First Things First
Happy Friday, Beat readers! Two quick things before we get started:
- HUGE shoutout to everyone that came out to our State of Innovation: Artificial Intelligence meetup last night! What an awesome opportunity to hear from local startups working in the field and bask in a room full of A.I. brainpower and enthusiasm.
- Beat gotta eat. I hope that you enjoy reading this newsletter as much as we love writing it. If you enjoy the Beat, share this link with a friend or colleague. The more Beat readers the better. We can’t do what we do without you!
Alright, let’s kick a quick Beat and head into the weekend.
1: Minne Innovator Spotlight
A place for an exceptional mover-and-shaker to shine.
Could Virtual Reality Make Your Next Dentist Visit Less Awful?
In an effort to reduce the anxiety and discomfort some patients feel during dentist appointments, a Minnetonka dentist partnered with local virtual reality company Visual to create a virtual reality headset specifically for dentistry.
“One of the most common things people say is ‘I hate being here,’” Dr. Bryan Laskin told Minne Inno. “Now we can say, ‘Great. Let’s send you somewhere else.’”
Dr. Laskin and the other dentists at his practice, Lake Minnetonka Dental, introduced virtual reality to their office last year. So far, he said, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. While Lake Minnetonka isn’t the first dentist office to use virtual reality, Dr. Laskin claims to be the first to develop software specifically for dentistry.
The medical field, like other industries, has started dabbling in virtual reality over the last several years. There’s still a good deal of in depth research that needs to be done. But early studies have shown that patients using virtual reality software for 20 minutes experience an average pain reduction of 24 percent. In other words, roughly the same effects as a light dose of narcotics. (READ MORE)
2: In Case You Missed It
Inside the people, companies and organizations shaking things up this week.
Osborn370 Will Add a New Startup Incubator
Minnesota Public Radio’s (MPR) parent company, American Public Media (APM), announced Tuesday that it will launch a startup incubator in St. Paul this summer. The new tech hub will be called the Glen Nelson Center, named after the APM and MPR board member who died in 2016. The center will begin taking applications for its incubator next month. It will be led by Jeff Freeland Nelson (no relation to Glen Nelson), founder of YOXO Toys.
Startups selected for the Glen Nelson incubator will receive assistance from the newly formed Lunar Startups, a collaboration between the Glen Nelson Center and Osborn370 and supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Lunar will incubate and accelerate early-stage, high growth startups and will have a special focus on entrepreneurs from underrepresented communities, APM said in a release. This entity will be headed by former Minnesota Cup director Melissa Kjolsing Lynch. (READ MORE)
Bind Benefits Raises $60M in Venture Capital
Bind Benefits, a health-benefits company led by serial entrepreneur Tony Miller, has closed a $60M round of funding as it prepares to expand into new markets and ramp up hiring. Wayzata-based firm Lemhi Ventures, where Miller is a managing partner, led the round. Miller has been quietly building the Minneapolis company for more than a year. It has 50 full-time employees, about 20 contract workers and six business customers, the Biz Journal reports. Following the funding round, Miller expects to add between 50 to 70 more jobs and take Bind into six new markets.
Full story from the Biz Journal here. [subscriber content]