Cloud Coworking, GeoComm win innovator awards
Sep 25, 2012 (St. Cloud Times - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
For the first time in St. Cloud, innovation among area for-profit businesses was recognized with a couple of awards sponsored by the Greater St. Cloud Development Corporation.
Joining in the third annual Innovation Summit, originally created by the Center for Nonprofit Excellence and Social Innovation, the GSDC today rewarded creative thinking among local businesses during a seminar attended by almost 200 people at the River's Edge Convention Center.
Despite advance warning of only a few months, the GSDC received 10 applications for the inaugural for-profit Innovation Award and decided it was most appropriate to honor two businesses one established and one recently established.
The new business honor went to Cloud Coworking, which launched its operation in February at the former Davidson Opera House building on Fifth Avenue. The established business award went to GeoComm, which has been a consulting and software development company in the areas of public safety and homeland security for 17 years.
"It's humbling because we didn't expect to be in this group," said Dawn Zimmerman, who combined with Jon Ruprecht to create Cloud Coworking a flexible office environment that fosters small business. "This idea sprung from my own desire not to work alone. Jon and I shared some space and more and more people asked to come along. If I had to describe it, I'd say Cloud Coworking is about thinking in different ways and coming together to solve problems."
Zimmerman's business, The Write Advantage, is a strategic communications firm. Ruprecht, founder of nock Design Group, operates a creative design firm. They are among about two dozen other tenants at Cloud Coworking, which rents space in a variety of ways. Clients can use the building for $35 a day, one day per week for $50 a month, or elect to use part- and full-time memberships for $100 and $150 a month, respectively. You can get a dedicated desk for $250, an office for $350 and an executive office for $525 a month. Shared benefits include unlimited Internet and Wi-fi, meeting spaces, printers, scanners, copiers and all the coffee you can drink.
"The practices are very unconventional," Zimmerman said. "We haven't even broken the surface yet of what we're capable of. But when you compare what we're doing with other things we heard today, it makes you feel so small. Hopefully, we have the capacity to be an incubator and not just another office."
GeoComm, which has about 90 employees and offices at 601 St. Germain St., won the established business award for its GeoLynx spatial router technology that is currently being employed in north-central Texas. Its programming allows for the first time for 911 calls to be routed based on geography to the agency closest to the caller.
"GeoComm originally came up with the idea in the late 1990s but it was another decade or so before interest started to take hold in the public safety industry," said Amanda Romaine, inside sales and marketing manager for GeoComm. "It's exciting because this is a part of the next generation for 911. The system in Texas is still being tested through October, but at some point soon it will be flipped over so that it's the first to use our software to route 911 calls from a cell phone, for example, based on geographical information."
The GeoLynx systems also are being considered for South Dakota, Massachusetts and Florida. It's the latest innovation for a company that has deployed more than 7,500 licenses of customized public safety software applications throughout 43 states.
"When W3i and Marco are finalists, those are companies that do great things with technology and innovation," Romaine said. "It's a big honor for us to be considered with competition like that."
Each business received $1,000 as a prize.
Nonprofit winners of Innovation Awards also went to the Llama Llama Read-A-Rama program, an effort by the United Way of Central Minnesota to increase literacy in children. Another award was given to Growing Together, a collaborative effort by the Paramount Theatre & Visual Arts Center and Hands Across the World to give immigrants an opportunity to create artwork that represents their journey to America.
"One of the reasons we were able to get off the ground so quickly is because Steve Joul (president of the Central Minnesota Community Foundation) is on the GSDC Innovation Corps," said Brad Goskowicz, CEO of Microbiologics, who presented the for-profit awards. "Steve was already familiar with the Innovation Summit and, fortunately, we were able to collaborate on an event that already existed."
Salim Ismail, executive director of Singularity University, delivered the keynote speech focusing on innovation around the world, from driverless cars to how solar energy could soon provide more than enough power for the planet.
Goskowicz said Ismail and the summit set the stage for more engaged innovation in 2013.
"Innovation is important whether you're long established or a start-up," Goskowicz said. "If you've been around for 50 years, you've probably had to innovate to survive. And if you're a new company, the reason they're successful is because they're innovative. I think the companies that went through the process of applying found it very valuable to step off the path and look at what their organization is doing. Hopefully, this will energize us. If we had 10 candidates this year, maybe next year we can get 20."
___ (c)2012 the St. Cloud Times (St. Cloud, Minn.) Visit the St. Cloud Times
(St. Cloud, Minn.) at www.sctimes.com Distributed by MCT Information Services
[ Satellite Spotlight's Homepage ]