Spreading the Word on the SBIR STTR Race to the Finish Line

December 2, 2011

Few government programs make a bigger impact on keeping the United States at the forefront of innovation and technology of all kinds than the SBIR/STTR program.

A heat in the race for SBIR/STTR reauthorization was including in it in the Continuing Resolution (CR) that funded the Federal Government through December 16th, The Senate has now included the SBIR/STTR reauthorization in the Senate Defense Bill that passed yesterday by a vote of 93-7. The Bill also authorizes money for military personnel, weapons systems, national security programs in the Energy Department, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in the fiscal year that began Oct. 1.

Senator Mary L. Landrieu, Chair, Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship, made the following comments following the Senate’s unanimous vote in favor of Amendment 1115 to the National Defense Authorization bill. The amendment would reauthorize the Small Business innovation and Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs for another eight years. Read the rest of this entry »


Making your mark on the wall

July 10, 2011

I spend a quite a bit of my time with with innovators and entrepreneurs these days.  As CEO of the Arizona BioIndustry Association or AZBio as we say, I get to connect with teams that are researching and developing products for a better world… Sustainable Health (and health care) , more plentiful food, greener energy… pretty heady stuff.  My job’s not nearly as sexy.  Here at AZBio our job is ground support, providing opportunities for them to connect and engage with each other, pulling together educational and support resources and sharing their stories.  Our job is not to change the world.  Our job at AZBIO is to support them so that they can.


Cartoon #5806 - 'First off, it's not a cave wall.  Secondly, I doubt any future researchers will be interested in your sister or Gozilla.'
An Andertoons Cartoon

Read the rest of this entry »

Doing it a better way – Dr. Michelle Hanna Founder of RiboMed

August 27, 2010

Dr.-Michelle-HannaHave you ever looked at something and thought – I bet I know a better way?  Sure, most of us have.  A select few will go all in.  They do not just think about a better way.  They create it.  We call them inventors.

A great example is Dr. Michelle Hanna, the founder and CEO of RiboMed Biotechnologies.  Michelle , received her Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of California, Davis in 1983 and did her postdoctoral work in Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics as an American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley. She was an Assistant Professor of Biological Chemistry at UC Irvine College of Medicine where she received young investigator awards from the American Cancer Society and the Beckman Foundation. Dr. Hanna was a tenured Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Oklahoma until August 1999, when she founded RiboMed Biotechnologies. Over the past 23 years, Dr. Hanna has been awarded over $10 million in grants and contracts from the ACS, the National Cancer Institute (NCI)/National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)/NIH, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and the Homeland Security Advanced Projects Agency (HSARPA). Her work has resulted in numerous peer-reviewed publications, three book chapters, five issued U.S. patents, 1 international patent, and multiple pending patents.

clip_image001[7]Michelle and her team are combining know-how with a passion for finding a better way and are applying it to the field of personalized medicine.  By specifically looking at the ways that we treat cancer, RiboMed is developing tests that will save lives AND decrease healthcare costs.  Today, patients with many forms of cancer, including lung cancer and  ovarian cancer, are often treated with the chemotherapy drug cisplatin. While cisplatin treatment may be effective, it carries with it severe side effects and, either before or during treatment, the majority of patients will develop a resistance to the drug.  The end result – all of the side effects and associated costs without the benefit.   

Using RiboMed’s patented technology, Michelle and the team are developing new tests that will allow physicians to test for resistance first so that they will know if cisplatin is the right way to go for their patients or if another strategy might be better.  And, since new drugs are being developed and approved that can reverse cisplatin resistance, RiboMed’s tests will allow physicians to determine when these drugs are needed.  Called companion diagnostics, these tests are just one way that committed teams and researchers are putting the power of invention  to work.

As an investor  in the company  and then as a member of the board of directors, I have had the opportunity to observe Michelle and her team in action.  Perhaps their dedication to the research and innovation process has rubbed off on me.  By watching them, I am learning too.  Here is what Michelle and her team have taught me.

1.  Innovation is not an exact science.  Instead it is a continuing process of exploration, experimentation, application, and explanation.

2.  A person may invent something – but it takes a team committed  to the goal to take that invention and turn it into something that truly makes a difference –   to create innovation. 

3.  Overnight success is a myth. Great inventions become innovations when the inventors are willing to make the commitment to helping others apply the invention to doing things in a new way that makes things better.

I hope you have enjoyed this series honoring some great inventors during National Inventors Month.  

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

Founding Flowtown – Value Driven Invention and Innovation

August 22, 2010

Flowtown co-founders Dan Martell and Ethan Bloch had a vision of how a company and its solution could help users leverage their personal networks across the social continuum to connect, engage, create value and grow.  They knew the answers to their WHY questions, and had a reasonably good handle on WHAT they wanted to create.  The next step was to get to the HOW.  To do that, they rely heavily on three values that guide not only the company decisions but also they players that they bring to the team. They are:

  1. Love to learn – personally, professionally, and as on organization
  2. Measure – everything that matters
  3. Go Direct – we do not have time to beat around the bush – go directly to the person you need to work with or communicate with and get it done.


AZEC10_LogoThis year, at AZEC10, Ethan will be coming over from San Francisco to join our  Arizona entrepreneurial community for a day of idea sharing, connections, and value creation as we gather for the Fifth Annual Arizona Entrepreneurship Conference on November 17, 2010.  Since August is National Inventors Month, it was the perfect opportunity to have a chat about the journey to FlowTown with Ethan.


Etan Bloch - co founder of Flowtown A serial entrepreneur, Ethan Bloch is no stranger to the needs of small businesses.  He started his first ecommerce website at the age of 13 and that led to other ventures, and hosting WSYK, an Internet TV show which was syndicated to Revision3. Today, as the CEO of Flowtown, Ethan combines what he has learned along the journey with the talents of a great team to add value in a new way.  Here is a bit of what he had to say.


The 2010 Social Networking Map - courtesy of www.Flowtown.com

JKW:  Tell me – What is Flowtown?

EB:  Flowtown is the place where you can see which Social Networks your customers are on. 

Today everyone is trying to expand their business and engage in customers in new ways. but for many businesses, especially small businesses, what you have developed over the years is a database of email addresses. With Flowtown, you can leverage that valuable data into a wealth of new information as Flowtown shows you all the different social networks your customers are on including: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Myspace and more.  This gives you the insight to need to see who your customer audience is, what they are talking about (a great indicator of what they care about), it can also help you find new people to engage with and best of all, it provides tools help you deliver more value to your customers and to measure the return on investment you are making in getting more social. 


JKW:  I’ve seen lots of interesting inventions in the social space, but for them to move into the innovation category, they need to be used and create value.  Flowtown is still young company, where are you along this path?


EB:  We’ve focused on the small business space as the customer segment where we can add the greatest value.  Today Flowtown has over 15,000 businesses  who use our services on either a monthly subscription or by accessing al a carte services.  Our customer base tracks to our focus with 80% of our customers falling into the small business segment.  Our early adopters are web savvy entrepreneurs who are looking to expand and grow by engaging deeper with their customers across the social map.

JKW:  Those are great numbers for this stage in your evolution.  Has it always been a smooth road?

EB:  No way.  Our first iteration of the product failed.  But we were reminded of an important lesson.  To do stuff in a vacuum is dangerous.  That was a hard lesson to learn.  But when we started with the second generation product, we learned from what our customers were telling us. We simplified our model, revised how we priced it, and BEFORE we built it, we asked our target customer base – is this what you want AND will you pay for it.  We measured results and when we got to the target number of “Yes” answers that is when we started building it again.  This process took us 10 – 11 months, but in the end we had a product that met the customers needs AND that they are willing to pay for.  Today we listen to our customers and they give us great ideas.

JKW:  Guiding customers across the social landscape is a big job to do on your own.  Are you up to the task?

EB:  You can’t do it alone – that is why we reached our and formed relationships with great partners including MailChimp, iContact, BatchBook, Wufoo and many more.

JKW:  I am inspired by great inventors and entrepreneurs.  Who inspires you?

EB:  Ben Franklin (inventor and entrepreneur), Warren Buffet, and Bill Gates.

JKW:  Well this has been just a glimpse into Ethan’s life and journey at Flowtown.  Don’t miss out on meeting him and learning more when he is here with us in Arizona at AZEC10 on November 17, 2010.  (You might want to register today.  Space is limited and the early registration discount is a great way to save.)


Thanks for stopping by.  Stay tuned….we have some more inventor profiles lined up a we celebrate National Inventors Month this August.

Joan Koerber-Walker

Connect on Twitter:  @flowtown @ebloch @danmartell @corepurpose @joankw @azec10 @azentrepreneurs

Wisdom, Insight, Invention – Kathy Kolbe

August 16, 2010

clip_image002Kathy Kolbe, Founder of Kolbe Corp,  did not invent conation, but the history, the study of conation, and most importantly the measurement and application of conative ability in individuals and teams has been her passion for decades.  It was through this journey that Kathy created The Kolbe Wisdom™  and invented the first assessment specifically designed to measure and describe conative ability, the Kolbe A™ Index.

Assessing the Mind:

Today’s assessment tools break out the functional areas of the mind into three areas, Cognitive (how we think),  Affective (how we feel) and Conative (how we get things done).

One of the first modern day measurement tools in this area , The Wonderlic Test was created by industrial psychologist Eldon F. Wonderlic in 1936 and a form of the test  is still used today by many organizations including the National Football League.

Later new tests were developed that focused on the  affective portion of the mind, some of the most popular include the DISC (1948),  Birkman  (1951), and the  Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (1962).   These test were designed to measure feelings, social styles, and other affective behaviors. 

It was not until 1987 that the first assessment for conative abilities, The Kolbe A ™Index was introduced to the public.  Interestingly, the journey to bring it into being is almost as interesting as the test itself.  As a young girl and a student, Kathy had to learn how to look at things differently.  As a dyslexic in a time where we did not have the accommodations and resources  that students have today, traditional learning was an uphill battle.  (Kathy’s form of dyslexia is so strong that things we take for granted like telling right from left or reading the hands of a clock are a challenge.)  Differences in how she and other learned led to her fascination with the patterns she began to see in the way minds worked. She had a natural mentor whose thoughts she often challenged. Eldon F. Wonderlic was Kathy’s father.  Her early work was with all forms of uniqueness, including the gifted and learning disabled in educational environments. But a near fatal 1985 auto accident put things in a new perspective  Kathy’s severe injuries included both physical and mental trauma that left her unable to read or write for over a year. She overcame what many believed would be career ending disabilities by using what she had learned about conation, the instinct-driven capabilities she knew she could count on. In the process of re-training her own brain, she learned more about not just how to measure conative abilities, but how to apply them to work situations, relationships, health and other adult challenges.  Her determination to write the book that became the foundation of The Kolbe Wisdom™  startled all doubters and led to her becoming known as the proof of her own theories.

The basis of her consulting and coaching process is her discovery of our conative Action Modes® that are the basis of a person’s MO (modus operandi). Since conation is the source of human actions, reactions and interactions knowing a person’s MO allowed Kathy company, Kolbe Corp, to predict human performance.

Four Action Modes®


Fact Finder – the instinctive way we gather and share information.
Follow Thru – the instinctive way we arrange and design.
Quick Start – the instinctive way we deal with risk and uncertainty.
Implementor – the instinctive way we handle space and tangibles.

The Kolbe A Index result is a graphical representation of an individual’s way of getting things done. Numeric results in each Action Mode represent different points on a continuum, on which every possibility is an equally positive behavior. There is no such thing as a negative or “bad” Kolbe Index result. Some, however, are more appropriate results for a specific job or on a particular team.

(Source:  http://www.Kolbe.com )

For over 20 years Kolbe’s assessments, strategies, and wisdom have benefited tens of thousands of individuals and thousands of corporations and organizations around the globe. Great examples of how individuals and organizations respond to Kolbe resources can be found in this article by Joe Williams speaking about his experience with Kolbe at NASA, as well as these article from the Wall Street Journal, O, The Oprah Magazine, and  Time Magazine.

To experience the  Kolbe A Index for yourself, simply click here. (purchase required) After you complete the assessment be sure to listen to the audio sessions that accompany your results from Kathy Kolbe herself.  It’s just one more form of Kolbe innovation.   

I hope you enjoyed this Inventor’s Profile as we celebrate National Innovators Month. 

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

Looking at things in a new way – Lon Safko

August 16, 2010

Inventors live a life of ‘firsts” where the ideas they dream up become new products, create solutions, and sometimes just bring a smile.  To kick off August’s series on for National Inventors Month, I reached out to an inventor who always makes me smile – the one and only Lon Safko. 

Lon is the founder of eleven successful companies, including Paper Models, Inc., which developed Three-Dimensional Internet Advertising for business, promotions, and education, for which Lon holds two patents one on Virtual Electronic Retailing and the other Three Dimensional  Internet Advertising.(US Pat. 7072949 and US Pat. 7546356)  and has a third pending. As an inventor in the early days of personal computing and software development, the patent laws were different. If Lon’s copyrights from the ’80’s and ’90’s were patents like we do it today, he would have an additional  125 software and 35 hardware patents.

Lon been recognized for his creativity with such prestigious awards as; The Westinghouse Entrepreneur of the Year, Arizona Innovation Network’s Innovator of the Year, The Arizona Software Association’s Entrepreneur of the Year, twice nominated for the Ernst & Young / Inc. Magazine Entrepreneur of the Year, The Public Relations Society of America’s, Edward Bernays, Mark of Excellence Award, and nominated as a Fellow of the nation’s Computer History Museum. Lon has also been featured in Entrepreneur Magazine, PC Novice, Inc. Magazine, and Popular Science Magazines just to name a few. Lon was recently selected by the Smithsonian institution to represent “The American Inventor” at their annual conference.

I chatted with Lon this week and asked him a few questions.  Here is what he had to say…

“When you see your world in a different perspective, you see new ways to do everything!”  ~ Lon Safko

What is your favorite invention?

I like all of the obvious one’s like the car, electricity, the light bulb.  No invention has affected my life more than the computer.  From the very first Apple II  until today.  I learn from it, make a living from it, am entertained by it, manage my companies with it, communicate through it, and make a living from it.  If you take away every major modern invention today, but leave me my computer…  I can still do it all!

Why do you invent?

Because I see things.  I make matches.  I see a problem, then immediately see something that can be combined to solve that problem. It’s kind of  like a Google search engine in my head, everything just matches together. I also look at things from behind, backwards, upside down.  Like the paper models that have become so popular . (For one of Lon’s favorite models  click here. They are fun for kids and grown ups alike not to mention great for classroom projects.)

 What was it like the first time you saw one of your inventions in the Smithsonian?

Wow!  It was humbling.  Before I saw the items, they published a newsletter, that featured: Darwin, Wyeth, Edison, and Safko.   That was insane!  When they actually asked me to represent the “American Inventor” at their annual conference, I couldn’t speak.  I did speak, just not for a day after they asked.  Having 18 inventions in the Smithsonian Institute and more than 30,000 personal documents, is like being an actor and winning 18 Academy Awards.  The “Smith” is the ultimate valuator.  I guess to make a short story long, I felt honored.

How does your passion for innovation and invention tie into your work and books on Social Media.

Just as when the computer first came out, I immediately recognized it as disruptive technology.  Then it was the Internet.  Then Email.  Then eCommerce.  Then Social Media.  We haven’t even scratched the surface on how we can combine all of these technologies to create amazing new applications.  And, social media incorporates many of my passions; innovation, creativity, communications, computers, marketing, and sales.  It’s just the next cutting edge innovation!

( Lon’s book on social media, The Social Media Bible, at 840 pages is by far the biggest book  there is on the topic.  It’s choc full of the stories of the the evolution of the medium though interviews with the innovators and inventors how have pioneered the industry. Watch for The Social Media Bible II coming out this Fall from John Wiley and Sons.)


I hope you enjoyed meeting one of my “inventor” friends.  There are more to come.

Thanks for stopping by. Stay tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

Looking for Inspiration and Innovation

August 3, 2010

August is National Inventors Month,  a time when we celebrate invention and creativity. The tradition began in 1998 when  the United Inventors Association of the USA (UIA-USA), the Academy of Applied Science, and Inventors’ Digest magazine came together to honor our country’s creators. 

Finding the bright light

Lots of us see things that we would like to change or problems we would like to solve.  Inventors have the ability to take that idea and bring it to life. 

I love hanging out with inventors

My love of invention and passion for innovation just may be genetic. Both of my grandfathers were inventors – Grandpa Bill focused his creativity on his trade as a brew master (here is a link I found to one of his patents from 1937) while Grandpa Leo was an engineer and focused on mechanical devices.    Early in my career I had the opportunity to spend six years in the Silicon Valley and work with some brilliant inventors as the re-invented the way we work with data, created portable computers – wow can you imagine –  and dreamed up things that today we take for granted.

Vision Creates Energy

What I learned at Grandpa’s knee and later in the emerging world of technology is that an inventor’s vision creates energy.  In the inventors I know, it is so charged that you can feel it.  So in honor of National Inventor’s Month I have asked some of them for permission to tell their stories.  I hope you will follow along, it’s bound to be enlightening.


Thanks for stopping by.  Stay Tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker