Meet the Cool Idea! Award Judges: Andy MacInnis

The Cool Idea! Award judges are technologists, innovators, entrepreneurs, instructors, and some are even past Cool Idea! Award recipients. All of our judges have a story worth sharing, so we sat down with each for a quick Q&A to help you get to know them a bit better.

Andy MacInnis is a director at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Andy MacInnis is the technical instructor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He leads the Integrated Design & Management (IDM) track, which takes a hands-on and practical approach to design. Prior to his position at MIT, Andy founded Monster Prototype—a leading go-to model and prototype firm in the Boston area. At Monster Prototype, he consulted companies developing consumer products, medical devices, and footwear.

What are you looking forward to most about being a Cool Idea! Award judge in 2017?
Seeing where inventors find the junction of Need and Solution.

Tell us about your background—what’s something about your professional life that we wouldn’t necessarily know by looking at your LinkedIn profile?
I find the challenge of repairing old things like cars, boats, houses, and bikes rewarding and worthwhile.

What’s the best piece of entrepreneurial or business advice you’ve received and how did it help you?
Determination beats education in business. Go and be successful just as you are.

What entrepreneurial or business advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs and startup companies?
Learn a bit about running a business (book keeping, contracts, etc.) but don’t wait till you know everything. Start something today.

What companies or individuals are breaking the mold when it comes to innovation? What are they doing differently than others?
Small shops and individuals are winning the innovation race because they don’t need to follow corporate rules and schedules.

What are the most valuable resources available for innovators, inventors, makers, etc.?
Other makers, and small business associations.

What qualities will you look for in a good Cool Idea! Award applicant?
I look for DFV: desirability, feasibility, and viability. Is it cool, is it really doable, and will it make money.

What’s your all-time favorite product and why?
I’m fond of bicycles, specifically my dad’s 1970 RobinHood 3 speed. It’s comfortable, speedy enough, and bomb-proof reliable. What’s better than personal mobility that requires little attention? Pretty high cool factor, too.

What product do you think has had the biggest positive impact on people’s lives and why?
It’s too easy to say smart phone or automobile. I’ll pipe in with mass produced clothing, which means a lot in this cold weather—so easy to find warmth and comfort.

Hush Technologies won the Cool Idea! Award in 2015.

What’s your favorite Cool Idea! Award-winning product and why?
It’s a draw between the Mist Labs water management system and the Hush Technologies ear plugs. With water becoming more valuable we need to use it more efficiently. My own hearing loss—due to race cars, music, and workshops—makes me want to turn back time and use better hearing protection from day one.

What’s the most random thing you’ve ever watched all the way through on Netflix?
I don’t have time for Netflix or other long term TV commitments, especially when they cost money.

Stay tuned for more one-on-one discussions with the Cool Idea! Award judges. In the meantime, check out the Cool Idea! Award website to learn more about our manufacturing service grant. If you have a project you’d like to submit for consideration, apply here.

Meet the Cool Idea! Award Judges: Chris Boyle

Chris Boyle and his company, SOLOSHOT, won the Cool Idea! Award in 2012.

The Cool Idea! Award judges are technologists, innovators, entrepreneurs, instructors, and some are even past Cool Idea! Award recipients. All of our judges have a story worth sharing, so we sat down with each for a quick Q&A to help you get to know them a bit better. In our first installment, we’re talking with Chris Boyle.

Chris is a biomedical engineer and entrepreneur from Queens, New York. He founded his first company at the age of 22, which led to a license agreement with a Fortune 50 medical device company. Since then, he has launched and funded multiple startups that range from consumer electronics to apparel. His most recent endeavor is SOLOSHOT—an object-tracking camera and recipient of the Cool Idea! Award. Chris’ close ties to the startup community and experience winning the Cool Idea! Award add a unique perspective to our panel of judges.

What are you looking forward to most about being a Cool Idea! Award judge in 2017?
I really enjoy seeing the combination of scientific and entrepreneurial passion. At its core, it’s both about combining problem solving with a passionate work ethic and it’s exciting to see those two things come together very early in the process.

Tell us about your background – what’s something about your professional life that we wouldn’t necessarily know by looking at your LinkedIn profile?
I created and sold a TV show to BermanBraun about Kiteboarding in the Dominican Republic. Continue reading

Proto Labs Receives Tekne Award for Advanced Manufacturing

Vicki Holt, Proto Labs CEO, accepts the Tekne Award for Advanced Manufacturing.

Each year, the Minnesota High Tech Association (MHTA) brings together the Minnesota technology community for the Tekne Awards. The awards highlight advancements in science and technology in Minnesota—ranging from innovations in cyber security to agriculture.

Last night, we were honored to take home a Tekne Award for the Advanced Manufacturing category. The nomination was based on our technology-enabled manufacturing that accelerates product development and provides a low-volume, on-demand solution for production parts.

Other notable winners include:

We are proud to have been nominated alongside other innovative manufacturing companies like Ecolab and Uponor. And, we are truly grateful to be a part of the thriving tech community in the Twin Cities. Here’s to another year of innovation!