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PINC conference brings international innovators to Sarasota

November 6 will bring innovative speakers, forward thinkers and creative visionaries to Sarasota for America’s first PINC Conference.

PINC, or people, ideas, nature, creativity, was started 16 years ago by Peter and Nelleke van Lindonk, publishers in the Netherlands. Peter attended one of the first TED events in Monterey and wanted to bring the concept to Europe. The event has been taking place in the Netherlands ever since.

The van Lindonks’ first discovered Sarasota when their son, Oliver, visited years ago and decided to make it home. Sarasota was chosen to host the first PINC in America, not only because of its focus on creativity but also the strong connection between arts and business, paving the way for people who want to look at things in a different way.

"This is a community that really enjoys culture," says Karen Fay, director of PINC USA and daughter-in-law of Peter and Nelleke van Lindonk. "It makes it a natural fit."

PINC Sarasota is unique in that it doesn’t focus on one particular topic, role or discipline. Rather, it’s about speakers telling their stories to inspire others and recharge their batteries from both a personal and professional perspective. International speakers will talk about everything from work being done to locate the Malaysian Airlines flight 370 to regrowing human limbs, to measuring a country’s worth in happiness instead of dollars.

"You’re going to walk out and say ‘this is unbelieveable what people are doing," says Fay.

Another thing that sets the conference apart is its attention to detail. The participant experience is not limited to the 20-minute blocks where they hear from speakers. In between sessions are breaks for networking and additional inspiration. For instance, guests are invited to bring a copy of a book that means a lot to them and leave on the table, leaving with a different book.

Event partners and sponsors include Ringling College of Art and Design, atLarge, Inc., Gulf Coast Community Foundation, The Francis and Florida Studio Theatre.

Ringling Museum launches new family workshops

Launching a new family initiative, Ringling Museum in Sarasota is reaching out to parents and children, welcoming their participation in hands-on, themed art and science projects Saturdays throughout the fall.  

The inaugural workshops kick off this Saturday, Sept. 27th at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., and are free and open to children ages 4-10 and their parents. This week's theme, "Mythological Creatures,'' will allow participants to explore the Museum's galleries in search of mythological creatures and create their own in a pop-up book they can take home. For this event, there is no registration or fee.
 
Families and children ''are a priority for the museum,'' says Leigh Dale, Ringling's Youth and Family Programs Coordinator and a recent hire out of Harvard Graduate School of Education. Dale says that executive director Steven High wants to make the Ringling “a resource available to the whole community, including the families that live here year-round and younger children,” and notes the unique playspace opened last year to that end.  

The Saturday Family Workshops intentionally showcase different aspects of the museum -- from its gardens and art to its circus foundations. Dale is casting a wide net with this initial pilot program, hoping to see what age groups and themes hold the most resonance with children and families and plans to build on this going forward.

"My position here is to provide families with programs that make them feel comfortable at The Ringling, and also trigger a sense of curiosity that extends past The Ringling.''

This Fall’s workshop themes include guerilla gardening, a study of individuality and transportation, designing sculpture gardens with clay, experiments with air cannons fashioned after the Human Cannonball Act, printmaking and statue design. There is a $5 fee for these subsequent sessions and registration is encouraged, as classes will be capped. 

"It's been exciting to plan,'' says Dale. "I am really excited to see where it goes.''

Follow this link to register for the Ringling Family Workshops.

Tampa start-up offers combination personal and professional social network

With the myriad of social networks available for personal and professional use, it can sometimes become confusing and cumbersome to manage everything. A new start-up in Tampa hopes to ease this burden by creating a combination personal and professional network, with an added job search component.

Founded in November of 2013, Flipsetter provides an online tool that meets several goals. At the basic level, it operates as a social network similar to LinkedIn or Facebook, allowing users to share news, photos, links and videos. Addressing a common concern with other networks, Flipsetter provides users with ultimate control of privacy settings, allowing them to choose which of their networks can see which information.   

A user can create one or more of three profile types: business, organization or individual. Each type has their own tools, and all can be used within the same login or profile.

An added benefit is a feature similar to a virtual resume or portfolio where users can list their academic history, work history and other accomplishments. Businesses and other organizations can also use the service to set up a page for promotional and organizational purposes, and to post jobs.

"We call it one stop shopping," says founder Sabaresh Krishnan, USF graduate and current MBA student.

Krishnan thought of the name when hearing about the frustrations involved with having multiple networks and resources to manage profiles, time and organizations. Wanting to find a way to resolve this, he thought "let me flip that around and come up with a way to make it happen."

The service currently has approximately 300 users in beta phase, including several student groups at USF, and plans to go live by October.

Pasco Citizensí Academy allows residents to connect with government

Pasco residents who want to learn more about the inner workings of county government now have an opportunity to do that and more.

The Pasco Citizens’ Academy is an educational program for citizens who want to learn how the government works and how they can get more involved.

The academy brings together a cross section of community representatives for 10 weekly interactive discussions about the county. Residents visit county offices such as the Historic Courthouse, Starkey Park Environmental Center and the Fire Rescue Training Center. They learn about subjects such as budget and management, public safety, elections and emergency management. The program allows them to now only learn how government works but engage in dialogue about how the county can improve services based on the citizens’ perspective.  

"It’s all about trying to improve communication with our citizens," says Paula Baracaldo, planner I – strategic policy for Pasco County. "We try to share not just our message but what staff are doing every day to improve our community and make this a great place to live, work and play."

Participants are also encouraged to become more involved through volunteer opportunities on committees such as the Library Advisory Board, Suncoast Health Council or Tourist Development Council.

The inaugural class began in January 2014 with 21 participants. Participants have gone on to become more active in civic engagement and volunteer for various county opportunities.  

Twenty spots are currently being filled for the next class, which begins September 24. The next application process will open in November.

Bar Camp Tampa Bay: all tech, all kinds of tech

Bar Camp Tampa Bay once again brings together the local tech scene October 18.

Often described as an "unconference," the event is a learning opportunity, networking venue and convergence of all things technology – everything from big data to digital media to the Internet of things. But, you won’t find any keynote speakers or traditional lectures. In fact, you won’t even know who the speakers are or what the topics will be until you arrive at the event.

People who are passionate about a technology-related topic, project or idea show up the day of the event and add their name to an open slot on the master schedule. The unplanned, flexible nature lends itself to networking in its rawest, most natural form, attracting freelancers and lifelong learners who thrive in the open sharing environment.

"Fantastic presentations come out of nowhere," says Ken Evans of Startup Monkey, lead organizer for Bar Camp Tampa Bay. "You just don’t know what’s going to be there, but you don’t want to miss it." Evans has been volunteering with Bar Camp since its inception.

Hosted by the University of South Florida Colllege of Business, the event is coordinated by a team of volunteers operating under the name TechNova. The group also hosts Ignite Tampa Bay, as well as smaller events throughout the year. In addition to the core organizing group, 30 – 40 volunteers are expected the day of the event.  

Now in its seventh year, the agenda and audience continues to grow, from 150 the first year to an anticipated over 900 this year.

"Barcamp, to me, represents a cultural shift in Tampa Bay in the way new companies and new tech happen," says Evans. Bar Camp is one of many events that have fueled a stronger focus on early or seed stage companies that need help getting ideas off the ground. Organizers estimate over 30 companies have been formed out of relationships made at previous Bar Camps.

Event sponsors include Forex Factory, Hillsborough County EDI2 and the University of South Florida.

Civil engineering firm adds new projects, jobs in Tampa

Genesis, a Tampa-based civil engineering company, is experiencing growth in both public and private development opportunities.

The full service firm provides civil engineering, landscape architecture, urban planning and transportation design services. The company was founded in 1987 when a group of separate companies decided to come together to create a full services firm. After taking a small hit in business during the recession, the company has been growing since 2011 and is currently up to 90 employees statewide.

"Our growth has been driven by the improving economy and our ability to maintain the space in between huge firms and smaller ones,:says Craig Anderson, COO for Genesis.

The company recently received national recognition for the completion of Capital Cascades Park in Tallahassee. The 25-acre urban park at the center of downtown solves a major issue the city was having with stormwater management. The park repurposes an abandoned industrial site with a “floodable” park including winding trails, green infrastructure and ponds that capture rain water and provide flood relief.  Complete the Florida-friendly landscaping, the park serves not only to provide much-needed stormwater management for the city, but a place for the community to commune.

Current projects in Tampa include a new high school site for Independent Day School, Kuhn Honda’s expanded site on Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa and a Veterans Memorial Park on U.S. Highway 301.

Genesis is currently hiring for a Senior Transportation Engineer, Registered Landscape Architect and Engineering Intern.  

SPC launches international film series for students, community

Partnering with embassies and cultural organizations, St. Petersburg College is launching its own free international film series open to its students and faculty, and welcomes the surrounding local communities to take part. 

The first of the series, a Mexican classic, "Frida Kahlo: naturaleza viva,'' will take place at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 18, at the SPC Clearwater Campus Arts Auditorium

"Part of my job is strategic internationalization, to increase global engagement for students here and engage the community in global awareness,'' says Ramona Kirsch, Director for the Center for International Programs. "International films have always played a part in bringing awareness and understanding of other cultures.''

St. Pete College has a surprisingly robust international program including 16 faculty-led programs for study abroad, and nearly 200 international students from 56 countries. Kirsch says the college is committed to providing its students a rich educational experience and making it relevant to the world. 

The first film, timed to coincide with National Hispanic Heritage Month and in partnership with the Mexican Consulate, is a biography of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Kirsch says they chose this film to kick of the series for its relevance to the Clearwater campus and its ties to the sizable local Hispanic community. Prior to the film, SPC will host a Hispanic food and Information Fair in front of the Auditorium. 

The timing and content of the remaining films -- four in total -- is still being finalized, but the subsequent screenings will be spread out to other SPC campuses: St. Petersburg/Gibbs, Tarpon Springs and Seminole.

"Our hope is that this becomes an annual event,'' says Kirsh. "We have 10 learning centers, so we hope that they will all host at least one and that it will be ongoing for the community, not just for faculty, staff and students.''

Alakai Defense Systems' Mission Fuels Growth, Creates Jobs

"We were soldiers. Our children are soldiers. Our mission is to protect the soldier."

That’s the motto of Alakai Defense Systems. It drives who they are and what they do. It’s that kind of determination that helped them achieve compounded annual growth of 60 percent since the company’s restructure in 2009, bringing them to a current sales revenue on order of $8 million.

The Largo-based company provides explosive detection systems using laser and electro-optic sensing technology to ensure the utmost accuracy and reliability. Products include sensors that detect explosives in excess of 100 meters away, as well as vehicle-mounted systems for use at checkpoint gates.

Its flagship product is the Standoff Covert Eyesafe Explosives Detection System (SCEEDS). About the size of a large footlocker, the SCEEDS is mounted on vehicles.

With explosives being the number one killer of soldiers on the battlefield, Alakai’s mission cannot be underemphasized. With key staff having served in the military, many of whom have children who are currently serving, the company is intimately familiar with end user needs. "We want to make a contribution and protect the solders, bring our kids home," says Ed Dottery, president of Alakai Defense Systems.

Dottery has a background in special operations and Special Forces. After doing army reserve tours at MacDill, he decided to make Tampa Bay his home.

The company is a graduate of the Tampa Bay Innovation Center, which nurtures early stage ventures to help them grow and launch products. "It’s a great incubator," says Ed Dottery. "It helped me both as a small business and a second stage growth company."

Dottery attributes the company’s growth to a combination of factors, including the programs at the Innovation Center and other local economic development efforts, state tax incentives and its proximity to MacDill Airforce Base.

Alakai partners with universities such as University of South Florida and Florida A&M University on research and grant opportunities. Graduate students are able to obtain real-world experience and contribute their knowledge and research through industry practicum experiences. They also teamed up with USF recently to seek matching funds from the I-4 Corridor.

The company has 25 employees worldwide and is currently expanding its workforce to include 10 additional hires including a Senior Scientist, Electrical and Mechanical Engineers and Software Developers.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Ed Dottery, Alakai Defense Systems

Tampa Start-up Uses Crowdsourcing For Innovative Package Delivery

A new company based out of Tampa plans to revolutionize the way packages are delivered by turning regular commuters into couriers.

Titled HITCH, the company is the brainchild of Chuck Pasquotto, an entrepreneur who runs several transportation-related companies. Seeing the success of companies like Uber and Air BnB, Pasquotto wanted to use the power of crowd sourcing to help streamline the package delivery process. The idea is to find someone who is traveling daily to a destination and ask them to deliver someone else’s package. The network is connected through a mobile app.

"Think of us as a marketplace," says Eric Torres, USF graduate and VP of Marketing for HITCH. "We’re giving the crowd an opportunity to earn extra money via the shared economy."

Those who want to deliver packages (called travelers) sign up on the site and provide their origin and destination information. They can then see a list of deliveries on their intended route. Travelers receive a payment upon successful package delivery.

A shipper enters information about the item needing to be delivered, along with a picture and description. They can then see the fee and accept or decline the delivery. The pick-up location is determined by the shipper and can be a home, office or other public place. Once the transaction is complete, the shipper can request a signature. The traveler is also required to take a picture of where the item was delivered, and it can also be tracked with a gps.

The benefits are lower costs than a typical courier service, environmental benefits and an opportunity for the travelers to earn extra money.

The community is monitored, and users get ratings based on their reliability and effectiveness. For example, users can request to work with only five star rated travelers or shippers. Users also have to become verified by providing a bank account or credit card information.

HITCH recently partnered with Tampa-based creative agency PP+K to help launch the app. The app is currently in beta mode and aims for a soft launch in October in the I-4 corridor area. The company plans to expand nationwide after the launch.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Eric Torres, HITCH

USF Opens Futurist, Patient-Focused Pharmacy

Imagine a pharmacy where patients are fully involved with their health, utilizing the latest in technological advances to make the most of every interaction. Imagine pharmacists not only prescribing medications, but also mobile apps to help patients continue their health care at home. Envision prescriptions being filled by a robot and pharmacists using Google glass to interact with patients instead of staying behind the counter.

Sound futuristic? This is not only the pharmacy of the future, it’s the present too. The University of South Florida (USF) College of Pharmacy plans to open this pharmacy this month (September), featuring all of this and more.

“We’re entering an age in healthcare where we need to not only just exist in health, but also try to optimize health," says Kevin Sneed, PhD., dean of the College of Pharmacy at USF.

Located on USF’s campus, the 1,500-square-foot facility will serve patients at the Morsani Center for Advanced Healthcare. It will also allow pharmacy students to learn using the most advanced in technology and personal patient care.

At the facility, automatic will be achieved in a very uncommon way. Prescriptions will be sent to the center electronically, reviewed by a pharmacist and then sent to a robot. The robot will place the pills in a bottle, label and cap the bottle. A picture will be taken of the pills that is cross referenced against a known reference for that drug. The entire process will then be barcoded and reviewed in order to ensure the utmost accuracy.

In the ultimate in personalization, USF will use pharmaco genomics, a technology that uses the DNA of a patient to track their health and eventually predict how they will respond to a medication.

In a true community-based approach, a section of the pharmacy will display pharmaceutical-related items that were manufactured and marketed by Tampa Bay entrepreneurs.

The idea first came to Sneed just over a year ago, when the pharmacy USF maintained at the time was being shut down. He created the plan and proposal within 48 hours and was able to make it a reality in less than a year. The main goal is to give students a chance to experience what the pharmacy they may be working on in the future will look like, providing the critical hands-on component to what is discussed in classrooms.  

"We want to have them exit the program with the full intention of changing the healthcare landscape," says Sneed. "We want to build leaders in healthcare"

Sneed attributes the success of the facility and USF healthcare overall to the interprofessional collaborations among USF Health colleges, noting that a team-based approach is critical to any kind of success in healthcare.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Kevin Sneed, USF College of Pharmacy

Carrollwood Day School Hosts Startup Weekend For Youth Entrepreneurs

Pitch an idea, form a team and become part of the world’s largest entrepreneurial community in 54 hours. That’s the strategy behind every Startup Weekend around the globe – and it’s the mission for the first ever Startup Weekend Tampa Youth on September 12-14, 2014.
 
The intensive, team-based concept at the backbone of the global Startup Weekend movement has gained steam in Tampa Bay over several years of biannual events.

Growing, innovative local startups such as Wazinit, and breakout success stories like Eventjoy (formerly EXMO), are the result of previous Tampa Bay Startup Weekends.
 
Ryan Sullivan, a “Global Facilitator” and local organizer for Startup Weekend Tampa Bay and Startup Weekend Tampa Youth, says that the goal for the events in over 200 cities worldwide “is to educate and inspire people in the community to take action in entrepreneurship.”

Startup Weekend Youth is specifically geared toward 5th–8th graders - “the next generation’s entrepreneurs.” Sullivan notes that the event will look and feel a little different this time around. Participants will still pitch ideas and work in teams, but with a focus on teaching and inspiring young thinkers. Attendees will also have the opportunity to interact with coaches who are experts in their field and successful entrepreneurs.

“This is something special,” Sullivan says. “We will create an atmosphere of exercises and experiences that will inspire creative ideas in young minds and help kids to learn how to move those ideas forward towards action, and in the process, collaborate with their peers.”
 
Students are encouraged to register under one of three categories (Creative/Design, Coding/Programming, Business/Finance) based on their interests. Hands-on activities will be geared toward helping students identify a challenge to solve, learn to understand potential customers or users, work effectively with others, “and in the end, build something they are proud of as a team,” says Sullivan.

“Today’s youth are full of creative ideas for how to make lives and the world a better place. This will be a place for them to take those ideas and move them towards reality,” he explains. “This event will also help build confidence in creating and sharing ideas for those that tend to keep them inward.” 

Along with Sullivan, Nicholas Catania, Deborah Neff and Todd Broyles are co-organizers of the event. They expect more than 50 students to attend and participate in Startup Weekend Tampa Youth.
 
“We like to say that it is the least expensive babysitter at $25 for the weekend,” Sullivan says.

Startup Weekend Tampa Youth starts Friday, Sept. 12, at 6 p.m. and concludes on Sunday, Sept. 14, at 4 p.m. The event will take place at Carrollwood Day School, 1515 W. Bearss Ave. in Tampa. Tickets can be purchased by clicking here for $25.00. 

Writer: Justine Benstead
Source: Ryan Sullivan, Startup Weekend Tampa Bay

Eckerd College, FSU Partner For Accelerated Law Degree

Students studying at Eckerd College can now obtain a law degree in just six years.

The degree is a part of partnership between Eckerd College and Florida State University (FSU) College of Law. Students complete the first three years of undergraduate study at Eckerd and then transfer to FSU as seniors. They then complete the usual coursework for a first-year law student, with the courses also counting for the senior year at Eckerd, essentially allowing them to skip a year. Students can then graduate with a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science from Eckerd and continue on at FSU to complete the final two years of law school.

Eckerd decided to move forward with the program after looking at the curriculum and realizing the courses would be accepted for both programs as transfer credits. The rising cost of higher education was also a determining factor.

"College costs have increased, yet a college degree is still tremendously important not only for someone’s future career success but also in terms of the way in which students develop during the four years they spend in college," says Suzan Harrison, PhD., dean of faculty for Eckerd College.

The program is designed for high achieving, ambitious students who know their career plans early and plan out their three years at Eckerd carefully, making sure they complete the correct requirements for their major. The benefits to the student are saving a year’s worth of tuition and being able to start their law careers sooner.

The program is brand new and could start as early as this fall, as students qualify. Students are already expressing interest.

The program is the third of its kind for FSU. Other programs exist at FSU and the University of Central Florida.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Suzan Harrison, PhD., Eckerd College

Tampa Bay's First Senior Care ER Opens In St. Petersburg

Seniors looking for emergency care in Pinellas County will now have an option for a more personalized experience.

St. Petersburg General Hospital opened the first Senior Care Emergency Room in the Tampa Bay region in mid-August.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 23 percent of the population in Pinellas County is over 65 years of age, and this population continues to grow each year. The hospital noticed that approximately 20 percent of patients are over 60. That, combined with the growing number of seniors in the Tampa Bay region prompted the emphasis.

The hospital talked with patients to find out what they could do to better meet their needs. The result was a remodeling of a 4-bed wing and waiting area in the emergency room into a senior care area. The remodeled space includes non-skid floor, dimmer lighting and more comfortable chairs at the bedside for family members. The stretcher pads themselves are also thicker and more comfortable.

"We tried to make it a little bit more of a healing, comfortable environment," says Diane Conti, director of ER services for the hospital.

A section of the waiting area is now set aside for seniors as well, with softer lighting, more comfortable chairs and a larger television. Hearing and visual aids are available for patients who may have forgotten their hearing aids or glasses. Three parking spaces close to the building are designated as senior parking.

The hospital’s staff also underwent training on the needs of senior patients, such as dementia screening, fall risks and social screening. Emphasis is placed on working with caregivers to maximize the at-home healing experience.

"We don’t want them to be thought of as a different group, but rather a group with different needs," says Conti.

The move is part of a national trend, with over 50 hospitals in the U.S. opening senior specific emergency centers since 2011, according to the ECRI Institute.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Diane Conti, St. Petersburg Hospital

Clearwater Continues Greening Efforts With LED Streetlights

Residents of Clearwater will soon have softer streetlights and fewer outages as a result of the City’s latest efforts to go green.

The City is replacing the standard incandescent light bulbs in all 11,290 streetlights with LED bulbs. The new bulbs will produce the same amount of light, but use less energy and last longer.

"In light of the city’s green policy, we wanted to say the whole city is green and reduce the carbon footprint," says Paul Bertels, traffic operations manager for the City of Clearwater. "It’s important to the City Council and to the residents that we try to do everything we can to reduce our impact on the environment."

The major benefit from the move will be less outages. Standard bulbs typically have to be replaced every 18 months. The new LED bulbs will last an average of seven years before outage problems are experienced.

The decision was made by the City of Clearwater and Duke Energy, which currently provides maintenance for the streetlights. In a true public-private partnership, the bulbs will be funded by Duke Energy, so the replacement will be at no cost to citizens. Duke’s costs will be reduced due to less frequent maintenance.

Residents will mainly notice the white color of the lights vs. the orange color of the current bulbs. They will also notice a lot more stability with the less frequent outages.

The move is part of the city’s overall efforts to go green, which include a full service citywide recycling program, streetscaping, and water management.

"Clearwater has always been a very progressive place, and I think this policy on being green fits right in line with that thinking," says Bertels.

The project will begin in the Northeast quadrant of the city, with an estimated citywide completion in 18 months.   

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Paul Bertels, City of Clearwater

Greco Middle School's Outdoor Classroom Promotes STEM, Environment

Students and teachers at Greco Middle School in Tampa will soon have a new classroom alternative, providing hands-on access to environmental learning and other real world skills.

The outdoor classroom project is being led by the Florida Gulf Coast Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The collaboration is also supported by the School District of Hillsborough County as well as parents, teachers and administrators at Greco Middle School.

The classroom will include Florida-friendly landscaping improvements and other educational tools that will be integrated into the curriculum. Teachers will be able to reserve the space for a given period during the day to teach outside. Lesson plans might focus on storm water management or structural support for bridges.

"The whole idea is to incorporate aspects that are environmentally friendly and can serve as teaching points," says Travis Barnes, board member for Florida Gulf Coast Chapter of USGBC. "We’re also getting the school more engaged with the community at large."

The classroom is a nice pairing with Greco’s strong focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields and on-site community garden, a collaboration with the City of Temple Terrace.

The implementation is part of USGBC’s Green Apple Day of Service on September 27. The goal is to promote sustainability at K-12 as well as college campuses on a global scale. This is the third year the Florida Gulf Coast Chapter has participated in the event. Last year’s project was a school garden at Muller Elementary School in Tampa that has since been formally incorporated into the school’s curriculum.

40 – 50 volunteers are expected to help with the buildout, including parents, students, teachers, staff and the business community.

The project’s title sponsor is Julius the Architect. Other sponsors include the Phoenix Agency and Tampa Bay Trane.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Travis Barnes, USGBC
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