Northwest Minnesota embraces drone industry

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By Adam Belz, Star Tribune

“Northwest Minnesotans created the snowmobile industry. Now leaders in the region want to join forces with North Dakota to pioneer the commercial use of drones throughout the nation’s airspace.

With ambitions to develop a drone technology cluster, dozens of representatives from agriculture, aviation and higher education are meeting Tuesday in Thief River Falls with government authorities including Sen. Al Franken and Rep. Collin Peterson to talk about ways to collaborate and promote the region as a center for the unmanned aircraft industry.”

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Movers & Shakers: Kelly Heikkila, Kinetic Data

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By Tim Nelson, Star Tribune

Kelly Heikkila is helping to strengthen customer focus in his return to Kinetic Data as vice president of products for the St. Paul-based enterprise management software system developer.

Heikkila rejoined Kinetic after it acquired his company, Minneapolis-based Coderow, which developed mobile and desktop Web applications and hardware-connected mobile applications.”

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PreciouStatus wants to become the informative app for day-care parents

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By Steve Alexander, Star Tribune

“It was only a matter of time until social media came to day care.  Smartphone-toting parents at work are hungry for updates on what and how their children are doing in day care. PreciouStatus, a three-year-old Minneapolis start-up, has created a customized tool from existing technology to relieve their anxieties.”

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Minneapolis sees civic push for open data

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By Eric Roper, Star Tribune

“Residents of Chicago can track their city’s plows and pothole repairs in real time. In Seattle, 911 calls are quickly detailed online. New Yorkers can sift through city contracts with a simple mouse click.

Minneapolis has kept a tight grip on the information it collects even as cities across the country open up streams of public data to developers, journalists and the public. But this past November’s election has spurred calls at City Hall to liberate that data, from food inspections to landlord violations, so it can be analyzed and manipulated for the public good.”

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Sometimes, a little anger can push a new business

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By Lee Schafer, Star Tribune

“Maybe nothing fuels entrepreneurship quite like anger. Mark Lazarchic [Otterology] sure doesn’t bother masking the fact that anger is driving him. “I have the words ‘anger is a gift’ tattooed on the middle of my back.”

And he’s not kidding.

So clearly Lazarchic isn’t a typical software company CEO, not even a typical entrepreneur. His anger doesn’t come from an old grievance with a former employer, the kind of start-up story you may hear from other founders.”

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William Mitchell law school first to offer ABA-approved online degrees

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By Maura Lerner, Star Tribune

“A Minnesota law school will become the first in the country to allow students to earn their degrees largely from home, with the blessing of the American Bar Association.

On Wednesday, William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul plans to announce its new hybrid option: Students will spend only a week or two on campus each semester, and take the rest of their classes online.”

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Transition for the Nerdery complicated by history

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By Lee Shafer, Star Tribune

“For most companies, promoting someone to president would be pretty straightforward, but few companies have had the history of the Nerdery.

First, and depending on when you count, the job of president seems pretty well covered already by the something like 462 co-presidents the company already has. Everyone who works at the place carries a business card that says “Co-President.”

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CEO Coughlan shifts XRS’ focus to mobile

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By Patrick Kennedy, Star Tribune

“Using mobile technology, CEO Jay Coughlan rebooted his company. Then he renamed it XRS Corp.

The tiny tech company, which makes communications systems for the trucking industry, was recognized for its transition to mobile with a Tekne Award in the “mobile technologies category’’ from the Minnesota High Tech Association last month.

“We moved all of our chips onto the table on mobile,” Coughlan said.”

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Stratasys seeks aerospace business with new 3-D printer

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By Steve Alexander, Star Tribune

“In a switch from high fashion to high altitude, Stratasys Ltd. is adapting a 3-D printing technology for making jewelry to create jet engine parts.

It’s the latest advance in the rapidly changing business of 3-D printing, in which devices can take computerized instructions and “print” a physical object, typically by using liquid plastic that hardens.”

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Sun Number rates homes’ rooftops for solar panels

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By David Shaffer, Star Tribune

“Does big data offer a path to cheaper solar power?  Sun Number, a start-up company that’s expanding in Minnesota, is using massive databases and web-based tools to help homeowners and solar panel installers determine whether millions of U.S. buildings get enough sun to make rooftop solar power worthwhile.

The technology was developed by the company’s co-founder and chief technology officer, Ryan Miller of Deephaven. It relies on aerial mapping known as Lidar that takes a three-dimensional snapshot of the landscape, accurately depicting tree and building heights, roof angles and other features.”

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