EMERGE@Simpson is working with an independent adjunct professor (Tom Meyers) to offer a "Business of Blockchain" class through Simpson's C&G program. Tom is becoming known in the metro for his work on Blockchain and has been provided background materials being used at MIT on similar classes.
Initial plans call for a 6-week, 1 credit-optional, class that combines learning the "Emerge and Pivot" approach to value creation using the "business case for blockchain" as the lead example in the class. The goal is to separate the value from the hype.
By combining the two topics, we can approach a wider set of corporate stakeholders, both companies and their employees, as Carver Connections, mentors, and investors. Plans call for classes to be offered in conjunction with the West Des Moines Incubator and at Simpson's West Des Moines campus.
Having this type of flexible class available will also benefit on-campus students seeking blockchain information and position Simpson well in the metro for this emerging technology. One investment team has inquired about combining this with an actual digital currency mining platform as an EMERGE@Simpson venture.
ExpresSeed would be a potential customer for that venture, as the future of food supply export appears to be using blockchain recordkeeping of DNA information alongside transactional information, according to former USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack at a recent speech.
Next steps are for the team to finish developing the curriculum, test marketing the class to potential customers, and making plans for a summer class.
A Management Capstone team in the EMERGE@Simpson program is proceeding to "soft launch" the Maple Tree Marketplace. The online portal can be seen at www.mapletreemarketplace.org.
The Marketplace will be an online store to help student ventures more easily reach customers. A second service providing on-campus video monitor/playlist sponsorships will launch later in March. EMERGE@Simpson venture teams, student spotlights, and other on-campus activities will be sponsored by area businesses on the platform.
Valeria Gonzales is serving as the fledging student-led organization's startup leader as her Simpson internship at LaunchPad65.
The platform is designed to increase participation in the EMERGE@Simpson program by providing active opportunities to engage the entire campus and Indianola business community. Once fully operational, advertising revenue should provide paid internships for student leadership positions such as a CEO, CFO, CTO, and CMO.
The Marketplace also provides a strategic opportunity for the Foundation's Carver Connections to engage the DSM corporate market as a sponsorship option to recruit students.
A 2018 Foundation strategic goal is to widen its scope to include off-campus and non-Simpson ventures seeking entry-level incubation and pathways to seed capital. To accomplish this, the Emerge Foundation is now piloting Carver Connections.
Carver Connection extends the EMERGE@Simpson program through The Emerge Foundation to create a larger startup ecosystem. By working with partners at the West Des Moines Incubator, Gravitate, area business accelerators, and independent consultants, ventures will receive a wider support network in exchange for modest service fees.
South-Central Iowa will also soon have the option to join LaunchPad65. LP65 is a fledging Indianola-based startup gateway to metro-area resources including a local co-working space, and The Emerge Foundation is a founding member to expand its scope even further. Carver Connections can dual-enroll at LaunchPad65 under the same fee, if it is advantageous to their business launch.
A 2018 Foundation strategic goal is to leverage the public launch of ExpresSeed to find genetic detection technology spinout partners. Many of these will be in the Ag industry, be it horizontally within the seed industry beyond crop seeds or vertically in areas such as forestry, aquiculture, and cattle.
Another Foundation goal is to create strategic alliances with regional partners to enhance the intake of non-Simpson ventures being incubated, seed capital fund partners, and other private/community college academic programs seeking to collaborate on the Foundation's seed capital fund.
Leadership at the Iowa AgriTech Accelerator in Des Moines and The Emerge Foundation are actively exploring how to compliment programming. Strengths of the EMERGE@Simpson program are the DNP123 core and genetic detection technologies, proof of concept development, and team formation. The Accelerator takes ventures to the next level by being in a 3-month cohort. The Foundation will be able to provide its affiliated ventures co-leadership for seed capital funding (the Accelerator also has a fund) and supporting ventures' second-stage growth after their exit from the cohort.
ExpresSeed is not yet a cohort candidate due to an Accelerator requirement to have a full-time founder. However, the Accelerator is now seeking to extend their services beyond cohorts-only and are hosting a trial March 23 event to introduce their staff, mentor teams, and investors to outside ventures. ExpresSeed and Visium will be attending with Foundation leadership.
From the Director
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