Monthly Archives

September 2020

By | Innovation, People, Rochester

Startup Bytes featuring UR Health Lab

By Ain Center Staff

Pre-pandemic, the Ain Center would host in-person lunches each month, convening faculty, staff and students to explore different topics in entrepreneurship. Because gathering on campus currently is a no-go, the Ain Center has created Startup Bytes – a digital brown bag lunch series open to students, faculty, staff, and anyone else who would like to join. Each month, a different speaker or group shares their entrepreneurial experience via Zoom, with time for Q&A with attendees. September 18 marked the first Startup Bytes event, featuring UR Health Lab.

The UR Health Lab exists at the intersection of data science and medicine, where clinicians and researchers work alongside data scientists, computer scientists and electrical and computer engineers. A collaboration between the UR Medical Center and the College of Arts, Sciences & Engineering, they devise breakthrough systems that incorporate the most advanced technological practices to develop precision medicine that improves the lives of patients. Co-Director Michael Hasselberg and Lead Data Scientist Jack Teitel joined us on September 18 to speak about their role in the current public health crisis.

As a digital health incubator, the UR Health Lab team is used to testing various solutions to issues in the medical industry. In pre-pandemic times, leaders at URMC would identify a gap in the healthcare system that could be solved with technology. Once identified, the individual or department would be referred to the Health Lab and, if selected, interdisciplinary teams would tackle the problem using a powerful combination of medical expertise and data prowess. The overarching goal of their work is often to connect the ends of the value chain, according to Michael, directly linking clinicians and caregivers to patients. While this usually involves the calculated use of technology and plenty of iteration, the pandemic provided a new challenge of responding quickly while still producing the high-quality solution that is characteristic of the Health Lab’s work.

When the situation became dire in March, URMC wanted to provide a way for concerned employees to talk with experienced healthcare providers, both to provide guidance on testing and to assuage concerns for the “worried well” (people not experiencing symptoms but concerned about their wellbeing). The first measure enacted was a call hotline – Med Center employees could call in, report symptoms, and speak with a health professional if needed. Though effective, the hotline was quickly overwhelmed and so UR Health Lab was tapped to create a tech-based solution that could handle more users and still collect the same information. Just a few days later came Dr. Chatbot, a tool that would ask questions about symptoms and travel, while providing healthcare professionals with a way to follow up if needed. Over 7,000 individuals used Dr. Chatbot within the first week and call volume dropped by 50%, relieving the pressure on clinicians running the phones.

Once the tech had been created and adapted to fit the needs of the institution (including the broader University of Rochester community), UR Health Lab worked with Rochester Regional Health, Monroe County, the City of Rochester, and Common Ground Health to increase their reach and track COVID data throughout the greater Rochester area with ROC Covid-19. Over 52,000 individuals have since signed up to share their symptoms (or lack thereof), allowing data scientists and healthcare professionals to track the virus’s spread in our region. UR Health Lab also made the software code available to other entities as open source software, enabling tracking in other areas or by other employers.

Within their story are threads of collaboration, scalability, and, of course, entrepreneurial thinking. The agility of both the tech and the team behind it enabled a local solution to create reliable datasets and, ergo, the evidence for public health leaders to make informed decisions for the area. Further, acclaim for ROC Covid-19 has come from throughout the region and the nation: UR Health Lab has since been asked to work with the prestigious XPrize Foundation leadership to find unconventional solutions to pandemic threats.

Though there was an all-hands-on-deck urgency for their pandemic response, UR Health Lab also has other ongoing projects and goals. In addition to their specific projects, the Health Lab provides training for providers, works with students (largely from the U of R and RIT), and spreads the word about the benefits of connecting medicine and data science.

Individuals who are prepared to think creatively and bring those ideas to fruition are called to action in times of crisis, especially when they can synthesize skillsets and utilize the talents of their team. We’d like to again offer our thanks to Michael and Jack for exemplifying how to effectively tackle a pressing problem, and for sharing the impressive and innovative work of UR Health Lab.

Though shared above, the full recording of the September 16 event can also be found on our Vimeo page. Be sure to tune in on October 16 for the next edition of Startup Bytes, which will feature a discussion with the community organizers of the Roc the Business of Art program. If you have any questions, contact AinCFE@rochester.edu.

By | Entrepreneurship

Startup Bytes feat. UR Health Lab

Each month, the Ain Center hosts a guest speaker to talk about their entrepreneurial endeavors. On September 18, we hosted Michael Hasselberg and Jack Teitel from UR Health Lab, a collaboration among the UR Medical Center and the College of Arts, Sciences, & Engineering. During their talk, they went through how UR Health Lab quickly responded to the pandemic in March 2020, as well as some of their other upcoming projects.

Read more about UR Health Lab, their COVID response, and their innovations here.

By | Innovation, People, Rochester

Startup Bytes featuring UR Health Lab

By Ain Center Staff

Pre-pandemic, the Ain Center would host in-person lunches each month, convening faculty, staff and students to explore different topics in entrepreneurship. Because gathering on campus currently is a no-go, the Ain Center has created Startup Bytes – a digital brown bag lunch series open to students, faculty, staff, and anyone else who would like to join. Each month, a different speaker or group shares their entrepreneurial experience via Zoom, with time for Q&A with attendees. September 18 marked the first Startup Bytes event, featuring UR Health Lab.

The UR Health Lab exists at the intersection of data science and medicine, where clinicians and researchers work alongside data scientists, computer scientists and electrical and computer engineers. A collaboration between the UR Medical Center and the College of Arts, Sciences & Engineering, they devise breakthrough systems that incorporate the most advanced technological practices to develop precision medicine that improves the lives of patients. Co-Director Michael Hasselberg and Lead Data Scientist Jack Teitel joined us on September 18 to speak about their role in the current public health crisis.

As a digital health incubator, the UR Health Lab team is used to testing various solutions to issues in the medical industry. In pre-pandemic times, leaders at URMC would identify a gap in the healthcare system that could be solved with technology. Once identified, the individual or department would be referred to the Health Lab and, if selected, interdisciplinary teams would tackle the problem using a powerful combination of medical expertise and data prowess. The overarching goal of their work is often to connect the ends of the value chain, according to Michael, directly linking clinicians and caregivers to patients. While this usually involves the calculated use of technology and plenty of iteration, the pandemic provided a new challenge of responding quickly while still producing the high-quality solution that is characteristic of the Health Lab’s work.

When the situation became dire in March, URMC wanted to provide a way for concerned employees to talk with experienced healthcare providers, both to provide guidance on testing and to assuage concerns for the “worried well” (people not experiencing symptoms but concerned about their wellbeing). The first measure enacted was a call hotline – Med Center employees could call in, report symptoms, and speak with a health professional if needed. Though effective, the hotline was quickly overwhelmed and so UR Health Lab was tapped to create a tech-based solution that could handle more users and still collect the same information. Just a few days later came Dr. Chatbot, a tool that would ask questions about symptoms and travel, while providing healthcare professionals with a way to follow up if needed. Over 7,000 individuals used Dr. Chatbot within the first week and call volume dropped by 50%, relieving the pressure on clinicians running the phones.

Once the tech had been created and adapted to fit the needs of the institution (including the broader University of Rochester community), UR Health Lab worked with Rochester Regional Health, Monroe County, the City of Rochester, and Common Ground Health to increase their reach and track COVID data throughout the greater Rochester area with ROC Covid-19. Over 52,000 individuals have since signed up to share their symptoms (or lack thereof), allowing data scientists and healthcare professionals to track the virus’s spread in our region. UR Health Lab also made the software code available to other entities as open source software, enabling tracking in other areas or by other employers.

Within their story are threads of collaboration, scalability, and, of course, entrepreneurial thinking. The agility of both the tech and the team behind it enabled a local solution to create reliable datasets and, ergo, the evidence for public health leaders to make informed decisions for the area. Further, acclaim for ROC Covid-19 has come from throughout the region and the nation: UR Health Lab has since been asked to work with the prestigious XPrize Foundation leadership to find unconventional solutions to pandemic threats.

Though there was an all-hands-on-deck urgency for their pandemic response, UR Health Lab also has other ongoing projects and goals. In addition to their specific projects, the Health Lab provides training for providers, works with students (largely from the U of R and RIT), and spreads the word about the benefits of connecting medicine and data science.

Individuals who are prepared to think creatively and bring those ideas to fruition are called to action in times of crisis, especially when they can synthesize skillsets and utilize the talents of their team. We’d like to again offer our thanks to Michael and Jack for exemplifying how to effectively tackle a pressing problem, and for sharing the impressive and innovative work of UR Health Lab.

Though shared above, the full recording of the September 16 event can also be found on our Vimeo page. Be sure to tune in on October 16 for the next edition of Startup Bytes, which will feature a discussion with the community organizers of the Roc the Business of Art program. If you have any questions, contact AinCFE@rochester.edu.

By | Entrepreneurship

COVID-19 Challenge Accepted

This July, University of Rochester students were challenged to solve pandemic-related problems in just 10 days. Arranged by a variety of departments throughout UR, Matthew Cook of the River Campus Libraries highlights how participants worked with community partners and shared their final plans to address pandemic-impacted operations.

Read Matthew’s full recap of the Challenge here.

By | Innovation, People, Rochester

COVID-19 Challenge Accepted

By Matthew Cook (re-published with permission from the author; originally published on UR River Campus Libraries website)

One of the most devastating aspects of COVID-19 is its ubiquity. Everyone who is not battling the virus itself is living in its shadow. That omnipresent threat has wreaked havoc on almost every aspect of everyday life.

For example, slowing the coronavirus’s spread has required businesses and organizations to adopt crippling, if not ruinous, physical distancing practices. And Rochester’s professional community has not been immune to this adversity. In typical fashion, the University of Rochester embraced the problem as an opportunity for innovation. The problem became the COVID-19 Challenge.

A collaboration between the Ain Center for EntrepreneurshipBarbara J. Burger iZoneGrand Challenges Scholars ProgramGreene Center for Career Education and Connections, and Rochester Center for Community Leadership, the challenge was created to give students the opportunity to build competencies and gain valuable experience while fighting the effects that the pandemic is having on the City of Rochester.

THE CHALLENGE

Working in teams, students have 10 days to develop ways to address an actual problem faced by one of four community partners.

THE PRIZE

$1500 to first place

$500 to the runner-up

Deniz Cengiz ʼ21, a Karp Library Fellow at iZone, explained that at the outset, they were preparing for a competition that would include one community partner and as many as 10 teams. Then they opened registration, and it blew up.

“I think we had about 150 applications,” says Cengiz, who served as the community partner liaison. “We had PhD students from the Medical Center. We had all levels of undergrads. We had incoming freshmen who hadn’t even been to Rochester yet. We really weren’t expecting this many students, and realized we had to add more partners.”

When the dust settled, there were around 42 teams—about 10 for each community partner, who had specific problems students had to address. And it quickly became clear that the community partners were as enthusiastic about and engaged in this challenge as the students.

“They were incredibly involved,” says Cengiz of the partners. “I would say they gave 20 to 25 hours of their time over the 10-day period. They deserve a lot of credit.”

Drawing of folks in masks contributing to a central diagram

Students used the 20-plus hours given by the partners on problem-solving communication. That communication included email correspondence and “office hours,” which served as dedicated time for teams to get more information about the organization, more details about the organization’s problem, and to talk through some initial ideas for solutions.

In the end, there may have only been two official winners, but it’s clear there were no losers. Even the teams who didn’t come out on top were grateful for having the close working experience with their respective organizations. The partners equally enjoyed collaborating with the students. Cengiz shared that feedback on the challenge was “overwhelmingly positive.”

“Basically, everybody wants to keep working together,” says Cengiz.

The challenge ended with a “pitch day,” where all the teams gave presentations to their respective organizations. Each organization then chose a finalist from their group, who would pitch to all the partners at once. Finally, the partners choose the top two from the final four. Those teams were…

THE WINNER

Team Duo

Team members: Casey Ryu ʼ21 and Ilene Kang ʼ21

Community partner: 540WMain, Inc.

PROBLEM

540WMain needed to completely reimagine their normally in-person Gentrification Conference for a virtual space, in a way that would retain their audience, create discussion and connection opportunities, and deliver engaging content. This year’s theme was to be “Resisting Gentrification: Then & Now.”

SOLUTION

Lean into the theme. Team Duo proposed extending the conference from one to two days. The extra day allowed the conference to focus entire days on concepts of “Then” and “Now” by walking through four topic areas—investment and policy, demystifying inner cities, landlord and renter relationships, and health and gentrification (pre- and post-COVID). The result was a mix of talks and activities with virtual and in-person options.

ACTIVITY EXAMPLE

Redesign a gentrified city using Legos (in-person) or take a virtual Google Street View-Tour through gentrified areas—then and now.

TALK EXAMPLE

Health issues exacerbated by COVID-19 in communities of color.

POST-CHALLENGE REFLECTIONS

“This was a great way—even virtually, from across the country—that a bunch of students could come together and try and develop ideas for these different partner organizations,” says Ryu.

Ryu and Kang are now officially part of the planning committee for the conference, which has been rescheduled for April 9 and 10, 2021.

“I was immediately impressed by their thoughtful questions and attention to detail,” said Calvin Eaton, founder and director of 540WMain, Inc. “It was clear their enthusiasm was genuine and that they had an interest in working with 540 beyond the scope of the challenge. Their professionalism and creativity truly made them stand out.”

THE RUNNER UP

Team BriKarSoo

Team members: Brian Perez ʼ22, Karlin Li ʼ22, and Soomin Park ʼ23

Community partner: Westside Farmers Market

PROBLEM

Adhering to COVID-19 guidelines has resulted in the loss of many fun aspects of the market (live music, the children’s tent, bike repair, etc.) that usually draw crowds, creating an imminent need for ways to bring in new customers and encourage regular customers to return. There’s also a great need for additional volunteers.

SOLUTION

A multi-pronged approach that raises awareness of the market’s existence, educates potential visitors on how the market is functioning safely, and inspires engagement.

EDUCATION EXAMPLE

A video that creates the customer experience to provide a preview of what being at the market will be like.

ENGAGEMENT EXAMPLE

Various activities, including raffles and guessing competitions (think, jelly bean counting).

POST-CHALLENGE REFLECTIONS

“It was really fun to come up with an original idea that would help people in the Rochester community,” said Karlin.

“It was great working with them,” says Lauren Caruso. “They contacted possible partners and made connections we wouldn’t have. They also gave us some great ideas; we are implementing several of them to make our market better.”

For more information on the COVID-19 Challenge, contact Deniz Cengiz at dcengiz@u.rochester.edu. If you would like to hear more about the proposal for 540WMain contact, Casey Ryu at cryu@u.rochester.edu, and for the Westside Farmers Market proposal, contact Karlin Li at kli27@u.rochester.edu.

Matthew Cook is the senior communications officer for the libraries and collections at the University of Rochester. He is also the writer and editor for the libraries’ monthly newsletter, Tower Talk.

By | Innovation, People, Rochester

Finally, We Have Reached Our Nexus!

By Dr. Lomax R. Campbell  (re-published with permission from the author; originally published on Nexus i90)

Small business travelers and fellow resource partners, welcome to the official blog spot for Nexus i90 Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Solutions! Nexus i90 is your on-ramp to the digital highway, connecting a host of small business resources across the Finger Lakes Region. Powered by SourceLink®, the platform was launched to make support resources more accessible and easier to use so small businesses in our community can enjoy equitable growth and inclusiveness as Rochester ventures along the road to economic recovery.

What’s in a Name?

Everything! The naming of a thing can speak to where it has historically been, where it currently is, or where it aspires to be. These solutions have been so named because Rochester is literally the nexus (i.e., at the center; the connecting point) of Buffalo and Syracuse along Interstate 90—the longest interstate in the nation. This positioning presents tremendous economic development opportunities for small businesses seeking to launch, sustain, expand, and matter to the multicultural communities that make up these regions. It is in this spirit that we endeavor to be a catalyst for sustainable community-based economic development and inter-municipal policy alignment.

How We Do Things ’Round Here

Fueled by deep levels of collaboration between the City of Rochester – Mayor’s Office of Community Wealth Building, Rochester Institute of Technology’s Center for Urban Entrepreneurship, Rochester Economic Development Corporation, and the Business Insight Center at the Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County, our work across the Finger Lakes is driven by our Guiding Principles.

Nexus i90 Website

Small Businesses for the Win

Nexus i90 is publicly available to entrepreneurs/small businesses, resource partners, and the diverse community stakeholders vested in the viability and success of “the underdog” (i.e., small businesses). We hope you all will take advantage of this phenomenal suite of solutions, including:

  • Resource Navigator
  • An Events Calendar
  • Blog
  • A Hotline (soon)
  • Tons of information about starting, growing, and funding small businesses
  • A data system for tracking and measuring the success of our network

Resources that help businesses build better business models, determine which activities increase their return on investment, put them on the map, and help them navigate government contracting are but a few examples of the many supports provided by our network. You can see a more impressive list on our About page.

A Little Network Lingo

Borrowing a few words from our friends at SourceLink®: A Resource Partner is typically a nonprofit, government or educational organization that offers a service to help someone start or grow a business. These organizations provide value for all different kinds of entrepreneurs, typically for low or no cost.

Frequently, Resource Partners include some for-profit organizations such as incubators, accelerators, coworking spaces and equity providers.

Typically, the network does NOT include for profit resources such as bankers, accountants, lawyers, insurance agents, [and] management consultants. While these resources are an important part of an overall entrepreneurial ecosystem, especially for high-growth companies, they are difficult to “vet” and are perhaps not in line with the low cost/no cost message.

Keeping us Community Centered

Check back with us from time-to-time for future posts. As we get things moving, it is our intent to post regularly. Readers will enjoy insights provided by our regional collaborators, subject matter experts, residential community members, and directly from entrepreneurs/small business owners. We hope to field your requests for blog topics through our Facebook and Twitter pages. Keep in mind we are here to help entrepreneurs, resource partners, small business organizers/advocates, policymakers, and entrepreneurial ecosystem builders navigate the road ahead.

Dr. Lomax R. Campbell is the Director of the Mayor’s Office of Community Wealth Building at the City of Rochester. He has 17 years of experience in small business, higher education, and government administration. His expertise includes strategic management, ethnic psychology, urban entrepreneurship, technology innovation, economic and workforce development. He holds a Doctor of Management degree from the University of Maryland Global Campus, an Executive MBA degree from Rochester Institute of Technology, and a certificate in Leading Economic Growth from Harvard Kennedy School of Government.