by Richard J. Alley
Today we celebrated the 2016 Innovation Awards winners from Inside Memphis Business with a breakfast held at the Holiday Inn-University of Memphis. Partnering with the university’s Fogelman College of Business & Economics, the awards presentation this year was sponsored by Waddell & Associates LLC. Our emcee for the event was Anne Pitts, executive director of the Levitt Shell, a winner of the 2015 Innovation Awards.
This year’s winners are BRIDGES, SweetBio, Dr. Guy Reed with the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, and Code Crew.
BRIDGES has a long history of molding young people into tomorrow’s leaders. For this award, the judges focused on the CHANGES program, a youth-led social program that works with students in grades 8 to 12, providing them with opportunities to become leaders advancing social justice through community organizing. Where the traditional approach has been to have adults fix the problems of youth, CHANGE turns that model on its ear with young people working to correct issues and systems that aren’t working by setting their own agendas to train the community. To do so, the CHANGE interns have worked closely with Shelby County Schools, the Memphis Police Department, and the Shelby County Sheriff’s office to get at the root causes of the problems facing the youth in our city.
Nobody likes to be in the chair when it’s time for oral surgery, but the team at SweetBio is working to make that situation just a little bit sweeter. They have created a membrane made of medical grade manuka honey and proteins used to fill in the gaps after oral surgery. This membrane allows the bones to regrow and the gums to regenerate while preventing infection. Dr. Isaac Rodriguez began development of the idea at Virginia Commonwealth University in 2013 after an oral surgeon came to him needing a solution to the problem of nearly 50 percent of adults aged 30 or older — about 65 million people — having signs of gum disease. Later, the effort moved to the University of Memphis and Memphis Bioworks Foundation’s ZeroTo510 medical device accelerator program, allowing the fast track to market.
Dr. Guy Reed:
Too many of us know someone who has been a victim of stroke or someone touched by the effects of stroke. In an effort to better understand the causes of ischemic stroke, Dr. Guy Reed has poured his skills and resources into finding a safe treatment. As the Lemuel Diggs Professor of Medicine, and Chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, the cardiologist has developed TS23, an antibody that inhibits the molecule regulating clot dissolution as a better therapy to dissolve thrombi, which causes strokes and acute cardiovascular disease. Thanks to Dr. Reed and UTHSC, the clot-dissolving agent could dramatically increase the survival rate of stroke patients everywhere.
Code Crew provides coding training directly to teenagers using three models: summer coding camps, in-school training, and after-school programs. The well-rounded lessons learned by these youth will send them into the marketplace with the realization that mentoring, networking, and partnerships are all part of building a community that goes beyond just being a savvy coder. Memphis and the Mid-South have been on the wrong side of the digital skills gap for far too long, but the crew at Code Crew, working alongside such organizations as the Memphis Grizzlies Foundation and the Lester Community Center, are training relevant and effective computer programmers to take us competently into the decades to come.
Our next event is for CEO of the Year Awards held in late January 2017, and appearing in the February/March 2017 issue of Inside Memphis Business. To nominate a CEO for the award, please visit insidememphisbusiness.com or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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