Ted Simons: Tonight's edition of Arizona technology and innovation looks at the 2014 Innovation Arizona summit, which is next week in Scottsdale. It will explore the life cycle from innovation. Here to tell us more about it is Jeremy Babendure, executive director of the Arizona Scitech Festival, and Robert Green, CEO of EndoVantage, a Scottsdale medical testing firm. Good to have you here thanks for joining us. Jeremy, talk about the SciTech festival, talk about this Innovation Arizona Summit.
Jeremy Babendure: This is a very unique pilot about ways to bring an entrepreneurship community together with the science and technology, a stem-based community. The idea is to figure out how to build ideas around innovation and spark ways to get kids more excited about getting in the entrepreneurship, to get the entrepreneurship to work with the investors and pull it together into a large-scale conference.
Ted Simons: When you see this ovation summit, what are you hoping happens?
Robert Green: It's the networking opportunity of the year. All of the people involved in entrepreneurship will be there, there will be great sessions, great learning opportunities A very exciting event.
Ted Simons: The focus, this life cycle of innovation. What does that mean?
Robert Green: Well, innovation is really tough. Think about it. You start off with an idea, you want to grow it into a business, but for the idea you have nothing. You don't have an office, you don't have furniture, you don't have computers, you don't have a copy machine. You have to build all of that together. Arizona is now one of the leading states in providing resources for small companies to do that. We have incubators down in Tucson, up to Flagstaff.
Ted Simons: And as far as this inspiration to commercialization, it really is a process, and it's quite involved.
Jeremy Babendure: It's pretty unique. We have -- So in terms of the conference itself, it brings together a collaboration with the Arizona Commerce Authority, the MIT Enterprise Forum, and the Arizona Scitech Festival. So it covers that whole cycle. There's several -- There's about 20 sessions. One thing that's cool, we have a keynote that's a 14-year-old entrepreneur. He has a session called “Hack-Schooling.” He has taken a really unique approach to, how do you approach education from an innovation perspective. He has the second-most-watched TedTalks with over five million hits.
Ted Simons: You're kidding.
Jeremy Babendure: No. So he really has this profound impact globally and we're bringing him here to be a keynote.
Ted Simons: As far as networking, I know that was mentioned earlier, what are some of these opportunities? How does that work?
Robert Green: Well, in one room you'll have investors, entrepreneurs, inventors, accountants, lawyers, all of the resources a company would need will be having an opportunity to meet them, both on the floor of the exhibit hall and in the informational sessions that will be pretty exciting.
Ted Simons: As far as networking, when you were an entrepreneur, a lot of lone wolves out there, lone eagles, if you will. Just getting around other like-minded people has to be a good thing.
Jeremy Babendure: Absolutely. And so there's the session, for example, called meet the innovation challenge winners. There's an opportunity to learn from people like Bob and there's another company that looks at the space exploration, and a way to look at what they do to learn from other entrepreneurs about the processes they take.
Ted Simons: Sounds like one of the discussions is applying science and technology in the workplace, and in the work force. That's still a developing trend I would imagine.
Robert Green: Absolutely. We're in a knowledge-based economy now, we need people with technical skills. Both to come up with the invention and also to commercialize and develop them.
Ted Simons: And as far as teaching folks, what do you see out there? I know there's integrating steam, science, technology, engineering, arts, and math, an out -- What do you need to see? What do you want to see?
Robert Green: It's critical. We need highly skilled people. For example, EndoVantage has several opportunities right now, they all require engineering degrees in order to participate in this economy and in order for companies like mine to succeed, we need very highly skilled people. And that's what we're trying to do in Arizona.
Ted Simons: As far as that discussion, what will be said? What will be talked about? These are business folks, and I know there's some industry and education and government types along here as well, but you got -- That's got to get to the classroom somehow.
Jeremy Babendure: We already have about 150 educators that have signed up. They've gotten scholarships to attend the session, but for example we have these round table discussions, one’saround internships. So we'll have different students that might have done internships talking about their experience to other kids, it could be to other entrepreneurs. We have a session -- libraries becoming new creator -- Creative spaces that have maker opportunities, we have key libraries that have innovated that space are also having a session.
Ted Simons: As someone who run as firm here and obviously you're looking at these folks, and you're networking as well I would imagine, I would think to a certain degree, when you go around a summit like this, what are you looking for? What interests you?
Robert Green: Clearly we need professional services, accountants, lawyers, we want other companies that we can have some synergistic relationship with, we look at the educational institutions, where we can find particular expertise, we look at the universities who have equipment that we may be able to use.
Ted Simons: Yeah. So basically all of the above.
Robert Green: It takes a community to build a company. Companies really, small companies can't start on their own. They need the help and resources.
Ted Simons: As far as the summit is concerned, you got this thing called the open mike deal, three-minute -- What are we talking about here?
Jeremy Babendure: Basically it's just basically pitch an idea, not a pitch, but come up and say what is your idea, what's your innovation, and to have it broad. It can be from a entrepreneur, a teacher, a student and really pull together this creativity of the echo system. And everything really links within the cycle of innovation.
Ted Simons: So you have three minutes to present your idea and who -- A bunch of judges?
Jeremy Babendure: There's three judges, but they're going to randomly pull names out of the hat. So nobody knows who's going to pitch it. You have a lot of people prepared, and hey, you're going to be on stage.
Ted Simons: That's a good idea, because the ability to present your idea, it's huge in terms of innovation.
Robert Green: It's critical. Especially when it's highly technical. Because most of the people you're speaking with don't have the technical background. So being able to pitch, present, put it in layman's terms, very important.
Ted Simons: It sounds like there will be a lot of folks here, very diverse communities, the best way, this is obviously one way, but how do you continue now to make these connections between these diverse folks?
Robert Green: The key is when you make connection at an event like this, you don't stop there. You follow up. You keep in touch with people, and you go to the next event that we have in Arizona, and keep the relationships going.
Ted Simons: How do you do that? How best can you keep those relationships going?
Jeremy Babendure: From our perspective, with the Arizona SciTech this is the third iteration after conference we've done, and we find a lot of the collaborations that come to fruition in the events actually happen at the conference. So we try to create sessions like meet the mentors and brainstorming ideas to have people that are looking to engage with the festival, talk to people that might have had that experience, learn from them, and we do find they do keep those collaborations going on in the future.
Ted Simons: This is not the first time we've gone through this. How is it developed? What are you seeing?
Jeremy Babendure: The part I'm really excited about is it's pulling together the concept we have with the Arizona SciTech ace kickoff conference and pulling it with the Innovation Arizona Summit. We're bringing in two really unique audiences, the commerce authority, the enterprise firm has brought, and bring it together with the SciTech crowd. They really make a lot of sense with synergy, because science is all about innovation. So it does connect to bring all these audiences in the same place.
Ted Simons: As far as Arizona is concerned, is this state, because we're young, because we're new, because folks tend to come out here and want to start over or get a good foundation, not have to worry about going through the, you know, intricacies of a historical path, make a difference --
Robert Green: Oh, sure. Arizona now comes in the top tier of places for entrepreneurship. It didn't happen overnight, and it wasn't easy. It was the result of a lot of hard work from a lot of people. The beauty about Arizona, is we love to collaborate. You could you talk to almost anybody in the state if you need tomorrow You won't find that in other states.
Ted Simons: Is that getting better too?
Robert Green: Every day.
Ted Simons: Are you seeing that as well?
Jeremy Babendure: M-hmm.
Ted Simons: OK. So this summit is going to be held where and when?
Jeremy Babendure: It's going to be at the Scottsdale Center for the Arts, it's a week from Thursday. So August 14th. It's a full day. And you can find more information about it either to do keynote search Arizona Innovation Summit or go to AZSciTech.com and we have a front page highlight to that. It's easy to engage and be part of it.
Ted Simons: Very good. Good to have you both here. Thank you for joining us.
Jeremy Babendure: Thank you.