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(NewsUSA) - California has always been the "it" state. The go-to location for creativity and the birthplace of innovative ideas, and successful companies. While not always the case (think: more than a decade of economic and social troubles), it remains the eighth largest economy in the world.
Supporting the idea that the Golden State is still the place to see and be seen, is that high-tech companies employ approximately 1 million people with a payroll of about $100 billion, and that 66 percent of new jobs come from companies younger than five years old.
So, what does all this mean? For OCTANe, a startup accelerator, it's an opportunity to connect people and ideas with capital and resources to fuel technology and growth in Orange County. Through its LaunchPad SBDC program, the Orange County-based company has seen tremendous initial investment in affiliated startups. With follow-up funding and equity exit activity, total investment in OCTANe LaunchPad companies now approaches more than $780 million since 2004.
In the spirit of continuing its mission to help companies raise capital, OCTANe Launch Pad will be holding its Technology Investor Forum on May 5 in Irvine, Calif.
"The Technology Investor Forum presents a unique opportunity for entrepreneurs, investors, local universities' faculty and staff and corporate CEOs to come together in one place to build upon the strong foundation of resources in Orange County," said Bill Carpou, OCTANe CEO.
One award-winning technology company selected by OCTANe to be showcased at the event is MovoCash, Inc.
"We are excited to be a part of what OCTANe is doing to promote economic growth in Southern California, and it is an honor to present along side of the other terrific startup companies hand picked by OCTANe," said Eric Solis, president and CEO of MovoCash.
MovoCash will be presenting their groundbreaking payments technology in front of over 700 in attendance. The premise of MovoCash is to provide a secure app for consumers to take control of their finances by turning their smartphones into their very own digital banks, generating fraud-preventing one-time-use payment tokens on demand for shopping online or in store.
A total of 10 hand-picked companies will be showcased at the event. To date, past companies that have been selected to present have gone on to raise over $418 million.
"This event serves as a source for capital creation for emerging companies and businesses within the California region and gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to connect with investors from all over the country," said Carpou.
Attendees will have access to investment panel discussions, a "fast pitch" competition with prominent regional investors, and an innovation showcase demo.
(NewsUSA) - On April 13, 2015 Angola's Sovereign Wealth Fund announced the launch of five Investment Funds, targeting economic and social development in Sub-Saharan Africa. These will be accompanied by the establishment of a commercial vehicle to set up micro-business incubators for Angolan entrepreneurs.
The inspirations for these projects include the Brooklyn Navy Yard and Media Lab in the United States and African projects like Gearbox (Kenya) and AMP (Ghana). Three targeted platforms -- African Accelerator Markets, 'Sopa de Sab?o' Culture Hub and Cabinda Port Tech Hub & Prototyping Lab -- will deliver cultural, economic, social and technology goods and services that capitalize on human capacities and capacity building. The 'Sopa de Sab?o' Culture Hub will be supported by the Swiss-based African Innovation Foundation.
Project director and curator Emeka Okafor is enthusiastic about the possibilities this project can offer for economic development and peace in Angola.
Q: Mr. Okafor, why are you so enthusiastic about this project?
A: The intention is to create interlocking innovation hubs that will harness innovation, creativity and the existing entrepreneurial ability within Angola. We will bring in the best practices with high impact, adapt them to the local environment and create the basis for what will be the leading example for an African creative innovation hub. Our vision is to help unfold Africa's innovation potential and to contribute to peace and stability through prosperity and best business practices.
Q: What is the current status of the project?
A: We are in the process of launching a management company that will provide advice and support to all teams involved with the development of the three different incubators, which will be deeply engaged with their surrounding local communities. We are going to open up opportunities for people and accelerate the incubation of new ventures. Another objective is to diversify the economy in Angola by using non-conventional manners.
Q: What does that mean?
A: We will bring in experiences from outside Angola, look at what is on the ground already and then blend these approaches with what we think can work in Angola. It is going to be bottom-up. We are looking to build something that nobody ever before has built in Angola.
Q: Your plans sound very positive but are they also realistic?
A: Similar projects have been successful in the past, in the United States as well as in Africa. We studied the success stories of 'Maker' type projects of various scales internationally and across Africa to combine the best lessons of these projects as guidelines for this new venture.
Emeka Okafor is a Venture Catalyst and Entrepreneur whose past and current projects include Maker Faire Africa, Serengeti Tea, Africa Innovation Foundation, TED Fellows and the X Prize Foundation. His insights and initiatives are at the forefront of emergent systems, maker innovation incubation and the creative industries.
(NewsUSA) - With everything that goes into your wedding day, those once-in-a-lifetime moments will go by in a blur, which is why hiring a professional wedding photographer is a must. After all, the last thing you should be worrying about is whether your photographer will be able to capture your big day.
The key? Prepare yourself so that you can accurately evaluate the "right" photographer for you.
"The best photographer will take the time to build a rapport with you and use his or her experience and creativity to capture the mood, personality, ambiance and even the geography of your wedding," says PPA (Professional Photographers of America) photographer Berit Bizjak. "The finest wedding photography is more than a series of still pictures. It's physical poetry -- it tells the story of the day and portrays the essence of both people and place."
To this end, PPA, the largest international nonprofit association created by professional photographers, has taken the guesswork out of the process by offering six tips to help you plan your wedding photos like a pro:
1. Book far in advance. The best photographers get booked quickly -- sometimes as much as a year in advance -- so don't wait until the last minute to book your photographer.
2. Show them the money. Now is not the time to skimp on your photo budget. Call around and get a price range for services, and remember: after the cake is long gone, and the dress is stored away, your wedding photos will be the only things left to share and enjoy for years to come, so don't cut too many corners on your photography budget -- you'll end up regretting it.
3. Make sure your photographer is a real pro. Only hire someone who has liability insurance, experience taking the style of photos you want, backup equipment and a plan for when things go south. Ideally, he or she is a PPA photographer. PPA photographers do more than just snap pictures. They have the technical expertise and artistry to make you look your best and bring your vision to life. They also abide by a strict code of ethics that makes a real difference. Watch this (video) to see real married couples share their stories.
4. Request to see a full gallery of real weddings. Look at full wedding coverage (not just a small selection of each wedding's best moments) to see a photographer's true style and get a sense of how he or she might tell your "story." Do you prefer more artistic or traditional poses? Would you rather have a photojournalist approach or a mix of all styles?
5.Work with your photographer to create a detailed shot list. PPA wedding photographers can also help you create that shot list, as they know what key moments tell a wedding story and can prepare for those. But talk about your must-haves, and walk through the entire program with your photographer ahead of time. Share your expectations ahead of time to ensure that he or she captures the key shots, while remaining attentive and available to catch the best candid moments.
6. Plan your post-wedding photo strategyâ€¢ ahead of time! Almost as soon as the festivities are over, you'll be eager to look at the photos so you can relive your big day over and over again. Ask your photographer for teasers or a "sneak peek" and a timeline for when the rest of the pictures will be available. Will they give you an online gallery for family and friends to choose the images they want? Again, knowing these things ahead of time will make things easy on the back end, sparing you any heartache.
Get more tips like these, and prepare for the best wedding photos
(NewsUSA) - Many homeowners love carpeting. Its look and comfort, in addition to its insulating qualities, make it an essential home-decorating element. The fear, however, can be the stains left behind, such as the red wine that accidentally slipped from someone's hand one holiday party or a pet that didn't quite make it outside.
In the event mishaps like these occur, it pays to have carpeting that is made from material that you know is worry-free and easy-to-clean. Mohawk Flooring, for example, offers just such a product.
"SmartStrand Forever Clean is the toughest, easiest to clean carpet on the planet," says David Duncan, Mohawk Flooring's senior vice president of marketing. "It really is the perfect carpet for families with kids and pets. Using the most advanced fiber innovation, it offers the highest level of beauty, comfort and performance available so you can live life worry-free."
Amazingly, SmartStrand is the first new fiber to be introduced in over 50 years, and is the only carpet that boasts durability and permanent, built-in stain resistance. As a result, it should be unsurprising that it is the highest-rated carpet for consumer satisfaction, cleanability and durability.
The difference, according to Duncan, is that it's the first carpet to combine built-in stain protection with a nanotechnology spill shield.
"Made out of triexta, a greener, more eco-friendly fiber, this fiber is the easiest to clean because it repels and prevents spills from absorbing into the carpet," says Duncan. "Thus, it cannot become a stain."
Mohawk says it has tried to minimize its usage of natural resources, which in turn has enabled the company to reduce its energy consumption of its carpets while creating a fiber that is long-lasting, and resistant to the toughest stains. Top that off with a carpet that can be easily cleaned with water and mild detergent -- no harsh chemicals or cleaners needed -- and you have a much more environmentally friendly flooring option.
For all the parents and pet lovers out there, know this: It's just a matter of time before gravity forces an unwanted mess onto one of your floors. And when it happens, you'll surely rest easier knowing that it'll be easy to clean.
For more information, visit mohawkflooring.com/foreverclean.
(NewsUSA) - Stinging insects such as bees and wasps play a vital role as pollinators that maintain the national food supply. However, a multitude of factors, including the lack of available natural habitats for foraging pollinators, diseases, harmful mites and improper pesticide usage, have threatened pollinator health in recent years.
As a result, many people have realized the importance of protecting pollinators and even developed gardens geared toward providing safe sources of nectar and pollen. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) wants to remind homeowners that while creating pollinator-friendly habitats is largely beneficial for both people and pollinators, it is important to keep in mind that some stinging insects can pose significant health and safety risks. In fact, stinging insects send an estimated 500,000 people to the hospital every year.
People with known allergies to insect stings or with asthma should be especially careful around pollinators, as stings could trigger a potentially life-threatening reaction. There is also a common myth that bees and wasps can only sting once before they die. This only holds true for some species of stinging insects, and people should always be cautious around hives and nests. If a person comes in close contact with a stinging insect, swatting at it will often provoke it to become more aggressive. The best course of action is to remain calm and slowly walk in one direction until the insect loses interest.
Maintaining a garden that serves as a welcome oasis for wild bees or community bees that are being raised by local professionals is a great way to protect pollinators. Without proper beekeeping training, however, homeowners should never allow stinging insects to take up residence on their property.
If a hive is spotted in or around the yard, a pest management professional or professional beekeeper should be contacted to safely remove it and, if possible, move it to a safe location where the bees can be allowed to thrive without posing any dangers to the public. If the hive is located in a building, utilizing a professional is also critically important to ensure every part of it is removed; any leftover combs could contain honey that can ferment and cause serious damage, as well as attract pests to the property.
For more information on stinging insects and the best ways to protect pollinators while keeping your family safe, visit www.pestworld.org.
(NewsUSA) - For years, the military has worried that an over-reliance on prescription painkillers was putting both veterans and active-duty troops at risk of addiction, serious adverse reactions to the drugs, and accidental death. The problem was found to be greatest among veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan -- particularly those with post-traumatic stress disorder -- who, according to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, may have been given "inappropriate prescriptions" for opioids in a misguided attempt to quickly relieve their suffering.
Finally, change appears to be coming as the military expands its use of alternative treatments like chiropractic care.
In fact, Dr. Robert D. Kerns, the national program director for pain management at the Department of Veterans Affairs, told the New York Times that the study "encourages" his department as well as the Pentagon's health system, "to build on our existing initiatives."
That would be welcome news to Congressional committees following up on last year's Veterans Health Administration scandal.
"We have said for a long time that sending a veteran out of the door with a bagful of pills is not a solution," Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., said in investigating allegations that a Tomah, Wisconsin, Veterans Affairs hospital was prescribing "excessive dosages of opiates."
As more research pours in, chiropractic care continues to gain supporters. A 2013 study published in the journal "Spine," for example, found that 73 percent of participating active-duty military patients with acute low back pain receiving a combination of chiropractic manipulative treatment and standard medical care rated their global improvement as "pain completely gone," "much better" or "moderately better."
Just 17 percent in the same study who received only standard care said likewise.
To learn more about chiropractic care or to find a chiropractor in your area, visit www.F4CP.org/findadoctor.
(NewsUSA) - For the first time in modern history, America's workforce spans four generations. In this new era of multigenerational workers, a "one size fits all" approach to health insurance is a thing of the past.
The generational gap is as varied as it is immense. There are the young-adult Millennials, the middle-aged Gen Xers, Baby Boomers nearing retirement age and the Silent Generation in their 70s and beyond. Each group has vastly different health insurance needs.
Take, for example, Millennials. A recent Bankrate survey shows many prefer health plans with lower deductibles and higher premiums. Meanwhile, Pew Research reports that the Baby Boomer population is hyper-focused on long-term care coverage needs and how best to manage associated costs beyond Medicare.
This workforce shift is unprecedented and poses significant hurdles for businesses as they seek to provide affordable and appropriate health coverage options across employee lifespans. Both large and small group employers are impacted, though companies with 100 or fewer employees are more likely to feel the financial squeeze because there are fewer individuals to spread risk and defray costs.
Juggling vastly different insurance coverage needs can be quite difficult, especially for the more than 28 million small businesses employing nearly half of all U.S. workers. Affordable Care Act legislation adds further complexity as companies assess their group health plan options, or in some cases whether to offer them at all. So, what are employers to do?
In response, many are increasingly turning to private healthcare insurance exchange solutions as an effective answer to meet the diversity of benefit needs from Generation Me to Generation We.
"Private exchanges are marketplaces of health insurance and other related products," according to management consulting group Booz Allen. They offer access to multiple health plans in a single, unified program and are attractive because they enable workers to individually select the right coverage for their current life needs.
The private exchange platform provides an ideal bridge across generational divides. For example, a 22-year-old single female starting her first job out of college will likely want a different plan than the 59-year-old manager with a spouse, three children and plans to retire in the near future.
Employers are moving to these exchanges more quickly than forecasted, according to new data from consulting firm Accenture. The company estimates that some six million individuals signed up for workplace health coverage through private exchanges in 2014 alone, roughly two times the number expected. It's predicted that private exchange participation will exceed public exchange enrollments by 2018, if not sooner.
Much of this expansion is driven by the combination of health care reform and a workforce that now spans a 50-plus year spectrum.
"At the heart of the solution is access to choice," said Ron Goldstein, president and CEO of CHOICE Administrators, the nation's leader in developing and administering employee-choice health benefit programs and exchanges for employer groups. The company's exchanges include the country's first and only multicarrier private exchange, CaliforniaChoice, as well as CaliforniaChoice 51+ and Choice Builder, the nation's first ancillary exchange for dental, vision, chiropractic and other benefits.
"Smart business owners are teaming with their broker to identify and select a platform that enables their employees to design plans that best fit their lifecycle needs."
The age of the four-generation workforce has dawned. Owners and small businesses are wise to embrace the private exchange that technology employees have come to rely on, such as online enrollment, as they seek to cost-effectively address the needs of their workforce across all stages of their lives.
For more information about employee-choice health benefit programs and private health insurance exchanges, visit choiceadminexchanges.com.
(NewsUSA) - While many patients fear needles -- especially IVs -- a new FDA-cleared device is making for a safer experience.
Consider this: approximately 80 percent of hospital patients receive an IV, and about a third of IV lines fail due to issues within the vein. One improvement that can now impact the patient experience is the ivWatch 400.
The device was created by ivWatch, LLC, a company committed to "aid in the early detection of intravenous (IV)
infiltration and extravasation events," according to its website (www.ivwatch.com). In layman's terms, IV fluids can inadvertently enter the tissue near an IV insertion site resulting in an infiltration or extravasation. Infiltrations are less-harmful leaks that can cause pain, redness of the skin and swelling. Extravasations are potentially harmful leaks from IV medications like chemotherapy. Infiltrations and extravasations are considered to be medical dosing errors and, in severe cases, may result in tissue necrosis, loss of function, amputation or even death. The ivWatch sensor technology aids clinicians in the early detection of these adverse events.
"It's very rare that you get an opportunity to be involved in something that can have such a huge impact," says Gary Warren, president and CEO of ivWatch, LLC. "IVs are probably the most common medical procedure that's performed and 30 percent of them fail. It's a huge problem."
Darcy Dolemann, MSN, RN, CRNI, VA-BC, clinical manager of the Vascular Access Team at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center where clinical trials of the technology have been performed, agrees with Warren's assessment.
"This is really a game-changing technology for infusion therapy and should become the new standard of care," says Dolemann. "The device impacts every unit and almost every patient. For clinicians and patients, this will change the experience."
In development since 2000, the ivWatch technology uses an optical sensor that illuminates tissue near the IV site with visible and near infrared light. The sensor is coupled with a patient monitor that receives the feed from the sensor, processes it, and alerts the clinician if conditions suggest that an infiltration or extravasation has occurred. The benefits, says Warren, are immeasurable, but can include improved nurse productivity, reduction in medication errors and IV restart costs, and most importantly, a safer patient experience.
"Our goal is to be on every IV pole in the country," says Warren. "This issue is so prevalent, and we have a way to fix it."
(NewsUSA) - Many people know that seeing a dentist twice a year is a key to keeping teeth clean and healthy. Those regular visits ensure your choppers are cavity-free, and perhaps it's a chance for the dentist to chastise you for not flossing enough. However, you shouldn't simply stop there.
According to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently published in the Journal of Periodontology, nearly 65 million Americans suffer from gum disease, also known as periodontitis. Symptoms can include red, tender, or bleeding gums; loosening of the teeth; and receding gums. If you experience these symptoms, a trip to a periodontist -- a dentist who specializes in treating gum disease -- should be added to your twice-yearly dental check-ups.
"Periodontal disease remains a significant public health issue for people of all backgrounds," said Joan Otomo-Corgel, DDS, MPH, president of the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) and a practicing periodontist in Los Angeles. "However, with the proper treatment and care, periodontal disease is often reversible."
If you suspect that you might require the expert care of a periodontist, here are four things you should know:
* Know the cause. Poor oral hygiene is a major culprit in the development of gum disease. More than 500 different species of bacteria can be found in dental plaque, highlighting the importance of brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing regularly.
* Know your risk. There is a genetic component to gum disease, but lifestyle choices also can increase your chances of developing gum disease. Smoking, age, taking certain medications, obesity, poor nutrition and stress may all increase your susceptibility.
* Know where to go. Take the "Gums 101" quiz on perio.org/loveyourgums to evaluate the overall health of your gums, learn the signs and symptoms of periodontal disease and find tips on how to care for your gums. You can also search for a periodontist in your area.
* Know how often to go. The AAP recommends that adults undergo a comprehensive periodontal evaluation every year to ensure the health of gums and teeth.
"If a person is found to have periodontal disease, a periodontist can determine the best course of treatment," said Otomo-Corgel.
For more information about the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of gum disease, visit perio.org.
(NewsUSA) - Eating healthy and getting fit seem to be the mantra these days. After all, the First Lady has made childhood obesity a priority with her "Let's Move" campaign. Plus, the diet industry isn't showing any signs of slowing down, with Americans spending more than $60 billion annually, according to U.S. News and World Report.
Despite that, obesity continues to plague the U.S. and remains a serious health concern for the country. Underscoring this point is that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third or 78.6 million U.S. adults are obese, and in 2008, the last year that numbers were reported, obesity cost the U.S. $147 billion in annual medical expenses.
For those looking to lose a little or a lot of weight, choosing between lifestyle products that assist with weight management can seem daunting.
"With so many products that assist in weight management to choose from, it's difficult to know which ones will work," said Simon St. Ledger, managing director of Rapid Nutrition, producer of U.S.-made natural health care supplements that have seen huge success in Australia. "This is why we are so focused on being our customers' first choice for their health and well-being needs, and establishing that there are companies that make choice products."
Rapid Nutrition was established on the back of its proven science-based supplements, SystemLS, that are now being sold in Australia's biggest retailer (Woolworth's) but will soon be available worldwide -- including the U.S.
The best part? All ingredients, according to the company website, are 100 percent natural, organic, gluten-free and designed to support natural weight management. The scientifically formulated SystemLS includes six products that have undergone stringent testing. The formula is high in fiber, antioxidants, omega 3's, whole-food-based vitamins, probiotics and high-quality whey protein. In addition, SystemLS offers a unique weight-loss-coach phone app to provide ongoing motivation, training and support.
"We are well positioned to help more people tackle the challenge of weight management with a system that works," said St. Ledger.
To learn more about SystemLS products and the phone app, visit www.systemls.com.