to remain in an area where they held and internship.
 
“This is the first replication of the Classroom to Career technology from Michigan to Ohio,” says Pittman. “Experiential learning is a game-changer; and we’re looking forward to working with smaller communities to make a difference.”
 
In 2011, Digerati launched its Intern in Michigan program, which has resulted in more than 127,000 matches and introductions between students and employers. Over 1,000 Michigan businesses have posted 4,824 internship opportunities, and 1,049 colleges and universities in the state use the site.
 
Full disclosure: hiVelocity's parent company, IMG, supplies content to Intern in Ohio on a contractual basis.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
Follow Caitlin on Twitter

solar supply chain database promotes ohio manufacturing and innovation

Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs has collaborated with the Ohio Development Service Agency Office of Energy on a new solar energy supply chain database to promote Ohio companies.
 
Scott Miller, Director of Energy and Environmental Programs at the Voinovich School, says technological innovators as well as Ohio manufacturers stand to benefit “by knowing first and foremost who else applies to their specific niche.” For example, if a company is looking for specific grades of material or wiring harness, the database will provide a list of options to select from. “It’s folks who are in the material processing industry who make silica wafers or make unique applications for solar panels who will find this very useful,” explains Miller.
 
The project was financed by the development agency to capture and catalogue all the different companies and individuals that are involved in the solar supply chain within the state of Ohio. Miller says an existing database recorded only 50-75 companies. “We’ve come up with 275 companies.” An online mapping program highlighting the new database is available at ohiosolarenergy.org.
 
Not only does the database aim to assist those in existing technological fields, but aid in the discovery of something new. “Folks may find there are opportunities that aren’t being met, and they can use this database to identify what those unmet needs are and grow new services or new techniques, new materials that may help advance the industry,” says Miller, noting there’s still much to be done.
 
“I think we’ve only begun to scratch the service in terms of using tools like this for identifying unique applications in the state and nation.”
 
 
Source: Scott Miller
Writer: Joe Baur

ecolibrium solar launches ecofoot2 to aid solar panel installation

Athens-based Ecolibrium Solar has launched Ecofoot2, an update on their base for the installation of solar panels.
 
“The Ecofoot2 supports the corners of solar modules on flat roof and it ballasted to hold modules in place,” explains CEO and founder Brian Wildes. It combines the key components of the original Ecofoot – speed and cost effectiveness – with integrated grounding, wire management and increased weatherability.
 
Research and development for the Ecofoot2 began almost immediately following the successful launch of the original at Solar Power International 2011 in Dallas. Ecofoot was named “most impressive product” by SolarPro and has since been shipped to 18 states.
 
“Our design and engineering team generated 20-plus iterations of Ecofoot2, which were analyzed and optimized using virtual Finite Element Analysis (FEA),” Wildes explains, responding to customer requests. “Prototypes of various concepts were tested, and we then worked with an engineering firm to manage component sourcing.”
 
The final design was submitted to Colorado State University for aerodynamic analysis and Paul J. Ford for engineering to the American Society of Civil Engineers.
 
Wildes says the new design is part of Ecolibrium Solar’s mission to make solar commonplace. “Ecofoot2 is the next step towards grid parity,” he boasts. “We are making solar more cost competitive with traditional energy by offering the lowest price per watt in class, tremendous labor savings with record breaking install speeds, and reductions in overhead through simple products and a streamlined ordering process.”
 
 
Source: Brian Wildes
Writer: Joe Baur

multinational IT firm CGI to open center of excellence in southeast ohio

CGI Group, a multinational information technology (IT) firm based in Montreal, has announced its intentions to open an IT Center of Excellence at the Stateside Technology Park in Athens in January.
 
CGI Senior Vice President Lorne Gorber characterizes the decision to open a location in Athens as a no-brainer. Strong partnerships with Ohio University, Hocking College, the Athens County Economic Development Corporation, and economic incentives from the city and state – namely JobsOhio -- were paramount in driving the decision, explains Gorber. For example, CGI will receive a 6-year, 60 percent Ohio Job Creation Tax Credit.

The Athens location will be CGI’s fourth in Ohio with additional offices in Cleveland, Columbus and Mayfield Heights. “CGI’s Onshore Center of Excellence in Athens will provide world-class IT services, such as application development, maintenance, testing, support, and integration to our commercial and government clients throughout the U.S.,” says Gorber. “Because the center is based in a smaller community, our services can be delivered at up to 30 percent savings compared to services delivered in U.S. metro markets.”

Gorber continues, “CGI’s Onshore Center of Excellence in Athens will add 150 jobs by 2016, creating an estimated $6.2 million in new annual payroll and generating additional economic impact in the region.” Candidates interested in applying for a position can visit CGI’s career page.
 

Source: Lorne Gorber
Writer: Joe Baur
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