Whiteboard2Boardroom Accelerates Innovations for CommercializationKyle Smith
Whiteboard2Boardroom℠ (W2B), a program of the UMKC Innovation Center, provides a very early look at innovations on their way toward commercialization. W2B helps to identify homegrown innovations from research institutions and match them with entrepreneurs who can take them to market. Here are three such entrepreneurs that were featured in the 2017 annual report:
Jerry Eisterhold, Virtual Windows
Whiteboard2Boardroom is focused on moving innovations from university, hospital and research organizations into the marketplace. But sometimes the program helps individual entrepreneurs navigate the challenging path to commercialization.
Jerry Eisterhold didn’t begin with the intention to develop a technology.
“That was kind of the tail of the dog,” he said. The beginning was a project to pay tribute to wounded warriors.
“Bringing what we do to that project, we listened to the community and discovered a host of unmet needs. Then we tried to develop something to respond to that.”
They developed a technology that “doses” information, meeting those previously unaddressed gaps, creating a more holistic healing environment that changes with patients’ changing needs.
The help from Whiteboard2Boardroom has been important.
“We come from a different world, coming out of doing museums. Product-based business planning is an alien thing. Having a trusted, fairly disinterested broker as part of the conversation was kind of important.”
W2B is helping Jerry map out the next steps toward deployment, as well as connecting the team to the business and larger civic community. Together, they will frame up the technology for business development.
“To us, the main thing is that we’re coming from another world. Whiteboard2Boardroom is guiding us through the morass of the business world.”
P.J. Piper, Aware Vehicles
Homegrown teams developing homegrown innovations into successful companies—that’s the vision of P.J. Piper for his relationship with Whiteboard2Boardroom. Piper heads up Anticipate Ventures, which incubates innovation with the right resources, network and small business contract or grant funding to complete the critical research, development and demonstration milestones needed to reduce the risks associated with commercializing the technologies.
A glimpse of that dream can be found in Aware Vehicles, Inc., a new startup collaborating with the University of Missouri–Kansas City. W2B highlighted the technology that provided the basis for the partnership.
“Aware Vehicles is focusing on autonomous, unmanned vehicles. Dr. ZhiQiang Chen was researching technologies for some of the capabilities I was looking for. We teamed up and started looking at multiple applications for his research,” P.J. said.
W2B wasn’t the first time P.J. met Dr. Chen. “Ironically, I had presented to a collection of different professors at UMKC and he (Dr. Chen) said he was looking at advanced sensing, imaging and artificial intelligence, but I didn’t get to learn the details. Then I watched the W2B webinar (which featured Chen’s research) and realized the synergies between our technology developments seemed like a great fit and could lead to a powerful combination. The webinar resurfaced an opportunity.”
Anticipate Ventures is not limiting its partnerships to one innovation, with additional projects pending in ag, artificial intelligence and life sciences.
“Whiteboard2Boardroom has been great in connecting us to universities, hospitals and other leading research institutions throughout the region. Identifying local technologies has been important and Whiteboard2Boardroom has played a key role.”
Mike Brummett, Sensory AI
Mike Brummett is taking a leave of absence from his studies at Rockhurst University to pursue a different kind of degree: he’s hoping for a degree of success with his newly formed company, Sensory AI.
Sensory AI uses smart sensors and artificial intelligence, integrated with city vehicles, to automate road inspections for government.
“I’m bringing affordable, smart city solutions to municipalities that are left out of the conversation about innovation and technology. In the area, that’s just about every city that’s not Kansas City, Missouri,” Mike said.
Mike has been working on this project for about two and a half years. Faculty at Rockhurst University introduced him to Jim Baxendale and Whiteboard2Boardroom early on.
“W2B has made a handful of truly valuable introductions for my company, namely to stakeholders in local government. Importantly, too, it has connected me with people who have mentored me through the procurement process, as selling to government is a challenge in both regulation and policy.
“Right now I have seven total pilot programs and annual contracts with local cities. It’s enough that it has become clear we are past the product/market fit stage and now are ready to move at full speed into the growth stage.”
Learn more about Whiteboard2Boardroom
To learn more about W2B, including how you can plug into the innovation pipeline, visit the Whiteboard2Boardroom website. For other connections within Kansas City’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, visit our MyPlan page.