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North Bay Business Journal

Monday, May 21, 2012, 6:50 am

iHub, SSU event to shine light on innovation

By Loralee Stevens Special to the Business Journal

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    iHub speakers

    Last year’s iHub business plan competition drew a crowd. The expo will see the culmination of that event.

    ROHNERT PARK — Entrepreneurs and all that support them take note. The iHub and Sonoma State University are putting on a new event to showcase startups, both existing and potential.

    On June 1 the Innovation Showcase will offer an afternoon of speakers, competitions, booth exhibits, speed mentoring, wine and food at Ives Hall on the Sonoma State campus in Rohnert Park.

    “The idea is for the event to grow into a full-fledged expo of entrepreneurialism in the North Bay,” said Ivo Austin, Business Development Manager of the iHub, a collaborative enterprise to foster support for technology startups.

    Robert Eyler, professor of economics and director of the Center for Regional Economic Analysis at Sonoma State University said the Showcase will identify scalable technology industries.

    “It’s good for all of us to see just what we’ve got here. Connecting and networking is always a challenge,” he said.

    Jim Kovach

    Former pro football player and president of the Buck Institute Jim Kovach will deliver the keynote address at the upcoming Innovation Showcase.

    The Friday event will feature a keynote by Jim Kovach. Dr. Kovach, M.D., former president of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging and currently involved with three North Bay startups, will address following the path from a bright idea to a commercially viable product.

    Once a pro football player, he started Athleticode to help determine genetic patterns that can lead to concussion damage in sports.

    “I see the North Bay as a potential breeding ground for startups in the health care field,” said Dr. Kovach. “Queen of the Valley Hospital’s Synergy-Wellness Center in Napa is a great example of technology being put to use to keep people healthy.”

    The region, he believes, can leverage its healthy lifestyle with applications that promote disease prevention.

    In addition to Dr. Kovach’s keynote, four of the 10 winners of last year’s iHub business plan competition will be selected to present their plans, with an “Innovation Idol” selected by the audience via smartphone.

    “We want this to be fun and also to be a signature celebrating innovation,” said Michael Newell, director of the Sonoma Mountain Business Cluster, which also coordinates the iHub.

    Ninety percent of startup activity takes place under the radar, he said.

    “There are three pieces to our expo: thought leaders like Jim Kovach coming together, up-and-comers such as our business plan winners and success stories, which we’ve hand-picked for our first event.”

    The exposition will feature startups that have achieved some traction like Px20, a portable big screen producer; Skip2Renew, maker of green lubricant; and Pocket Radar, developer of a speed gauging consumer product.

    Also exhibiting will be X2nSat, a satellite technology startup and Vinperfect, maker of a breathable wine closure.

      “We’d like the Showcase to become an integral part of an ecosystem favorable to new ideas and business leadership,” said Mr. Austin.

    Cost for the event is $25. Guests can register at conta.cc/2012iHubExpo.

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