5 things to expect during mid-Missouri innovation week

The first Bringing Up Business: Mid-Missouri’s Innovation Week started Friday and runs through Oct. 14, featuring a week’s worth of events aimed at exposing, connecting and celebrating the entrepreneurial community in mid-Missouri.

Columbia Startup Weekend is the lone event on the schedule through Sunday. But beginning Monday, 17 events, ranging from pitches to parties and awards ceremonies to keynote speeches, are scheduled to unfold over five days.

Bringing Up Business Week Graphic

You can find a full schedule on the Bringing Up Business website. But here are few things you can expect to see during the inaugural event:

1. Chocolate

Shawn Askinosie, the founder and CEO of Springfield-based Askinosie Chocolate, which was named by Forbes as one of America’s Best Small Companies of 2016, will give a talk Monday night on “Finding a Vocation, Kinship and Work Worth Doing.”

Askinosie worked as a defense attorney for close two two decades before founding his chocolate company in 2005. He has since garnered awards and national press for the business, which emphasizes a commitment to social responsibility.

2. Pitches

The week includes an array of pitch events, with thousands of dollars in prize money, and potentially larger investment opportunities, on the line.

Startup Weekend began Friday and concludes Sunday with pitch sessions open to the public.

On Monday, 10 entrepreneurs will compete in a community pitch competition hosted by Columbia College and the Regional Economic Development Inc. The event features $10,000 in prize money, with $5,000 going to the winner.

The annual Missouri Tech Expo takes place Thursday, providing University of Missouri faculty, staff and students an opportunity to pitch projects in the life sciences, engineering and software that have commercial potential.

“We’re always looking for businesspeople and sales people to get involved with some of those activities,” Bill Turpin, president and CEO of the Missouri Innovation Center, said of the Tech Expo in an interview with KBIA.

3. University communities

The University of Missouri, Columbia College and Stephens College are among the organizations driving the inaugural innovation week, and the three schools will serve as hosts for the bulk of the events.

Some of events are organized by student groups — 1 Million Slices and ENACTUS, for instance — or targeted at students. So you can expect a strong university flavor to the week, which seems appropriate given the prominent role that higher education plays in Mid-Missouri’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

4. Awards

The winners of the week’s various pitch contests won’t be the only ones walking away with awards. The week features two events to honor the efforts of university researchers and entrepreneurs.

MU’s Coulter Translational Partnership, a program that works to commercialize biomedical innovation, will hold an awards ceremony at 10 a.m. Tuesday. MU’s annual Innovation and Entrepreneurial Recognition Dinner follows at 5 p.m. Thursday.

5. Libations and celebrations

Amidst all the competitions and presentations, there will be ample opportunity for the entrepreneurial community to kick back and relax.

On Tuesday evening, the Craft Beer Cellar and Centennial Investors will host a tech happy hour. And on Friday, the week wraps up with a party at Rose Music Hall featuring local food trucks.


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