Innovation & Job News

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Eli Broad Museum, MSUFCU partner to display preschool artwork

Art created by young artists from the MSU Child Development Lab is on public display in the lobby of MSUFCU thanks to a partnership with the Eli Broad Art Museum.
“Introducing young children to art gives them the opportunity to practice critical thinking in a creative way that is not offered in public schools today,” said Aimee Shapiro, Director of Education for the Broad. “You create lifelong learners when you support a child’s ability to make choices and the confidence that what they choose is important.”
Staff members of the Broad shared the artwork of Beverly Fishman with each preschool class before asking them to create their own masterpieces. Children were able to choose from an abundance of materials supplied by the museum. Students from both the Haslett and East Lansing campuses participated in the project.
“This was an effort to broaden our relationship with different communities and institutions outside of the University”, said Shapiro. “It is really important to us that the people in our area not only view the Broad as a free resource but as a part of their community.”
Members of the community can view the display which includes two pieces of Fishman's own art for the next three months at MSUFCU's headquarters at 3777 West Road, East Lansing.

Source: Aimee Shapiro, Eli Broad Museum
Writer: Tashmica Torok, Innovation News Editor

CAWLM donates $15,000 to Lansing Promise with partner AT&T

The Capital Area Women’s Lifestyle Magazine (CAWLM) and AT&T donated $15,000  to Lansing Promise.

This is the second year that the CAWLM has chosen Lansing Promise as the beneficiary of their annual 80s Flashback Fundraiser. Dedicated to helping students continue their education after high school, Lansing Promise awards college scholarships to Lansing students.

“Anytime we give back to a local cause there is a larger goal of positively impacting the community as a whole, not just the specific organization we give to," said Emily Caswell, Managing Editor of the CAWLM. ”From the start, the event has been, not only totally rad, but a fundraising event for a community cause.”

During the fundraiser, the University Club’s Henry Center is transformed to give guests the feeling that they’ve been transported back in time. Popular 80s cover band Starfarm provides the entertainment while costumed attendees dance, perform in an 80s Idol Contest, enjoy a candy table and a cash bar with a signature 80s drink. AT&T works as a partner to secure funding for the event.
“I believe that students who receive this funding for college or post-high school job training will not forget how their community supported them and in turn, when they are ready and able, will do great things for their community.” asserted Caswell.

The CAWLM 80s Flashback Fundraiser will be held on March 22, 2014 and tickets are on sale now at

Source: Emily Caswell, Capital Area Women's Lifestyle Magazine
Writer: Tashmica Torok, Innovation News Editor

Cooley Law School supports legal writing competition

Students across the state will compete for prize money, publication and recognition through the Innovation and Intellectual Property (IP) Legal Writing Competition co-sponsored by the Intellectual Property Law Section (IPLS) of the State Bar of Michigan and Thomas M. Cooley Law School.
“Across the world, the industries generating jobs are those based on new technologies,” emphasized Prof. Barry, “This is one strategy to create an environment statewide where those kinds of business can prosper.”
Professor David C. Barry is a Professor at Thomas M. Cooley Law School, a private, nonprofit, independent law school and director of the Graduate Program in Intellectual Property Law.
“Regardless of where Michigan students eventually practice, they will have more insight into IP and be better equipped to advise their future clients.” stated Barry.
Open to all students enrolled in a Michigan law school, the deadline to submit entries is May 15, 2014. The IPLS provides volunteer judges who review the papers and select a winner. In addition to winning prize money, awardees have their original work published in the IPLS Proceedings journal and are recognized at their annual IP seminar in March. 

Source: Professor David C. Barry, Thomas M. Cooley Law School
Writer: Tashmica Torok, Innovation News Editor

East Lansing Public Library and Hoopla partnership offers patrons expanded digital offerings

Members of the East Lansing Public Library (ELPL) now have free access to digital media through a new partnership with Hoopla Digital.

Available online at and through the free Hoopla mobile app for Android or IOS device, patrons will be able to access TV Shows, movies, e-books and music from major Hollywood studios, record companies and publishers. Cardholders can borrow, instantly stream and temporarily download thousands of titles without ever leaving the comfort of their homes.

“We keep a close eye on trends and over the last year e-book downloads have skyrocketed,” stated Amber Laude, ELPL Collection Development Librarian. “We exist to serve our patrons and innovative services are what they are looking for.”

The ELPL also recently launched access to digital magazines through Vimeo in August of 2013. This new partnership is an extension of an already beneficial vendor relationship between the ELPL and Midwest Tape, the parent company of Hoopla Digital. 

Free Legal Clinics for Area Entrepreneurs

Mid-Michigan entrepreneurs and inventors will have an opportunity to obtain free legal advice to help them address important issues related to their intellectual property at an upcoming free clinic.
“Great ideas will drive economic and workforce development in the 21st century for the state of Michigan”, asserts Steve Bennett, the Vice President and Chief Program Officer for the statewide nonprofit Primas Civitas.
Primas Civitas coordinated the collaboration between the MSU Bioeconomy Institute and the MSU College of Law to remedy a void in economic and workforce development. Created by Michigan State University in 2006, Primas Civitas prides itself in performing small, nontraditional work while utilizing the unique advantages of working with a large, research university like Michigan State University.
The free clinic will be held by appointment at the MSU College of Law. Interested parties can complete an online application to secure their spot.

Addressing intellectual property law is an expensive but necessary step for inventors and entrepreneurs intending to take their innovative ideas to market. This free legal clinic will assist in mitigating upfront costs while providing law students with practical experience in their field. A practice area of the MSU Law's Legal Clinic, the Intellectual Property Start-Up Project connects interested parties to veteran attorneys who will mentor MSU law students as they discuss options, conduct legal research and set appropriate goals for protection of  new technologies for real clients.
Directly following the clinic, participants will be given an advisory letter generated by law students that will outline recommended next steps. 
“MSU’s commitment to making this initiative a reality has made them equal champions in developing the region's next big ideas,” stated Bennett.

In addition to the free legal clinic offered in East Lansing, there are two other clinics scheduled: January 28, 2014 at the Flint and Genesee Chamber of Commerce and  January 30, 2014 at the MSU Bioeconomy Institute in Holland.
Source: Steve Bennett, Prima Civitas
Writer: Tashmica Torok, Innovation News Editor

Study Finds 'Hip-Hop' Students Face Disciplinary Discrimination

A new study finding that Black and Latino students who identify with ‘hip-hop’ culture face unfair disciplinary practices in urban schools may help shape more equitable school districts in the Greater Lansing area.
Professor Muhammad Khalifa performed an ethno-graphic study to understand the full cultural context of schools in Southeastern Michigan over the course of two years. The study gathered individual responses, field notes, school data and involved shadowing subjects to create a more in depth picture than what could have been represented with interviews and surveys.
Khalifa, a Michigan State University assistant professor of education completed his investigations during his Doctoral work.
“Traditional schools have casted aside ‘hip-hop’ culture as a deviance,” said Khalifa. “There are achievement, suspension and disciplinary gaps that can be resolved if educators begin to view these students as assets instead of burdens.”
The findings of this study follow a recent charge from the Obama administration to discontinue zero tolerance policies that critics believe marginalize students that do not conform to their school district's cultural norms. Based on Khalifa’s study, schools can perform an equity audit to determine which students, parents, teachers and non-instructional staff are feeling excluded by the school system.
“We are very clear on which teachers are struggling and how to map a plan for improvement,” asserted Khalifa, “Until we have a handle on our equity data and a plan to create a district that is inclusionary instead of exclusionary, than we are not serious about reforming education.”

Professor Khalifa is currently working with a team to provide area schools with access to an online equity audit that can be performed and returned electronically. This inexpensive resource would generate a report giving school leaders and communities an equity benchmark for their school, as well as a way to move forward in an inclusive and culturally responsible way.
Source: Muhammad Khalifa, Michigan State University
Writer: Tashmica Torok, Innovation News Editor

Grant Award to Fund STEM Education for At Risk Girls

Young girls in the Greater Lansing area will have the opportunity to participate in ‘girls only’ STEM clubs through a new program called 2020 Girls.
A partnership between the Information Technology Empowerment Center (ITEC) and the Michigan Council of Women in Technology (MCWT) was recently awarded a $26,000 Women’s Initiative Grant by the Women’s Leadership Council of the Capital Area United Way to support this new program for at risk girls.
“15% of Computer Science students at Michigan State University are women and 85% are male,” says Kirk Riley, Execituve Director of ITEC. “That’s an incredible disparity.”
Since its formation in 2008, the ITEC has worked to provide resources to help students improve their grades in science and math. Their IT based programs are implemented at community locations like the Capital Area District Library, the YMCA and Lansing Community College. Students are given the opportunity to learn robotics, basic programming, digital media and game design.
“We try to play to a child’s inner geek and help them learn through play,” Riley said.
2020 Girls will have an innovative laser focus on improving the way that at risk girls experience science and math.  The ITEC is proposing that STEM clubs be set up at schools within the Lansing School District were young girls will experiment with building robots, developing apps and designing their own video games. 

The hope is that 2020 Girls will teach young girls 21st Century skills like problem solving, analytical thinking, collaboration and creativity while encouraging them to keep their sights on STEM careers past middle school when they typically lose interest.

Source: Kirk Rily, Information Technology Empowerment Center
Writer: Tashmica Torok, Innovation News Editor

Spoke8 Marketing Grows by 50%; Increases Staffing

Spoke8 Marketing inspires their clientele to think about their marketing in a new way.

As a company touting an Inbound Marketing Certification for 2 years running from Hubspot, it may be their concise approach towards targeting their client’s audience that allowed their company to grow by 50% this year. Inbound Marketing methodology has been proven to increase the impact of marketing efforts for businesses and provide clientele with improved return on their investment (ROI).

The marketing, media, design and web company hired 3 new staff members increasing their total number of employees to 8 in 2013.

“We are looking for a Drupal Web Developer who will be responsible for assisting our current development team and taking our client’s websites to the next level”, says Ann T. Siegle, Chief Executive Officer.

The Lansing area has provided the company with access to a pool of talented young professionals educated locally that enjoy staying connected to peers in similar creative fields of interest. Siegle credits the atmosphere of the city for helping Spoke8 Marketing retain local talent.

“Lansing has a lot going for it,” said Siegle.

Spoke8 Marketing will be listing a position for a full time writer with Capital Area Michigan Works before the end of the year to assist with both short and long form writing assignments. They will also be moving to a larger location in Lansing to accommodate the growth of their staff.

Source: Ann T. Siegle, Spoke8 Marketing
Writer: Tashmica Torok, Innovation News

Video teaches social skills to teens with autism

Group video teaching could provide area schools with an effective and practical way to teach adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) important social skills, a Michigan State University researcher says.
“The group-based instructional method is more likely to be adopted by schools, where these individuals are primarily served, then is an approach that requires one-to-one teacher to student ratios,” said Joshua Plavnick, assistant professor of special education at MSU.
Allowing educators to teach students with ASD in larger groups will help public schools stretch their budgets for special education while preserving a high educational standard. Prior to Plavnick’s study, there was no study indicating that social skills could be taught to more than one student with ASD at a time.
A public school in Livonia is participating in a test of the procedures and eventually schools in the Greater Lansing area will be recruited providing a direct benefit to students with ASD in our area. In the future, Plavnick hopes to be able to provide educators with an implementation manual and a website that will provide support in the form of a video library.
Although the results of this study are preliminary, they indicate that students may be able to learn to follow video models on broader topics than just learning explicit skills. Plavnick’s team will continue to define flexible procedures to better accommodate the differences in each group, resolve issues with feasibility and sustained implementation by teachers.
Plavnick’s co-authors are Ann Sam of 3-C Research Institute and Samuel Odom and Kara Hume of the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute.

Source: Joshoua Plavnick, Michigan State University
Writer: Tashmica Torok, Innovation News Editor

'Smart Voting Joystick' improves accessibility at the polls for the disabled

Local voters with dexterity impairments, senior citizens and others could see an improvement in the technology used at the polls to cast their votes.

Sarah Swierenga, director of MSU Usability/Accessibility Research, collaborated with a team of MSU faculty, undergraduate engineering students, rehabilitation specialists and usability and accessibility researchers and interns to develop a prototype joystick that is comparable to the joystick-controlled wheelchair used by thousands of people in the U.S.

A majority of polling locations utilize accessible voting machines that require a voter to press small buttons or switches more than 1,200 times. Those repetitive motions can cause discomfort or pain and sometimes requires the assistance of a volunteer discouraging disabled voters from participating on election days.

“One of the key rights of democracy is being able to vote privately and independently,” said Swierenga. “We wanted people with disabilities to be able to interact with the voting process in a better way.”

Six people with dexterity issues within the local community participated in user evaluations and the results were successful. The research team will continue their investigation and design refinement with the hopes that eventually they can attract a voting manufacturer to commercialize the joystick. Technology leaders in the Mid-Michigan area could influence the national scene and improve voting for people with disabilities across the country.

“Even a small amount of money can make a big difference in everyday people’s lives in the wider perspective of voting,” said Swierenga.

Research was funded by a grant from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, through the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation and a full report will be published by the end of December 2014.

Source: Sarah Swierenga, MSU Usability/Accessibility Research
Writer: Tashmica Torok, Innovation News Editor.

Revel Cellars experiences significant growth and accolades

Greater Lansing grown Revel Cellars has experienced quite the year. With articles in and Wine Spectator and serving big name clients like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, founder Jim Cash is looking forward to the new opportunities these experiences will bring in the years to follow.
"Forbes called Revel Cellars the 'World's Best Wine Cellars;' this was an immense development for us," Cash says.
The 'World's Best Wine Cellars' were born of equal parts innovation and necessity. As a 30-year collector of wine and former COO at Christman, Cash was dissatisfied with the traditional wine racks on the market. He couldn't find the rack and cellar combination that he was looking for, so he ventured to design it. A sliding drawer system sets Cash's design apart from competitors.
Cash is currently working locally with Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP), Moebius Technologies and the State of Michigan to begin development of a manufactured steel product for the system.
"We're currently in the design phase and have patent applications pending," says Cash.
Revel business is conducted primarily over the web, with customers accessing the virtual showroom from all over the country and world. Cash says he continues to develop new designs and is looking into creating a more contemporary line of cellar systems.
"We are pleased and proud to be a start up company making a world class product headquartered here in the Lansing area," Cash adds.
Source: Jim Cash, Revel Cellars
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News
Have an innovation news story? Send Veronica an email here.

Balance Concierge looks towards growth, develops mobile access services

A former health care administrator, Judy Foley founded Balance Concierge in 2007 with a focus on serving the healthcare community. The company provides a full range of concierge services tailored to hospital physicians, employees and patients. From automotive services to grocery and meal delivery, Balance Concierge covers it.
"As we continue to experience growth, we are pleased to continue to add staff," says Foley. Balance Concierge corporate offices are located in East Lansing and currently house four employees. Foley expects to locally hire a part-time project manager and an accounting assistant in the coming months.
Recently, Balance Concierge announced the development of a new mobile site application for their services. eBalance Concierge recognizes the more consistent use of mobile technology while on the job and provides alternatives to the traditional on-site concierge services.
In addition to on-site and mobile services for hospital staff, Balance Concierge offers bedside concierge for patients.
"Fifty percent of patients are admitted through the ER," says Foley. "We help them make up for the life they left at home."
Source: Judy Foley, Balance Concierge
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News
Have an innovation news story? Send Veronica an email here.

Capital Imaging receives national design award, expands services

When Bo Noles learned that his company, Capital Imaging, had won the American Inhouse Design Award sponsored by Graphic Design USA out of more than 4,000 submissions, he was delighted.
"The award confirmed that our project and product really were good ideas, ready to be taken to our customers to provide them with a unique service," he says.
That project? An inhouse design piece called "Let The Ink Do The Talking" for their photobook product now available to clients. The branding book helps showcase the imaging services Capital Imaging provides while highlighting the quality and capabilities of the photobook.
Located in Lansing's eastside, Capital Imaging is a business document and graphics printing company that specializes in serving small to mid-sized businesses on a short run, quick turn basis.
"We stay current with innovation and technology so our clients don't have to," says Noles.
Capital Imaging will be launching two new services in October: Digital Décor Wallcoverings and Free Flow Publisher. The former takes digital images and transforms them into specially designed wallpaper for any room. The latter is a customizable newsletter or magazine service that allows for reader interaction and client understanding of how their publications are being used.
Source: Bo Noles, Capital Imaging   
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News
Have an innovation news story? Send Veronica an email here.

Martin Waymire receives Google Engage All-Star and Public Relations Society accolades

Recognition as a Google Engage All-Star continues Martin Waymire's award-winning streak in 2013. In June, the advocacy communications group took home the "Oscar" of the public relations profession, winning a national Silver Anvil Award in New York City. The Silver Anvil is the oldest and most prestigious award given in the nation for outstanding achievement in PR.
The Google Engage All-Star competition includes the top search engine optimization agencies in the world. Martin Waymire was among a relatively small number of firms from around the world - and the only Michigan firm -  selected as Google Engage All-Stars out of roughly 14,000 companies that are part of the Google Engage program.
"We received this prestigious recognition by outperforming thousands of competitors in online advertising this year using the Google Engage program, hitting certain benchmarks and helping clients achieve and exceed their campaign goals through Google advertising," says Andrea Ness, director of graphic and new media services.
Ness and colleague Naomi Burton received an all-expenses-paid trip to Google Headquarters  - known world-wide as the Googleplex  - in Mountain View, California to attend Google's All-Stars Summit this August. The two-day summit included exclusive workshops, advanced trainings and one-on-one consultations with Google experts.
"Having this expertise and knowledge in our tool chest allows us to provide this support to businesses and organizations the area. We're happy to help our current clients and all others that are interested in getting started with Google advertising, or to continue their successful online advertising campaigns using this great platform," says Ness.
Source: Andrea Ness, Martin Waymire
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News
Have an innovation news story? Send Veronica an email here.

Lansing Financial Empowerment Center launches TV show

The Lansing Financial Empowerment Center strives to give Lansing residents tools to improve their financial situation. With the new TV show, Money Power, the Center aims to increase awareness of their programming and help and even greater number of residents down the path of financial wellness.
"We hope that the show will be a fun way to both give people some extra tools to better their financial situation, but also to highlight the wealth of great resources that Lansing has to offer - many of them free," says Amber Paxton, director for the Center and Office of Financial Empowerment with the City of Lansing.
The Center is a grant-funded program of the City of Lansing and Capital Area Community Services, which offers free one-on-one financial counseling and is modeled after the Financial Empowerment Center model created by the City of New York.
"Because of the generous grant from the Cities for Financial Empowerment fund through support from Bloomberg Philanthropies, we are honored to be 'tied for second place' in implementing this model," says Paxton.
The three-year, $1.5 million grant asks that the City provide in-kind support. The City of Lansing and the Lansing Public Media Center are contributing the production of 12 episodes per year of Money Power on an in-kind basis. Three shows are complete and available for viewing on Vimeo. Extreme Couponing, saving money by shopping at Farmers' Markets, and decreasing energy costs are examples of topics covered.
Source: Amber Paxton, Office of Financial Empowerment
Writer: Veronica Gracia-Wing, Innovation News
Have an innovation news story? Send Veronica an email here.
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