Tommy Leikas and Glisten.com
Cramer’s message to the Center
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Foundation Partners with SINTEF of Norway
he UND Center for Innovation Foundation and SINTEF recently signed a strategic memorandum of understanding (MOU) to develop mutually beneficial and innovative commercialization projects and entrepreneur activities in targeted technology areas. The MOU will benefit tech entrepreneurs in Norway and North Dakota, as well as Norwegian and American university students, as SINTEF technologies are brought to market in the United States. UND Center for Innovation Foundation CEO Bruce Gjovig noted, “For two years we have been meeting in Grand Forks and Oslo to explore opportunities. SINTEF and our Foundation signed the MOU as it became clear the opportunities for both parties were significant, exciting and mutually beneficial.” Gjovig added, “Norway and North Dakota have much in common through a shared heritage and culture. North Dakota and Norway are both small in population and remote from major markets, but both are clever in develop-
ing innovative technologies and approaches to be competitive worldwide. For over 20 years, we have been engaged in innovation and entrepreneurship in Norway, and we are delighted to work with Scandinavia’s premier research entity on new opportunities to commercialize SINTEF technologies in the American marketplace.” SINTEF is the largest independent research entity in Scandinavia, employing more than 2,100 people from 70 countries and generating $500 million (NOK 3 billion) of work in 2012. SINTEF performs contract research based on leading international competence in the fields of technology, ICT, natural sciences, the environment, energy, construction, medical, health and social sciences. In 2012, SINTEF completed more than 7,200 research projects for 3,400 client companies in Norway and abroad. SINTEF has approximately 2100 employees, half of which hold a PhD.,
in Norway. 1,500 employees are located in Trondheim and 420 in Oslo. They have offices in Bergen, Stavanger, and Ålesund, Norway, in addition to offices in Houston, Texas; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Chile; and a laboratory in Hirtshals, Denmark. SINTEF’s main office is in Trondheim. www.sintef.no Gjovig concluded, “We’re proud that a leading organization like SINTEF selected our Foundation as their American partner to help them secure commercialization strategies for SINTEF technologies. SINTEF values our 30 year history with entrepreneurs and venture development. Our core strength is our experience in building ventures and entrepreneur ecosystems, a strong entrepreneur and angel investor network, and venture know-how that SINTEF can utilize.”•
Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” -- Ralph Waldo Emerson, American writer
Incubator Graduate Secures $1 Million to Launch Skincare and Beauty Retailer
ommy Leikas’s entrepreneur career started in 2006 when he was a UND student majoring in entrepreneurship. Leikas gave up his last two years of basketball eligibility at UND to focus his attention on developing his first ecommerce venture. He secured a $20,000 investment from the student-run Dakota Venture Group, took out a loan from the Beginning Entrepreneur Loan Program with the Bank of North Dakota and for two years after graduation he operated his new venture in the UND Center for Innovation’s incubator. Now located in downtown Fargo, Leikas has developed, operated and sold several internet shopping sites around target industries, including selling his last venture TopHoops.com. His most recent venture is Glisten, an online
retailer of skincare and beauty products. Tommy Leikas began the development of Glisten in June 2012, and in June 2013 the venture secured $1 million in angel capital investment to rapidly launch and grow its internet shopping website. The $1 million in seed capital will be used to build inventory and expand marketing efforts to help the startup company grow. The funding was secured from a small number of angel investors. “The capital raised is providing us with the initial funds to start serving customers with products they already know, love and buy,” said Leikas. “This is the first step as we work to become one of the leading brands in the global beauty and cosmetics business.” “More and more people are gravitating towards the Internet for their shopping needs,” Leikas observed. Just like the ‘category killers’ (retailers predominant in a particular market segment) found in the malls of the early 1990s, we will continue to grow our own ‘category killers’ in the online realm with sites like Glisten.com.”
Glisten specializes in high-end skincare and beauty products. While the number of products available will soon grow to over 10,000, customers will initially have access to over 1,500 products from brands such as Obagi, Colorescience, and GlamGlow. “Our primary focus is on the experience and not just the transaction,” said Sara Litton, the company’s director of brand development. “We spend a lot of time thinking about beauty products, but we think even more about our customer’s experience. We want our customers to have an inspiring and fun interaction with us.” “We believe we can use the economy of scale, and grow a focused operation center in Fargo and continue to offer our customers unique specialized experiences with our category-specific website. Specialized customer service is where online ‘department stores’ like Amazon.com, eBay and Wal-Mart fall short,” adds Leikas. “They don’t offer the boutique shopping experience like Glisten.com.”•
Valley Med Flight Celebrates Two Years of Saving Lives
alley Med Flight was established when one of its founders, Ben Dorman, saw a need for an air ambulance located in Grand Forks. Dorman was an emergency room nurse at Altru Hospital in Grand Forks, and noticed patient transports to places such as Minneapolis were previously delayed while waiting for a plane to arrive from Fargo. From the time the decision to transport a patient has been made, it used to take approximately an hour for the transport to begin. Dorman estimates that due to the availability of their service, the time to transport patients from Altru to locations such as Rochester, Minn., has been cut in half. Valley Med Flight also flies patients from northern hospitals, including Baudette and Warroad, Minnesota.
Dorman explains that helicopters are better suited for quick trips between close hospitals, but for long distance transfers, airplanes fly much faster, which can mean the difference between life and death. The planes also carry high-tech equipment that helps save lives. For example, an ultrasound aboard the aircraft enables the crew to monitor a baby’s heartbeat if they are transporting a preterm OB patient. Dorman worked with the UND Center for Innovation and participated in the Innovate ND program during the early stages of establishing Valley Med Flight. The company now employs six pilots and has a medical crew of 24. Valley Med Flight now has eight planes in 16 locations: Grand Forks, N.D., Williston, N.D., Sidney, Mont., Iron Mountain, Mich.•
North Dakota/ Northwest Minnesota EB-5 Regional Center Expands its Footprint
n April, 2011, the Center for Innovation Foundation was designated as an EB-5 Regional Center by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), to serve businesses throughout North Dakota and 20 counties in Northwest Minnesota. The EB-5 job-creation visa program allows a foreign investor, and his or her family members, to receive permanent U.S. residency by investing in new or expanding U.S. businesses. The focus of the program is to stimulate economic development, create jobs, and improve regional productivity through direct foreign investment. To date, the North Dakota/Northwest Minnesota EB-5 Regional Center is the only regional center serving either North Dakota or
Minnesota. This past May, the EB-5 Regional Center filed an amendment with the USCIS to extend its geographic footprint and industry focus. The amendment will expand the current geographic area to include the entire state of Minnesota by adding the remaining 67 contiguous counties and will expand the industry sectors that can be served by the regional center. This expansion will allow the EB-5 Regional Center to have a greater impact on the region by serving companies previously unable to take advantage of the EB-5 program because of their location or industry.
More About the North Dakota/Northwest Minnesota EB-5 Regional Center An EB-5 Regional Center is an entity that has been approved by USCIS, under the Department of Homeland Security, to help achieve the mission of the EB-5 program. The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Pilot Program has been around since 1990. The UND Center for Innovation Foundation created the first
EB-5 Regional Center in North Dakota and Minnesota to provide a new source of capital for entrepreneurs in the region it serves. The EB-5 Regional Center works with private and public organizations, in order to attract and screen potential new or expanding companies in the following 7 industries: Agri-Businesses, Aviation/Aerospace, Bio-tech, Information/Communication Technologies, Manufacturing, Real Estate Development, and Utilities. The new industries to be served under the expansion include: Accommodation and Food Services, Construction, Health Care and Social Assistance, and Transportation and Warehousing. The main requirements set forth by the USCIS for the EB-5 program include investment minimums and job requirements. The EB-5 program requires a minimum capital investment of USD $1,000,000 in a qualified project. If the investment is in a targeted employment area, then the minimum investment is lowered to USD $500,000. Target Economic Areas (TEA) are defined as rural areas: (population of less than 20,000) or an area experiencing high unemployment (at least 1.5x the national average). As a result of each investment, a combined total of at least 10 full-time direct and indirect U.S. jobs must be created. Both of these aspects reduce the amount of risk for foreign investors. Unlike a typical equity investor, EB-5 investors are generally more focused on a clear exit within five years and the approval of their permanent U.S. residency, rather than the return on their investment.
North Dakota/Northwest Minnesota EB-5 Regional Center Raises Capital for Devils Lake Company The EB-5 Regional Center has successfully raised $2 million dollars in foreign investment for the Devils Lake company, Ultra Green. Ultra Green, a biodegradable food containers/ packaging manufacturer, is the first project promoted by the EB-5 Regional Center. Ultra Green’s biodegradable food containers/
packaging can be found in 1,800 retail stores across the U.S. including Sam’s Club/Walmart, Target, Safeway, Whole Foods, Costco and multiple restaurants and bakeries. EB-5 capital raised by the EB-5 Regional Center will aid the expansion of Ultra Green’s new manufacturing plant in Devils Lake. The
North Dakota/Minnesota EB-5 Regional Center hopes to have the remaining EB-5 investors for Ultra Green secured by this winter 2013. Once the plant is up and running, Ultra Green will become the first “Made in the USA” eco-paper manufacturer in the country. It is projected that Ultra Green will create a total of 394 direct and indirect jobs for the Devils Lake area.•
Norm Skalicky Receives Honorary Degree from UND Longtime supporter of the UND Center for Innovation
orm Skalicky was honored at UND’s summer commencement ceremonies on August 2, 2013. Skalicky received an honorary doctor of letters from UND in recognition of his long and successful career in the banking industry and his philanthropic efforts over the years. After commencement, friends and family joined him for a reception at the Ina Mae Rude Entrepreneur Center. Norman C. Skalicky was born on a farm near Brockett, North Dakota, and graduated from UND in 1955 with a degree in accounting. He started his banking career by aggressively saving money while working for a small rural bank in Avon, Minnesota. He started buying bank stock in 1961 and gained controlling interest in 1964 at the age of 31. Skalicky has increased bank assets from $3 Million to over $1.5 Billion. In addition to growing the rural bank, he diversified by starting a leasing division. With more than $300 Million in annual leasing business, Stearns is among the smallest banks in the nation to do national leasing. This is especially unique for a bank located in a rural area. In 1987, Skalicky established an employee stock ownership program (ESOP) for the bank’s employees, encouraging them to think and act like owners. Today it is one of the largest ESOPs in Minnesota with more than 350 employees sharing in the ownership of Stearns Bank. Many of them have retired with an average of $1-2 Million in stock, which is cashed out in retirement. After 48 years in banking, Norm Skalicky is still at the top of his field and Stearns Bank has consistently been ranked as one of the top performing banks in the United States. This became evident during the recent financial crisis and recession when the FDIC approached Stearns to do a turn-around on 13 banks in four years. Stearns ranks third in the nation in the number of banks that the FDIC has turned over, showing the FDIC’s respect for Skalicky’s ability to save failed banks. Stearns is on the short list of banks with the capital, regulatory standing, and guts to embrace the industry’s troubles as a growth opportunity. Stearns is also a national leader in leasing, construction finance, small business loans
and affordable housing loans. Skalicky has been featured by American Banking magazine, Independent Community Bankers of America publication, US Banker magazine, NorthWestern Financial Review and the Wall Street Journal. He is a proud member of the North Dakota Entrepreneur Hall of Fame, inducted in 2003. Norm Skalicky is a loyal UND alumnus with a five decade history of involvement with his alma mater. A building on the UND campus – the Norm Skalicky Tech Incubator – is named after him as a tribute to this professional success and his generous support of entrepreneurship and the UND Center for Innovation. Skalicky served on the UND Center for Innovation Advisory Board for several years and was a trustee of the UND Center for Innovation Foundation. Skalicky is also a loyal alumnus of this fraternity, Delta Tau Delta, serving on the Delta Tau Delta Educational Foundation board of directors since the early 1980s. He established a scholarship program in 1994 for new fraternity members who are both scholars and leaders. More than 300 students have received Skalicky’s scholarship assistance. After the 1997 flood, Skalicky made a donation to the fraternity to enable the full renovation of the flood-damaged chapter house on the UND campus. He often attends fraternity events to encourage students. Most recently, he was the keynote speaker at the Delta Tau Delta spring formal in April, 2013.•
nfoTech Solutions for Business, has located the company’s development facilities in the UND Center for Innovation’s incubator. InfoTech is headquartered in midtown Manhattan, where it is becoming a leader in software and system solutions. The company offers a full range of technology solutions, including custom software development, social media development, cloud services, mobile application development and onsite infrastructure/desktop support. In January, 2013, InfoTech teamed up with Concurrent Technologies Corporation (CTC) on a $5.6 billion, five-year contract from the Defense Intelligence Agency. The work will be performed to provide professional support services to the intelligence analysis mission, warfighters, defense planners, and national security policymakers. In March, InfoTech signed a contract to install and develop a modern technology training center at Mercy Center in the South Bronx community of NY. Mercy Center is a community center for women and their families. The center offers free programs and services that empower women to become agents of change. In April, InfoTech launched Brazzlebox, a B2B social media site for small and homebased business owners. Brazzlebox users can promote their businesses, increase their reach into their local community, discover new business opportunities and interact directly with their customers. InfoTech designed, created and implemented the full system. In May, InfoTech delivered the Canadian Board Diversity Council (CBDC) with a customized version of the Diverse Director Data Source system to support CBDC’s Diversity 50 application process. It is Canada’s first-ever database of qualified men and women from across Canada who fulfill the requirements of Canadian boards. InfoTech has been named by the ND Young Professionals as one of the Top 10 Best Places to Work and Top 5 Best Places to Intern. Software developers who are interested in becoming a part of InfoTech’s software or systems solutions team are invited to send their resumes to email@example.com •
Northrop Grumman to Anchor Grand Sky
he first anchor tenant for Grand Sky was announced as Northrop Grumman, which builds the Global Hawk unmanned plane being flown out of Grand Forks Air Force Base. “This is an opportunity for us to have a significant footprint in North Dakota,” said Tom Vice, Northrop Grumman vice president. “With the Global Hawk operations here, this is a major center of focus for us.” “This is a significant milestone for North Dakota and Grand Sky,” said Bruce Gjovig of the UND Center for Innovation Foundation. Northrop is a Fortune 100 company is a world leader in the UAS industry. Gjovig added, “North Dakota is well poised to capture a significant opportunity in the emerging UAS industry as we already are home to Global Hawks and Predators at the Grand Forks AFB – the only place in the nation with both major platforms. We are working with many partners to develop new facilities in Grand Sky to provide North Dakota a competitive edge as emerging UAS companies look for places to form, expand and grow. “North Dakota is bidding against 25 applicants to become one of six national unmanned aircraft test sites. In a recent article in the Grand Forks Herald, U.S. Senator John Hoeven speculated that the Grand Forks region bid — or Northern Plains bid — has a good chance of being selected. “Our focus is to make the Grand Forks region the premiere hub of UAS in the United States,” Hoeven said. “As you can tell, we’re pulling out all the stops, and we’ve been working on (integrated airspace) before anyone else was talking about it.” The broad support across sectors — as illustrated by the partners involved with this agreement — helps make the Grand Forks bid stand out. In the same Herald article, Representative Kevin Cramer was also quoted, saying “I think what makes us unique - and I find this a lot in Washington - is that this is a team effort,” he said. “We don’t have competing interests squabbling, we work as a group.” “Above all else, we have ethical teamwork. It’s because we have people that pull together — across state lines even — to work towards
the same goal.” The signing of the partnership agreement enhances the area’s bid with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to become one of six national test sites for integrating unmanned aircraft into manned airspace. A decision is expected from the FAA in December.•
1.2 million square footage of proposed buildings in Grand Sky, with the potential to expand
3,000 number of jobs Grand Sky could potentially support
300 million dollars targeted for investment in facilities and infrastructure for Grand Sky, including $5 million already secured from the North Dakota Legislature
Grand Sky - Nation’s First UAS Tech Park Unveiled
lans for a new state-of-the-art UAS tech park dedicated to supporting all phases of development for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) were recently announced. Officials from Grand Forks County are finalizing an agreement for development of the tech park, named Grand Sky, which will be located at the Grand Forks AFB. Construction is anticipated to take place in 2014 and the first space will be available for tenants by early 2015. Grand Sky will support both military and civilian based sys225 acres of Grand Forks Air Force Base land to be part of tems developers with the goal of the Enhanced Use Lease for integrating unmanned systems into commercial applications the development of Grand such as North Dakota’s agriculSky tural and energy industries. “New unmanned vehicles and sensors will help farmers detect stress in their crops earlier and cheaper, and help inspect transmission lines and pipelines so problems are detected earlier and at lower costs,” says Bruce Gjovig, Entrepreneur coach at the UND Center for Innovation. “North Dakota will be a leader in commercial UAS usage, and Grand Sky will provide the supportive infrastructure to make that happen.” Grand Sky will focus on four primary areas, including training, sensor and vehicle systems development, testing and evaluation as well as data analysis and management. The new UAS park offers significant opportunities to commercial developers, operators of unmanned systems, data and imagery analysis/management, university affiliated research centers and venture capitalists. In March, Northrop Grumman announced its intent to become the anchor tenant of Grand Sky. Project planners say this is a significant milestone for North DaThe proposed Grand Sky kota, and they are excited about the lease would make it four potential for Grand Sky to help the times larger than any other UAS industry grow. “Grand Sky is industrial park in North the largest project of this type to be Dakota undertaken in the state of North Dakota. We are at the forefront of creating a robust, internationally competitive economic growth sector for the entire region,” says John Schmisek, Grand Forks County commissioner. “As the opportunities
for UAS development continue to expand, everything necessary for a strong sector – operations, training, maintenance, research, policy formulation and industry development – will converge at Grand Sky. “ Grand Sky will bring together government, military, academic and private sector organizations to develop new technologies, improve operational performance and integrate the use of new technologies to government, defense, commercial and agricultural industries. Grand Sky park features include approximately 225 acres of campus and total facility development of approximately 1.2 million square feet of space. It will be comprised of multiple buildings – four of which may include hangar space. In addition to industry advancement, Grand Sky has the potential to support as many as 3,000 new jobs. “Grand Sky opens up new possibilities to attract investment and activity that result in a diversified economy and advanced employment opportunities for our region’s workforce,” says Klaus Thiessen, president and CEO of the Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corporation. “These are great jobs that will help retain our highly educated young people and attract new workers from around the nation. This park’s development is redefining regional economic development.” Opening in 2015 in Grand Forks County, N.D., Grand Sky is a new state-of-the-art business and technology park. It is a collaboration of the state of North Dakota, Grand Forks County, the City of Grand Forks, the Grand Forks Base Realignment Impact Committee, Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corporation, University of North Dakota and Northland Community and Technical College. Grand Sky supports companies and governmental organizations engaged in the research, development, training and operations of manned and unmanned aircraft systems.• www.grandskynd.com
UND College of Business and Public Administration Dean Dennis Elbert to Join Entrepreneurship Faculty After 16 years leading the UND College of Business and Public Administration, the school’s longest serving dean has announced that he will return to the faculty in 2014.
n a recent article that appeared in the Grand Forks Herald, UND President Robert Kelley thanked Dean Dennis Elbert for his years of service to the University and noted the progress that was made under Elbert’s leadership.Kelley said, “During Denny’s years of leadership, academic programs in his College have grown in strength and in number. He has bolstered the reputation of the College and the University as a leader in the education of our future business professionals, entrepreneurs and public administrators. “I should mention just a handful of achievements and events that have taken place under Dennis’ leadership: a historic $20 million fund-raising campaign for students and faculty, elite accreditation among the world’s business schools, a successful student and faculty exchange relationship with the University of Shanghai for Science and Technology, establishment of a state-of-the-art investment education center, thanks to a generous gift from A. Kirk Lanterman; the launch of new degree programs such as a master’s in applied economics, and entrepreneurship education that has put UND atop several national lists”. UND’s Provost and Vice President for Adacemic Affairs, Paul LeBel, commented “Dean Elbert is the senior Dean on our campus. His judgment and institutional knowledge have been very helpful not only to me as Provost but to his Dean colleagues as well. Under his leadership, the College has seen significant advances in academic programs and in philanthropic support. I have great respect for Denny, and am pleased that he has agreed to remain as Dean through the next academic year while a search to fill the position is conducted.” Elbert will serve as dean through June 30, 2014. At that time he will assume a position with the faculty of the Department of Entrepreneurship at UND, as the Eugene Dahl Chair of Leadership and Innovation. The en-
dowed chair position was established by Howard and Brian Dahl of Amity Technologies, in honor of their father Gene Dahl, a longtime supporter of UND, the Entrepreneurship program and the Center for Innovation. About Dean Elbert: Dennis J. Elbert, a native of Grafton, N.D., was appointed Dean of the College of Business and Public Administration (CoBPA) at the University of North Dakota in July, 1997. A longtime faculty member, Elbert served as professor of marketing, MBA director, and as director of the Small Business Institute (SBI), where he worked with 20 to 25 businesses each year. Elbert holds two degrees from UND, a Bachelor of Science in business administration in 1968 and a Master of Science in marketing, earned in 1972. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1976. Elbert started his career as a CoBPA marketing faculty member in 1980. He earned the rank of full professor in 1986. A UND Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) graduate and veteran of Vietnam and Cambodia, Elbert retired from the U.S. Army Reserve as a lieutenant colonel in 1996. Elbert has been active in University and community service, consulting, research and seminar work. He serves on a number of boards including Gate City Bank, Noridian Health Services, YMCA Foundation Trustee, Northern Lights Boy Scouts of America Executive Council, Edgewood REIT and ROTARY. Past board memberships and affiliations include Noridian Mutual Insurance Company, Altru Health System, United Health Resources, Simmons Advertising, YMCA Board of Grand Forks, Newman Parish Council, Grand Forks Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Bank Advisory Board and Cirrus Industries. In addition, Elbert serves on the Board of Governor’s for Beta Gamma Sigma, the international business education honorary group affiliated with
AACSB International. Elbert is known as an enthusiastic and highly motivating speaker and facilitator who has
presented hundreds of seminars throughout the Midwest and Canada. He also has authored or co-authored multiple papers, monographs, textbook cases and articles. Dennis and his wife, Dora, have three grown children, Jason, Christina and Danielle, who are all graduates of UND. They are the proud grandparents of four grandchildren.•
Dakota Venture Group Invests in Biomedical Company
akota Venture Group (DVG) recently announced an investment in Embomedics, Inc. This is the first investment to be made from DVG’s recentlyformed Harvest Fund I, and marks the start of a new era for DVG. Embomedics, Inc. is a start-up company utilizing research done at the University of Minnesota, which created the first bioresorbable microspheres and drug eluding bead products for the fast growing embolization market. Embolization is the procedure of injecting small microspheres into the capillaries of tumors or growths to cut off blood flow and reduce the size of the growth. The current microspheres in use stay in the body indefinitely, and could increase a patient’s chance for infection. Embomedics’ bioresorbable microspheres have shown to be successful in occlusion of the capillaries while being naturally absorbed by
the body. Embomedics, Inc. is led by CEO Dr. Omid Souresrafil, MBBS, Ph.D; who has over 20 years of experience in the medical industry working with several large and small implantable device companies. With this investment, Dakota Venture Group receives a seat on the company’s board, which provides an additional learning opportunity for the student members of DVG. Dan Daffinrud, DVG’s managing director of finance, was selected for the position. Daffinrud’s expertise in finance will provide added value to the company. Established in September, 2006, through a donation from the Dakota Foundation, Dakota Venture Group is a university studentrun venture capital investment fund. DVG is the first completely student run venture capital fund in the United States. DVG provides students the opportunity to conduct due
diligence, make final investment decisions, and negotiate deal term structure. DVG members represent a variety of academic disciplines and backgrounds, including accounting, finance, entrepreneurship, law, marketing, and engineering. By participating in Dakota Venture Group, UND students receive an unheard of opportunity for experiential learning in the field of venture capital and angel investing. The investment strategy of DVG includes making investments in high-growth ventures started by entrepreneurs in the United States, with preference given to regional and student initiated ventures. All investments are made with the goal of fostering economic growth. Over the past six years more than 60 DVG student members have screened over 150 companies and made 13 investments.•
North Dakota Youth Entrepreneurship Education Program 2013 Enterprising Youth Become Entrepreneurs & Community Leaders
his summer the North Dakota Youth Entrepreneurship Education Program hosted camps in Pembina County, Rolette County, Williston, Jamestown, Wahpeton, Fort Yates, Bismarck and Grand Forks. The Grand Forks camp, in June, took place at the UND Center for Innovation. The town of “Innovatia” was created by the campers during the week they spent in the Idea Lab at the Ina Mae Rude Entrepreneur Center. They set up a government and an economy. The campers, ages 9 to 12, learned the basics of opening and run-
ning a business. They formed individual businesses, created their own products, set their own prices and even created their own currency, which they named “innas.” North Dakota Youth Entrepreneurship Program Director Barry Striegel explained the reason for the exercise. “Our goal is to plant seeds in the kids’ heads that entrepreneurship is a viable career option,” Striegel said. “We want them to leave knowing that they can turn passion into profit and they can make a job, not just take a job.” continued on page 9
Youth continued from page 8 Businesses included manufacturers of baked goods and duct tape wallets. Service businesses ranged from photography to a radio station. Striegel explains that most of the learning is hands-on during the camp. Actual teaching sessions are limited to 30-40 minutes each morning and the campers learn by doing for the remainder of the day. “They have to bring everything they have ever learned in math, social studies or language arts to make their businesses successful,” Striegel said. “It’s an all-encompassing activity, and it is real, it isn’t cute. These are business people.”
Striegel launched the program at the Center for Innovation in 2007. That year there were three camps located throughout the state. Each year the program has grown, with the 2013 camps expanding into nine communities statewide.• www.ndyoungentrepreneurs.org
Rep. Kevin Cramer Establishes Grand Forks Office in Incubator A recent addition to the Center for Innovation’s incubator community is the Grand Forks area office for Congressman Kevin Cramer. Staffed by Randy Richards, district representative for Kevin Cramer, the office is located in the Ina Mae Rude Entrepreneur Center.
Greetings innovators, entrepreneurs, and readers: The greatest benefit of having a Congressional office located within the UND Center for Innovation is a direct connection with you, the current and future drivers of entrepreneurship in our world. You are the individual examples of the vast opportunity which exists in North Dakota, and are shaping your own success stories every day. I am fortunate to serve on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, which has jurisdiction over many national research and development priorities. From this vantage point I can see how our federal government can be an ally when it does the right thing, but I also know it can become an adversary when it grows too big or exerts unnecessary power. My door in Grand Forks is always open, and the same goes for my office in Washington. Whether you need help in dealing with the U.S. Patent office, or with any other federal issue affecting your business, I want to hear and learn from you. Please stay in touch with me and my staff, and have a great summer. Blessings, Kevin
ccelerated Communications has launched its first venture, BakkenLocator.com. Led by entrepreneur Jay Derenthal, the company is a virtual tenant in the Center for Innovation’s incubator.
BakkenLocator.com is a business-to-business (B2B) search engine that was developed to enable buyers and sellers to find one another in the rapidly-growing western North Dakota oil industry marketplace. Currently, 3,800 businesses related to energy production in the Bakken region have a basic listing on the locator website which includes a web page and a secure login. Listed businesses can upgrade to a premium listing for $17 a month which provides tools to enhance the listing by adding a Google map, photos, logos, alternate contact information email, cell, fax and the ability to choose among 425 sub-category search tags. BakkenLocator.
com will soon include a job board and a classified ads board, constituting three separate but integrated databases on the same website. The BakkenLocator.com search engine can serve as a template for dozens of other possible niche online marketplaces. Accelerated Communications has current plans to roll out an EagleFordLocator.com for Texas and an OilSandsLocator.com for Alberta. The model has the potential for world-wide replication.•
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