Cutting-Edge Technology: The 2014 Tekne Awards
Technological advancements are sweeping across virtually all industry sectors in Minnesota. Inventors, developers and programmers are partnering to produce technology that will improve people’s lives and enhance business performance.
The Minnesota High Tech Association (MHTA), a trade organization, recognizes the state’s cutting-edge leaders of technological innovation each year with its Tekne Awards.
Twelve Minnesota businesses and organizations were honored in November by the MHTA for their leadership in science and technology. Some new categories were created to better acknowledge achievements within Minnesota’s diverse science- and technology-based economy.
Here are the innovations that the MHTA recognized for 2014:
T3 Scientific LLC, Blaine
T3 Scientific is known for “separation technology.” It developed contaminant-resistant and long-term stable gas purification membrane products. They are used for separating hydrogen from fossil fuel and biomass gas streams. These products were designed to offer cost-effective and energy-efficient approaches to hydrogen purification. On a global basis, hydrogen is one of the largest markets for industrial gas. Purification is an essential step in hydrogen gas production.
Agriculture and Food
Ecolab, St. Paul
Ecolab’s Antimicrobial Fruit & Vegetable Treatment (AFVT) is a no-rinse produce wash developed to make the foodservice industry safer for consumers. The rinse reduces 99.9 percent of the pathogens E. coli, listeria and salmonella found in produce wash-water. The product addresses the risk of contracting foodborne illnesses. AFVT is the first of its kind to be cleared by both the FDA and the EPA to help improve foodservice operations.
Code42 is recognized for SharePlan, a secure, enterprise-grade file sync and share system. In a world of data breaches and unsafe document-share technologies, Code42 specializes in endpoint data protection and management. With SharePlan, companies have complete visibility and control of corporate information. Multiple cloud deployment, cross-platform support and unified real-time administrative counsel are among the features that SharePlan offers.
Awear Technologies, Pine City
Awear designed eyewear that lets you “see what you think.” The eyewear uses EEG neurocognitive training and EEG neurofeedback to detect a wearer’s mental state and provide immediate visual cues in the lenses to alert wearers of their attention level. The visual cue appears when attention declines, allowing the wearer to adjust to be more engaged and improve listening and learning outcomes.
Collaboration for Community Impact
The Works Museum, Bloomington, and Minnesota Department of Education
The Excellence in Elementary Engineering Education Conference, called E4, has been jointly planned and presented by the Works Museum and the Minnesota Department of Education since 2009. Engineering classes were embedded into Minnesota classrooms in 2010 with the revision to the state’s academic standards in science for students in grades K-12. The collaboration award-winners develop programming to educate teachers on the science of engineering so they can improve their students’ learning.
Ecolab, St. Paul
Hydraulic fracturing is the process of injecting water and chemicals at high pressures into geologic formations to increase fractures and allow hydrocarbons to flow. The process has led to increases in accessing oil reserves and natural gas, although there is now a constant demand for fresh water. Ecolab developed an improved formulation of oxidizing biocide peracetic acid. This innovation addresses the need to effectively treat and reuse water. The water treatment blocks the introduction of microorganisms into formations.
Starkey Hearing Technologies, Eden Prairie
Halo, a made-for-iPhone hearing aid engineered by Starkey Hearing Technologies, allows wearers to connect directly to their iPhones without separate intermediary devices. The hearing aid works seamlessly across the Apple platform to also coexist with the iPad and iPod touch. With the Halo, wearers use TruLink, a hearing control app to provide personalization for a variety of environments. Halo takes away the stigma sometimes associated with hearing aids and gives wearers an easy and personalized method to improve hearing.
Delta Air Lines, Eagan
Delta raised its inflight standards for customer service with Nokia mobile devices. Recently, larger Nokia 1520 tablets replaced Nokia 820 handheld devices used primarily for service. The tablet is a fully integrated, real-time mobile platform for use by Delta’s 20,000 flight attendants for inflight sales and other activities. It operates Windows Phone 8.1. It has the capacity to store onboard flight attendant manuals as well as enable flight attendants to take customer meal orders, receive detailed information about flights and provide personalized service to passengers. The airline is based in Atlanta, but has a major IT presence in the Twin Cities.
Software, Established Company
SPS Commerce, Minneapolis
The SPS Commerce Universal Network is a cloud-based retail trading community. The network allows companies to quickly address sourcing, item management and other needs. Retailers and trading partners integrate into the SPS Commerce Universal Network and connect to more than 55,000 organizations. This innovation allows parties in the retail sector to coordinate all sales channels, including in-store, online and mobile devices.
Software, Small and Growing Company
Calabrio is recognized for an analytics product that helps businesses to better understand their customers. Through its comprehensive product, Calabrio allows a business to capture all voice and text interactions with its customers. Calabrio Analytics offers companies an accessible way to mine data, so they have a clearer sense of customer needs and how to address them. Phone, email and chat conversations with customers are analyzed.
NxThera Inc., Maple Grove
NxThera sought to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and prostate cancer in a controlled and effective manner. The medical device company developed water vapor energy technology, also known as Convective WAVE Technology, to transform the treatment experience. In a series of nine-second steam injections, steam is used to remove tissue. Energy released when steam condenses stays within the prostate boundaries. The procedure is performed in an office setting without general anesthesia. Early clinical results are showing promising results.
Genesis10, St. Paul
Genesis10 Workforce Development Programs focus on placing veterans and recent college graduates in jobs. The Genesis10 Associates and Veterans Programs recruit and retain qualified workforces for corporate employers struggling to find the business and technology talent they need. The Associates Program offers training and on-the-job mentoring that helps new college graduates build corporate skills. The Veterans Program identifies positions where veterans’ skills will be valuable in the civilian workforce.
Emily Van Ort is an editorial intern at Twin Cities Business.