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Highlights from State of Technology 2018

December 3rd, 2018 by Amanda Huggett

“The technology of tomorrow is happening today!” emcee Eric Piela of CoSchedule (pictured below) exclaimed as he kicked off the 2018 State of Technology. Throughout the event, several local innovators, plus three keynote speakers, took the stage to share the amazing tech happening around our nation.

Seth Arndorfer, representing presenting sponsor Dakota Carrier Network, shared that gigabit Internet is rolling out to all schools across the state thanks to DCN’s fiber optic network. As stated in a recent online article, North Dakota is the crown jewel of the Internet in the Midwest, and we have about three times the speed than the national average.

Jennifer Raum, Sanford Health, talked about how tech can help medical providers treat patients and find a diagnosis. “We operate in a fast-paced, dynamic and rapidly changing industry where patients are consumers, and they expect more from us,” she said. A new partnership with TytoCare is changing the game for Sanford, providing an innovative way to care for patients that cannot physically go to an office. Sanford has already began offering video visit and e-visit, and while it is not yet a significant part of the business, Raum is confident it soon will be. The TytoCare platform will allow doctors to perform exams remotely. Yossi Saadon from TytoCare then explained more about how the tech works, which literally and figurately puts health in the hands of patients.

Delivering the first keynote address, Andrei Iancu of the US Patent and Trademark Office, gave a fascinating overview of North Dakota’s tech history going back 100 years, teaching many in attendance that even Kodak has ND roots. He also gave an overview of the tools and technologies that are available to small businesses to protect their IP and gather and file patent information. “North Dakota has created a rich entrepreneurial ecosystem that rewards innovators, and how successful it has been,” he said. “North Dakota is poised to attract and maintain a 21st century workforce, helping the state compete in a global economy. In this ecosystem, intellectual property is fundamental to success…and a well-functioning and balanced patent system is a necessity, and its benefits are unmistakable.” Just this past summer, the USPTO issued their 10th million patent. Iancu also thanked North Dakotans, and closed with saying “No dream is too big if we unleash the power of innovation!”

Next, a special guest joined to share a few comments on the state’s commerce, trade, commodities, workforce, industry disruptors and the importance of data. U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp also described some of the work going on in Washington to fund ideas and products.

Anthony Molzahn, Project Phoenix, provided an overview of pxDB core and API, as well as Aegisflow, which is an online platform for drone pilots. He gave shout-outs to several local innovators and companies that are making waves in the industry and discussed how our network can work together to help us all. He is launching their app next month.

Zoe Bundy took the stage next to talk about Brainy Ladies, a website dedicated to girls in STEM. Zoe won our most recent YEA! Investor Panel. Zoe has set out to change stereotypes and champion young girls in tech careers to close the gender gap. Zoe closed her address with a few witty science jokes that stole the show and warranted a standing ovation.

Chris Clark from Xcel Energy discussed key developments in drone technology, nuclear innovation and what might be coming in wind and solar sectors. He said ND will lead in carbon sequestration and described an advanced grid Xcel is working on to leverage various new technologies.

Delivering the second keynote was ND Governor Doug Burgum, who of course is an innovator of his own, founding Great Plains Software and Kilbourne Group. Burgum provided an overview of various technologies that are changing the world as we speak, from machine learning to autonomous vehicles, and industries that are experiencing disruption, from education to ag. “Every aspect of what we do is being disrupted by technology. We need to think about how technology delivers new models of the things we do.”

Burgum described what the state government is doing to use our tax dollars to apply technology that serves citizens better. One example is smart roads, where we are the only test location in the nation right now. Fiber optics are in place on I-29 that has acoustic sensing that can do sophisticated monitoring of vehicle types and speeds that can provide data to improve safety and quality. An app will also soon be available by ND Roads to track snow plows, which are also receiving their own updates.

Burgum gave a huge nod to the ag companies in our region, and described the idea for an autonomous farm that is planned by 2025 by Emerging Prairie. He also mentioned a tool now available online for the public to track government spending.

The governor made an announcement that in the next budget is a $30 million investment request to establish a statewide line of sight within unmanned aerial systems for a ground-based network that can track air traffic. (Read more about it HERE.)

He also made mention of cybersecurity and solving our workforce challenge. “Workforce is the number one thing we need to solve,” he said. “The future of North Dakota always comes back to people…  As citizens, we’ve got to learn how to embrace and deploy technology like we never have before to be competitive.”

Senator John Hoeven again described North Dakota as experiencing the third wave of innovation right now in tech, and he wants us to be as known for our tech entrepreneurship as we’re known for our work in energy and ag. He also described what the federal government is doing to help entrepreneurs, such as grants to help students in STEM. He delivered a fun top 10 list, Letterman style, about North Dakota’s tech accomplishments.

Closing the event with a final keynote was SBA Administrator Linda McMahon. She discussed what the SBA is doing to help entrepreneurs and expanded programs and services. She also said that Trump’s pro-growth policies are assisting innovators by offering tax cuts and regulatory reform. “It’s an exciting time for our country, our economy and the SBA,” she said.

TechND also announced and presented the winners of the 2018 North Dakota Technology Awards. They are:

  • Premier Technology Business: TrueIT
  • Technology Innovator: Xcel Energy
  • North Dakota Technology Champion: Barry Batcheller, Appareo

Read and watch KVRR’s story about the event.

Check out these Tweets from attendees!

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