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Charleston Tech Center To Install Medical-Grade Filtration System

The Charleston Tech Center has confirmed that it will install a medical-grade air filtration and UV light system to prevent the spread of COVID-19 or other pathogens through its ventilation system.

The system includes active electrostatic MERV 15 system-wide filtration, akin to what surgery centers and medical facilities routinely install to prevent the spread of airborne bacteria and viruses from room-to-room or patient-to-patient. A bank of UV lights will further treat air flow for any remaining pathogens and also reduce mold counts and dust, providing a much cleaner air system. The technology is A-rated by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).

"This is part of our overall response to the pandemic," said John Hand, CEO of Iron Bridge Capital Partners, the developer and managing partner of the Charleston Tech Center.

In addition to the air treatment system, the Charleston Tech Center will institute more traditional COVID-19 protocols, such as hand sanitizer stations in the lobby and at each elevator, add touchless faucets, establish limits on elevator occupancy, have recommended maximum occupancies for shared conference rooms, and strongly encourage mask use in all common areas.

Scheduled to open in Q4 2020, the Charleston Tech Center comprises 92,000 square feet, including office, first floor retail, a linear public park and an 812-space parking garage operated by the City of Charleston. "The personal safety of our residents is paramount to us," said Ernest Andrade, Director of the Charleston Digital Corridor, the Charleston Tech Center's anchor tenant. "We are extremely pleased to offer this distinctive personal safety advantage to anyone who selects our building as their workplace home."

"Our approach and early adoption of clean air technologies has been well received by our tech tenants, and we have continued to attract new companies throughout this crisis," said Hand. "We are not aware of any other office buildings in the market with this technology."

FusionPoint CEO and founding partner, Jason Lungarini
LEADERSHIP PROFILE

Data Is Leveling The Business Playing Field, Lungarini Says

Jason Lungarini is CEO and founding partner of FusionPoint, a data analytics firm based in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. Lungarini started the company in 2006 in Connecticut and moved to the Charleston area in 2015. FusionPoint now maintains offices in Charleston, Connecticut and Florida.

This series is brought to you with support from Charleston County Economic Development.

Jason Lungarini has seen increasing diversity on supermarket shelves over the past 15 years. More microbrews and organic products from upstart brands, for example.

Big Data and technology are drivers of that disruption, says Lungarini, CEO of data analytics firm FusionPoint.

Lungarini knows the grocery space because consumer packaged goods companies are among the clients his firm helps gather and understand data. When FusionPoint started in 2006, he said a few big manufacturers largely controlled the array of products in stores. Now, smaller brands are able to gain a foothold by using data and technology to lower their cost of production, understand their market, educate consumers and show demand.

"A lot of it starts with social media," Lungarini said. "If you go back 10 or 15 years ago, from an advertising perspective, it was all about a TV ad. That's how people learned about products."

Today, social media offers advertising with a lower cost of entry.

"So now we can start educating people, and once they start buying it, we can show that path and the demand," Lungarini said.

But while social media is a powerful tool for advertising, Lungarini said it's also a realm that companies of all sizes must monitor constantly since it is the way data and technology are leveling the business playing field.

"Whether you're a big company or small company, you have an equal need to understand what's happening out there," he said. "You can be one of the largest manufacturers, but if someone creates a small little product and it starts going viral, they can eat into your distribution very quickly."

Lungarini got into data analytics with an emphasis on marketing. He has seen the data realm expand, and FusionPoint has evolved along with it. Beyond marketing, companies now look to Big Data and related technologies to make all sorts of business decisions and to stake out competitive advantages, he said.

In your own words, what does FusionPoint do?

We started off as an analytic company, and that was a big word then. We worked with large companies to help them understand how to use technology to optimize marketing. It centered around helping them understand how to price their product, how to segment consumers, who's buying their product, how to ship products more efficiently.

About four to five years ago, that shifted a little bit with the Big Data technologies that started coming out. It became less about an analytic exercise and more about data gathering. The mathematical or analytic type of exercise shifted to how much data can we get to see this. Instead of interpreting what's happening, it's fact based.

So we would go out and get information on everything from the economy, job rates and so forth. And the more we brought information together, the more it helped people figure out how to optimize their business, how to better understand their consumer.

Companies looking to gain a competitive advantage are really starting to see that Big Data, the technology, the analysis, the automation – "artificial intelligence" being another word for it at the moment – has value. I think we're seeing a shift where that is actually becoming a necessity to grow a business, to stay in business and keep up with the competition.

The company now is really about leveraging that data and applying it to a business opportunity. To optimize various aspects of the business, to get a deeper understanding of what is happening, both inside the business and out.

What led you to start this company?

I'm an engineer. I saw a lot of companies out there that were reinventing the wheel. Internally, data was starting to pop up. Some of the decisions they had to make were the same. And so the engineer in me said, "Why are all of these companies internally repeating these things?" Especially from a standpoint of gathering data, gathering information, running an analytic.

And there were a lot of things that people were doing from data security and where do I set it up, how do I set up the server – this was at the beginning of the whole cloud, before the whole cloud infrastructure even existed. I saw companies replicating this all of the time.

We started the company with the idea of creating an analytic platform that can run and process what a business needs to make business decisions, but the idea was to do it as a platform that worked for multiple companies so they get that economy of scale. Let's get the basics down, let's not have you reinvest in how to create a UI or how to create a login or how to create a password or how to track what a person's doing or how to gather data or how to connect to one piece or how to create a graph.

So all of that expense came out, and it allowed companies to focus on the competitive advantage. What are you going to do differently than your competitor? What data are you going to bring in? How are you going to analyze it? What are you looking for? How are you going to better target your consumer?

It really was about allowing them to put their smartest people and the resources that they've invested in into direct impact to the business, versus the support systems required to get them the information that they needed.

What changes or trends in technology are affecting your business?

There definitely is an explosion in data right now. Both the data available to you and how quickly it's being collected. The growth of data is astronomical at this point. And so, as a company that is based in data, we've been pushing along with that and are uniquely positioned and invested to keep up with that growth.

Companies out there that are trying to keep up with the growth themselves, internally, are getting to the point where they're struggling a little bit. You know, small wins, it's kind of working, but then data is growing and it's not again. So I think there's going to be a shift in relying on companies like ours, moving forward, to really help companies so that their investment is in gaining insight and value from the data.

While there used to be a handful of data points we can look at and make a decision how to move forward, it's getting to the point where there's so much information that we need help figuring out where the gem is.

Where did you grow up? What was life like?

In Connecticut, outside of New York. It was so cold. I remember it being cold and then it got colder.

If you go back to the time I was growing up there, New York was the place to be in the Northeast. Boston is right there. So there was a ton to do, and it was a fun environment to grow up in. But I think now that technology is happening, people aren't moving there, younger generations and companies aren't moving up there.

The benefit to being up there, by New York City, is going down, because stuff is spread out more. So you really could work from the South. And I think there definitely is a shift in where people are choosing to live.

What brought you to Charleston?

Weather is obviously a big part of it. But also from a standpoint of work environment and people, that concept of mixing in a little bit of work-hard-play-hard type of atmosphere. Little bit of Southern charm. And overall quality of life is a big part of it.

For a small-business owner, the biggest things are the small-business-friendly environment. From the standpoint of taxes, property taxes and everything that's placed upon you, especially as you're trying to grow a business, it's important to be in an area that is friendly to business growth.

What was your first job, or an early job? What did you learn from it?

One of my first jobs was at a funeral home. I got the job of just painting and taking care of maintenance. It was a family-owned business. They lived in the same building, and they had a small fire in it. They needed someone to pitch in and help start cleaning it, painting it, fixing stuff up.

It was an interesting environment because, in order to work in that line of industry, you have to have a little bit of a sense of humor. The folks that I worked with were a ton of fun. They were always joking around. I have to say, they were some of the most encouraging people that I've worked with.

What do you see as the future of your company?

A lot of companies need to build out their technology, need to build out their product, whereas we've been doing this for 13 years now. Our product works, and it's a little bit ahead of the curve. So the challenge for our company is really getting out there and matching with other companies that want to leverage this technology to grow.

As people start to understand they can't just learn about it and they can't just investigate it, but they actually have to start employing it, I think we're uniquely positioned to help them do that. The last 13 years we've kind of helped out a lot of bigger companies that moved ahead, and now I'm hoping that we can start really leveraging some more mid-sized to smaller companies that are really entering this space and can be more agile, move quicker.

What strategies do you use to find fulfillment both in work and outside of work?

Being an entrepreneur or small-business owner, it can consume you. Your work can quickly eat up weeks of your time where you don't get to step back and enjoy life.

One of the unique things about this area is being able to combine those. It's not necessarily that I get to step away from work, especially as we're going through the growth that we're going through, but I can still enjoy the environment that I'm in, even when I'm working.

Being able to get out for a few minutes and walk the beach and come back to work is just an aspect of living here that brings those two together and makes it feel like I'm not missing out on the personal aspects of life.

MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

PhishLabs Spotlight

We are pleased to spotlight PhishLabs, who provide external threat intelligence, incident response, and security awareness training solutions that mitigate digital risks and give companies the control needed to protect enterprise, customers, and brands.

  • Company Founded - 2008
  • CEO - Tony Prince
  • Total number of Charleston employees - 100
  • Fun fact - PhishLabs grew so fast since 2015 that they moved office space 3 times before finding their home in Pacific Box & Crate in 2017.
  • PhishLabs Career Opportunities

Multiple State Library Organizations Launch Virtual Library Comic Convention (VLCC) in Partnership With BiblioLabs

BiblioLabs, in partnership with statewide library partners in Minnesota, California, New Jersey, Montana, Ohio, Massachusetts, Washington, Kentucky, Rhode Island and West Virginia announced this week the availability of over 4,000 comics, graphic novels, and children's materials as part of an innovative program to make these materials freely available to all residents of those states through the entirety of the summer. The program is intended to provide digital resources in a simple and easy way and support statewide summer reading programs during COVID-19 social distancing. More eBooks will be released throughout the summer from additional children's, comic book, and science fiction publishers.

All of the involved partners are also cooperating on a virtual VLCC online event to be held this summer (details to be announced soon). That event, which will feature interactive sessions with some of the industry's leading talent as well as librarians talking about grassroots graphic novel creation and local zine publishing programs. The event is a collaboration with the canceled CoMIXgraphicCON, part of the Twin Cities Teen Lit Con (TLC) which attracts approximately 1,400 attendees. The TLC event was scheduled to happen in late April, but was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. "When we had to cancel our event, we reached out to BiblioLabs to see if this project might help fill the gap for us and for other canceled events across Minnesota. They reacted quickly and we are now in the process of re-organizing around the new virtual format," said Sarah Hawkins, Project Manager at the Metropolitan Library Services Agency (MELSA).

"Firstly, we want to thank our valuable publishing partners who generously took the lead on driving the creation of this program," said Bibliolabs CEO Mitchell Davis. "We have worked on innovative eBooks models at the state level for years and this shines a light on the close collaborations between publishers and libraries that are emerging today. This program has the potential to positively impact the lives of millions of people and highlights the role libraries have always served in being a provider of information resources in a time of need."

All of the eBooks are available in an unlimited simultaneous use model and served to patrons via geolocation. "In the modern era, delivering and using statewide eContent resources should be as easy as catching an Uber, and we are proud to work with statewide library organizations and publishers adapting the digital library experience to modern user expectations. This model creates seamless support of information deserts throughout the state and ensures all states can provide a baseline eBook collection to all residents," Davis added. The VLCC collection will be free to libraries and patrons in participating states through August 31st, serving as a valuable tool in statewide summer reading program support for all libraries.

"We are happy to be working with our peer state library organizations to create this project," said OhioNET Executive Director Nancy Kirkpatrick. "the aim during this stressful time is to simplify how Ohio residents access high quality digital reading materials. As libraries we are competing for digital attention with mainstream media and projects like this remind people we are here to serve their information needs during a crisis and in everyday life."

Anyone living in the participating states can get to the full library by simply pointing a web browser at the web address for their particular state. A full list of participating states and links to the statewide libraries can be found here.

Charleston Digital Corridor Rolls Ahead With CODEcamp Kids Summer Camp For Middle And High Schoolers

The Charleston Digital Corridor is pleased to announce CODEcamp Kids, an introductory computer science summer camp for middle and high school students. The three camp offerings – Intro to Web Design, Intro to Web App Development and our new Mobile App Development intensive – are scheduled from July 13th to August 7th 2020.

The Summer 2020 camp, delayed pending an evaluation of in-person classes during the COVID-19 pandemic, will proceed following the adoption of a reduced class size and stringent guidelines based on Centers for Disease Control and American Camp Association recommendations.

"Despite the challenges brought upon by COVID-19, we understand the essential nature of in-person learning and collaboration and are taking the necessary steps to ensure students can learn, have fun and grow together safely," said Digital Corridor Director, Ernest Andrade.

The camps will be held at the Charleston Digital Corridor's Flagship – Bridge Incubator at 385 Meeting Street in Downtown Charleston. All equipment required for the class will be provided and students will receive an individually packaged snack and drink each day.

"We're really working to reach students who are at the prime age to learn about computer science. CODEcamp Kids gives students exciting learning opportunities they are not currently receiving in their schools," said class instructor, Nick Ermolov.

To learn more and register, please visit the CODEcamp Kids site.

Charleston Opens Westedge Incubator To Focus On Life Sciences

The Charleston Digital Corridor, which offers space for startups and early stage companies, has opened a new incubator in the WestEdge development. The organization partnered with the city of Charleston for the facility, which focuses primarily on life sciences and technology companies in the mixed-use development located in the medical district near the Ashley River. Read more:

Flagship-WestEdge Lobby

Growth Accelerates At Charleston’s Tech Companies Amid Covid-19 Crisis

The Charleston Digital Corridor is pleased to announce the opening of Flagship - WestEdge, a flexible, full-service business incubator developed to support the ongoing expansion needs of emerging and early-stage tech and life science companies. This new facility, which is fully occupied, demonstrates the resilience of Charleston's tech economy amid the current challenging economic environment.

The Flagship - WestEdge facility was developed in partnership with the City of Charleston and represents the fifth business resource developed by the Charleston Digital Corridor to further support Charleston's growing high-wage, entrepreneurial economy.

"Our investment in the Flagship - WestEdge business incubator is a tangible sign of the city's commitment to supporting entrepreneurship and economic diversity while contributing to our citizens' quality of life with high-wage technical and scientific jobs," said Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg.

"The development of high-quality workspaces targeted toward tech companies is a hallmark of the Charleston Digital Corridor. We are pleased to assist the City of Charleston with their goal for WestEdge to become a hub for groundbreaking research, collaboration and innovation," said Charleston Digital Corridor Chairman, Kirk King.

The newly developed Flagship – WestEdge is home to five early-stage companies - Vendr, Anatta, Zeriscope, Vikor Scientific, DentureCare and BiblioLabs. Three of the companies have connections to the Medical University of South Carolina.

Upcoming Events

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July

ResilienceSC 2020 Virtual Blockchain Conference

This virtual blockchain conference will bring together the brightest minds working on blockchain applications in the areas of cybersecurity, personal identity management, consumer goods, supply chain, venture capital, energy, global shipping, distributed computing, education, digital currencies, and more. Learn more and register HERE.

CODEcamp Kids - Web App Dev

Intro to Web App Development is a week-long session which introduces students to the fundamental concepts of interactive web app/website development.

The session will deliver an understanding of HTML and JavaScript through the development of fun projects like games and online apps like real time chat. The class will allow students to learn the fundamental ideas of programming and how to think like a programmer.

Feel free to bring a snack and/or lunch. A small snack and juice box are provided each day.

Vitals

  • Audience: Students 12-16 years of age
  • Location: Charleston Digital Corridor's Flagship-Bridge Incubator, 385 Meeting Street, Suite 100
  • Schedule: Monday – Friday, 9:00am – 1:00pm
  • Cost: $249 for the week-long program
  • Class size: 12 students
  • Supplies: Computers and equipment provided
  • Contact phone: 843.607.1264
  • Prerequisites: None
  • Contact email: info@codecampkids.org

DIG SOUTH Tech Summit

DIG SOUTH Tech Summit is the only event in the region purpose-built to grow the South's digital economy. Created by DIG SOUTH tech media, we connect leading global brands like Oracle, Amazon, IBM and Salesforce to the top tech leaders, founders and most scalable startups in the South.  To learn more and register, click HERE.

November

BSides

BSides is a community-driven framework for building events for and by information security community members. The goal is to expand the spectrum of conversation beyond the traditional confines of space and time. It creates opportunities for individuals to both present and participate in an intimate atmosphere that encourages collaboration. It is an intense event with discussions, demos, and interaction from participants. It is where conversations for the next-big-thing are happening. Learn more and RSVP HERE.

December

CDCA Defense Summit

The CDCA Defense Summit is one of the largest defense-focused events on the East Coast, bringing together more than 1,000 government and industry leaders to spark ideas, innovation, and solutions to technology challenges. Learn more HERE.

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