At a time when some pundits are saying that innovation is lagging in the United States, the annual CONNECT Most Innovative Product Awards luncheon on Friday, December 6th demonstrated that innovation is thriving in San Diego, California. More than 700 attended the awards ceremony to recognize cutting-edge local innovations.
This “red carpet” event is CONNECT’s largest and most prestigious event, attracting more than 700 of the region’s top business leaders, researchers and capital providers. CONNECT honors San Diego’s world-renowned celebrities of innovation along with the groundbreaking new products launched in the last year. The MIP Awards is to San Diego’s technology industry what the Academy Awards™ is to the movie industry. More than 100 San Diego based companies competed in the rigorous judging process representing a broad range of companies across nine categories.
“The success of the MIP Awards continues to be driven by the impressive and growing number of innovative technology and life sciences companies based here in San Diego County,” said Tyler Orion, interim president, CONNECT. “In the 26 years CONNECT has been spearheading the MIP Awards, we’ve never seen such a well-qualified group of nominees – it’s always a difficult decision to select the most innovative products of the year, and we congratulate all of the winners on their noteworthy achievements.”
CONNECT was founded in 1985 as a regional program of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) to catalyze the creation of innovative technology and life sciences products in San Diego County by linking inventors and entrepreneurs with the resources they need for success. In 1986 UCSD Diego hired Bill Otterson, Chairman of Lexocorp, to head CONNECT. Over the following 13 years, Otterson and Mary Walshok, Associate Vice Chancellor of Extended Studies and Public Programs at UCSD built CONNECT into an internationally renowned program.
To better serve the entire research community, CONNECT spun-out of UCSD in 2005 and formed the CONNECT Association, a 501c6 trade organization, and CONNECT Foundation, a 501c3 charitable foundation. As a result of spinning-out from UCSD, CONNECT has been able to broaden its mandate to include public advocacy work on behalf of its members through the trade organization.
Since 1985, CONNECT has assisted in the formation and development of more than 3,000 companies that have attracted more than $2 billion in investment capital through its “flagship” Springboard program. Springboard is a free program that is open for enrollment to innovation companies in the Southern California region. Springboard assists companies in proving their business model and developing a compelling commercialization strategy.
Companies accepted into the program are assigned expert business advisors who coach the company throughout the process which includes feedback from financial, marketing, legal and commercialization experts, as well advice from industry executives and the opportunity to dry run presentations and pitches.
After completing Springboard, companies that are considered suitable and ready for investment by angels, venture capital and/or corporate investors, move on to participate in the Springboard Capital Competition.
The winners of the 2013 MIP Award contest are:
Aerospace and Security Technologies
Cubic Defense Applications for One Shot
One Shot is a breakthrough in long-range targeting accuracy that automatically measures and corrects for all aiming errors including-for the first time ever-downrange crosswind speed and direction. It gives our warfighters a decisive battlefield advantage. Cubic is the world’s leading provider of realistic air and ground combat training systems for national military and security forces. Infantry troops, aircrews, and security forces all draw upon the realism gained from using our training systems to help them effectively perform their mission.
Communications and IT
iboss Network Security for iboss Cloud Web Security with Device Management
iboss Cloud Web Security with Device Management provides SaaS mobile device web security and management enabling organizations to safely integrate mobile technology. Utilizing the cloud, MobileEther secures company data, protects against web threats and ensures industry compliance seamlessly within minutes.
Hardware and General Technology
Nextivity, Inc. for Cel-Fi RS2
Cel-Fi is a smart signal booster that maximizes a user’s indoor wireless experience by eliminating in-building dead zones. Cel-Fi increases wireless data speeds and eliminates dropped calls for wireless subscribers by boosting signal strength from one bar to five bars.
“We are incredibly proud that Cel-Fi has received San Diego’s most prestigious honor for innovation,” says Werner Sievers, CEO of Nextivity. “The award is testament to the exceptional design and world-class engineering that goes in to developing the world’s only all-digital, one hundred percent wireless smart signal booster. Our team continues to push the boundaries in design excellence, ensuring Cel-Fi meets the stringent testing criteria laid out by carriers worldwide to solve indoor coverage issues for wireless subscribers.”
Life Sciences-Diagnostics and Research Tools
Life Technologies for Ion AmpliSeq Exome
Ion AmpliSeq Exome Kit isolates key regions of the genome with unparalleled ease and speed, leveraging PCR, a routine lab technique. Taking six hours instead of several days, this provides the simplest, fastest exome sequencing solution for researchers studying disease.
Life Sciences-Medical Products
Isis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. for KYNAMRO
KYNAMRO is the first FDA-approved, systemically delivered, antisense drug and a product of Isis’ drug discovery technology platform. KYNAMRO is designed to inhibit LDL-cholesterol formation and is marketed to treat patients with HoFH, a genetic disease characterized by severely high LDL-cholesterol.
OneHealth Solutions, Inc. for OneHealth
OneHealth is the leading HIPAA-compliant mobile application combining social technology, game mechanics and clinical principles to support chronic condition and behavioral health patients. Through real-time peer support, OneHealth Experts and evidence-based clinical resources, patients actively manage their conditions anytime, anywhere.
“OneHealth is a pioneer in delivering an integrated web and mobile-based health service that provides users with the tools and real-time support they need to better manage their health goals and lead healthier lives,” said Bruce Springer, CEO of OneHealth. “Our mobile app includes best-practices from nearly five years of implementing our web-based platform, bringing a “healthy support in your pocket” approach to encourage healthy living, drive patient compliance and reduce risk to ensure better health outcomes. This award is an honored recognition of our goal to make healthier living more accessible for everyone when they need it most.”
Emotient for FACET
Emotient is the leading authority in facial expression recognition. Emotient’s flagship product is FACET, a software development kit for automatic emotion detection. Emotient’s technology translates facial expressions into actionable information, enabling companies to develop emotion-aware technologies and create new levels of customer engagement.
“We are honored that FACET received such prestigious recognition from CONNECT,” said Ken Denman, CEO, Emotient. “Emotient’s scientific co-founders are widely regarded as pioneers in applying machine learning, computer vision and cognitive science to facial expression analysis. We look forward to seeing our FACET emotion recognition technology deployed for broad consumer, marketing, healthcare and business use.”
Sport & Active Lifestyle Technologies
Hookit for Hookit Athlete Index
Marketers invest $12B in athlete endorsements every year to capture a piece of $1T plus they impact in consumer spending. Hookit has created the first ever tool to track and monetize athletes’ real-time influence in today’s complex world of digital media.
Achates Power, Inc. for Achates Power Opposed-Piston, Two-Stroke Engine
Achates Power has developed radically improved internal combustion engines that increase fuel efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and are lower cost. These engines meet the U.S. military’s stringent requirements for power density, fuel efficiency, heat rejection and multi-fuel capabilities.
In my interview, David Johnson, President and CEO, stated, “We were thrilled to win the CONNECT MIP award. Since our 2004 founding, we have worked hard to perfect the opposed-piston engine architecture and our technology is extremely well suited to the needs of the military—providing superior fuel efficiency, high power density and low heat rejection. This is what sets us apart from the competition including, in this case, the incumbent technology.”
Distinguished Contribution Award
In addition to the nine companies honored for their outstanding new products, the Distinguished Contribution Award for Life Sciences and Technology Innovation was awarded posthumously to former Chief Executive Officer, Duane Roth, who passed away in August. Duane’s brother Ted accepted the award, followed by an inspiring tribute video honoring all that Duane did for the San Diego region. The Distinguished Contribution Award for Life Sciences and Technology Innovation is bestowed annually to honor individuals in San Diego who, through business activities and community involvement, have encouraged innovation, diversity of thought and the advancement of local entrepreneurs. A lover of innovation and technology and a true community cultivator, Roth was beloved in the community for serving as an inspiration, a leader, a mentor, a role model, an advocate and friend. Roth’s many contributions to local entrepreneurs and the San Diego innovation economy coupled with his infectious spirit will live on as the award will be renamed in his honor as the Duane Roth Distinguished Contribution Award for Life Sciences and Technology Innovation.
California has a bad rap for an unfavorable business climate with regard to taxes and regulations, but entrepreneurs are still choosing California as the location for starting and growing their technology based companies. San Diego has a great deal to offer these companies to help them succeed and grow starting with the San Diego Inventors Forum (about which I have written previously), CONNECT’s various programs, the CommNexus EvoNexus incubator, and the large pool of angel investors that comprise the TechCoast Angels. San Diego continues to grow more companies than it loses to other states. However, when a company grows to the point that it is acquired by an out-of-state public company, it is often moved to another state by the new parent company. Governor Brown and our state legislators could remedy this situation by improving California’s overall business climate.