With domestic, international growth on the horizon, IU-funded drone firm PrecisionHawk makes a change at CEO

A drone mapping and aerial data services company that counts the Innovate Indiana Fund as a key financial backer has made a switch at CEO as it prepares for rapid growth both domestically and abroad.

According to TechCrunch, Blackboard Inc. co-founder Michael Chasen is taking the reins at the Raleigh, N.C.-based PrecisionHawk, which employs at least 10 Hoosiers in the Terre Haute area and more than 120 overall. He replaces Red Hat co-founder Bob Young, who will remain PrecisionHawk’s chairman after serving as CEO since July 2015.

YOUNG: Remains as chairman
CHASEN: Poised to expand

Chasen has a track record of expanding into foreign markets, establishing Blackboard in 20 international offices during his time there as CEO. According to Chasen, PrecisionHawk currently has revenue-making and research activities in six countries, TechCrunch reported.

In July 2016, PrecisionHawk was named one of the world’s 30 most promising technology pioneers for 2016 by the World Economic Forum. The list recognizes early-stage companies whose design, development and deployment of new technologies stand to significantly impact both business and society. Past pioneers include Google Inc. (2002), Mozilla Corp. (2007), the Wikimedia Foundation (2008), Twitter Inc. (2010), Dropbox Inc. (2011), Spotify Ltd. (2011) and Airbnb (2014).

In 2014, PrecisionHawk won an Indiana Innovation Award and was a finalist for TechPoint’s Mira Awards as Tech Startup of the Year. Among other awards, the company was named to TiEcon’s list of Top 50 technology startups and recognized as a Top 100 Global Sustainable Solutions company by Sustainia.

The Innovate Indiana Fund led PrecisionHawk’s $1 million round of initial financing and took part in $10 million of Series B funding in 2014. In 2016, it joined more than a half-dozen investors in a $20 million Series C capitalization for the company.

Managed by the Indiana University Research and Technology Corp., part of IU’s Innovate Indiana initiative, the fund provides early-stage capital to companies with an IU connection. It also advises in such areas as technology assessment, market analysis and planning, management recruitment, product development, sales strategy, customer acquisition, and next-stage capital.

IU SoIC, NSWC Crane sign ‘smart tech’ research and development agreement

U.S. Navy Capt. J.T. Elder (left), commanding officer of Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane and Indiana University School of Informatics and Computing Dean Raj Acharya (right) sign a cooperative research and development agreement during a Wednesday ceremony at the base. (Photo courtesy of NSWC Crane).

Wednesday marked another red-letter day in terms of collaboration between Indiana University and Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane, as a “smart tech” R&D agreement was signed between the facility and IU’s School of Informatics and Computing.

Research conducted under the pact will help integrate modern “smart” technology into current systems vital to the nation’s defense. Specific studies will focus on ways to improve military sensor technology through machine learning and artificial intelligence.

The lead researchers on the project are Sriraam Natarajan, an associate professor with the SoIC at IU Bloomington, and Robert Cruise, chief scientist for the Special Warfare and Expeditionary Systems Department at NSWC Crane.

Read more about the agreement here.

IU Bloomington researchers have until Feb. 24 to submit abstracts for Bloomington Innovation Conference

If you’re an IU Bloomington researcher and you want your recently completed work or work-in-progress highlighted in the 3rd annual Bloomington Innovation Conference, you’ve got until January 24 to submit an abstract.

Here are the details:

  • The abstract must be no more than 500 words.
  • The submission must include the researcher’s name, university affiliation, email address and phone number.
  • The abstract must be submitted through the conference’s website.
  • The abstract must also be sent in PDF format to JCITR@indiana.edu.
  • The submission may include a draft of the poster, either in portrait or landscape format, no larger than 36 inches by 46 inches.

The Johnson Center for Innovation and Translational Research organizes the conference. More information is available here.

IU researchers develop new therapy to help brain injury patients with emotion processing

Dawn Neumann, assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation and founder of EmotEd LLC.

Researchers at Indiana University School of Medicine  are developing a potential treatment for people who have problems processing their emotions after a traumatic brain injury. This promising treatment incorporates a short series of lessons and exercises.

The researchers said their newly developed intervention is the first, to their knowledge, to show benefits for people with such traumatic brain injury-induced problems. Currently there are no standard treatments for such emotion processing problems.

The results of the small phase 1 trial merit additional larger studies, they said. The research was a collaboration of the school and EmotEd LLC, a startup company developing emotional rehabilitation products.

The phase I trial, led by Dawn Neumann, PhD, assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation and founder of EmotEd, was published online, ahead of print in the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation. This article will be appearing in a special topic issue on treatments for emotional deficits after traumatic brain injuries that is scheduled to be published in the summer of 2017.


Rocket fuel startup co-founded by IU alumnus receives $80,000 in funding

Chris Stoker, an Indiana University alumnus, and Brandon Terry, a Purdue postdoctoral research associate, are pictured burning samples of solid rocket fuel propellant in the Maurice J. Zucrow Laboratories at Purdue. Stoker and Terry co-founded Adranos Energetics, a company developing a cleaner, more efficient, rocket fuel propellant that uses micro-explosive tendencies to produce much higher combustion efficiency and decreased flow losses. (Purdue Research Foundation photo)

Congratulations to Indiana University alumnus Chris Stoker, co-founder of Adranos Energetics LLC, a rocket fuel startup. The company received $80,000 in funding from the Elevate Purdue Foundry Fund earlier in January!

Adranos’ co-founders Stoker and Brandon Terry, a Purdue postdoctoral research associate on rocket fuel innovation, serve the aviation and aerospace industries through the development of an innovative solid rocket fuel that could minimize HCI aerosol formation and increase total propulsion helping make rockets used in military and space applications travel farther, carry greater payloads and be environmentally friendly. A video about the company is available here.

The funding is used by entrepreneurs to advance their startups and innovations through various commercialization activities including market research, product development and prototype creation. The companies receiving funds are part are part of about 200 Indiana-based companies financially supported through Elevate Ventures since 2010, which together have also attracted nearly $300 million in capital from other sources.

The Elevate Purdue Foundry Fund is operated jointly by officials from the Purdue Foundry and Elevate Ventures. A news release about the award is available here.

Acharya to serve as keynote speaker for BEDC’s annual meeting Wednesday

Raj Acharya

The dean of Indiana University’s School of Informatics and Computing, Raj Acharya, will give the keynote address at the Bloomington Economic Development Corp.’s annual meeting set for 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Bloomington/Monroe County Convention Center.

Along with his duties as dean, Acharya is the James H. Rudy Professor of Engineering, Computer Science and Informatics for the school. He arrived at IU in July 2016 from Penn State University, where he was founding director of its School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science — and headed the Departments of Computer Science and Engineering (within the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science) for 14 years.

He also held an appointment at Penn State’s Applied Research Laboratory for conducting classified research. He was previously a Research Scientist at General Electric (Thomson) CSF Laboratory, Paris, France, and has been a Research Fellow at various NASA and DoD labs. He is on the board of Videomining and Technology Collaborative — a technology-based economic development organization.

Acharya’s address is titled “Indiana University is Redefining Engineering.”


Kelley student wins top prize at second annual B-Start Demo Day competition

Tydee Laundry CEO Zachary Burr pitches his business idea before Indiana University Research and Technology Corp. CEO Tony Armstrong (lower right) and two other judges during the second annual B-Start Demo Day competition held Thursday evening at IU’s Cyberinfrastructure Building. (Photo by Chaz Mottinger | IU Communications).

A finance major at IU’s Kelley School of Business has won the second annual B-Start Demo Day business pitch competition, held Thursday evening at IU’s Cyberinfrastructure Building.

Zachary Burr, who offers subscription and on-demand laundry and dry cleaning services through a venture called Tydee Laundry, earned the top prize of $2,500 through the strength of his business proposal and a five-minute pitch he made before a three-judge panel.

Placing second and earning $1,500 was Christopher Podlaski’s Plant Software, an automated, web-based intelligent scheduling platform. Third place and $500 went to Wes Wagner, whose company Intask offers a modern platform to find, manage and use student free-lancers to accomplish intern-level work. All nine participating teams received a $500 stipend to continue their business development.

B-Start is a program of the Bloomington Economic Development Association. Graduation stipends and pitch prizes provided through financial support from IU’s Innovate Indiana initiative, Cook Group and the Gayle and Bill Cook Center for Entrepreneurship at Ivy Tech Community College-Bloomington.

Read more here.

Pharma company based on IU tech receives $200K in funding

Congratulations SAJE Pharma, which licenses IU technology through the Indiana University Research and Technology Corporation.

The Baltimore-based company has received $200,000 from the Maryland Technology Development Corporation. The funding comes from one of the corporation’s seed investment funds, the Life Science Investment Fund.

More information is available here.

According to the SAJE Pharma website, the company formed in 2011 after it acquired an exclusive license to a patent application through IURTC.

B-Start Demo Day set for Thursday at IU’s Cyberinfrastructure Building

IU’s Cyberinfrastructure Building

B-Start, a pre-accelerator and mentorship program for startup companies founded and operated by students from Indiana University and Ivy Tech Community College, will hold a Demo Day for its nine participating teams Thursday (Jan. 11) at IU’s Cyberinfrastructure Building at 2709 E. Tenth St. in Bloomington.

The event starts at 5:30 p.m. and will feature five-minute pitches for each team’s startup project. A business plan from each team also will be reviewed by a panel of judges, with prizes awarded to the three highest-scoring ventures.

Mat Orrego, CEO and co-founder of Cornerstone Information Systems, will serve as the keynote speaker. The judges are Tony Armstrong, president and CEO of the Indiana University Research & Technology Corp.; Jim Silberstein, associate professor of entrepreneurship and chair of the School of Business at Ivy Tech; and Rob Dorocke, vice president of global IT strategies for Cook Medical.

B-Start is offered by the Bloomington Economic Development Corp., with Innovate Indiana serving as a sponsor. Additional sponsors include the Gayle and Bill Cook Center for Entrepreneurship at Ivy Tech and Cook Group Inc. Entrepreneurial teams are competitively selected to serve as cohorts in the program, which in turn, aids companies in their earliest stage of development with business training, group workshops and one-on-one mentorship.

In mid-October, B-Start was recognized during the University Economic Development Association’s (UEDA) Annual Summit as a finalist in the organization’s Awards of Excellence contest. Members of this fall’s B-Start cohort include:

  • B-CRD-I: An efficient way for users to exchange business contact information;
  • Classify: a cloud-based platform that will facilitate collaboration and real-time messaging among students from elementary school to higher education;
  • ConnectSocial: marketing company that designs lower cost, but highly effective websites for startups or small businesses;
  • Donatio: an interactive charitable giving platform that will be the new wave in crowdfunding and philanthropy;
  • Intask: A modern student management platform and marketplace to find, manage, and use student freelancers to accomplish intern-like tasks;
  • Plant Software: automated, web-based, intelligent, scheduling platform;
  • S&K Presentation Consultants: Expert presentation analysis and feedback to both students and adults within 24 hours;
  • Showcase U: website for professional headshots and videos showcasing their talents of students studying the arts for agents;
  • Tydee: Subscription and on demand laundry and dry cleaning service for Bloomington residents.