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Best and worst states for business ranked

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

TexasFor the ninth year in a row, CEOs rate Texas as the #1 state in which to do business, according to Chief Executive magazine’s annual Best & Worst States Survey, released today. Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee and Indiana also made the top five.

The results may alleviate some fears in North Carolina, where other such evaluations have not placed the state as high as in previous years.

The states rated worst for business are California, New York, Illinois, Massachusetts and New Jersey.

It’s interesting that states with powerhouse venture capital sources and nation-leading business sectors such as California, Massachusetts, and New York top the list of worst states for business in these polls time after time. Makes you wonder just what these business-friendly state rankings really mean.

Best 5 States for Business Rank 2013
Texas 1st
Florida 2nd
North Carolina 3rd
Tennessee 4th
Indiana 5th


Worst 5 States for Business Rank 2013
California 50th
New York 49th
Illinois 48th
Massachusetts 47th
New Jersey 46th


The Best & Worst States Survey measures the sentiments of CEOs on a range of issues, including regulations, tax policies, workforce quality, educational resources, quality of living and infrastructure.  For the 2013 survey, 736 CEOs from across the country evaluated the states between Jan. 16 and Feb. 14, 2013.

Ohio was the biggest gainer in this year’s survey, rising 13 spots from #35 to #22. “Ohio is doing some amazing things to attract and support a pro-business environment,” said Don Taylor , CEO of Fairlawn, Ohio-based Welty Building Company. The biggest loser was Delaware, which dropped 13 spots to #27.

California hostile to business?

CEOs say California’s poor ranking is the result of a perceived hostility to business, high state taxes and onerous regulations, all of which drive investment, companies and jobs to other states. According to the California Manufacturers & Technology Association,California accounts for 12.6% of total U.S. GDP, but only has a 2.2% share of investments in new and expanding manufacturing sites.

“When you investigate acquiring businesses in some of the states rated poorly for business conditions, the anecdotes all wind up being true,” said Kevin Hawkesworth , President & CEO of Florida-based Shaw Development. “The horror stories about these states are real.”

“California, Illinois and New York are simply awful states to operate facilities or employ people,” according to another CEO. “We will do almost anything possible to minimize our exposure to these anti-business environments.”

Piles of regulations a problem

“Thank you, California!” responded one Texas-based CEO facetiously. “Keep applying pressure on your job creators and we will keep welcoming their moves to Texas.”

A common theme among CEOs is the burden of constantly changing regulations. “Business is too hard without dealing with piles of regulations that are constantly changing,” said Rick Waechter , CEO of Boston Magazine. “I believe there have to be controls, but keep them simple and straightforward—and most importantly, don’t make it a moving target.”

“CEOs continue to tell us that California seems to be doing everything possible to drive business from the state. Texas Governor Rick Perry , by contrast, personally makes it his mission to lead corporate recruitment and economic development efforts in his state,” saidJ.P. Donlon , Editor-in-Chief of Chief Executive magazine and

Playbook for success

“The playbook for successful states boils down to three simple moves: engage in real dialogue with business leaders, adapt policies to create an attractive environment, and effectively communicate your story to real job creators,” said Marshall Cooper , CEO of Chief Executive magazine and “This year’s rankings prove that smart policies result in increased investments, jobs and greater overall economic activity.”

2013 Biggest Gainers Positions Gained
Ohio +13
Minnesota +6
Alabama +5
Arizona +4
Kansas +4
2013 Biggest Losers Positions Lost
Delaware -13
Mississippi -8
Missouri -7
Kentucky -4
Wyoming -4

For complete results, including individual state rankings on multiple criteria, CEO comments, methodology and more, please

What can advertisers learn from the flu?

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

MaxPointEven though this year’s flu virus is infecting people throughout the nation and New York and Boston even declared citywide health emergencies – you might not guess that Huntsville, Alabama is the city most concerned about it.

MaxPoint, a company that helps retailers and brands drive local in-store sales with its Digital Zip technology, announced its latest Interest Index, which reveals the cities most interested in flu-related remedies.

While that may or may not concern your company or your advertising clients specifically, MaxPoint notes that it is crucial for advertisers to dive deep into neighborhood and audience data when building campaigns.

For instance, New York and Boston did not even make the top ten list of cities most concerned about the flu this year.

By analyzing billions of in-store purchases and online data points, MaxPoint found that the 10 cities most interested in all things flu-related are the following:

1. Huntsville, AL
2. Knoxville, TN
3. Greensboro, NC
4. Greenville, SC
5. Des Moines, IA
6. Rochester, NY
7. Birmingham, AL
8. Boise, ID
9. Augusta, GA
10. Milwaukee, WI

nterest Data in Action

Using the data from this Interest Index, MaxPoint ran several digital advertising campaigns, including the following:

  • A global pharmaceutical company with a diverse healthcare portfolio — including pharmaceuticals, eye care products and vaccines — wanted to drive adults over the age of 65 to select pharmacy locations to receive flu shots. Using MaxPoint’s hyperlocal advertising approach, the company achieved 164 percent lift in awareness of its flu vaccine at participating pharmacies.
  • A manufacturer of analgesics wanted to increase brand awareness and drive sales of its products. By running digital ads with MaxPoint, the manufacturer achieved 3 percent sales lift in mass merchandise stores.

Need funding? SEVC seeks presenting companies for March event

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

The Southeast Venture Conference is headed to Charlotte, NC, in March 2013. The event offers firms a chance to present to top national venture capitalists and angel investors.

If you’re a high growth innovative company looking for funding, you still have a chance to present your business plan in front of top national venture capitalists and private equity professionals at the 2013 Southeast Venture Conference March 13th and 14th at the Ritz-Carlton in Charlotte, NC.

Applications to present at the event are still being accepted.

The event seeks  high growth, innovative companies from diverse technology industries including Software-as-a-Service, New Media, Bio-IT, Clean-Tech, Medical Devices, Mobile, Security, among others.

You’ll meet  hundreds of the region’s leading entrepreneurs and high growth company executives (from startups to pre-IPO), National Venture Capitalists and Private Equity Professionals, M&A facilitators and other leading professionals serving the high growth technology community.

SEVC highlights both early and later stage investment opportunities from: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington DC.

Last year’s SEVC Average Presenter Profile:

  • Average Annual Revenue: $5.9 million
  • Average Capital Raised to Date: $6.7 million
  • Average Number of Employees: 35

While the presenting companies are from the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions, the investors fly in from all parts of the country, including California, New York, and Massachusetts, as well as those that are regionally focused.

Exclusive panels, speakers, programming

The SEVC features market relevant investor and executive panels, exclusive networking opportunities, featured speakers and dozens of the region’s top private technology firms presenting to a national audience of venture capitalists, investment bankers and private equity investors.

As a TechMedia company and sponsor of the event, the TechJournal has reported on many firms that subsequently landed angel or venture backing. Venture capitalists tell us, they find new firms to put on their radar and track at each year’s event and many have returned year after year to spot hot Southeast opportunities.

SEVC is also an unparalleled networking event in which innovative firms meet potential partners, customers, and employees, in addition to making invaluable contacts within the venture and angel funding community.

Additional information on presenting and registration can be found at andyou can view a list of past presenters here.


2013 Southeast Venture Conference set for Charlotte in March

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

The Southeast Venture Conference is headed to Charlotte, NC, in March 2013.

The seventh annual Southeast Venture Conference, a major event for investors and entrepreneurs, is headed to Charlotte, NC, March 13-14 at the Riz-Carlton.

The conference features presentations by 60 of the region’s high growth investment opportunities.

They will include both early and later stage companies from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington DC.

The conference offers an unparalleled opportunity to Network with hundreds of the region’s leading Entrepreneurs and High Growth Company Executives, National Venture Capitalists and Private Equity Professionals, M&A facilitators and other leading professionals serving the technology community.

We’ve covered many startup and later stage firms that presented at previous SEVC’s and later landed multiple financing rounds.

SEVC is also teaming with the Internet Summit in Raleigh Nov. 6-8 this year to present the two-day Startup Summit focused on entrepreneurs.

ttendees and speakers include leading incubators, venture capital firms, and innovative companies. We’ll feature 16 presenting startups that will showcase their companies and concepts. You’ll have the opportunity to meet them one-on-one in our demo pit.

Speakers at the Startup Summit include influential entrepreneurs and leaders from the investment community:

  • Angus Davis, Founder & CEO, Swipely
  • Paul Singh, Partner & Master of the Hustle, 500Startups
  • Sarah Lacy, Founder & Editor-in-Chief, PandoDaily
  • Scott Maxwell, Founder, OpenView Venture Partners
  • Michael Doernberg, CEO and Co-founder, Reverbnation
  • Laura Witt, General Partner, ABS Capital
  • Rob Go, Partner, NextView Ventures
  • David Morken, Founder & CEO,
  • Jonathan Perrelli, Founding Partner,
  • Dayna GraysonNorth Bridge Venture Partners
  • Neil Kataria, Founder & Chairman, newBrandAnalytics
  • Greg Cangialosi, Managing Dir, Nucleus Venture Partners
  • Jason Caplain, General Partner, Southern Capital Ventures
  • Robbie Allen, Founder & CEO, Automated Insights
  • John Burke, Founder and General Partner, True Ventures
  • Joe Velk, Contender Capital
  • Chris Heivly, Managing Partner, Triangle Startup Factory
  • David Jones, Partner, Southern Capital Ventures
  • Joe Schmidt, CMO, Cafepress
  • Tom Lotrecchiano, Sr Vice President, Cafepress
  • Matt Williamson, Founder & CEO, Windsor Circle



Investors rain $49M on Tower Cloud for wireless backhaul

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Tower cloudTower Cloud Inc., a wireless backhaul services provider, has secured $49 million in additional equity to fund its expansion into new markets throughout Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama.

The latest round of funding was led by two of Tower Cloud’s existing investors, The Burton Partnership and Knology Inc. Tower Cloud’s other existing institutional investors include: Sutter Hill Ventures, El Dorado Ventures, Ballast Point Ventures, Kinetic Ventures, ITC Partners Fund and Noro-Moseley Partners.

For this round, two new investors joined the consortium, The Florida Growth Fund and CLR Investors. The funding was done in two phases with $13 million completed in January and $36 million completed in July. This funding follows a $20 million equity commitment by the same investor group in October 2009.

Wireless infrastructure firm 11i Solutions closes $1.89M bridge financing

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

11i SolutionsHUNTSVILLE, AL – 11i Soluitons, a wireless infrastructure and solutions provider, has closed on a $1.8 million convertible bridge financing. Steel Pier Capital Advisors led the round.

11i Solutions, Inc. was founded in 2007 to deliver enterprise-wide security, compliance, data and communications services.

The company says it streamlines clients’ wireless systems as a whole by anticipating new technologies and avoiding short-term obsolescence. With a wide range of solutions offered – from asset tracking via radio frequency identification (RFID) and fixed mobile convergence to data centers and Secure Cellphone Communication

Alabama-based Momentum Telecom dials in $10M financing

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Momentum TelecomBIRMINGHAM, AL – Momentum Telecom Inc., via MBS Hodlings, has raised $10 million in equity financing from seven investors, according to a regulatory filing. Momentum focuses on providing voice telecom service and dialup Internet to 150,000 customers in the Southeast.

Momentum Telecom is a profitable and cash flow positive company headquartered in Birmingham, AL. Momentum provides local telephone, long distance and data service to businesses and families in a nine state southeastern region (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee).

For an interview with Momentum CEO Alan Creighton with Wall Street Reporter Magazine that discusses how Momentum differs from some other telecom firms, see:

The company disclosed the financing in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Among the executives and directors cited as principals in the filing are: William Feathergill, Birmingham investor; William Acker III, founder and principal at Private Capital Corp.; Charles Caldwell; Harold Dunn; James Davis; and William Fox III.

TechJournal South is a TechMedia company. TechMedia presents the annual conferences:


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Cracks in cyber security reveal gaping holes in our digital defenses

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

By Allan Maurer

InZero device

The InZero security device

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC – Cybersecurity still seems to be an afterthought among everyone from McDonald’s to Gawker Media, not to mention the U.S. government and military. Too many entities worry about digital security only when it is breached.

Great business strategy that. Apparently, even giving your email address to a publication such as Gawker or to McDonald’s during one of its promotions, can expose your private data these days. Both admitted to serious security breaches as 2010 ends, while many Twitter accounts – including mine – were hacked by someone selling Acai for weight loss this week. Probably because I used the same password for both sites (see: Spammers Exploit Gawker) on Gawker, where I commented maybe once.

TechJournal South had its own problems with a hacked ad server a few months back and had to shift to another. Two major ad networks were hit with a similar problem this week.

And most of those security breaches were relatively minor in the scheme of things. Many more serious ones have already occurred and we have little doubt are to come.

But coming on the heels of the WikiLeaks fracas, these breaches all show a laxness about cybersecurity that I think is increasingly dangerous on the part of commercial enterprises, government agencies and the military, not to mention to each of us personally.

The problem is partly inherent in the open, accessible nature of the Internet. The very ease with which we swim the Internet’s electron sea makes us vulnerable to sharks. Still,the bad guys, be they foreign hacker crews backed by their own governments, malware creators, spammers, scammers or plain old crooks, actively hack away at us, while credit card companies, government agencies, and businesses remain all too often re-active.

We can’t win the cybersecurity battles that way.

It is absolutely necessary – probably for all of us, but certainly for government and commercial entities – to actively combat this problem. Harden passwords, be careful about what we put on thumb drives or pick up on them, shred documents with sensitive data, and find and use security systems not so easy for cyber criminals to break through.

I’ve noted one approach that seems to be powerful, that of using a security device separate from other equipment that acts as a lockbox preventing suspicious or actual malware and other intrusions from ever reaching operating systems. See: Herndon-based firm grabbing media attention for security device. And: NZero keeps the bad guys out.

Meanwhile, Panda Security of Orlando, which provides antimalware software in the cloud rather than on individual machines, has listed the top ten cyber security threats it sees for 2011.

See also: WikiWars: The Face of future conflicts.

There are contrary views. Over at InformIT, Gary McGraw & Ivan Arce explain how the current climate of exaggeration and FUD surrounding cyber attacks does not ultimately serve the best interests of computer security research in Cyber Warmongering and Influence Peddling.

Email TJS Editor Allan Maurer: Allan at TechJournalSouth dot com.

Six lessons for creating successful virtual teams: lesson #1

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

Virtual Team Success coverThe office of the future might not be an office at all. As virtual teams become more prevalent, we edge ever closer to a culture where “work” means logging in to your company’s online project management site from your home or collaborating with people who each work for different teams or functions at their local co-working establishment.

“Company headquarters” is becoming more of a concept than an actual building. And as physical location becomes less important, companies can hire the best talent regardless of their location. In addition, companies can enhance their efficiency by handing off work across time zones, enabling them to be productive around the clock.

Especially in the Internet company start-up culture and in early-stage biotechnology companies, virtual teams are increasingly prevalent.

But far too often, say Darleen DeRosa and Rick Lepsinger, this vision of the global economy workplace falls short of today’s reality. In other words, virtual teams may be increasingly popular…but they’re not necessarily successful.

“Today it isn’t uncommon for companies to have as many as 50 percent of their employees working on virtual teams,” says Lepsinger, coauthor along with Darleen DeRosa of Virtual Team Success: A Practical Guide for Working and Leading from a Distance (Jossey-Bass/A Wiley Imprint, 2010, ISBN: 978-0-470-53296-6, $50.00,

“Our research finds that many organizations recycle the same guidelines and best practices they use for their co-located teams and hope for the best,” says DeRosa. “Frankly, that just doesn’t work. Virtual teams and face-to-face teams are the proverbial ‘apples and oranges’—and leaders who recognize this fact are the ones whose teams succeed.”

To help organizations maximize their investment in virtual collaboration, OnPoint Consulting conducted a study of forty-eight virtual teams to understand the success factors of top performing virtual teams. Surprisingly, 27 percent of virtual teams in the global study were not fully performing. Given these results, the authors recognized the need for a resource that could help organizations and leaders enhance virtual team performance—and so they wrote Virtual Team Success.

Through the study, the authors recognized that virtual teams regularly fall victim to four pitfalls:

Lack of clear goals, direction, or priorities—Because it is tougher to communicate with and inform team members who are geographically dispersed, it is often difficult to keep all team members focused on the same goals, especially over time.

Lack of clear roles among team members—In virtual teams, it is especially important for team members to clearly understand their individual roles and how their work impacts other team members.

Lack of cooperation and trust—Because there is a lack of face-to-face contact inherent in virtual teamwork, the process of establishing trust and relationships that lead to group cooperation can be very arduous. Over time, this lack of collaboration can lead to a lack of trust amongst team members.

Lack of engagement—With virtual teams, people can easily become bored and “check out” because there is a lack of dynamic face-to-face interaction and because there are more distractions.

Eliminate these pitfalls and a team’s chances for success greatly increase. Below DeRosa and Lepsinger identify six lessons—excerpted from the book—for creating successful virtual teams.

We’ll be presenting the rest of the lessons tomorrow, including a reprise of Lesson 1, below.

Lesson #1: Focus on people issues. Essentially, successful teaming depends largely on the effective interaction of team members. Virtual teams need to compensate for the inherent lack of human contact by supporting team spirit, trust, and productivity. The authors identify warning signs that indicate that a team’s “people issues” need more attention.

“You may notice that team members work independently and do not reach out to other team members to collaborate,” says Lepsinger. “You may also notice that an ‘us versus them’ mentality has developed between locations or sub-groups. The truth is, when everyone is engaged and communicating, it is much easier to succeed as a virtual team. When team members build relationships with one another, it prevents people issues from taking over and impacting team efficiency.

Lesson #1 in Action:

  • Develop a team web page where virtual team members can share information and get to know one another.
  • Create ways for team members to interact and communicate informally. Use real-time communication tools like Instant Messaging or social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter to create a virtual water cooler of sorts that allows people on virtual teams to communicate more spontaneously.
  • Build a collective online “resource bank” to share information and experiences.
  • Find ways to “spotlight” team members.
  • Send electronic newsletters or updates to the team.
  • Create ways to virtually celebrate successes as a team
  • Partner team members at different locations on projects and rotate these periodically.

Darleen DeRosa, Ph.D., is a managing partner at OnPoint Consulting. Darleen brings more twelve years of management consulting experience, with deep expertise in the areas of talent/succession management, executive assessment, virtual teams, and organizational assessment. Her client list includes Accenture, Bayer Pharmaceuticals, Daiichi-Sankyo, Gerdau Ameristeel, and Johnson & Johnson.

Richard Lepsinger is president of OnPoint Consulting and has a twenty-five-year track record of success as an organizational consultant and executive. His client list includes Bayer Pharmaceuticals, Citibank, Coca-Cola Company, ConocoPhillips, Goldman Sachs, Johnson & Johnson, NYSE Euronext, PeopleSoft, Prudential, and Subaru of America, among many others

Tomorrow: the other five lesson.

Alabama-based Agenta nabs $1.1M NIH grant

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

AgentaBIRMINGHAM, AL – Agenta Biotechnologies Inc., based in Birmingham, has received a $1.1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health and National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research for the further development of a biologically activated membrane to improve soft tissue healing associated with oral surgery. This grant is funded by the Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) program of the NIH and is the second such award received by Agenta.

Agenta’s novel technology leverages specialized protein molecules that enhance growth factor activity and promote healing through a variety of known mechanisms. The company believes that these potential therapeutics may have application in the healing of bone, cartilage, skin and discs in the spine, as well as serving as coatings for vascular stents and implants.

“Eventually these improvements in spine and vertebral disc treatments may allow for repair without surgery and may also yield improvements in skin healing caused by burns, age, sun damage and diseases including diabetes,” said Arthur DeCarlo, D.D.S., Ph.D., president and Chief Executive Officer of Agenta.

In partnership with Bonenta Inc., Agenta is currently applying its technology to the development of therapeutics for enhanced bone healing in the skull, and for growth of essential new bone in the jaw and around teeth.

Using funds from a previous NIH SBIR grant directed at bone repair, the companies have already reported positive pre-clinical data and are preparing for FDA interactions as the next step toward human clinical trials. “Encouraging preclinical results suggest that our technology may lead to improvements in how well, and how fast, bones and implants heal,” said Dr. DeCarlo.

SEBIO names life science firms presenting at its Investor Forum

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

SebioATLANTA – Southeast BIO (SEBIO), a regional nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering the growth of the Southeast’s life sciences industry, has named the best life sciences deals in the Southeast, as determined by a Selection Committee comprised of regional and national venture capitalists.  These companies, both early- and later-stage, will participate in the upcoming SEBIO Investor Forum being held on November 3-4, 2010 at the Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead in Atlanta, Georgia.

Those companies chosen for the EARLY/Stage event are seeking their first rounds of venture capital and/or angel investment. During the Investor Forum, the companies will participate in an advisory session led by active early-stage investors.  The MAIN/Stage presenting companies have generally completed at least one round of institutional financing and will each have the opportunity to make a ten minute pitch to the full conference audience.

Since 1999, companies that have participated in the SEBIO Investor Forum have raised over $2.5 billion in public and private offerings.

SEBIO has also selected four finalists for its Fourth Annual BIO/Plan Competition, a program developed to promote the creation of new, fundable life science companies based in the Southeast. Working closely with technology transfer offices and entrepreneurs throughout the region, the competition brings forward opportunities from leading Southeastern research universities and research centers. The BIO/Plan Competition received forty applications earlier this year from all across the Southeast.

SEBIO 2010 MAIN/Stage Companies
Avancen MOD Corporation (Mt. Pleasant, SC)
EGEN, Inc. (Huntsville, AL)
Intelliject, Inc. (Richmond, VA)
InVasc Therapeutics, Inc. (Tucker, GA)
RFS Pharma, LLC (Tucker, GA)
Visioneering Technologies, Inc. (Alpharetta, GA)

SEBIO 2010 EARLY/Stage Companies
Ariste Medical, LLC (Memphis, TN)
Atlanta Catheter Therapies, Inc. (Atlanta, GA)
AXOXY Laboratories, LLC (Gainesville, FL)
Bioshape Solutions, Inc. (Research Triangle Park, NC)
CvergenX, Inc. (Tampa, FL)
Endomimetics, LLC (Birmingham, AL)
GeneCapture, Inc. (Huntsville, AL)
Grace Innovative Technologies, Inc. (Mobile, AL)
HemoSonics, LLC (Charlottesville, VA)
NeurOp, Inc. (Atlanta, GA)
Physcient, Inc. (Durham, NC)
Restorative Physiology Group, LLC (North Charleston, SC)
Scytel Research (Chapel Hill, NC)
Vascular Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Cary, NC)
Vivo Biosciences, Inc. (Birmingham, AL)

SEBIO 2010 BIO/Plan Finalists:
FibroTherapeutics, Inc. (Medical University of South Carolina)
NRG Biotechnology (Morehouse School of Medicine)
Reactive Diagnostics, Inc. (Georgia Institute of Technology)
SPECTROPATH Medical (Emory University)

BioCryst Pharma moving HQ from Birmingham to Durham

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

BiocrystDURHAM, NC - BioCryst Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq:BCRX)  is moving its headquarters from Birmingham, AL to Durham, NC, the Birmingham Business Journal reports.

BioCryst has three novel late-stage compounds in development: peramivir, a neuraminidase inhibitor for the treatment of influenza, BCX4208, a purine nucleoside phosphorylase (PNP) inhibitor for the treatment of gout, and forodesine, an orally-available PNP inhibitor for hematological malignancies.

The company employs about 50 people, including 30 at its Durham R&D operation. It says the move will affect up to 15 jobs, with 8 being eliminated.

Alabama-based BioDtech injects $600K for toxin detection

Friday, October 8th, 2010

biodtechBIRMINGHAM, AL - BioDtech Inc., which sells a product to detect and remove toxins from research biological test samples, has raised $600,000 in venture funding from the Birmingham Technology Fund (BTF) and Texas-based Targeted Technology Fund I, and private investors, according to the Birmingham Business Journal.

Founded in 2006 in Nashville, the company moved to Birmingham when the BTF invested $1 million in 2007.

The company plans to move from its currrent Innovation Depot laboratory to a larger space in the same incubator and add at least one more employee, the BBJ reports.

The company already has about 60 customers and will use the new funding in part to develop new products.

It has applied for patent protection for its endoxin detection and removal technology.

The Birmingham Technology Fund has invested $14.4 million to 11 companies since its founding in 2006.

Alabama-based Cedar Ridge Research raises $1.3M

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

Cedar Ridge ResearchNEW HOPE, AL – Cedar Ridge Research, a company that provides a platform to research, develop, protect, and launch challenging technologies, has raised $1.3 million from a single investor, according to a regulatory filing.

The company has extensive experience across multidisciplinary technology areas covering inventions, patents, licensing, and product launches gained from the development of its own product portfolio. In parallel to its IP development, it also provides a structured innovation and incubation model to technology companies.

The company also offers investment support services, helping tech firms develop presentations for investors and presenting investment opportunities.

Looking at the Cedar Ridge web site, we noticed that the firm’s projects are extremely high tech endeavors. They include such things as Parametric Nuclear Quadrupole Resonance, a method for or scanning ships, planes, airports, trucks, buildings, roads, crowds, etc. for dangerous substances such as illicit drugs or explosives.

Another is Magnetic Damping Field Armor, which protects armored vehicles from shaped explosive projectiles.

Larry Fullerton

Larry Fullerton

CEO Larry Fullerton as been the recipient of 117 US Patents in the fields of ultra wideband technology, impulse radio technology, velocity measurement, communications and geophysics.

Among his achievements, Fullerton invented the pipe sorter that is currently the industry standard, the free-space video link used by store security systems worldwide, a robotic system that automates crankshaft grinders, a high-speed coin sorter, time coherent ultra wideband technology, and many other technologies.

The company disclosed the funding in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

To email TechJournal South Editor/writer Allan Maurer: Allan at TechJournalSouth dot com.

Earthlink buying ITC Deltacom for $516 million

Friday, October 1st, 2010

EarthlinkATLANTA & HUNTSVILLE, AL – EarthLink Inc. (Nasdaq: ELNK), one of the nation’s leading Internet service providers, and ITC^DeltaCom Inc. (OTC Bulletin Board: ITCD), a provider of integrated communications services to customers in the southeastern United States, have agreed to merge in a deal valued at $516 million.

The acquisition will enable EarthLink to create a leading IP infrastructure and solutions company by combining its existing ISP and IP-focused businesses with Deltacom’s integrated communications business.

Deltacom has 16,400 miles of fiber optic infrastructure in the Southeast.

Deltacom currently serves over 32,000 small and mid-size businesses, multi-location enterprises, government agencies and wholesale customers in the southeast with services including Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) and IP-based products.  Together, the companies will offer customers a comprehensive suite of Internet, telecommunications and managed services.

Huntsville-based Synapse Wireless beams in $2.91M

Monday, September 20th, 2010

SynapseHUNTSVILLE, AL – Synapse Wireless Inc., a company selling software to network machine to machine communications, has raised nearly $3 million from 35 investors, according to a regulatory filing.

The company, which we profiled in February, raised $8.5 million from local investors and the Hickory Venture Group previously. It raised $2.91 million in the current round, according to a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

says it wants its SNAP software to “become to machines what MS DOS was to PCs—the de facto standard for networking machine to machine communications,” says Paul Brasher, CFO of Synapse.

What do these networks do? They tell a manager if a piece of equipment on the factory floor is running too hot or vibrating too much. They’ll alert a building manager to a problem with the air conditioning.

Their current and potential uses are so varied across so many consumer and industrial sectors that the business of wireless networks for machine to machine communication has been estimated to reach $30 billion this year.

The company partners with Panasonic and California Easter Labs and holds 26 patents on its technology.

Founded in 2007, Synapse presented at the 2010 Southeast Venture Conference.

Medical device firm nContact implants $4M round

Friday, August 20th, 2010

nContactMORRISVILLE, NC – Medical device company nContact has closed on a $4 million mixed securities offering, according to a regulatory filing. The company makes devices for the minimally invasive treatment of heart arrhythmias.

Investors include Harbert Management Corp., Birmingham, AL; Hippo Ventures; Finistere Ventures, San Diego; Village Ventures, Williamstown, MA; Tall Oaks Capital, Charlottesville, VA;’ Massey Burch Capital Corp., Nashville, TN; and Intersouth Partners, Durham, NC.

The company, founded in 2005, raised at least $24 million in three previous rounds.

On its web site, the company says, “We are currently enrolling patients in a series of clinical trials to evaluate the use of this system for the treatment of atrial fibrillation (AF) in concomitant procedures as well as in convergent procedures, which combine the best techniques of Cardiovascular Surgeons and Electrophysiologists to potentially provide a truly minimally invasive treatment solution for all AF patients in a single procedure.”

The company disclosed the raise in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

To contact TechJournal South Editor & Writer Allan Maurer: Allan at TechJournalSouth dot com.

Fastest and cheapest US broadband systems are city run in the South

Friday, August 20th, 2010
Chris Mitchell

Christopher Mitchell

By Chistopher Mitchell

Opelika, Alabama is the latest community in the Southeast to move toward a community owned broadband network.

Last week  citizens approved a fiber-to-the-home network owned by the public power utility to expand telecom competition and invest in smart-grid services.

Though major telecom companies have long argued that broadband has plenty of competition, many communities beg to differ.

General dissatisfaction

This is not an uprising against a single cable or phone company, rather general dissatisfaction with de facto monopolist providers who focus first on shareholder returns rather than community needs.

Throughout the south, nearly every national cable co has had to deal with an upstart community that chose to own its information infrastructure: Comcast (Chattanooga, TN), Cox (Lafayette, LA), Time Warner (Wilson, NC), and Charter (Opelika, AL).

Fastest and least expensive broadband systems are municipal

The trend is fascinating: the single fastest citywide broadband tier available in the US comes from Chattanooga with 150Mbps.

Probably the most economical connection in the nation lies in Lafayette with 10Mbps for a mere $30/month (as with most community fiber networks, Lafayette and Chattanooga only offer symmetrical services – ensuring users can publish content as readily as downloading it).

Bristol, Virginia was first

In fact, the very first city-owned triple-play fiber-to-the-home network in the nation started in Bristol, Virginia, where it has brought hundreds of high paying jobs to people who sorely need them.

Opelika’s 62 percent yes vote was necessary because Alabama law requires a referendum before communities build a network offering cable services – laws pushed by deep-pocketed incumbent providers who understand that communities themselves are the most likely source of broadband competition.

Due to the massive upfront investment, long payback, and difficulty of competing with an entrenched incumbent, the private sector has little appetite for overbuilding.

Why communities build their own networks

Wireless may be competitive against DSL, but Wimax is no match for DOCSIS 3 cable networks, which are more reliable  and offer higher capacity in general.  Fiber-to-the-home offers much higher reliability, capacity, and headroom for upgrades but wireline companies with little competition see little pressure to upgrade.

This is why communities are building their own FTTH networks – they want to remain technologically competitive with the rest of the world (and superior to perhaps 95 percent of the US) but recognize they have to invest in this infrastructure themselves – just as many of them did when private companies saw little reason to offer electricity to everyone at reasonable rates.

Battle looms again in NC

In North Carolina, Time Warner Cable’s lobbyists have consistently fought to outlaw community networks (even in areas the private sector has no interest in serving).

The effort failed earlier this summer despite making greater inroads than previous attempts. They will undoubtedly be back in Raleigh to try again next session – lobbyists are a tiny expense compared to the cost of a truly competitive landscape for these companies.

Christopher Mitchell is the Director of the Telecommunications as Commons Initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.  He writes regularly about community networks on and has published a comprehensive report about such networks:  Breaking the Broadband Monopoly: How Communities are Building the Networks They Need .

TechJournal South has covered the efforts of states to regulate municipal broadband for some time. North Carolina has thus far turned back two efforts to put restrictions on the efforts of cities to create their own broadband networks, which one has done and several are planning. Both previous articles below contain links to numerous background pieces on the topic.

See: Six months to act

Municipal broadband battle rages on

Green Investments plants $23.1M equity round

Friday, July 30th, 2010

GreenFirstATLANTA – Green Investments I, a Montgomery, Alabama environmental services company, managed by Atlanta-based GreenFirst LLC, has raised a $23.1 million round of equity, according to a regulatory filing.

GreenFirst is an environmental permitting and real estate investment firm. It is retooling its web site, which is limited to the opening page.

Principals listed in the filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission include Ernest Kaufmann, CEO of GreenFirst, W.T. Phillips Jr. and Alan Landes.

SEBIO selects semifinalists for biz plan competition

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

SebioATLANTA – Southeast BIO (SEBIO) has selected ten semifinalists in its fourth annual BIO/Plan Competition.

Launched in 2007, the BIO/Plan Competition is a program developed to promote the creation of new life science companies based in the Southeast.

The ten semifinalists were selected from nearly forty total applications. The applicant pool included applications from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.

They represent a wide range of technologies including small molecule therapeutics, biologics, diagnostics, and medical devices.  Five of the semifinalists selected are from Georgia, three are from Florida, one is from South Carolina, and one is from Virginia.

The technologies emerged from some of the region’s finest research institutions, including Emory University, Florida International University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Medical College of Georgia, Morehouse School of Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, University of Florida, University of Georgia, and University of Virginia.

“Despite the funding crunch, the level of scientific innovation at universities and startup companies remains extremely impressive as seen from the BIO/Plan applications, and this bodes well for an outburst of valuable commercial opportunities that will attract investment dollars from firms like ours,” said Carlos Parajon, managing  partner, Harbor Island Equity Partners .

“This quality of research and innovation leads to investment and growth, which in turn creates more innovation and positive economic outcomes for the region.”

Each semifinalist is now paired with a small mentoring team and beginning the mentorship phase of the Competition.  Each mentoring team includes three or four experienced professionals from active venture funds or angel groups, biotech entrepreneurs and managers, and service providers with relevant start-up expertise.

The mentoring teams directly interact with the semifinalists over a period of 4 months focusing on the strategic development of the business concept and commercial opportunity.

The teams are also supported with additional resources including development plan templates and guidelines, regulatory consultants, and presentation guidelines and examples.  The ultimate goal of the mentoring process is the creation of an executable development strategy and associated written plan. This rigorous mentorship process is the cornerstone of the Competition.

“Every year, our companies brag about SEBIO’s process and the terrific advice they get from the BIO/Plan mentors,” notes Susan Shows, Senior Vice President, Georgia Research Alliance. “This coaching and the visibility to investors is extremely valuable to the region’s early stage companies.”

Following the mentoring process, each of the semifinalists will submit their written development plan to a panel of judges.  Four finalists will then be selected to present at the Twelfth Annual SEBIO Investor Forum, November 3-4, 2010, in Atlanta, Georgia. The finalists will present to the full conference audience, which includes more than 400 industry leaders from across the region, and over 100 investors from the Southeast and around the world.

The finalists will be awarded face-to-face, private meetings with top investors in the region at which time they can more fully promote their investment opportunity and development plan.  One Southeast BIO/Plan Competition winner will be announced and recognized in a special ceremony at the Investor Forum.

More information about the BIO/Plan Competition, the SEBIO Investor Forum, and sponsorship opportunities can be found on the SEBIO website,