Geek gals: Can the Twin Cities lead in helping women take their place in high tech?

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By Elizabeth Millard, The Line

“As Minnesota builds its technology sector and continues its path to becoming Silicon Prairie, one issue seems to stand out: there are still mostly men in all those software development seats.

Women hold a place at many companies and associations–most notably, Margaret Anderson Kelliher helms the Minnesota High Tech Association (MHTA)–but when it comes to sheer numbers, the gender imbalance can be stark.

“We’ve really tried to hire more women as software engineers, but we have a hard time finding them and bringing them in,” says Shivani Khanna, a Software Development Manager at St. Cloud-based W3i. “Unfortunately, in the seven years I’ve been here, there hasn’t been much change, despite many efforts.”

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CoraCove finds growth by revamping forms processing

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By Elizabeth Millard, The Line

“Paper is so yesterday. The steady march toward digital information is changing the publishing industry, making photo labs increasingly obsolete, and even prompting emailed receipts instead of physical ones.

At Burnsville-based CoraCove, that evolution is taking shape for forms processing, giving professionals the opportunity to replace paper forms with digital ones on tablet computers.”

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Flat Rock Geographics merges two firms for more robust geographic services

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By Elizabeth Millard, The Line

“Assessing tornado damage, mapping Minnesota’s water quality, creating new views of the Frogtown neighborhood, measuring the performance of a fire department’s response: these tasks might seem unrelated, but they fall under the umbrella of geographics research, and a new startup is ready to take on even more.

Flat Rock Geographics, based in St. Paul, is the blend of two previous startup companies, mixing the skills and talents of their founders.”

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New apprenticeship program trains IT professionals

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By Elizabeth Millard, The Line

“Local IT companies seem to always be in need of more professionals for development work, and now they have new resource that could fill their IT departments in the future.

The IT-Ready Apprentice Program is launching in Minneapolis and St. Paul, with an eye toward other cities in the future. The non-profit program covers the cost of recruitment, training, and certification for employees taking on help-desk, call-center, and technical duties.”

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Online education firm Sophia makes global impact, ramps up hiring

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By Elizabeth Millard, The Line

“In classrooms around the world, Sophia is proving to be a very popular and very smart girl. The online education site went live last March and experienced an overwhelming response, with people logging on from nearly 70 countries in just the first two days.

Now, just seven months later, Sophia has grown from start-up to robust enterprise, expanding from six to 13 full-time employees, plus approximately 25 contractors and consultants. Founder and CEO Don Smithmier, whom we profiled in February, anticipates more hiring in the coming year, as Sophia ramps up even more.”

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Who really runs your company? Keyhubs can help you find out

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By Elizabeth Millard, The Line

“Those of you who aren’t solo entrepreneurs– take a look at your company. Do you know who the most influential people are? The ones who shape opinion, lead teams, and provide cohesion across divisions? Chances are they’re not who you think.

The informal social networks that exist within companies are often mentioned in business schools, and complicated academic models exist for mapping them. But a local company, Keyhubs, is the first to bring this insight to the workplace, to facilitate real, strategic changes within an organization.”

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Medibotics redefines game controllers

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By Elizabeth Millard, The Line

“Imagine playing a game and seeing a shrug of your shoulders or a small bend of your knee translated perfectly on-screen.

At Medibotics, it’s those types of visions that are fueling the company’s future. The Minneapolis-based company has developed motion recognition clothing that relies on bendable tubes integrated into fabric.”

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The Lessons of Code 42

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By Jeremy Stratton, The Line

“As chief technology officer from 1988–1998, Matthew Dornquast saw the ad agency Fallon McElligott grow from 50 to 800 people.

“I learned a lot about growing a business there,” says the 45-year-old co-founder of the software firm Code 42.

Born in 2001 as the dot com bubble burst, Code 42 built software for a slew of other companies–from Sun Country Airlines to Target–while pursuing the primary dream of launching its own product.”

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$4.8 million Emerge Career and Technology Center will address growing digital divide

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By Anna Pratt, The Line

‘The $4.8 million Emerge Career and Technology Center will help address a growing digital divide in North Minneapolis.

Emerge Community Development will redevelop the former North Branch Library at 1834 Emerson Avenue North, to make way for the center, which will offer a wide variety of programming pertaining to emerging careers, with an emphasis on green jobs, according to Emerge executive director Mike Wynne.

Training will deal with entrepreneurship, job skills, and career learning, while several learning labs, computer kiosks, multi-use conference rooms, and offices will be available.”

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