The Providence Public Library hosted various members of the Rhode Island tech and startup ecosystem last night for Rhode Island Inno’s inaugural 50 on Fire event.
It was a celebration of the individuals, enterprises and other entities that are driving change for the better in Ocean State’s innovation scene, where we were able to specifically spotlight Rhode Island Inno’s 50 on Fire winners across seven categories.
This process began with nominations from the community. The Rhode Island Inno team then culled the list to the remaining 50, highlighted in this post naming the winners and covering the accomplishments that deemed them “on fire.”
The list is comprised of a diverse group of people from diverse organizations with diverse missions and perspectives, a symptom that we at Rhode Island Inno believe is indicative of a robust and healthy ecosystem.
A panel of esteemed judges used the list of winners to then choose a specially designated “Inno Blazer” from each category. Inno Blazers received a (literal) red blazer to celebrate the nod. Ross Nelson, vice president at Cox Business; Kipp Bradford, president of kippkitts, LLC; Ruth Davis, principal at Ruth Davis Associates; Deedee Chatham, director of the University of Rhode Island’s Office of Undergraduate Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship; Amara Berry, founder of The Sparkle Program and Neil Hamel, director of innovation, science and technology at FM Global, served as judges.
We’ve recapped the Inno Blazers, and an early assortment of pictures from the event, below.
Tino Chow: A Rhode Island School of Design graduate (where he created the Better World by Design conference), Chow has long been an advocate for Rhode Island design entrepreneurship. His most recent venture includes founding Giant Shoulders, a studio that aims to create “unified experiences” between entrepreneurs and innovators.
Dana Borrelli-Murray: Murray is the executive director of The Highlander Institute, an education nonprofit aimed at creating and sharing innovative learning methods. Under her leadership, the Institute has grown in its reputation as a national leader for education, and as such received a $1 million grant this year from New Profit, a program created by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.
Crave Food Systems: Its program, WhatsGood Marketplace, is a “virtual farmers market” app that connects casual consumers and institutions alike with local “purveyors,” and allows those same sellers to distribute their goods online. CFS has raised $1.9 million from angel investors since its inception.
MindImmune: A pharmaceutical company looking to develop drugs that treat central nervous system diseases, it closed its second seed round led by Slater Technology Fund. The round raised $500,000, with half from STF and the other half from private investment.
Finnest: An app-connected, prepaid debit card that looks to teach kids about money, Finnest is a startup created by two Brown University graduates, Clemens Grave and Richard McDonald. The company is about to close their first round of seed funding and has secured a banking partnership. Additionally, it is a part of the Financial Empowerment Roundtable led by State Treasurer Magaziner.
AS220: This “unjuried, uncensored” space looks to be an outlet for the general public to make or enjoy innovative art — especially those who are struggling to find a place due to financial limitations.
Social Enterprise Greenhouse: If you talk to business-inclined folk in Rhode Island long enough, the Social Enterprise Greenhouse is sure to come up. It’s a veritable titan of an entity, and describing it as just an accelerator or an incubator or a coworking spot or what-have-you would be much too exclusive. It hosts demo days, networking events and workshops, and has a host of offerings on the calendar for 2018.