Bearhug, Tixers and Liquid? They're bright-idea startups going to the head of the UpTech II class


Ever heard of "informatics?" The term describes processes in which large amounts of data are collected and converted into forms that businesses and organizations can use to solve real-world problems.The potential markets for informatics are enormous as businesses strive to become more efficient and reduce costs.

Helping start-up companies be successful enough to create new jobs in the field of informatics is a key goal of  UpTech, a Covington-based non-profit corporation. Early-stage start-ups can apply to get financial help from UpTech, along with expert advice on marketing, fundraising, and pitching the company to investors.

On Wednesday evening, UpTech will introduce the second group of start-up companies selected to receive support at an event at the Hofbrauhaus in Newport.

“Our goal is to fund the best and brightest early-state informatics companies that will complement the foundation of a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem in our region,” said UpTech program manager Amanda Greenwell.

Starting up the economy

Statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau show that start-up firms create far more new jobs a year than more established businesses. Year-old firms create nearly one million jobs a year, whereas 10-year-old businesses generate an average of 300,000 jobs per year.

By connecting people with ideas with people with talent and money, UpTech wants to establish the Northern Kentucky/Greater Cincinnati region as an informatics leader. Ideally, the start-up companies will establish roots in Northern Kentucky and create rewarding careers for well-trained people in today’s data-driven, globally connected economy.

UpTech’s alliance with Northern Kentucky University can be particularly beneficial to informatics-focused businesses. NKU's College of Informatics is training students in five in-demand fields: health informatics, cyber-security, media informatics and data visualization, cloud computing, and business intelligence.
Last year, NKU students helped UpTech start-ups with projects such as market research, brand messaging, and website design. Through UpTech, start-up firms can meet NKU graduates they might want to hire.

In addition to working with NKU’s Center for Applied Informatics, each selected company receives a $50,000 equity investment, six months of free office space at UpTech’s facility on Pike Street in Covington, an executive mentor, and a dedicated team of financial, legal, accounting, sales, and marketing support experts.

The UpTech II portfolio companies each get a one-year membership in the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and Greater Cincinnati Venture Association. Start-ups can also apply for follow-up funds.

Informatics and innovation

As illustrated by the first 16 companies UpTech has selected to help, informatics can be used in many of ways.

UpTech-supported companies are focusing on such things as: hyper-local mobile marketing; reducing the theft of musical instruments; business training; and, predictive maintenance of water utility lines.

UpTech II companies are building products that can help home builders, scientists, educators, behavioral health providers, U.S. taxpayers living abroad, season ticket holders, curious tourists, and 3D printer owners.

Each of the newly selected companies will make brief presentations at the UpTech II party Wednesday:

  • is creating an online marketplace through which owners of 3D printers can buy or sell templates for making different types of parts and products.
  • Bearhug Technologies, LLC is developing a secure, web-based platform that will help behavioral health providers connect and communicate with other health-care professionals.
  • Bright!Tax is a cloud-based tax-preparation service for American citizens who are living abroad.
  • Inteo is developing an interactive tool to help math teachers continually measure student performance and assess their preparedness for state exams.
  • Liquid is building mobile software that will help scientists in the field collect, store, analyze, and organize data.
  • New Home Marketing Services (NHMS) is creating a data platform to help home builders make smarter decisions about pricing and placement of spec homes.
  • Tixers is creating a way for event ticket-holders to exchange their tickets for other events.
  • Touritz will enable local historians and tour guides to create walking tours that can be downloaded and played on mobile devices.

A panel of successful business owners, potential investors, and experts in entrepreneurship conducted a rigorous three-stage evaluation process to select the eight winning companies for the intense, six-month program that starts September 9.%page_break%

“We are thrilled to have been chosen as part of UpTech’s 2013 class of startups,” said John Hauer, co-founder and chief marketing officer of 3DLT. “We’ve always been confident in our business initiative, but knowing that we have the support of UpTech boosts our confidence even more. We’re a bootstrapped start-up, competing against some big-name players in the red-hot market of 3D printing, and we need all the support we can muster.”

One company that participated in UpTech’s inaugural class in 2012 is CitiLogics. Its software helps water utility companies use their existing data to identify and repair potential weaknesses in underground water lines before they break.

Co-founder Jim Uber credits UpTech with helping the company recognize how important (and time-consuming) the business-development process can be.

“The UpTech experience has been critical to our success,” Uber said. “We probably wouldn’t be in business without the UpTech support.”

After building a solid foundation for growth, CitiLogics has received $800,000 in funding, grants and contracts, including funds from the National Science Foundation and a Small Business Innovation Research grant.

“We are using these funds to complete product development and provide important data from two full-scale installations about the benefits of Polaris, our predictive analytics water software,” said Uber.

How to Apply

Although most applicants for UpTech’s first two classes have come from the Tri-State region, people throughout the U.S. and the world can apply for UpTech support.

This year, the application process opened in April and ran through the end of May. Using an online program called iStart, the evaluation team scored and ranked the applications, narrowing the initial of field of 78 applicants down to 22 semi-finalists who were invited to a group meeting for in-person evaluation.

UpTech’s investment committee and fund manager selected the winners, who were announced August 2.

If you go:

To attend the 4 p.m. celebration party at The Hofbrauhaus on Wednesday, register on Eventbrite by 3:30 pm:

UpStart Event Planned September 19

UpTech continued to conduct networking events. An UpStart event is planned got September 19 in Covington to make entrepreneurs aware of some of the business resources available to help them. 

Greenwell loves the sense of momentum in the air when entrepreneurs get together: 

“They are all so passionate," she said. "I am so lucky to work with the people who are dreamers, and want to make the world a better place.”

For For details on UpTech and the UpStart event, visit or the UpTech page on Facebook:

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