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February 27, 2013

Host: Ted Simons

Arizona Technology & Innovation: Venture Catalyst Startup Rapid Pitch

  |   Video
  • Entrepreneurs recently had the opportunity to present their business ideas to some of the finest business minds in Arizona at the ASU Venture Catalyst Startup Rapid Pitch. It’s a signature component of Tempe’s Geek Week. Gordon McConnell, Assistant Vice President for Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Venture Acceleration at Arizona State University’s SkySong, will tell us more about the event and Geek Week.
  • Gordon McConnell - Assistant Vice President for Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Venture Acceleration, Arizona State University’s SkySong
Category: Technology   |   Keywords: AZ, Technology, Innovation, venture, catalyst, startup,

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Ted Simons: "Arizona Horizon" regularly brings the latest news on Arizona technology and innovation issues. Tonight we learn about the venture catalyst start-up rapid pitch, which was recently held as part of Tempe's geek week. Joining us is Gordon McConnell, assistant Vice President for innovation, entrepreneurship, and venture acceleration. And Arizona State University skysong, good to see again.

Gordon McConnell: Good to see you, but boy that title was way too long.

Ted Simons: [laugh] You can tell the importance of the guest by how long the title is. Before we get too deeply into this, ASU venture catalyst, what are we talking about?

Gordon McConnell: The start-up of the University so that's why you keep bringing me back. I live start-up so every day my schedule goes away very quickly because start-up is coming. So we work with 40 at any given time.

Ted Simons: Talk about this pitch, how does that work?

Gordon McConnell: It was the early part of geeks night out, which was big geeky event as part of the tech festival, part of the geek week, supported by the Mayor, and we did the afternoon session so we were looking at bringing in very early stage, these were ideas that we were just starting or less than six months old so we're talking about baby companies here, and it was often their first time that they pitched in front of an audience. We had support across the street from city hall, and they are, they offered some marketing support for, for the winners, and we had a law group with legal packages, which is important for early stage companies. And we had six of them, they pitched in front of a panel including the, the sponsors, and we had an independent panel and it was interesting to see the companies, you know, scary moments standing up in front of an audience.

Ted Simons: And they only had five minutes.

Gordon McConnell: Five minutes plus five minutes of questions. So, it was very fast.

Ted Simons: And 6%, how did, why down to six? Was this a criteria here?

Gordon McConnell: Yeah. We looked at who was applying and made sure that we had a good quality because don't want -- I have people have ideas but you want something in the process of start, and all these companies were in the process of starting in some shape or form.

Ted Simons: So when you get to the six finalists they have five minutes of follow-up questions. What was the criteria there?

Gordon McConnell: We were looking at highly pitched on the day, the sustainability, and how far they advanced it in the time that they had begun, so they have a set of eight sets of criteria, and they went off into a room, and we waited patiently no an hour for them to come out, and they came out with an answer. There was smoke. [Laughter]

Ted Simons: Ok, and the winner was?

Gordon McConnell: Very interesting. And anybody who is interested in senior care or assisted living. We have a baby boomer generation, which are retiring, and this allows you to go on for free, which is interesting. And onto their site, they have 50 sites, and they give an in-depth video tour all of these senior care facilities. And they allow you to take notes and allow to share this with other family members who are in other parts of the U.S. because this is a family decision a lot of times. They have up to date information on these care facilities. So, you are not going and spend an hour traveling to one and find there is no rooms because it will tell if there is availability of rooms or apartments. So, you can sit down with your parent, and do it from your living room, and it saves you a huge amount of time. It's free. And for, for the facilities themselves, and if there is any out there, that are interested in talking to you, because usually, it's for an intermediary, so this is about taking that out. They can charge up to a month's rent, ok, to do these deals, and they have your information. Living doesn't share this with anybody unless you want to talk specifically to, to a care center that you have looked at. So, it's radical. We find love on the internet and rent house and is apartments and why not do this for an important thing, and allow the family to be involved. It's a great idea. They set it up in November, and they have got 50 facilities. And they have got customer and revenue… and we're in February. So that helped them win, I think.

Ted Simons: A clumsy analogy would be like You throw out what you want.

Gordon McConnell: Or if you want to rent an apartment, you get tours, but they are really significant. You feel like you are there.

Ted Simons: And late living, did they win because of the particular idea, the machinations involved? How, how strong they were?

Gordon McConnell: I wasn’t in the room when the judges happened to be there but I believe it was a mixture of all, and, and the, the founder, Kris Wilson, presented, he was fantastic, and I have to, to admit he's one of ours, he's -- they were an institute start-up. I was not in the judging room when it happened so I'm clean, but we trained them well. So he was really good. And he's a graduate. The other co-founder is a current MBA student. We like them, and as I said, to be right there, in fairness, all six were, were impressed impressive for the level of which they are at, most of these are a few months old.

Ted Simons: Have all six got some, some start-up going here? Are they starting the operation?

Gordon McConnell: Most of them are in the process of starting operations.

Ted Simons: Let's talk about geek week, and there was a lot of promotion for this.

Gordon McConnell: Right.

Ted Simons: And science, thriller promotion, wee we're going to see, what was that?

Gordon McConnell: I guess it's a celebration, it's a fun event, and it's part of geek week, the Walton assistant ability solutions initiative, and the, the sponsors of geek night, and we were the, the sponsors of week geek. Week. It's a celebration of the subject. So 20% of the jobs in Tempe are, are tech related and we obviously want to build the next generation these. And to show kids that technology interesting and a fun lead to a career, and there were a lot of people there, and, you know, I was the Lord of geek week, which I am happy to be, and unfortunately I don't get any land or states or anything but I launched Comic Con, which a lot of my friends back at home were jealous of. And in costume, and so, I played ball as well, there were a lot of vampires, a significant amount of zombies to the point that I would be nervous, so a lot of people dressed up but there was a serious side because obviously, you want to encourage these kids to show that science and technology are not subjects that are boring, they are quite interesting, and they lead to real things, there was an electron microscope from Rio Salado College, and ASU nano fab, and ASU's college of technology and innovation were there showing what it's like to train to be a pilot. The University of Technology were there with robots. So, it was really fun, a family kind of oriented event, and they think that they had 4,000 people in the evening, a lot of stuff to see and fun.

Ted Simons: So, this was something that will stick for a while here?

Gordon McConnell: Yeah, this is the second year, we had 20 schools and the Mayor and the council folk and the city were fantastic, and that they would come up with this. And it is important, but it is fun at the same time.

Ted Simons: Well, congratulations on this, the late living sounds like a fantastic idea.

Gordon McConnell: It's really good. Yeah. And good timing, I say, baby boomers.

Ted Simons: Yeah. No kidding. And whatever it was that you were during geek week, congratulations.

Gordon McConnell: Thank you, sir. I was wearing a hat.

Ted Simons: Thank you for joining us.

Legislative Update

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  • Join us for our weekly update from the Capitol with a reporter from the Arizona Capitol Times.
Category: Government   |   Keywords: legislative, update, legislature, ,

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Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. The U.S. Supreme Court hearing on an Alabama voting rights case gets the attention of lawmakers in Arizona. Here to tell us more on that and other political issues is Jim Small of the Arizona Capitol Times. Jim, good to see you. Why do we care about a voting case in Alabama?

Jim Small: Because this lawsuit comes out of Shelby county, Alabama. Challenges section 5 of the voting rights act, which is a section that applies to states and jurisdictions across the country. Arizona is one of them. And essentially, it's, it applies tougher standards to areas like Arizona if they want to change election laws or procedures or anything like that. Anything that we do in that realm. From city level to county level to state level. Needs to be, essentially, sent to the department of Justice, and they need to review it and give it a preclearance. Essentially, say ok, we think that this is going to be an ok change that's not going to harm the ability of minorities to vote in your, in your area. And so, this, this -- this lawsuit is challenging, and, and the supreme heard arguments on it as to whether it is needed in 2013.

Ted Simons: And the idea being that, that not only is it not need, about you but the states like Alabama, like Arizona, these are states with a history of, of peculiarities.

Jim Small: They have not update the formula for determining where this apply since the 1970s. So, you know, we're talking 40 years ago that, that was the last time that they looked at this, and said ok, here's how we're going to decide how to apply this. So, you know, a couple of years ago, I think last year, Tom Horne filed a lawsuit saying that Arizona shouldn't be covered by this because everything has changed so dramatically since the 1970s, and even under the, the metrics they used then, if they had avoided two years to apply it to Arizona, it would not have applied. So, there is this whole idea that -- the world is a different place. And maybe we need to look and see how do we determine which areas are having problems and need additional Federal oversight?

Ted Simons: And general Tom Horne did file a brief supporting the Alabama position in this case.

Jim Small: His lawsuit got withdrawn waiting to see, this case was further along, and he did file a brief supporting what Alabama was asking for.

Ted Simons: And yet, you know, reading stories on this, it sounds as though the critics say the Federal oversight is needed in Arizona because there are problems, there was a, I think there is a tribal lawsuit over the voter I.D. law, and the way of electing school boards has been questioned regarding native American participation and the ability to be elected. And that the oversight, actually, heads off the kinds things that would lead to lawsuits. So, it's not necessarily cut and dry, is it?

Jim Small: No, it's not. And really, a lot of legal scholars and court watchers are of the opinion that the court is -- they are not going to strike down the whole act. Congress just, just reauthorized the voting rights' acted six years ago. In 2006, seven years ago, and they gave it their stamp of approval and said we are going to approve this for 25 years, but at the same time, you know, whether the court looks at the formula and how it's applied to the states and to counties and the cities, and says, it's unconstitutionally applied, it's something that's need and is good to have their protection, and, you need to really look at how it's applied and come up with a more current and more, more, more contemporary way to make sure that this is helping the people who need it.

Ted Simons: And it's -- my impression was, was that, that, the Justices seemed somewhat interested in the Alabama argument? More so than, than, perhaps, otherwise?

Jim Small: Yeah, there was signs, Justice Kennedy was one of the people who, who folks were looking at, and Justice Roberts are viewed as the two potential swing votes on this issue, and both were asking questions that, that, to, to people who know far more about these issues than I do, and kind of indicated that, that, that they were, were maybe siding with Alabama or were at least, you know, more receptive to the cause.

Ted Simons: And some election bill reforms, we talked about this. We had Senator Reagan, Michelle Reagan on the show talking about election reform bills, and three these things now have pass the Senate, is that true?

Jim Small: Yeah. So, these are all bills that have, they sprung out of the, of the time from last year when the ballots were cast, and it took two weeks to count the ballots, and they are provisions aimed at trying to find ways to maybe lessen that and speed up the count, and decrease the number of provisional ballots and, and really make it easier for elections officials to deal with those and with ballot initiatives and how, how they, they handle, you know, having to validate hundreds of thousands of signatures only to go into court and have the court race through a case.

Ted Simons: The mail-in ballots, one of the laws, only a family or a household member can turn in another family or household member's mail-in ballot, that would eliminate the crowded business there in the polling places.

Jim Small: It would, and one of the other interesting things that bill does, actually, and it's something that, that seems like a lot of people, actually, like, while that's a controversial provision, you just talked about, one of the provisions seems to have wide backing is the idea making the, the early ballots a different color. Putting them on a bright yellow or a bright green envelope, so that way people see them in the mail and they realize, this is an early ballot, and I need to pay attention to it so that way they don't get an early ballot and show up at their polling place having not cast the ballot, and therefore, have to cast a provisional.

Ted Simons: And we should mention another one, you are no longer on the permanent, that word is catching some folks, it's a permanent early voter list, and if miss a couple of election cycles you are adios?

Jim Small: The idea would be to make sure people on that list, you know, again, it's the idea of trying to make sure the people on, on that list are voting early and aren't getting an early ballot and going to the polls and having to cast provisional ballots, which say, I think, the way it is set up, if there is two consecutive election cycles where you don't cast a ballot, the county recorder would send you letter that says we're going to take your name off the rolls unless you want to be kept on this early ballot list, then go ahead, you know, and send us this form back.

Ted Simons: Indeed, and third one, focuses on out of state, paid out of state circulators, all three of these things together, critics, I think, are saying that, that you are threatening the ability to vote. But, is there another criticism, the kind of thing that you think will pass the legislature and make it to the Governor's desk?

Jim Small: Some of it will but clearly Senator Reagan has been open to addressing some of these concerns, and, you know, all of these have gone through different iterations just to get through the Senate, and I imagine that, that there is going to be more changes made to them as they progress through. Although, it will be interesting to see what Governor Jan Brewer wants to do should the bills get to her desk or to the point that they are near her desk. She was the Secretary of State, so she has an understanding of the issues, you know, perhaps more so than, than certainly a lot of lawmakers than a lot of other people in the state.

Ted Simons: All right, very good. Jim, thanks for joining us. We appreciate it.

Jim Small: Thank you.

Trauma System Report

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  • The American College of Surgeons has a new report out on Arizona’s hospital Trauma System. The report makes five major recommendations for improving our trauma system. Arizona Department of Health Services Director Will Humble will give us the details.
  • Will Humble - Director, Arizona Department of Health Services
Category: Medical/Health   |   Keywords: trauma, system, report, medical, ,

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Ted Simons: The seriously injured in Arizona are most often treated at level one trauma centers. A new study by the American of college of surgeons shows improvement in the system but the report also suggests more can be done. Here to talk about the new study is Will Humble, director of the Arizona Department of Health services. Good to see you again. Thanks for joining us.

Will Humble: Thanks.

Ted Simons: And give me a better definition of the Arizona trauma system.

Will Humble: A trauma system is a network of trauma care. And it needs to really sort of balanced geographically, and the struggle that we had three or four years ago was that we had great level one trauma centers here in the valley. One in Tucson and one in flag, also. A level one meaning you have got everything in place to treat the most seriously injured folks. Where we were lacking is if you were to get hurt in say, you know, Payson or Prescott or Kingman, those places, we are out sort of in a rural area, a fair distance from a level 1 trauma center, there was not really a network of places that you could go to be really stabilized and resuscitated quickly. There is emergency departments out there, but there is a difference between an emergency department and a trauma center.

Ted Simons: What is the difference?

Will Humble: So E.D., the emergency department can treat quickly. They can treat some injuries, but a trauma center has the ability to have that more specialized care that they have got the resources, and the expertise in house to really stabilize, let's say you have a compound fracture, a trauma center is going to have the resources in place to really stabilized, where an emergency department can probably still do it, but not as quickly. And really, when you are seriously injured, time is of the essence, which is why it's really important to have an interconnected trauma system, so that you can move from the right level of care at the right time because that's really critical.

Ted Simons: So, the report, the same group a report in 2007, correct?

Will Humble: Right.

Ted Simons: And they found a bit of imbalance there. It sounds like there was, what rural hospitals in the system, there was not hardly any rural hospital in the system.

Will Humble: There was no trauma centers at all. Emergency departments but not any trauma centers in the rural parts of the state, so from 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, all the departments were focused on getting the departments in the rural parts of the state up to standard, and at least level 4 trauma level. We have 16 now, where we had zero a few years ago. So, we're in much better shape in rural Arizona, and so the natural -- so, since we made so much progress in the rural parts, we started thinking, ok, now it's time to bring the American college of surgeon back out so that they can assess where we are today because we made so much progress in the last few years.

Ted Simons: And I know, as well, the state trauma registry was improved. What is that?

Will Humble: So that's a really critical piece of your trauma system because that's where, that's your hub of information where you collect the data, and there is an old saying, what measure is what you can improve. And that is an intervention in and of itself, so this trauma registry that we have, this data gold mine that's available for all of the trauma centers for our epidemiologists in-house to look at who is getting hurt, when where and how so you can do some real analysis about what's the best way to Matthew patients around the system. And one of the goals is not just to get people better care but more efficient care, cut down on the air ambulance rides that we have. If you get hurt in Prescott or something like that, the idea is, you get them to a level 4, you get them stabilized, and then instead of having a $25,000 helicopter ride, you are on a ground ambulance and stabilized and you can get to the level 1 down here in Phoenix, and you will be better, and it's all about timing.

Ted Simons: And this was back in 2007, the report, and these are the improvements that were made. And this report has just been released.

Will Humble: Yes.

Ted Simons: They are debuting it here on "Arizona Horizon." So, tell us, what kind of recommendations and improvements and what did the surgeons see this time?

Will Humble: So, they said, they complimented us on what we have done in the rural parts of the state, and they think that we need to improve a bit in terms of the rural areas so that we have got say a level 2 or a 3 trauma center. We don't have enough in Yuma. That's a weakness that we have. No trauma center as of yet. That would be a nice place to have a level 2 or 3. But, they also started moving attention to the valley. And that's where the controversy lies. Because we have got a network of level 1 trauma centers here in the valley. And some downtown. Scottsdale, Osbourne, and, you know, out on the east side, and one of the concerns is that, that if we get more level 1 trauma centers here in the valley, they say going to dilute the amount of level 1 care that the existing centers can handle. And so Chandler has expressed interest in becoming a level 1, what does that really do to the network to the entire system? So, that's, there is a whole host of, of issues that the report talks about in terms of giving us recommendations about, about where to go from here in the urban core.

Ted Simons: Basically, it sounds like they are saying hold off on some of these new trauma centers.

Will Humble: They basically said, one of the biggest recommendations, and I think that's getting the most attention, is it urges us to put a moratorium on new designations here in the valley until we get additional studies done, so I have got couple of advisory committees that advises me as the director, and they are going to weigh in on these things over time. And one of the complicating factors is that, you know, we don't have the statutory authority to say no. So, that's a real challenge. The report says, we urge to have moratorium, and, you know, our statutory authority says look if, they meet the standard they are in.

Ted Simons: Yeah. And what about meeting the standards for improving the two, three, and four centers.

Will Humble: That's the other thing about the urban core and what I was interested in getting from the ACS, who put this report out, is you know, give us an idea of what you think an urban core trauma system looks like? Because, let's say you put level 2 and 3s and scatter them throughout the valley. What it will do is to start siphoning off some business from the level one trauma centers, and the level one folks are saying look, we cannot maintain our expertise with a lower level of trauma. So, there you get it. We're starting to think of it, you are going to take my cheese kind of thing. And, but, but, the bottom line is, I think, for me, the focus remains where are the bodies? Where are the people getting hurt. Where are the bad outcomes, and that's still in rural Arizona. And let's face it, if you get, if you get, something happens to you here in the, in the valley, you are going to go to level one trauma center in a few minutes. EMS is going to take. If you get hurt in the rural parts of the state, I have you have got the struggle getting to the right place at the right time.

Ted Simons: So with that in mind, you have the recommendations now, and we have seen the improvements, and where do we go from here? What's next?

Will Humble: We have statutory committees and I will work with the stakeholders to see what they think, and work with the hospitals, and my team, do some additional data analysis but I'm still more interested in boosting the level of care that we see out there in rural Arizona before I tackle this sort of urban issue with the trauma centers because one of the issues in public health that I try to focus on with my staff is, let's focus on what's important most. Where we get the biggest bang if our buck? And the biggest bang for our buck is in the rural parts of the state.

Ted Simons: My goodness, well, all right, I'm glad got on the show for the debut of this report, and good luck handling it from here.