2015 Technology Forecast
Column in the Charleston Daily Mail, February 2, 2015, by Anne Barth
Groundhog Day brings the idea of forecasting to the front and center. Some say that forecasting is the art of saying what will happen, and then explaining why it didn’t. Others say there are two types of forecasts—lucky or wrong!
Either way, my forecast is that 2015 will see the launch and expansion of technology companies across the state.
Last week TechConnect and Industries of the Future-WV sponsored Innovation and Entrepreneurship Day at the State Capitol to shine a light on activity underway in the innovation economy in the state. We had 48 exhibitors, 120 attendees, and over 200 groups that signed on as participating organizations, which bodes well for all of us.
While this is by no means a complete list, here are a few ideas about who to watch in West Virginia in 2015:
In Morgantown, watch for startups like Secure Selfies, a company started by three WVU engineering students who are using encrypted data and facial recognition software to prevent unauthorized access of smartphones and other devices. You can bet that a host of celebrities wish they had Secure Selfies on their phones before they were hacked.
Tygart Technologies in Fairmont recently released a new version of its facial recognition technology. This cloud-based face recognition system can process vast amounts of video and photo collections in minutes. Beyond obvious military uses, think large domestic events like the one held this past Sunday night.Berkeley Springs Instruments, based in Morgan County, uses robotics, sensors, and wireless technology to monitor infrastructure, tanks and pipeline integrity. The market potential for this firm is high
The Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing at Marshall University will continue to lead the way in 3D printing in the state and region, in not only making the most sophisticated 3D printers available, but also in providing workforce training and 3D printing camps for K-12 students
The West Virginia Regional Tech Park, with almost 250 acres of land, unique pilot plants and lab facilities, now also houses a brand new advanced technology center and the thriving BridgeValley Community & Technical College. MATRIC is also based at the tech park, and it offers strategic innovation R&D services in several sectors. MATRIC has clients from all over the world because of the intellectual capital concentrated among their outstanding scientists and researchers
Poly Plexx, one of the companies at the tech park, has developed a new, clear, impact-resistant polymer. This will have application in the optical, ballistic, and safety markets—stay tuned
Also at the Tech Park, the new chemistry-based incubator “ChemCeption” is adding clients who are working on a variety of technologies with great potential. The Chemical Alliance Zone launched ChemCeption last April and the forecast looks rosy, given that the shale gas plays are making West Virginia one of the largest natural gas producers in the world.
And speaking of shale gas production, NG Innovations of Cross Lanes developed an award-winning technology to identify the density and amount of fluid transported from drill sites, while tracking the information via satellite. They can give producers peace of mind that when water leaves their drilling site, it will be handled in an environmentally responsible manner by use of their trademarked “C-Fit” system
The robotics team from South Charleston High School put their hometown–and the entire State of West Virginia–on the map two weeks ago when they won an international contest called the Zero Robotics Competition, which was sponsored by NASA and the European Space Agency. Student teams from around the globe had to program small robots that were flown on the International Space Station and judged by the astronauts on board. The South Charleston High School team was named the international champion. I predict that these students will go far, and I hope they do it right here in West Virginia
An ancient Chinese poet said, “Those who have knowledge, don’t predict. Those who predict, don’t have knowledge.” But I hope I’m right about these forecasts. Seeing tech companies grow will help all of us, from realtors to restaurant owners to service providers including accountants, marketing specialists, and more. And that’s the point. Let’ create more jobs at home, broaden the tax base, and move our economy forward.