Indiana's Technology Stars: recognizing innovation and growth with the Mira Awards. (Cover Story).
The CyberStar Awards, bestowed for three years by the Indiana Information Technology Association, became the Mira Awards this year when the association merged with the Indiana Technology Partnership to become TechPoint. As the voice for Indiana's technology community, TechPoint's mission is to make Indiana a nationally recognized leader in advanced manufacturing, life sciences and information technology through its economic development and advocacy efforts. The end result will be more technology-based, high-wage jobs for Hoosiers.
Members and guests of the 400member organization attended a black-tie gala in May, dubbed the "Oscars of Technology." The event celebrated and publicized Indiana's best tech-related companies for their research, development and tech transfer and, of course, successful sales and marketing. Through an application process, notables in the categories of advanced manufacturing, education, information technology, health and life sciences, and professional services were honored and a Gazelle award was given to a new company with a product release less than two years old. In addition, honorary Trailblazer and Bridgebuilder awards were announced.
Mira, Latin for "amazing," is also the name of a star in the constellation Cetus. But unlike the amazing star, which varies in intensity every 330 days from nearly invisible to brilliant, this year's winners should keep shining.
And the winners are...
INFORMATION. TECHNOLOGY COMPANY
Baker Hill, Carmel
Baker Hill was started in 1989. when Karen (Baker) Hill quit her job at a bank to begin developing software solutions for banks. Soon after, her husband Mark quit his job at IBM to handle sales at the new company. Karen wears the title CEO, Mark president.
For years, separate DOS-based products were used to meet banks' corporate lending needs, says Karen Hill. "Windows brought everything together into one database." In 1995, One Point became its break-through product, becoming the first integrated relationship-management product to collect customer data from disparate systems, designed exclusively for banks. More than 1,000 banks worldwide use it.
Its latest product, Bank2Business, is an Internet-based loan-origination solution used in about 140 banks, including 43 percent of the top 100 small-business lenders.
The most dramatic change in its business model came in 1998 when it also became a solutions company, offering consulting services to help clients implement its software programs. "Five to 10 years ago we were all software," says I-Jill, but now revenues are about 50-50 software to consulting.
The company is owned primarily by the Hills, although a few friends are investors and the company has an ESOP, she says. More than 100 people work for the company. "Mark and I made it a point to focus on employees and the culture at Baker 1-lill to make it a place where people enjoy working, a place where they don't want to leave."
ADVANCED MANUFACTURING COMPANY
Cook Biotech Inc., West Lafayette
Well-known medical-device company Cook Group, Bloomington, added another innovative company to its privately held group in 1995, when Cook Biotech opened its 10,000-square-foot facility in Purdue Research Park. The new company, with shared ownership by Cook Group, Purdue Research Foundation and Methodist Hospital/Clarian, was formed to commercialize the tissue research of Purdue scientists.
Cook Biotech now has FDA clearances for nine products based on extracellular matrix technology used for implants and grafts to reinforce or repair damaged and diseased structures. Its principal products, Oasis Wound Matrix and Surgisis Soft Tissue Graft, are used in wound care, burn management, hernia repair, urological procedures, general surgery, oral surgery and vascular surgery. Other uses in eye surgery and replacement of eardrums are being studied, says president Mark Bleyer.
Currently, Cook Biotech is one of only a few companies to successfully market engineered tissue. "We have a very strong research-and-development group, and also all of our manufacturing is carried on here," says Bleyer. "We partner with other Cook companies to be our sales-and-distribution company."
The products are based on research involving on bioscaffolds from the small intestinal submucosa of pigs. Why pigs? Pig valves have been used successfully in humans for years, says Bleyer, and while protein diseases have been found in cattle, none have been found in pigs. The use of human tissue from cadavers could raise ethical and disease issues, he adds.
The company currently has 76 employees, up from 28 in 2000 and 40 in 2001, and growth will continue again next year when its new 50,000-square-foot building in the Purdue Research Park is complete.
HEALTH AND LIFE-SCIENCES COMPANY
Suros Surgical Systems Inc., Indianapolis
Vacuum-assisted technology developed by Joe Mark and Mike Miller, Indianapolis, was parlayed into an exciting new product, the Automated Tissue Excision and Collection (ATEC) Breast Biopsy and Excision System, which makes breast, biopsies faster and less painful for patients.
Suros was created in 2001 and ATEC was launched in March 2002, says president, CEO and first employee Jim Pearson, following an infusion of capital from its primary investor, Rose-Hulman Ventures. Developers Mark and Miller serve as product developer and lead engineer, respectively.
Pearson says Suros' board chairman, Jim Baumgardt, formerly with Eli Lilly and Guidant Corp. before assuming the presidency of Guidant Foundation was aware of the Lilly Endowment's $55 million grant to Rose-Hulman Ventures to invest in Indiana-based life-sciences organizations and helped clear the way for financing.
"We remove tissue Out of the body the most compassionate way possible," says Pearson. With 1.4 million breast biopsies performed in the U.S. annually and only about 30 percent done using the minimally invasive and economical vacuum-assisted method, there's room for growth. "There is no operating room, no scar, it's over in 45 seconds and you can go back to work."
The procedure can be performed in conjunction with ultrasound, stereotactic or MRI testing methods. ATEC technology can be used right at the Mm, he says, while other biopsy methods require moving the patient to the operating room. The Mayo Clinic in Florida and Memorial Sloan-Kettering in New York are using the technology.
Employees at Suros have jumped from 20 last year to 50 now, and 2003 sales are expected to reach $7 million to $8 million this year. Similar growth is expected next year.
TerraGraphiX Inc., Carmel
The old adage "find a need and fill it" could be the mission statement of software company TerraGraphiX, started less than three years ago by R. Todd Wood, CEO, Michael Good, COO, and Chris Sogard, vice president international sales. Its first product to map information for the commercial real-estate industry was quickly parlayed into TerraView 911, providing mapping and site-specific information to public safety agencies where time is a critical factor.
TerraView 911, used on a laptop computer, was launched in May 2002 and tested by the Carmel police and fire departments. The computer will show a map with the location of a 911 caller and can pull up other available information, such as floor plans of buildings and locations of hazardous materials. Wood believes sales of Terra 911 will grow when Homeland Security funds are released to local communities.
Its latest product, Alex Gold, is not waiting for federal money to take off. With millions of dollars lost each year in misplaced hospital inventory and staff time searching for it, it will be an instant time and money saver by tracking instruments and equipment through the use of barcodes and handheld readers. Eventually, says Wood, the company may move to radio frequency tags, which could locate equipment with no human intervention.
Forty-eight hospitals are now using Alex Gold software, with 16 or 17 more close to signing. No other product on the market has multi-site tracking ability, he says, which is critical when items are moved from hospital to hospital. "And the sterilization history goes along with it."
TerraGraphiX has 12 employees, but is turning to established healthcare companies to sell its Alex Gold products. Johnson & Johnson represents it in Canada, says Wood, and a "health-care system IT company may also market the product." Self-financed to date, Wood says there may come a point where outside capital is needed to fund additional R&D.
Thomas P. Miller and Associates, Greenfield
Named for its founder and CEO, Thomas P. Miller and Associates (TPMA) has been in business since 1989, providing consulting services in workforce (called human capital of late) and economic-development areas. But growth really took off, says Miller, about five years ago with the development of a new strategic plan for his organization. "We began to scale our work in about 1998 with more aggressive marketing. There appeared to be increased interest in Indiana related to workforce development and education." TPMA now has 35 employees, revenues have grown about 20 percent a year since its self-examination, it has expanded its service area in the Midwest and south, and a Louisville office opens this month.
You could say that TPMA is in the business of making a client's vision happen. Purdue University, for instance, hired the firm to develop a more aggressive and proactive outreach plan for its Technology Assistance Program. The increased visibility resulted in TAP's best year ever in 2002, says Miller. "That led to additional funding from the state in a very tight budget year."
TPMA uses its research and grant-writing skills to make new community projects happen as well. It's working with Shelbyville, Evansville, New Albany and Elkhart to put together plans for Certified Technology Parks, permitted under state legislation passed in 2002. Local governments, partnering with a university, create high-tech digital zones and are able to redirect certain taxes for use in the zone when at least one high-tech company commits to locate there. Shelbyville is currently the furthest along among TPMA's clients, he says, with its plan for an Intelliplex project off State Road 9, which is currently pending approval with the Indiana Department of Commerce.
Dr. Howard Rosenbaum, Indiana University, Bloomington
By the time you've finished Dr. Rosenbaum's 16-week electronic commerce graduate course you will have written a business plan, peddled it to faux venture capitalists for funding, launched your business, sold your product around the world and then closed it down to determine your profit--or loss.
Rosenbaum, associate professor in the school of library and information science, has been conducting this course since 1999. He believes it to be only open virtual economy course available--meaning anyone can take a peek and see how it works (http://ebiz.slis.indiana.edu/ebizp/), although you can't actually buy the products offered without a password due to copyright issues. The program operates on a server provided by a grant from Sun Microsystems, and was aided with seed money from SBC.
Hundreds of participating business students at universities in Australia, South Africa, the U.K. and the U.S. are given $2,000 in "Rosenbucks" (as his students call the fake cash that's used) to spend at the students' Web sites. Digital wares such as screen savers, public domain games, articles about network security or other topics that might be useful in course work of the shoppers are sold. The goal is to draw the most shoppers to your site and end up with the most profit.
Students earn their initial capital by dazzling Rosenbaum's volunteer faculty colleagues with their business plans, vying for part of the available $100,000 Rosen-bucks. The money is used to buy server time and consulting services from Rosenbaum.
"The initial stage of e-commerce is over," says Rosenbaum. "The irrational exuberance that Alan Greenspan has talked about is over. What we're left with are the solid ideas, ways that existing companies are using e-commerce."
Electronic commerce can connect parts of a far-flung organization and allow banks to better serve customers, he says. "Selling pet food over the Web turned out to be ridiculous. But software, music, books, seem to make sense."
TRAILBLAZER IN TECHNOLOGY AWARDS (CO-WINNERS)
Purdue University President Martin Jischke
Martin Jischke, at the helm of one of the nation's top research universities for just under three years, was honored for his vision and accomplishments in moving Purdue University and the state of Indiana forward in technology. "I'm quite honored and flattered to be recognized by the technology community, and to be mentioned in the same breath as the Lilly Endowment," he says. He's quick to add that his role as president naturally makes him the visible point person, but the strides in research and technology transfer are a team effort at Purdue.
Some of his trustees participated in the Trailblazer Award presentation for Jischke, calling him a "thought leader," "visionary" and "community builder." And despite lingering negative news about Indiana's economy, Jischke says he's also an optimist.
"The reports that we've seen from the Indianapolis Star and the Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute are on the mark. The economy is in a huge transition. Indiana has been relatively slow to adapt to that change." But there's good news, he says, like last year's tax restructuring changes by the General Assembly, which increased R&D tax credits, and the fact that this year's session put education and economic development as top priorities. Recent expansions by companies like Lilly, Roche and Baxter are all evidence of Indiana's positive growth.
Purdue is doing its part to lead the state through several programs, says Jischke, including expanding its research park, development of its interdisciplinary Discovery Park, addition of a technology center in Merriliville and expanding its Technology Assistance Program to aid small to medium-sized businesses.
It's hard imagine Indiana without the benefit of the Lilly Endowment's contributions in education, both K-12 and higher education, and its recent round of technology-related grants to universities. TechPoint specifically acknowledged its $55 million grant to Rose-Hulman Ventures to support the growth of new life-sciences companies.
"The Lilly Endowment is one of the great, great treasures in the state of Indiana," says Jischke. "It truly moves the state forward." Its $26 million grant to Purdue as the lead donor for development of Discovery Park, for example, leveraged nearly $200 million in investments, he says, to be used in nanotechnology, bio-science, e-enterprise and entrepreneurship. "I couldn't be more grateful to the Lilly Endowment for the investments, but more generally, for their leadership in Indiana."
The TechPoint Foundation, formerly the INITA Foundation, received a $500,000 grant from the Lilly Endowment in 2002 to bolster the foundation's philanthropic activism. "We are grateful for the grant from Lilly Endowment because it will accelerate the TechPoint Foundation's ability to help build technology-related programs for the less fortunate throughout the state," said Steve Ehrlich, senior vice president of Aprimo Inc. and chairman of the TechPoint Foundation. The foundation began making grants in December.
David Becker, TechPoint chairman and CEO and chairman of First Internet Bank of Indiana, was one of several praising Michael Weisbard, calling him "a phenomenal role model for the rest of the organization and for my peers to follow." Weisbard, who died in August, was CEO of software development firm Chandler Systems, Indianapolis, and co-founder of the Indiana Software Alliance, the predecessor of INITA and TechPoint.
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|Title Annotation:||Indiana's technology community|
|Publication:||Indiana Business Magazine|
|Date:||Jul 1, 2003|
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