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State of Young Philly 2013 offers new opportunities for young activists

Narcissistic. Apathetic. Cynical. State of Young Philly (SOYP), the annual, week-long activist celebration from Young Involved Philadelphia (YIP), rails against the unfortunate descriptors often associated with generation Y. This year, events run from Friday, October 25 through Saturday, November 2.
 
"There are a lot of articles out there stereotyping young people as the 'me' generation," says Mike Kaiser, Events Chair for YIP. “When you come out to YIP events, it's a totally different picture. We're trying to challenge that [perception]."
 
The week focuses on civic skill-building. Highlights include an opening night reception and civic engagement fair featuring Campus Philly, Groundswell, Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia, Need in Deed, Impact HUB Philly, the People's Emergency Center, and many others; Navigate Philly, a series of short presentations by local leaders on topics such as politics, media and education; Sustainability Night, an instructional event on recycling, composting and waste disposal; Get a Job, featuring advice from human resource professionals; and a "Welcome to Philly" happy hour featuring a "minimalist" Halloween costume contest.
 
Then, on November 2, YIP will host their first civic engagement un-conference. Participants will be encouraged to share ideas and best-practices.
 
"We know there are people out there making progress and positive change in Philly," says Kaiser. "This is a chance to bring everyone together to share that knowledge. We're trying to accelerate ideas and connections."
 
Last January, YIP's new board launched a quarterly "Learn, Grow, Do" series. It introduces Philly activists to fundamentals such as first-time home buying, networking and park cleaning. SOYP will give existing members the chance to reflect on their progress and engage new potential members.
 
"It really reaffirms that what we're doing matters," says Kaiser. "For new people it’s, 'Here’s something simple you can do to join this movement.'"
 
Source: Mike Kaiser, Young Involved Philadelphia
Writer: Dana Henry

TicketLeap finds success in an irregular market, releases Mobile Box Office app

Chances are the Flyers will sell out their upcoming 82-game season by simply offering up seats through Comcast Tix. Meanwhile, smaller homegrown events and festivals such as the Philly Beer Week, The Fringe Festival or the Morris Arboretum's Salsa Dance Night might have a harder time. For those niche event planners, there's Center City-based TicketLeap.

Instead of choosing between specific event marketplaces (theatre, sports, concerts), TicketLeap serves businesses and organizations that use events to drive business or raise awareness. That focus has helped grow the 10-year-old company's gross ticket sales from $34 million in 2011 to $52 million in 2012.

"It's not the traditional way of dividing the events market," says Tim Raybould, President and COO. "But it's a pretty large portion of the existing events market base."

TicketLeap's platform is decidedly DIY. Users build their own events page, which can be shared across the web and on mobile devices. They can also use the tool to build their social media presence, create email blasts and track customer analytics.

In August 2013, the company released the Mobile Box Office for iOS. The app is designed for flexible ticket-taking -- it allows the taker to scan-in attendees using mobile barcodes, look up specific attendees, or adjust the attendee list.  

"You don't have to have a full box office with ticket takers at the window," says Raybould. "You can just take your phone out of your pocket."

TicketLeap's existing customers --- which hail from across the country, Canada and part of Europe -- have been quick to add the new app. In the past year, the company has grown from 21 to 27 employees and expects to add software developers in the near future.
 
Source: Tim Raybould, TicketLeap
Writer: Dana Henry

Nuix helps companies mine unstructured information; they're releasing new software

Imagine gathering all your emails, Facebook posts, tweets, blog posts, documents -- anything you’ve ever added to the internet -- in one place. The stack would be pretty high, right?

Now multiply that by every employee in a Fortune 500 company. That’s exactly what companies do when managing legal disputes. Nuix, an Australian company with a user-experience branch in Jenkintown, allows companies to sift through the glut of "unstructured information" -- including e-communications and other documents -- and pinpoint useable evidence.

The Jenkintown office has helped build Nuix Director, a new product that streamlines the workflow for investigations. The office currently has 25 employees and is hiring user-experience designers and developers.

During a legal investigation, collected documents are pared down by external legal services before landing on an attorney's desk. That process creates potential for miscommunication and human error. Nuix Director allows users to create a template to standardize the process and minimize mistakes.

"Organizations have big piles of unstructured information," says Stephen Stewart, Nuix's global CTO. "You can push a button and be confident that all steps happen the same way every time. You feed data in the front and it out comes a nice, reviewable, organized set of documents."

Of course, it's not just legal disputes that are drowning in documentation. Nuix Jenkintown is currently developing user-experience software to serve other Nuix markets, including criminal investigation and internal business operations. Their products are used in over 35 countries and revenue has consistently grown over the last five years.

"There's no lack of requirements or opportunities," says Stewart. "Every organization is creating new information every day, and we’re innovating every day at a hurried pace."

Source: Stephen Stewart, Nuix
Writer: Dana Henry

Recycled Artists in Residency, a program for innovators in creative reuse, officially launches

After spending two years as a pilot creative reuse project, Recycled Artist In Residency (RAIR) is officially launching. The program provides local artists with 1,000 square feet of studio space, private offices, welding and woodworking equipment, and a daily supply of tens of thousands of tons of post-consumer construction materials. The organization is currently accepting applications from individuals and collaborative groups.
 
RAIR was founded by Fern Gookin while she was a grad student in Philadelphia University's Masters of Sustainable Design program. She hoped to bring attention to sustainability issues through art and design. Gookin partnered with Billy Dufall, a local artist whose reuse projects include racing "toilet tricycles" and furniture made from building insulation. 
 
The program is hosted by Revolution Recovery, a construction waste recycling plant located in the Northeast; they donate the space and raw supplies. The time spent in the pilot stage gave RAIR the chance to fine tune the partnership and develop safety protocols.
 
"It's nontraditional to have artists working in a very busy operational facility," says Gookin. "We have to be aware that we're guests in the house."
 
RAIR has two tracks: the Standard Track is a one-to-four month residency, while the Biggie-Shorty asks the artist to build a "big project" in one to two weeks and then return the materials to the recycling stream. Artists document their process online.  
 
"It gives the artists the ability to experiment and work with materials at a different scale than they might be used to," explains Gookin. "It's less about making a piece of work that can be crated and shipped -- it's letting the creativity be the focus."
 
In its first year, RAIR will accept anywhere from three to eight local artists. They encourage artists and designers who are interested in reuse to apply regardless of discipline.
 
Source: Fern Gookin, Recycled Artist In Residency
Writer: Dana Henry

CauseHub, social sharing site for local organizations, gains international attention

There are countless local organizations around the world working on issues such as hunger, environmental protection, human rights and other imperative challenges. CauseHub.com, a social platform founded by Pennsbury High School student Ashvika Dhir, helps small-scale change-makers discuss common goals and share best practices.

Back in March, Dhir was the first high school student to present at IgnitePhilly. Since then, she has crowdsourced $4000 through LuckyAnt, added over 10 partner non-government organizations (NGOs) to the site and become one of the youngest innovators (and one of only fifty in the United States) to win this year's Global Startup Youth Scholarship.

Dhir developed the concept for CauseHub while volunteering at Mother Teresa, an orphanage in India.

"I realized these small ideas in India had no way of contacting people across the world," she says. "With Causehub, people can share in one specific location all having to do with causes."

To help these organizations publicize their work, CauseHup offers NGOs, collectives and individuals their own networking page. The site draws content from contributors in Columbia, Kenya, India and Philadelphia.

"I wanted the user to be in charge," says Dhir. "There are other blogs that talk about content and inform people, but I wanted to create a space where people could honestly discuss any cause they’re interested in."

Dhir continues to grow CauseHub's user base by tapping family members in India, drawing on international contacts and using word of mouth. She hopes the site will develop into a media outlet for charities, helping individuals find local opportunities for volunteering and educational events.

Source: Ashvika Dihr, CauseHub
Writer: Dana Henry

Inventing the Future: Graphene Frontiers gears up to produce 'super-material'

Thanks to a $745,000 grant from the National Science Foundation and help from an undisclosed partner, Graphene Frontiers is gearing up to produce graphene. This "super material" -- only one atom thick—is ten times stronger than diamonds and the best known conductor of electricity. In the next 18 to 24 months, Graphene Frontiers, which works out of the University City Science Center’s Port Business Incubator, expects to become one of the world first producers.
 
In order to handle the massive manufacturing startup costs, Graphene Frontiers is working with a local corporation. The partners have developed a new type of diagnostic tool -- called a field effect transistor (FET) biosensor -- that use graphene to improve how disease is detected.
 
"We've been so focused on making graphene and proving that it was possible to make it high quality," says CEO Mike Patterson. "We're not going to build a $100 million dollar facility and crank out sheets of graphene. We had to find the right application."
 
Current diagnostic devices rely on silicon wafers. The wafer contains targets for disease indicators including antibodies, antigens and other foreign chemicals. A patient's fluid sample (usually blood or urine) is applied to the microchip and disease markers bind to the targets. To confirm a diagnosis, however, doctors run multiple tests for various indicators. It’s time consuming and costly.
 
Ultra-thin graphene channels give the FET biosensor superior sensitivity. The device can test for several indicators at once and provide an instantaneous diagnosis.
 
Recently, Graphene Frontiers hired two material scientists. The FET biosensors will be created for biochemistry research departments and pharmaceutical developers. In five years, if the new device receives FDA approval, doctors and health practitioners will become the next market. One day, label-free bio-sensors could even be used at home for self-diagnosis.
 
"We can do so much with graphene," says Patterson. "The real question is what are we going to do?"
 
The University City Science Center has partnered with Flying Kite to showcase innovation in Greater Philadelphia through the "Inventing the Future" series.

Source: Mike Patterson, Graphene Frontiers
Writer: Dana Henry

The Mural and the Mint releases second sound installation, this time for Race Street Pier

With construction of the FringeArts Lab well underway, the Race Street Pier is set to become Philly’s next creative hotspot. To draw attention to its revival, The Mural and the Mint’s Michael Kiley chose the site for his second sound installation.
 
Animina: A Race Street Pier Sound Walk -- created in partnership with South Philly web development company P'Unk Ave -- is a GPS-enabled musical piece; users can download the app via iTunes starting October 1. 

Kiley used a similar process with his first installation, Empty Air: A Rittenhouse Square Sound Walk. He began with an unaltered sound recording of the Race Street Pier, then layered in originally composed music. Unlike RIttenhouse Square with its concentric layout of walkways, the Race Street Peir is linear. Kiley had to adapt the musical installation -- which changes according to location instead of time -- to fit the structure.
 
"I couldn't just leave people at the end of the pier," he says. "I tried to write something that would work forwards as well as backwards."
 
While creating Empty Air, Kiley became familiar with how the app's technology affects sound; he created Animina with those subtleties in mind. The piece aims to embody the theme of "lost relationships and healing," and contains music and lyrics inspired by new activity along the river.
 
"I wanted to personify what the city is doing," says Kiley. "Philadelphia is where it is because of the Delaware River. We deserve a preeminent waterfront."
 
The project was created in partnership with FringeArts and the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation, and is sponsored by grants from Pew Cultural Center for Arts & Heritage and the Painted Bride Art Center through the Wyncote Foundation.
 
Source: Michael Kiley, Mural and the Mint
Writer: Dana Henry

New York City entrepreneur brings Local 215 food truck to Philadelphia

One of the advantages of operating a mobile food business is the ability to follow the market -- literally. That wisdom guided Alexander Buckner, founder of the Local 215 food truck and catering service, to Philadelphia.
 
Local 215 prepares their cuisine at Greensgrow's kitchen space and sources almost exclusively from family farms within 100 miles. The truck debuted last August at the The Food Trust's Night Market in Mt. Airy and re-launched this past spring after a winter hiatus.
 
Ironically, Local 215 was conceived while Buckner was living in New York City. The culinary entrepreneur had watched the popularity of food trucks spread from Los Angeles up the west coast. By 2011, high-concept street food had made its way east and was gaining traction in New York City -- unfortunately, the city's moratorium on vending licenses made starting a business prohibitively expensive.
 
Around that time, Buckner visited Philly and was impressed by the low startup costs and high density of young professionals and university students.
 
"It looked like Philadelphia was going to be next in line," says Buckner. "It has all the ingredients for a good food truck city."
 
Local 215 focuses on simple, "technique-driven" preparations. The menu features delicacies such as housemade Merguez lamb sausage in duck-fat gravy, braised duck, and fresh corn, slow roasted with shallots and topped with mascarpone cheese. 
 
"It's a balancing act to run a food truck or catering business that's all local," explains Buckner. "We actually do get almost everything from right here in Philly."
 
Local 215 truck stops at locations in University City, Callowhill and near the The Mann Center. Find them by checking their Twitter feed.
 
Source: Alexander Buchner, Local215
Writer: Dana Henry

Cloudamize hopes to tap $40 billion cloud computing market, is hiring

In the next five years, the market for cloud computing -- the virtual network that maintains web activity -- will reach $40 billion.
 
Cloudamize, a Center City-based company currently partnered with MissionOG, is poised take advantage of that growth. They offer a management tool that helps clients maximize their web performance while minimizing associated costs. The company recently closed its seed round of fundraising with $1.2 million in investment; they are seeking developers and sales associates. 
 
Think of the cloud as a utility with various servers -- or information centers -- communicating to one another. In general, the more complex a web application (and the more traffic it gets), the more it taxes the cloud. That burden can cost companies a lot of money. Most cloud servers are virtual. They exist through specialized software that connects to a larger physical server. This means they can be scaled to fit the required load. Yet, understanding which servers need to be scaled and how can be complicated and costly.
 
"Getting on the cloud is very easy," says Khushboo Shah, founder and CEO of Cloudamize. "But once we get there, we realize we are not getting all the benefits."
 
Cloudamize acts as a smart meter for the cloud. They evaluate how the activity of a web application gets distributed between servers and how that distribution can be improved. The platform then recommends direct actions to increase efficiency. If a client anticipates modifications to their site or changes in web traffic, they can also use Cloudamaize to plan the best possible distribution strategy.
 
"The cloud is supposed to be elastic," explains Shah. "Increase infrastructure when you have peak traffic and dial it down when you don't need it. It's essentially marrying the cost and performance together."
 
Source: Khushboo Shah, Cloudamize
Writer: Dana Henry

Inventing the Future: Azavea 'Summer of Maps' program brings GIS power to local organizations

Every day, city agencies from the Streets Department to the Office of Housing and Community Development collect data that details the current state of Philadelphia. Thanks to Azavea, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) experts located in Callowhill, several civic-minded nonprofit groups can now "see" that information.

The company just wrapped up their Summer of Maps Fellowship, a stipend program that placed graduate-level GIS students with urban advocacy organizations. Recipients of the pro-bono services included The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, The Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children, The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and The Greater Philadelphia Coalition against Hunger.  

During the program, Tyler Dahlberg, who studies GIS for Development and Environment at Clark University, created web maps for the Bicycle Coalition that made use of raw data from the Philadelphia Police Department, the Philadelphia Department of Transportation and the coalition's independent research. The resulting map illustrates where people ride, where accidents happen and how the risk of bike theft varies (according to time of week and the time of year).

"It's an advocacy tool for them," says Dahlberg. "They can continue with the data and do their own research as well."
 
The Bicycle Coalition hopes the new tool will help them lobby City Council and the Department of Transportation to protect cyclists in Philadelphia.
 
Dahlberg also worked with the Coalition Against Hunger to locate potential food stamp recipients, pinpointing subgroups including children, the elderly, disabled people and immigrants. The tool will help the organization maximize their budget by targeting their marketing and volunteer outreach at neighborhoods dense with potential clients.
 
"It really expands the toolset that nonprofits have available for their decision making process," explains Dahlberg. "These nonprofits have a lot of data, but it's hard to analyze it. Being able to see the data visualized on a map really opens up new avenues."

The University City Science Center has partnered with Flying Kite to showcase innovation in Greater Philadelphia through the "Inventing the Future" series.
 
Source: Tyler Dahlberg, Azavea
Writer: Dana Henry

Discover PHL helps launch PHLMade, a campaign to market locally-made products

Philadelphia might still be "the workshop of the world" -- only instead of manufacturing wool suits and steam engine parts, the city is producing up-cycled handbags, artisanal cheeses and smartphone apps.

PHLMade, an effort spearheaded by Discover PHL, wants to celebrate those products. They are currently offering a newsletter and plan to launch an online magazine and branding campaign around all the stuff made in Philly.
 
PHLMade has three main goals: To market Philadelphia as a "city of makers"; to appeal to outside and emerging companies who might want to make products here; and to help locavores and tourists buy products that are locally-made. Over the next year, PHLMade will create an original logo for products made in Philly and expects to hold conventions and pop-up shops for local wares.  
 
“It’s really to connect the marketing piece with the business piece and help to support the products that are coming out of Philadelphia," says Daniel Cohn, Founder of PHLMade and VP of marketing and communications at Discover PHL. “We’re really discovering stories in the city."
 
The online magazine -- featuring original content in addition to aggregated stories from local media outlets -- will focus exclusively on makers. It’s being developed by Brandon Davis, a native of Olney who publishes the national entrepreneurship magazine American Dreaming.
 
"Everyone in America is talking about American-made products and the importance of buying local," says Cohn. "PHLMade gives us additional opportunities to showcase Philadelphia as a city of innovation and of people who are still making things after all these years."
 
PHL-Made is looking to hear from makers, maker-enthusiasts and interested sponsors. They are launching a Kickstarter campaign this month to support the upcoming magazine launch.
 
Source: Daniel Cohn, Discover PHL
Writer: Dana Henry

Public Workshop completing construction on Philly's first GreenBuild Legacy Project

The Public Workshop is finishing construction on Philly's first GreenBuild Legacy Project. In the coming years, this play structure, located in Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse, is expected to engage hundreds of thousands of local users.

The concept was selected by Delaware Valley Green Building Council. This November, they are hosting the international GreenBuild Expo in partnership with the City of Philadelphia. Previous legacy projects in other cities have largely focused on urban agriculture.

Alex Gilliam, founder of Public Workshop, announced plans for the project back in March. Since then, the organization's "Building Heroes" -- young adult and teenage project leaders -- have created an "adventure playground" using salvaged wood and fallen trees.

"We got excited about the potential of leaving a lasting project at Smith playground, but also engaging youth," says Fern Gookin, director of sustainability at Revolution Recovery and chair of the Legacy Project Committee.

The group's work transforms the natural landscape through designated play areas -- "The Jungle" has bendable beams that can be woven into caves, tunnels and huts; "The Forest" offers reclaimed materials for building temporary structures; and "The Whirlpool" is a shifting deck wrapped around a large tree, begging the user to look up at the canopy.

During the design-build process, the Public Workshop engaged local community groups and citywide organizations, including Urban Blazers and Mural Arts. Final workdays and upcoming Legacy Project events are open to the public.

"During the GreenBuild Expo, the spotlight on a national and international level will be on Philadelphia," says Gookin. "The Legacy Project will live on after the conference packs up and moves away."

Source: Fern Gookin, Legacy Project Comittee; Alex Gilliam, Public Workshop
Writer: Dana Henry
 

Inventing the Future: Shepherding international talent to Philadelphia

There are only 23 business incubators in the world recognized by the National Business Incubation Association (NBIA) for their ability to relocate and serve international startups. Philly has one of them.

Since its inception in 2006, the University City Science Center Port Business Incubator's Global Soft Landing Program has helped companies from Europe, Asia and other parts of the world put roots down the region. NBIA recently acknowledged the program's continued achievements by renewing their Soft Landings International Incubator Designation.

The program engages international companies with educational, investment and networking opportunities. They also work one-on-one to help newbies maximize their transition to the U.S. market.

"We offer these companies concierge-type services, connecting them to representatives of the markets they're interested in," explains Christopher Laing, VP of science and technology at the Science Center.

Recently, the Port Incubator partnered with the Canadian Consulate to establish a branch of the Canadian Technology Accelerator in Philadelphia. So far, the accelerator has brought six Health IT startups to the area; they are preparing to bring six more in the fall. Other imports include Adaptimmune and the Beijing Genomics Institute.

To connect to international startups, the Science Center partners with international trade organizations as well as the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and Select Greater Philadelphia. Companies are often attracted to Philadelphia's education and life science ecosystems, and the central location between New York and Washington, D.C.

"We can offer international companies the same access to those networks that we offer domestic companies," says Jeanne Mell, VP of marketing and communications for the Science Center.

The University City Science Center has partnered with Flying Kite to showcase innovation in Greater Philadelphia through the "Inventing the Future" series.

Source: Jeanne Mell, Christopher Laing, University City Science Center
Writer:  Dana Henry

Co-Ed Supply, a new company from Wharton grad, provides care packages to students

College students experiencing their first taste of freedom are a ripe market for emerging brands -- promoters scout campuses to hand out samples and parents purchase care packages to aid the transition. Co-Ed Supply, a company that launched at the end of July, combines these interests in curated shipped boxes targeted at students.
 
"We're really trying to reinvent the care package," says Marissa Hu, CEO and founder of Co-Ed Supply and a Wharton MBA. "We can create something of quality for all parties involved."
 
The packages -- which come in different size and gender options -- contain healthy snacks, personal care items and entertainment such as games, new music and exclusive passes to events. Co-Ed also makes sure each box is timely. September's edition, for example, explores the theme of new experiences and making friends.
 
Encouraging students to share is part of Co-Ed's mission -- the packages are delivered in a bright orange box to announce their arrival. It's an effective method of spreading merchandise throughout campuses.
 
"We're making this a two-way street," says Hu. "It's a way to discover new products or brands."
 
Hu founded Co-Ed Supply with Andy Fortson while pursuing her MBA at Wharton. The company is currently in Cincinnati completing an incubator program at the Brandery; that organization provided their initial financing. They plan to return to Philly soon and hire in the coming months.

Source: Marissa Hu, Co-Ed Supply
Writer: Dana Henry

Inventing the Future: Autism Expressed brings digital literacy to special needs students

Technology often advances at a dizzying pace. Special-needs students, and other vulnerable and underserved populations, can be left behind.
 
Michele McKeone, founder of Autism Expressed, is changing that reality for individuals who struggle with autism. Her company's flagship product, which launched publically in late July, breaks digital literacy into granular bits, making it easier for people with learning challenges.
 
"We live in a technology-driven society and economy," she says. "These are the life skills that they will need to pursue their independence."
 
While working as a special-needs teacher, McKeone developed a method for teaching students with autism practical internet skills. Sure, they knew how to look up YouTube videos and play video games, but McKeone taught them to create LinkedIn profiles and communicate virtually. After gaining significant interest from parents and fellow educators, she recreated her instructions digitally.
 
With Autism Expressed, users work through four levels of instruction (instead of individual lessons) and progress into fluency. The process plays out like a game and a badge is awarded for each level a student masters.
 
Once they "graduate," the student has a portfolio of projects that demonstrate their abilities to potential employers. Along the way, their performance is tracked, allowing educators and parents to generate progress reports.
 
"As a teacher, I'm charged with getting my students ready for what happens after high school," says McKeone. "A big part of that is planning your transition and really having data."
 
Autism Expressed has already gained clients throughout the northeast corridor. The company is a graduate of the Corzo Center's Creative Incubator and recently won the Educational Services of America Award, a $20,000 prize from the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education.

The University City Science Center has partnered with Flying Kite to showcase innovation in Greater Philadelphia through the "Inventing the Future" series.
 
Source: Michele McKeone, Autism Expressed
Writer: Dana Henry
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