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NASA through the ages: Spin-off technologies invented by the space agency

NASA may play an important role in space exploration and aviation innovation, but it’s also a driving force behind several everyday technologies. Here’s a look at some of today’s most-popular and formative products that were developed with help from the space agency. Mylar Mylar is a shining example (pun intended) of an innovative piece of NASA technology that is now used in several everyday consumer items. The product was invented in the 1950s to protect NASA spacecraft from the sun’s heat and keep them insulated, according to PBS, and it has since been used on manned space flights as well as thousands of satellites and even the iconic Hubble telescope. In addition to its continued use as a spacecraft insulator, the material is used to insulate computers (and other kinds of electrical systems) as well as balloons. Anyone who has ever participated in or watched a competitive running event will […]

NASA through the ages: Spin-off technologies invented by the space agency

True innovation

7 Business Lessons From Mixbook CEO Andrew Laffoon

When Andrew Laffoon was in fifth grade, he didn’t act his age. “I started coding when I was 10, and I was kind of known for taking electronics apart and putting them back together. I was basically the kid who liked to stay inside, code on the computer, and play with electronics,” he recalls. While his innate intellectual curiosity might not have won him any middle school popularity contests, it is one of the reasons why he is so successful now as the chief executive officer of Mixbook, the photo service company he co-founded. Originally designed to let users create customizable physical photo albums, Mixbook has evolved over time to offer card- and calendar-printing services. It has also unveiled innovative product offerings such as Mosaic, a simple-to-use mobile app, and Montage, a web-based service that streamlines the photo book-building process. You’ll Also Like: How Whitepages Thinks Like a Startup For […]

7 Business Lessons From Mixbook CEO Andrew Laffoon

Doing good

How 3 small businesses are making green by being green

On April 22, 192 countries around the world will celebrate Earth Day, an international event that first started in 1970 to raise awareness about environmental issues. In the decades that followed the first Earth Day, rising concern about pollution and global climate change has made “going green” a popular and worthy cause for both individuals and companies. Below, we highlight some of America’s most creative small businesses that are building thriving (and prosperous) green businesses. Piedmont Biofuels North Carolina might not be the first place you think of for award-winning clean energy startups, such as Piedmont Biofuels. After all, the state is nicknamed the “Tar Heel” state. But then, what’s in a name? Based in Pittsboro, Piedmont uses cooking oil it purchases from local restaurants to manufacture clean fuel for its commercial customers. It also operates two laboratories and actively researches new alternative fuel technologies. Founder Rachel Burton was presented […]

How 3 small businesses are making green by being green

Doing good

Checking in on hackathon winner Vanilla Frame

The Pac-Man machines had gone dark, the Nerf guns had been holstered, and the bean bag chairs laid scattered and unoccupied on the floor. The laptops and computer cords—which had for the past 30 hours covered every square inch of table top—had been packed away, and the sleep-deprived coders had headed home. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s first hackathon had come to a close. But for the weekend’s big winner, the adventure was just beginning. The Growth Economic Trends Map (GETMap) team which took home the top prize at the inaugural FreeEnterprise.com hackathon, has had a busy six months since that heart-pumping, data-crunching weekend in October. Most notably, the team has become a formal company with a new name: Vanilla Frame. While the five members have all maintained their day jobs, they meet occasionally on weekends to work, often sleeping on one another’s couches after evening-long coding and brainstorming sessions. […]

Checking in on hackathon winner Vanilla Frame

Creating opportunity

Denver energy startups lighting new path forward

Like the rest of the Midwest, Denver has experienced its fair share of financial woes of late due to slumping oil prices. Extracting oil and gas from the nearby Niobrara shale formation added thousands of jobs to the local economy in recent years. The downturn has thrown some local refineries into the red (some even bankruptcy) and slashed spending. However, Denver’s diverse, bustling economy (which we outlined in our ongoing Silicon Cities series) has been able to weather the storm. Denver hasn’t seen a dramatic reversal of its hot job market or startup activity due to the oil market’s troubles, and even the energy sector isn’t quite dead yet. Renewable energy startups and companies are popping up in the area. “We’re seeing oil and gas companies vacating office space, but at the same time the Denver area is growing,” says Alexandra Hall, chief economist with the state’s Department of Labor […]

Denver energy startups lighting new path forward

Silicon Cities

GOAL! How Tech Businesses are Helping Athletes Score

These days technology and engineering are playing a bigger role in sports. Their contributions to athletics aren’t always easy to identify with the naked eye, but improved uniforms, behind-the-scenes wizardry and better communication is helping athletes run faster, last longer and stay healthier. In honor of the 2016 Boston Marathon, here are some of the North American businesses making technologies that help both professional and amateur athletes reach new heights. Under Armour Under Armour founder and CEO Kevin Plank oversees a sports performance apparel, footwear and accessories line. The company is already well known in the fitness industry for its high-performance apparel, including a microthread collection designed to prevent clinging or chafing during exercise, and so-called slingshot shoes made of high-tech materials that it claims can help athletes run faster. Last year, UA turned heads with a new line called CoolSwitch, designed to keep athletes dry even during the most […]

GOAL! How Tech Businesses are Helping Athletes Score

America at work

Rise of the robot: Will intelligent machines kill the global workforce?

The idea that intelligent machines could one day replace humans is nothing new. Hollywood has long been obsessed with the idea of smart or “thinking” robots capable of performing human-like tasks – think of Rosie on The Jetsons, Blade Runner and C-3PO in Star Wars. But could robots take over a majority of human jobs? Or will increasingly intelligent machines create more jobs than they render obsolete? The answer to the first question is simple: Robots are already replacing humans, particularly in manufacturing. Machines can now clean homes, ring up groceries and even dispense medicine. Meanwhile the costs of robots are falling, and machines are taking on more “human” responsibilities, such as testing and inspecting products. “The reality is, machines have been taking jobs away from people for years,” says Moshe Vardi, a computer science professor at Rice University. “It’s very dramatic to think about Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator walking […]

Rise of the robot: Will intelligent machines kill the global workforce?

America at work

Meet Denver, America’s next Silicon Valley

Could Denver, a city known for its beautiful wildlife, rugged mountains, and laid-back attitude, be the country’s next big tech hub? Its citizens seem to think so. Last year, Denver was named one the top 10 U.S. metropolitan areas for startup activity in the U.S. by the Kauffman Foundation, a private organization that champions entrepreneurship and small businesses. “I’m constantly astounded by the companies and startups here,” Krista Morgan, CEO of P2Binvestor says. Morgan has an inside track on the city’s startup scene, since her business provides loans to small and mid-sized companies in the area. In addition to city’s list of established business employers, like Oracle and Lockheed Martin, they have a wide variety of ambitious local tech startups including Boom, which aims to create supersonic travel for civilians; Havenly, an online interior decorating startup that recently raised $5.8 million; and nPloyed, a tech recruitment firm that is relocating […]

Meet Denver, America’s next Silicon Valley

Silicon Cities | True innovation

Beyoncé & Bill Gates: A Match Made in Pop Music Heaven?

Pop singers and rappers love to brag about their footwear (from their Ugg boots to their Louboutins), million-dollar homes and expensive bling. These days tech entrepreneurs are surprisingly becoming the go-to people to name-drop in songs, with Bill Gates being the mogul of choice to reference. Here are some of the best pop songs to reference Silicon Valley and its high-powered entrepreneurs. Entrepreneur: Bill Gates, Microsoft Song: “Formation” by Beyoncé I might get your song played on the radio station, cause I slay You just might be a black Bill Gates in the making, cause I slay I just might be a black Bill Gates in the making When Beyoncé dropped her newest single, “Formation,” right before the 2016 Super Bowl, her die-hard fan base – known as the Beyhive – was ecstatic. And one of the crowd’s favorite lines was when Queen Bey compared herself to Microsoft co-founder Bill […]

Beyoncé & Bill Gates: A Match Made in Pop Music Heaven?

Doing good

Why Philly is a tech haven for medicine startups

Philadelphia is making a big difference in the world of health tech – an important and growing sector in the healthcare industry. To mark the upcoming World Health Day, which is celebrated everywhere April 7, we’ve decided to highlight this incredible city. Is Philadelphia the Silicon Valley of health tech innovation? If local investors and healthcare providers have their way, it soon could be. The area – already well known for its culture and cuisine ­– already has a reputation as a healthcare hub, given that established healthcare companies like Siemens Healthcare, the insurer Independence Blue Cross, and Teva Pharmaceuticals have their U.S. headquarters in the city and its surrounding suburbs. But, the city has the potential to be something more – the go-to place for startups that are disrupting the medical industry the way other tech companies have disrupted…well, everything else.. Philadelphia’s knowledge economy is a big point in […]

Why Philly is a tech haven for medicine startups

Creating opportunity | Silicon Cities

This Startup Knows if You Don’t Pick Up Your Dog’s Poop

After selling the company he had owned for 37 years, Tom Boyd wasn’t ready for retirement. He was 67, he had cash, and he wanted to invest in businesses. He bought a cancer research company, but waiting for results drove him crazy. There had to be another problem he and his employees could tackle simultaneously. But what? Then he had an epiphany. “I was at a party at a guy’s house, and he has a couple of dogs, and on the way in my wife steps in some dog shit,” Boyd recalls. “We’re drinking beers, and it becomes a joke. Then someone says, ‘Well, we are doing DNA work, and I’d certainly like to find out who is responsible for doing that.’ And I said, ‘Hey, that’s a great idea!’ So, I asked a few of them to look into the topic to find out how big of a problem […]

This Startup Knows if You Don’t Pick Up Your Dog’s Poop

True innovation

Building a Business Around “You Are What You Eat”

During each week of Women’s History Month, we will honor a female entrepreneur who has made an important contribution to American society. This week’s feature is Diana Ambauen-Meade and her business, Scratch and Peck Feeds – a 2016 DREAM BIG Award Regional Finalist. We spend so much time obsessing over what we eat, but what about what our animals eat? Standard animal food often consists of harmful ingredients— preservatives, chemicals, and grain fillers. In fact, very few feed companies produce organic, non-GMO food for purchase. We place such an emphasis on our own healthy diets, so why do we not extend the same to our four-legged friends? Diana Ambauen-Meade saw this as a problem – especially for her chickens. After borrowing a cement mixer in 2009, Ambauen-Meade began mixing her own chicken feed in her backyard. She founded Scratch and Peck Feeds soon thereafter. Because of its unique composition, demand […]

Building a Business Around “You Are What You Eat”

True innovation
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