Babylon Micro-Farms- i.Lab Alum-Completes Flagship Project at The Boar's Head Resort!

A state-of-the-art produce garden was unveiled at the Boar’s Head Resort on Tuesday morning in Albemarle County. The new hydroponic garden is used to grow fresh produce inside the historic Trout House at the resort. The project took three months to complete and is meant to give people a new look at food.

The garden was installed by Babylon Micro-Farms, a startup company from Charlottesville that has also installed its systems at Three Notch'd Brewery and UVA's O-Hill Dining Hall. In August, Babylon CEO Alex Olesen said Boar's Head would be first in North America to have their own private hydroponic farm. Check out the complete NBC29 webticle here!

UVa, City, County Planning Entrepreneurial Accelerator

The University of Virginia, Albemarle County and the city of Charlottesville all have pledged support for a program aimed at accelerating the growth of local startups.

David Touve, senior director of the i.Lab at UVa, said the proposed Catalyst Accelerator Program would provide workspace, educational programming, mentorship and $20,000 each in grant funding to as many as 20 companies over two years.

“It seemed like a nonprofit version of an accelerator program was the right fit for the Charlottesville area at this point in time,” Touve said. “We are lucky that we have assets at the university that can support these seed-stage companies.”

Read the complete article by Josh Mandell of Cville Tomorrow here.

i.Lab Alum, Shakti Intl., Making Sustainable Fashion The Norm

When you walk into a grocery store, you have lots of options: there are fruit and vegetables, meat and dairy products, packaged foods; the list goes on. For every category, you can find an alternative that is organic, non-GMO, fair trade, natural, local, grass-fed, cage-free, or any other similar descriptor found right on the label of the item you pick up. We generally value information about what we put in our bodies and are increasingly considering the sustainability of its sourcing.

However, when it comes to what we put on our bodies, we have less information and pay less attention; we don’t thoroughly consider the sustainability implications of our clothing. That was one issue UVA students Jane Hammaker and Shafat Khan, along with fellow students Malvika Jain and Raghav Savara, wanted to address when co-founding Shakti Apparel, a registered limited liability corporation partnered with the Raj Lakshmi Stitching Center in the small village of Tahtajpur, Uttar Pradesh in Northern India. Read the entire article by Sabrina Sampson here.

Back on the Horse: Life-Saving Diagnosis Helps Spawn Alumna’s Smartphone App

In the aftermath of surviving a rare bacterial infection, Greenhalgh knew she wanted to push herself to do different things, to leave a mark on the world she nearly left. Armed with degrees from the McIntire School of Commerce and the Darden School of Business, she believes she’s doing it with Brandefy, a startup tech company born out of UVA’s i.Lab business incubator program. Read more here.

The Gateway Bug: Why this Alumna Wants You Eat Crickets

For a tiny bug, a cricket packs a big nutritional punch.

On a sunny afternoon in the University of Virginia’s iLab, alumna Lyon McCandless rattles off the bug’s bona fides.

“By weight, they have more protein than beef, more potassium than bananas, more calcium than milk, more omegas than salmon and more iron than spinach,” she said. “They are high in protein and fiber, low in fat, and generally just have an awesome nutritional profile.”

Crickets are also a sustainable food source. The United Nations, in a 2013 report, named crickets and other insects as a critical low-cost, low-impact food source for combatting food shortages. They have a short, eight-week life cycle, reproduce rapidly and require a tiny fraction of the water, food or other resources demanded by typical livestock. Read the full article by UVa's Caroline Newman here



NeuroView: Exploring Visual Diagnosis Of Neurological Diseases With Modern Technology

Microsoft recently released an interview with Principal Researcher Antonio Criminisi, one of the leaders of Microsoft’s ongoing InnerEye project using “machine learning [...] for the quantitative analysis of 3D radiological images.” Criminisi described the struggles facing radiologists in diagnosing patients. 

Art for the Heart: Unifying The Homeless and Housed of Charlottesville Through Art

For Emma Hitchcock and Zadie Lacy, founders of Art for the Heart, art has been central in both of their lives. “We’re both very involved with art,” says Emma. “We use it as a way to de-stress and relax. We thought that it would be a great positive thing to bring to the homeless people here in Charlottesville as a positive way to release their emotions and stresses.” 

VIAble Ventures: Offering Fulfilling Employment To Autistic Adults

“We didn't want to reinvent the wheel -- we wanted to make it better,” says Greg Pitsenberger, a founding member of VIAble Ventures. 

VIAble Ventures is ‘improving the wheel’ by “creating a program designed for many levels of autistic functionalities and skillsets to create viable work for adults with autism,” explains Greg.  “Since the adults that we work with vary in ability, we are developing a unique system to remove the fine motor skills needed to make candles. This will allow every adult to have a work station specific to their capabilities. This has really been a great team effort on all levels of our organization and the community has really embraced this new program.”

Pampered Teacher: Delivering Personalized Care Packages To Teachers Around the US

The average salary of a US public school teacher for 2016-17 was $59,660. While that number is up 2% from the 2015-16 year, the National Education Association has reported that “after adjusting for inflation, public school [teacher salaries] have decreased 2.1 percent over the [past] decade.” Jason and Megan Panek, founders of Pampered Teacher, are offering personalized gift packages for teachers to allow their friends and family to show their appreciation.

Thicket: Enshrining The Simplicity Of Nature In Hand-Crafted Jewelry

Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life.” - written note in the margins of Prose Works by Ralph Waldo Emerson from John Muir, famed naturalist and conservationist.

“My early science education was taught to me by our local librarian, an avid naturalist,” says Rebecca Perea-Kane, owner and designer of Thicket jewelry. “I spent many of those lessons outdoors identifying plants, catching amphibians, and learning about the natural ecosystem of New England where I grew up. So from early on, I had a very strong connection to the living things around me.” 

I.Lab Alum Totem in the News: Coding for students of color

A Charlottesville city councilor and a local entrepreneur are leading an educational organization with a long-term goal of increasing diversity in the area’s technology talent pipeline.

Councilor Wes Bellamy and P.J. Harris recently co-founded We Code, Too, a nonprofit that offers a free two-week coding academy for African-American and Latino students from fifth through 12th grade. The program welcomed its inaugural cohort of 22 students Monday.

RecruitRef: The Social Platform For Driven Student-Athletes To Get Recruited

Of the almost 8 million high school students who currently compete on their school teams, only 480,000 of them, or approximately 16.7%, continue to compete in college. And according to the NCAA, or National Collegiate Athletic Association, which runs college-level athletic conferences across the United States, the most collegiate players aren’t in so-called “Division I” athletics, a section of NCAA member institutions comprised of “schools [which] generally have the biggest student bodies, manage the largest athletics budgets and offer the most generous number of [athletic] scholarships.” The most NCAA athletes compete in Division III athletics, “the largest NCAA division both in the number of participants and number of schools.”

Yogi: Filling In The Gaps For Investors Young And Old Alike

Young people are afraid of investing. A Harris poll released in 2016 showed that almost 80% of millennials are not investing in the stock market, missing out on the potential benefits that come with compounding interest by investing early on. Additionally, those millennials who are investing may be making risky moves -- “Three of the top ten most popular stocks on Robinhood [an investing platform geared toward millennials] are Fitbit, GoPro, and Snapchat,” notes Yogi co-founder Gautam (goh-thum) Kanumuru. “All three of those stocks have underperformed the market by an average of 20% over the past year.” A 2015 study of young Canadians found that 82% of them felt that they “[didn’t] have adequate knowledge [for investing].” A Yogi user encapsulated this lack of investing knowledge: “I honestly don't know how to read financial statements and stuff... I just use my gut.”

Soteria Transporters: Pioneering The Next Generation Of Neonatal Transporters

Premature births accounted for approximately 10% of births in 2016, according to the CDC. These infants, who usually are also underweight, are most at risk, having a 17% fatality rate in 2015. This group of premature infants requires the utmost care and safety when being transported, but studies have found that trauma in infants caused during neonatal transport is a widespread problem across the United States. 

Simili: Making It Easier to Spend Time With The People Who Matter

“We all love to eat… but we don’t all love to eat the same things.” This is the opening sentence for the “About” page of Simili, a service to help people plan social events. “Simili began in part because I’m vegetarian, and I found myself in uncomfortable situations, not wanting to be the “difficult person” when people are choosing a place to eat,” says Simili founder Liz Heinberg. “I’m really interested in the concept of social friction and how to resolve it. I wanted to make it easier for people to get together and enjoy each other’s company, and not waste so much time going back and forth trying to make decisions as a group.”

ZippyZen: Filling Hearts, Souls, and Stomachs With ZippyMeals

More than 10 years ago in January of 2008, the first lines of code were written for what would eventually become ZippyMeals.

“One winter, I got really sick for a week and had to stay home from work, and I just decided to create the software prototype that morphed into what ZippyMeals is today,” recalls John Cleveland, founder of ZippyZen.