First Things First
Welcome back, Beat readers! The long weekend is over, which means it’s time to get back to business. We could hang out and chat, but there’s lots of tech (and a couple Mall of America stories) to talk about, so let’s get right into it. Time to kick a Beat.
The Big One
A breakdown on the day’s biggest Inno story.
Student Startup Keeps Hospitals Powered in Developing Countries
While patients in countries like the U.S. and Canada take successful visits to the hospital for granted, those in developing countries may undergo a surgery by candlelight, or be simply turned away due to lack of technology.
Sourav Patel, a doctoral student at the University of Minnesota studying electrical engineering, has experienced this, and his lab mates have as well. The team aims to tackle the issue through their startup Aelios Technology, which works to reroute electricity in healthcare facilities to extend the lifespan and duration of critical devices. Through this technology, Aelios aims to help hospitals reach and treat more patients.
Patel recently interned with the National Renewable Energy Lab, where he worked to develop interfaces that make devices more flexible, enabling them to detect disturbances and turn things on and off to stabilize the grid. Patel realized, with the help of his lab mates, that this idea could be applied to hospitals to save energy and lives.
Their product, the iPlugD, is an “intelligent plug for devices” that reroutes energy from non-critical to critical devices in events of power outages. The device also extends the duration of services that hospitals provides by way of power backup supplies.
Aelios Technology estimates that its device will allow healthcare facilities to see 160 additional patients after installation, as well as break even with costs in just four months.
Another benefit of the device is that it can operate without a base connection or Wi-Fi. Patel and his team discovered the need for this firsthand when they tested the iPlugD in India in 2017, where the government shut down the internet due to civil unrest. As a result of this incident, healthcare facilities lost all connection.
The team has competed in multiple startup competitions, winning of this year’s Acara Challenge, which comes with a $5K grant. Most recently, Aelios won the Junior Division of Walleye Tank, a competition for healthcare startups hosted by the University of Minnesota. As part of the win, Aelios automatically qualifies for the first round of the Minnesota Cup – the state’s largest startup competition.
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Gravy’s New Mobile Game Show Combines HQ Trivia and QVC
After the success of mobile game show HQ Trivia, a group of Midwest serial entrepreneurs launched Gravy, a riff on “Price is Right” and typical QVC shows. In the game, contestants compete for discounts of 30 to 70% off the products advertised, with a portion of the sales going to charity. Participants can also guess when the product will sell out and at what price. Those who guess closest win a cash prize. Gravy was developed by Mark McGuire, Brian Wiegand and Craig Adler. The team previously founded Jellyfish.com, which was acquired by Microsoft around a decade ago. McGuire is also the former director of gener8tor‘s Minnesota accelerator program.The 20-person Gravy team is based in both Minneapolis and Madison, Wisconsin.
Tech Crunch has more.
Best Buy Will Shutter its Mall of America Store
Best Buy will close its store at the Mall of America this summer after a 10-year run at the Bloomington megamall. The Richfield-based retailer told its employees Thursday night that it wouldn’t renew its lease for the 45K-square-foot store, located on the third floor of the mall’s west side. It’s not known if MOA has a new tenant for the space, but Best Buy’s last day in business at the mall will be be August 4.
The Star Tribune has more.