Talent

Business Facilities | STEM Leaders: This Will Be On The Test

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Business Facilities | Nora Caley

Madison, WI: Helping Students Get An Early Start

To help students discover if STEM courses interest them, in 2015 the Madison Region Economic Partnership (MadREP) launched Inspire Madison Region, a software component of the web-based program Xello, which the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) made available to all public school districts. While Xello allows students to learn about specific occupations based on interests and abilities, the Inspire Madison Region component enables students to connect via the interactive platform with mentors and career coaches. Students also participate in job shadowing, internships, and apprenticeships at local employers.

“Through the connections Inspire provides, MadREP is facilitating student awareness of local career opportunities and growing the future workforce in the Madison region,” said Gene Dalhoff, Vice President of Talent and Education. Through Inspire Madison Region, 70,000 students can connect with 500 career coaches as well as over 400 companies, many of which offer career-based learning experiences for students.

Another MadREP and Wisconsin DPI program, Wisconsin Pathways—Madison Region, is a region-wide effort to deliver high-quality career pathways in high schools. The pathways focus on occupations associated with high-skill, in-demand industry sectors. Students complete a pathway by taking a sequence of aligned courses, earning an industry-recognized credential, enrolling in dual college credit classes, participating in career-based and work-based learning experiences, and accessing related Career and Technical Education (CTE) student organizations.

Dalhoff said the pathways offer benefits for high school students and for employers. Students gain education and training that align with the needs of the local job market, and a high school diploma with at least one industry-recognized credential. Employers gain partnerships with a greater number of schools.

Another recent effort is the expansion of Fabrication Laboratories (Fab Labs) in school districts throughout the Madison Region. Fab Labs provide the physical space, equipment, instruction, teamwork, and other resources necessary for students to explore STEM-related topics and engage in projects.

MadREP is working to engage with even more students in the region. “Looking to the future, we will prioritize growing opportunities to support the BIPOC community through economic development strategies and policies that prioritize funding STEM-related endeavors,” said Jason M. Fields, MadREP’s President and CEO. “Students of color need to see themselves reflected in the industry to believe it is possible.”

Originally published on BusinessFacilities.com.

MadREP joins WLCO’s “Your Talk Show” to Discuss Workplace Vanpooling in the Madison Region

Madison Region Economic Partnership President and CEO, Jason Fields, and Vice President of Talent and Education, Gene Dalhoff, went on “Your Talk Show” with Tim Bremel of WCLO, a radio station based in Janesville with a signal extending to most of the Madison Region. The three discussed MadREP’s new workplace vanpooling pilot program and the state-instituted Main Street Bounce Back program, among other economic development topics.

To help small business owners, MadREP, in partnership with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, has been granting $10,000 to eligible business owners who locate or relocate to a vacant space. This program was recently extended to the end of the year, and grants will continue to be disbursed on a first-come, first-served basis until all funds have been disbursed. While these grants can be a big help to any business, Jason Fields believes that they could be even more impactful when combined with access to the resources and knowledge necessary to maintain a sustainable business, and he plans to supplement this program in the future.

MadREP also discussed their partnership with Enterprise to begin offering workplace vanpooling to businesses in the Madison region. VP of Talent and Education, Gene Dalhoff, was inspired by Dodge County cheese producer, Paul Scharfman, who created a vanpool program for his business to galvanize the rural workforce that wanted to work, but just couldn’t find reliable transportation. Scharfman started his venture in 2018 to transport workers in the rural surrounding area to his business in Reeseville, a town of approximately 700 residents. The cheese producer’s innovative strategy found him all the employees he needed, as well as a waitlist of people wanting to work for him.

MadREP is looking to recreate Specialty Cheese’s success throughout their eight counties, starting with a pilot program of a handful of vans subsidized by MadREP. Our hope is for the program to reach 100 vans to help businesses and workers in the region who are experiencing challenges with transportation, a win-win proposition for the Madison Region.

Building Advanced Manufacturing Career Pathways in the Madison Region

Pathways Wisconsin is a statewide effort to deliver high-quality career-oriented programming in high schools that reflects the needs of prospective employers in their communities.

Focused at the regional level, the program is tailored to the specific needs of each of the nine regions. MadREP has taken an active role in Pathways Wisconsin since its inception, adding four pathways (Patient Care, Digital Tech, Advanced Manufacturing and Construction). We expect to add a fifth agricultural pathway this year.

What is Advanced Manufacturing?

The term “advanced manufacturing technology” has been coined for this pathway to encompass the rapidly changing nature of this industry. In its simplest definition, manufacturing takes in raw materials to produce products that are useful for a customer. Advanced manufacturing builds on this definition by utilizing technology to improve products or processes; thereby increasing efficiency, reliability, and quality for newer and better products.

Manufacturing is High Tech

The manufacturing industry has evolved and must now account for data and information integrated into manufacturing technologies, products, and processes. As a result, we must all embrace a broader definition of what it means to build a career in manufacturing.

Industry Subsectors

Each advanced manufacturing industry subsector offers career opportunities for a range of educational skill levels and salaries.

  • Production ($25,030 – $161,870)
  • Engineering & Design ($39,750 – $115,380)
  • Industry 4.0/4th Industrial Revolution ($27,740 – $110,620)
  • Electro-Mechanical ($25,630 – $102,780)
  • Supply Chain ($23,590 – $118,540)

Career Pathways in High School

The pathway must include a sequence of courses, including at least two career and technical education courses and two of the following components: a career and technical student organization, work-based learning, college credit opportunities, and an industry recognized credential.

Get involved!

Businesses in our Region have highlighted talent development as a top concern for several years and it has only increased since the onset of the pandemic. If your business would like to take an active role in cultivating your next generation of talent, fill out this brief intake form to get started.

Wisconsin State Journal | Business Class: Madison startup develops conversational AI tech for healthcare uses

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Wisconsin State Journal | Emilie Heidemann

Nick Myers remembers when he was around 8 years old, having to grapple with a harrowing leukemia diagnosis and the treatment that came after.

The now-CEO and co-founder of Madison-based startup RedFox AI, with an office on the city’s East Side, had trouble consuming oral medications. His only alternative was massive injections that his parents had to give him. The procedure sometimes required the guidance of a health care professional over the phone, which for Myer’s parents meant minutes to hours of waiting to get someone on the line.

That experience fuels Myers’ ambitions now as RedFox AI is actively developing a technology, using conversational artificial intelligence, that aims to help people walk through how to take specific medical tests, such as screenings for cancer. And Myers envisions a future in which an AI digital guide not only instructs a user, but offers emotional support as well.

RedFox AI launched in 2019, Myers said, initially with a focus on using the skills of Amazon’s Alexa virtual technology assistant as a backbone to create voice applications. But after the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on the healthcare industry, Myers and the RedFox AI team of less than five employees shifted their focus. Amid the health crisis, the team observed how millions have turned to diagnostic tests as a way to find out if they’ve contracted the illness.

Then in August 2021, RedFox unveiled its conversational AI tech, which has so far captured the attention of health care companies and organizations both locally and around the U.S. The startup has yet to receive its first round of investment funding, Myers said, but he expects that to change soon. RedFox has grown without external funds since its formation, he said.

“Nick Myers and his team have built a conversational AI platform that represents a coming wave,” said Wisconsin Technology Council president Tom Still, who saw the tech demoed in 2019. “(The software) is a prime example of tailored conversational AI, which can be ‘trained’ for specific uses. It’s a natural evolution in voice AI technology with possible uses in health care, which is the RedFox target, but other business sectors, as well.”

Pulling up the software on his phone and computer monitor, RedFox chief technology officer and co-founder Brett Brooks demonstrated on Wednesday how the tech is supposed to work. The user asks the AI a question about a medical test, in this case for COVID-19, and a voice similar to Apple’s Siri or Alexa responds. The tech then provides instructions about how to take the COVID-19 test, and helps the user troubleshoot any problems that may arise as it’s administered.

Then in August 2021, RedFox unveiled its conversational AI tech, which has so far captured the attention of health care companies and organizations both locally and around the U.S. The startup has yet to receive its first round of investment funding, Myers said, but he expects that to change soon. RedFox has grown without external funds since its formation, he said.

“Nick Myers and his team have built a conversational AI platform that represents a coming wave,” said Wisconsin Technology Council president Tom Still, who saw the tech demoed in 2019. “(The software) is a prime example of tailored conversational AI, which can be ‘trained’ for specific uses. It’s a natural evolution in voice AI technology with possible uses in health care, which is the RedFox target, but other business sectors, as well.”

Pulling up the software on his phone and computer monitor, RedFox chief technology officer and co-founder Brett Brooks demonstrated on Wednesday how the tech is supposed to work. The user asks the AI a question about a medical test, in this case for COVID-19, and a voice similar to Apple’s Siri or Alexa responds. The tech then provides instructions about how to take the COVID-19 test, and helps the user troubleshoot any problems that may arise as it’s administered.

Already, the startup is in talks with companies like Madison-based biomedical giant Exact Sciences, maker of the Cologuard test, which allows people to screen for colon cancer at home, as well as Milwaukee-based Rockwell Automation and other companies to bring its tech to market.

But official agreements haven’t been signed yet, Myers said.

A powerhouse?

RedFox AI likely plays a role in what Washington, D.C.-based think tank Brookings Institution said last fall is Madison’s potential in becoming an AI powerhouse. Educational institutions like UW-Madison only boost that notion, a Brookings report states.

Brookings used seven metrics to assess the research capabilities and commercial activities of 385 metropolitan areas in the United States. The metrics put each area into one of five categories.

The report touted Madison as a center for research (the third category), but suggested that in order to keep up with the country’s emergent AI industry, local business leaders should forge more corporate research partnerships with UW-Madison, promoting entrepreneurship and encouraging local job retention and attraction.

“Significant money is flowing into the region to support almost exclusive contracts or research and development initiatives,” explained Mark Muro, Brookings senior fellow and report co-author last fall. “That’s very important in itself. At the same time, because federal research done at UW-Madison is also building a talent base of skilled researchers and graduate students, there’s a pipeline for future AI expansion.”

Digest

  • Madison-based electronic health records company DeliverHealth has acquired Presidio Health, a health care technology company based in San Francisco for an undisclosed amount of money within the last few weeks. Presidio Health provides software that helps read medical charts, and DeliverHealth aims to simplify health care workflows not only for EHRs, but also patient engagement and tech that keeps track of revenue streams.
  • The Madison Region Economic Partnership is piloting a vanpooling program for its eight-county coverage area. MadREP is partnering with Enterprise Rent-A-Car to help people without adequate transportation options commute to work. The program will provide a $500 grant per van per month for up to three van pools, according to a statement from MadREP. The organization plans to announce in the next few weeks some companies that are taking advantage of the program.
  • An organization that promotes the growth of women and minority-led businesses, Madison-based Doyenne Group, has through its Evergreen Fund made a $50,000 investment into a company that has created a “toolbox” that helps people plan development projects. 2ft.D is a Milwaukee-based women- and veteran-led company.
  • The Ideadvance Seed Fund, out of both the Center for Technology Commercialization and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., has opened its 13th round of grant funding for which state businesses can apply. The deadline is July 21. Launched in 2014, the fund has awarded grants to 82 companies, totaling $2.8 million.
  • A groundbreaking ceremony for the Urban League of Greater Madison’s Black Business Hub development on the city’s South Side is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on April 8 at 2222 South Park St.

In Business: MadREP incentivizes vanpooling participation

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In Business Magazine | Site Staff

To help both existing employees and would-be employees who are facing transportation challenges, the Madison Region Economic Partnership (MadREP) is partnering with Commute with Enterprise to provide workplace vanpooling, according to a joint release. MadREP’s pilot will provide a $500 grant per van per month for up to three vanpools to help underwrite the cost to its partners. The remaining cost will be covered by the company, the riders, or a combination of the two as determined by each company.

Each vanpool program is customized to the specific needs of its five or more vanpool riders. Companies can choose a qualifying vanpool vehicle from Enterprise’s selection of makes and models that includes crossovers, SUVs, minivans, and large passenger vans. The Commute with Enterprise program provides 24-hour roadside assistance, liability insurance, and scheduled maintenance.

Originally published on ibmadison.com

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