Catalyst tours highlight Morning Edition


OMAHA, Nebraska (July 1, 2024)—UNeMed’s “Idea Pub: Morning Edition” drew record numbers Thursday, bringing in an estimated 65 people for the networking event.  It was highlighted by a short presentation from Dean Koelbel, followed by subsequent “hardhat tours” of the new UNMC Catalyst building, which is expected to open in January.

Koelbel is Vice President at Koelbel and Company, the Denver-based real estate development firm overseeing the Catalyst project.

Taylor Korensky, founder of Appsky, also spoke to the gathering. Appsky is the software development company behind the UNMC startup VisionSync. VisionSync is the engine that drives the University’s strategic planning software that helps departments and leaders set and track short- and long-term goals.

“Strategic planning is like eating your vegetables,” he said with a laugh. “You don’t want to do it, but you have to do it.”

Koelbel opened the Morning Edition with remarks about the new Catalyst facility still under construction along the western edge of campus on Saddle Creek Road. A large part of the project repurposes an old steel mill, Omaha Castings.

“It’s a beautiful building. It would have been a crime [to tear it down], and when you get in the building, you’ll see why.” But the Catalyst facility is not going to be a “typical office building,” Koelbel said.

“We’re trying to build a vehicle for you all to take the keys and make something happen,” he said.

UNeMed’s Idea Pub: Morning Edition

The $65-million project will be a mixed-use facility that will feature working space for UNMC researchers and innovators, who can work alongside local startups companies, entrepreneurs and others in the same industry. Having such people in close proximity should lead to “collisions” that spark even better ideas, innovations and other successes, he said.

“We have a pretty big risk if this doesn’t work out,” he said, “so we’re pretty hungry to make it succeed…Where else do you have the opportunity to rent space in a huge institution? UNMC is that 800-pound gorilla that people want to be around.”

Michael Dixon, PhD, president and CEO of UNeMed, the tech transfer office at UNMC, added during his brief remarks that a recent MIT Sloan study showed that startups working within 20 meters of each other tend to have higher success rates. Startups built on UNMC innovations and inventions could thrive in such an environment, he said. UNeMed will be among the UNMC offices that will move into the Catalyst building next year.

“We were spurred by the idea of putting all aspects of an industry in one building, and that industry was healthcare,” he said, referring to Catalyst Denver, their first such project that was completed in 2018. Koelbel aimed to replicate that project in Omaha with UNMC, and envisioned a network of Catalyst facilities across the country. A potential benefit of this Catalyst network is that members would have access to office space and amenities in each city.

All 72 of the available spots for facility tours were taken, but Dr. Dixon added that additional tours will be offered in the coming months.

UNeMed, the technology transfer and commercialization office for UNMC and UNO, sponsored the event, which will continue as a regular monthly series. The series will continue to feature guest speakers from the entrepreneurial ecosystem; and will provide UNMC and UNO innovators an opportunity to build new partnerships and allies that can help develop their innovative ideas and discoveries into products that help people.

Brent Clark, of the NSF I-Corps Great Plains Region Hub, and Stephanie Kidd, of UNeTech’s Opportunity-Corps, will be the featured speakers at next month’s event. They are expected to discuss the importance of customer discovery and the resources available to faculty and students on Thursday, July 25, at 9-11 a.m. in the DRC II commons.

Morning Edition will continue on the last Thursday of every month, featuring a new speaker each time. Each Morning Edition will also feature “Office Hours,” with MOVE and UNeMed. Office Hours creates the opportunity for faculty, students and staff to have one-on-one time with MOVE or UNeMed professionals to discuss new technologies or startup potential.

Additional planned speakers in the coming months include, in no particular order:

  • Ben Kuspa, Nebraska Department of Economic Development: Securing state matching funds & prototyping grants
  • Ben Walker, Innosphere: How you can benefit from a life sciences incubator program
  • Scott Henderson, NMotion: When should you apply to the NMotion accelerator?
  • Ben Williamson, Invest Nebraska: What are VCs looking for?
  • Stephen Hug, UNeTech: Adventures in faculty/entrepreneur matchmaking

Morning Edition is the latest addition to UNeMed’s growing suite of entrepreneurial networking events, which includes Innovations & Libations and Startup Showcase.


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