2014 Medical Device World Conference

MDM Logo

I attended the Med Tech World / MDM –  Medical Device Conference hosted at the Minneapolis convention center.
This was an amazing international event in terms of size, topics, and representation of the global medical device and healthcare community.  The multi-day event featured multiple tracks of speakers and focus areas.   Large vendor pavilions showcase the latest innovations in devices,  hospital systems, and lab equipment.   There was also training courses offered to attendees in a wide range of topics.  While the event was thriving with conversation, a common theme I found among attendees was the challenge in networking effectively.   While serendipity of being co-located for the event certainly creates great opportunity for pro-active outreach,  it was clear that a bit more orchestration and facilitation in the event planning would be a game changing multiplier.  Given attendees come form around the world,  the most important aspect is who they are connected to after they return home.
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MN Deed Meeting on North Star



I presented the North Star Initiative to a number of MN DEED representatives.  This initiative is focused on the development of innovation centers to bring government, corporations, academic, and entrepreneurial groups together to innovate at scale and create new services for start-ups in the ecosystem.

World’s Fair Bid Update


I attended the October event for the planning of the Minnesota World’s Fair.   Of primary conversation was an update of the bid process as the MN delegation returned from the meeting with the International Bureau of Expos located in Paris France.    Conversations with the IFB had gone well and Minnesota was now on the radar for entering the bid process along other global cities.

The biggest obstacle facing our bid process and for that of other US cities currently via for various fair years, is the US withdrawal from the IFB community during the Bush administration.   Continued efforts at the Federal level to rejoin the international community has not been successful at this time and currently prevents the USA from hosting a World’s Fair.    Given the USA leadership role is host world renown fairs that showcased the latest technology innovation,  this is a curious place to find ourselves.  There seems to be a strange amount of ambiguity around the reasons for withdrawal  that centers on the miss appropriation of funds during that administration, but that seems to block any effort to investigate rejoining at this time.

Only time will tell if multiple US cities can band together to lobby Washington to reverse our position.    Note:  The US still participates in foreign fair’s,  so it seems to be more of an internal problem in Washington vs. a issue of foreign policy.



Energy & Sustainability Summit

GE title image

I attended a the energy & sustainability planning event hosted by the UMN Department of Economic Development.   International and regional speakers presented different projects that where succeeding in these areas.
The keynote speaker was a delegation from Saerbeck Germany including the Mayor.   The city has been a strong leader in the European community for long term energy planning and implementation of green systems.   They where able to look at the conversation of un-utilized military properties into highly effective energy solutions for their community.   State of the art wind turbine, solar farms, bio gas, and bio methane have been integrated into unified energy grid.   Down town,  pilot projects created central heating & air solutions across multiple government buildings, schools, and other municipal facilities.   These climate solutions are now being replicated to support over 60% of the residential homes.
Saerbeck Energy Farm
Saerbeck’s integrated climate protection and climate adaptation concept (ICCC) is the model roadmap for achieving the climate protection
goals. It contains the key projects and measures. These plans, milestones, and metrics are attributed to being the key to long term success and growth of sustainable models.  Due to this concept Saerbeck was honored as NRW (North Rhine Westphalia) climate community of the future in 2009.  Saerbeck’s commitment has been continually acknowledged and honored often: European Energy Award 2010 and 2013, GermanSustainability Prize 2013, Energy Community 2013, Georg-Salvamoser-Prize 2014.
Interested parties visit from Germany and abroad to learn from Saerbeck’s model. Delegations visit from Germany and abroad to learn from Saerbeck’s model including representatives from Europe, Japan, Minnesota, and Georgia. Over 30,000 people visited Saerbeck by 2013 and over 20,000 of them attended the Bioenergy Park’s official opening day.
Some key learnings from the presentation is the long term view the European cities are taking in planning.   These plans are decades in length and it shows both an entirely different level of commitment and investment models for not only a sustainable environment, but sustainable progress.
The second series of speakers was a delegation from Minnesota Duluth.   The cities aging infrastructure is creating the need for significant investment.   Large scale projects that would pull up streets in the downtown also create the opportunity to replace a wide range of infrastructure, but require extensive research and planning into many aspects of advanced solutions.   The risk is making the right investments for the long term vs. simply replacing old systems to get by.  The city planners have been looking at solutions all over the world and partnering with other planning organizations.    For Minnesota this project stands to yield some best practices and ultimately real world learnings that hopefully can be replicated elsewhere.
Ford To Close Plants In Virginia, Minnesota
Ford Plant – St. Paul / Pre-closing and demolition
City of St. Paul planners also featured an overview of the demolition and repurposing options for the Ford Manufacture Plant in St. Paul.   This is an extensive sight with a strategic location in St. Paul.   There was equally a fair number of challenges, as well as, opportunities for what this site could evolve into for the city.   While this project is far from over,  it bares watching over the coming years.
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2014 Twin Cities Venture Capital Conference

Venture Capital Word Cloud Concept Angled

I attended the 2014 Twin Cities Venture Capital Conference in downtown Minneapolis.  The event brought in investors to listen to business pitches from prospective start-ups.   The format included both on stage pitches to the attending audience and investors,  as well as, 1:1 networking through the booths provided for the start-ups.   This created an organic structure for networking and awareness of individual businesses.

This event is an example of  regional assets that need to continue to be developed and become part of a large business lifecycle supporting economic development.  Stand alone functions are interesting,  but lack the maturity and follow on of fully developed systems.   They tend to have their moment but lack sustainable momentum in the ecosystem.

Venture Capital Conference 1

Looking at other ecosystems around the world you can see where combinations of programs and events are linked together providing on going support and creating an established tempo of business development.   The integration strengthens and multiplies the impact of the single event moment though programs that develop participants prior to the event.   Big data supporting the activity and aligning investors.   Ongoing programs that support the maturation of the start-ups along with integration to commercialization programs.   Ongoing networking programs are often a key to keep business moving.   Relying on only organic systems of “connecting” are rarely consistent or can be counted on to attract participation.

Venture Capital Conference 2

Some universities start to hint at broader business services that could be included in a ecosystem level economic development program.   In many cases this falls short of the need given many of these systems are only inward looking to serve the university and not the community in which they serve.   Funding is also poorly aligned around university systems that lack external governance.   In most cases private businesses are best positioned to develop and manage the ecosystem development and integrate independent events and services into a more cohesive whole.