Fort Worth Business Press 3-28

Page 17 | March 28 - April 3, 2011


Businesses, entrepreneurs bring innovation to WBT n Elizabeth Sehon

With a collection of private sector and governmental realms ready to showcase their newest innovations, the World’s Best Technologies Marketplace brought together entrepreneurs and businesses aiming to invest from across the country March 22 and March 23 in Arlington. About 500 attendees shared ideas, displayed the newest technologies and celebrated the leading edge in applied sciences with some of the best speakers in the technology and marketing field at the Sheraton Arlington Hotel Convention Center. John Evans, vice president of business innovation for Lockheed Martin Corp., began the event and said he is still learning about innovation to apply toward his company. “One definition of innovation is spotting something good,” he said. “Innovation creates more value than it destroys.” Businesses should also make models to help businesses grow and to help their company harvest the benefits, Evans said. Part of an innovation and business model is cash flow, a particular business’ value of money and the risk or uncertainty of impact in executive decision making, he said. Past WBT presenters at the marketplace have brought in more than $490 million in funding, according to WBT reports. Doug Ruth, founder and CEO of a small Minneapolis-based company, Earth Clean, presented his patented product, TetraKO, for the first time at the forum. Ruth placed a piece of wood in a jar of water and TetraKO and set the wood on fire with a torch to show attendees how the product suppresses fire quicker than water alone. Ruth’s product was under development for 10 years and hit the market last week. He said it could help save fire departments money by reducing the heavy use of water and fire engines and shortening the time it takes to suppress fires. Ruth said his company will succeed because of his exceptional management team. His company ended its first quarter ever with $50,000 in sales. Asked what opportunity he saw in producing TetraKO, he said, “I saw the benefit and the billions of water and toxins that could be eliminated. It could save insurance companies billions from fire and water damage.” Joseph Parrish, director of the early stage innovation division, flew in from NASA’s headquarters in Washington D.C. to attend the forum. One of NASA’s challenges, Parrish said, is finding new technology to help with problematic space and aeronautic missions. The WBT Marketplace “seems like a dynamic environment with collections of innovators, which is unusual,” he said. The marketplace was a tool for Parrish, who has been with NASA for 20 years, to help his department find possible technologies to solve mission dilemmas. NASA has participated in the marketplace for two years. It provides an opportunity for those to fund or invest in upcoming, early stage innovators, Parrish said, and serves as a chance for innovators to present their new technology and ideas. Parrish said his favorite part of the forum is the fast-paced set of presentations by technological innovators. NASA has a broad set of problems to solve in space and on Earth, such as how to consume less fuel, he said. “Technology is essential for these new missions,” Parrish said. “We often find solutions to problems and then have applications well beyond the original problem we

One definition of innovation is spotting something good. Innovation creates more value than it destroys. – John Evans, vice president of business innovation, Lockheed Martin Corp.

were trying to solve.” Parrish said the work should continue with the participating government laboratories and the private sector at the forum. “It’s a very unique aspect,” he said. “There are not many in the country that operate like this.” Entrepreneur Mareya Ibrahim, president and founder of Eat Cleaner, also presented her product for the first time at the market-

place. “It’s good to see Texas getting behind its entrepreneurs,” she said. Eat cleaner is a spray that is scattered on vegetables or fruit to kill bacteria and help the food last longer. Ibrahim’s company consists of three people besides herself. The product was in development for two years before she brought it to the market.

Ibrahim set up her booth at the forum, with fruit and vegetables and spray bottled of Eat Clean, to expose her product to possible investors. Celebrating the spirit of entrepreneurship was part of the forum’s focus, Ibrahim said, along with the high caliber speakers and sponsorships open to innovation. “I’m looking for that next step to capitalization for a commercial business,” she said. Although many innovations fail, Evans said, with technology and ideas comes trial and error. “You must learn from the process of failure, tweak that version and start again,” he said. “You must say what you once believed to be true and then ask why that is not true anymore – that’s the learning process.” n