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Friday, February 9, 2018

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Courtney: Being prideful isn’t exactly polite, but after the veritable delight that was last evening’s inaugural Rhode Island 50 on Fire awards event, I’m ready to dropkick ladylike sentiments out the nearest window.

In this surprise Friday Beat, we wanted to both give attendees an opportunity to relive the fun and provide those who couldn’t make it (but who will now undoubtedly RSVP next year) a chance to see what they missed out on.

Sound good? Let’s get to it.

About Last Night

And we’re not just talking about those killer cheese platters.

The place? The Providence Public Library. The time? 7:00 p.m. The attire? Snappy business causal. The reason? Celebrating the Rhode Island tech, startup and innovation ecosystem, and those 50 people, enterprises and other entities who won 50 on Fire awards.

These winners were initially nominated by their peers within said ecosystem, and were ultimately chosen by the Rhode Island Inno team for their work driving change for the better across the Ocean State and beyond.

A panel of esteemed judges 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.

The list of winners 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.

Read the full list of 50 on Fire winners here. Read our entire post covering last night’s event here. And! Get all our Rhode Island Inno stories, featuring the companies and individuals who won big last night, here.

Meet the Inno Blazers

Design – 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.

Education/Government – 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 $1M grant this year from New Profit, a program created by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

Food/Beverage/Architecture – 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 $1.9M from angel investors since its inception.

Health/Wellness – 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 $500K, with half from STF and the other half from private investment.

Tech – 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 the State Treasurer Magaziner.

Nonprofit – 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.

Inno Pick – 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.

In The Know

Other ways to catch up on all that you missed.

Inno Blazers: Meet the Category Winners of Rhody Inno’s 50 on Fire

Introducing Rhode Island Inno’s Inaugural 50 on Fire — Rhode Island Inno

#50onFireRI Top Tweets — Twitter

Rhode Island Inno-gram — Instagram

Mark Your Calendar

We’ll be back.

April State of Innovation Meetup

On April 12 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Rhode Island Inno will host its first State of Innovation meetup. At every State of Innovation event, Inno will explore a specific theme, category, company or industry that is significantly impacting the local innovation economy. It will feature a keynote, a panel, and/or a pitch showcase with several startups that relate to the meetup’s theme, as well as food, drink, networking and more. Tickets will go on sale soon, so keep an eye on this space.

Sponsor Shoutout


Many thanks to our sponsors who helped make last night happen. WE LOVE YOU, Cox Business, eMoney, Adler Pollock & Sheehan PC and Marcum LLP.

Featured Jobs

Featured startup and tech jobs on Rhode Island Inno’s new Careers Directory.

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Meet The Authors

Courtney Gabrielson

Will Flanagan

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