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Business Observer Friday, Dec. 5, 2003 18 years ago

Innovation Nominees (Sara/Mana edition)

Companies nominated for the innovation awards such as Akuwa Solutions Group Inc. in Sarasota.

Innovation Nominees (Sara/Mana edition)

Akuwa Solutions Group Inc.


This IT resource management firm was a nominee for the Innovation Awards last year as well. The company has always targeted small- to mid-sized businesses who may have a more limited budget than their larger competitors, but who still want to take advantage of technology.

Akuwa's mission is to help its clients maximize their IT Return on Investment. It also is focused on providing unbiased expertise and advice, which means its consultants are not beholden to a particular product or service. Akuwa says its systems evaluations can result in a 40%-50% reduction in company expenses while simultaneously doubling productivity.

Anexio Inc.


This business technology integration solutions firm has crossed some important milestones in the last 18 months, including the grand opening of its offices on Central Avenue in what some are dubbing the "Technology District" of downtown Sarasota. The office houses a glassed technology display area as well as its remote service operations.

Anexio has picked up some significant community clients as well, including the Sarasota School of Arts and Sciences, which has Anexio essentially restructuring its entire technology infrastructure.

Anexio has become an area leader in remote support services, developing unique services like BackupNow! And SupportNow! BackupNow! is a remote online backup software and data program that sends secure copies of client data to an off-site storage facility, so it will be available in event of a disaster. SupportNow! is a remote support service that allows Anexio to remotely access its clients' systems to correct technology problems, making appointments and in-person service calls obsolete.



Billingnetwork was a runner-up for the 2002 Innovation Award. This company provides Internet-based, HIPAA-compliant medical billing services and solutions for the healthcare industry. The company's flagship service, DirectAccess, helps clients increase cash flow by getting bills turned around quicker with reduced overhead expenses. Customers have instant, real time access to their billing information, which is kept confidential and secure. With the system, customers do not have to maintain their own independent infrastructure or personnel to keep medical billing current.

The company's algorithm-based, secure process is patented, and in the last year, Billingnetwork has filed lawsuits to protect its patent from infringement.

BioDerm Inc.


BioDerm has developed new technology for managing male urinary incontinence. Currently, men suffering with incontinence problems have to use absorbent products or catheters, some of which require invasive medical techniques. BioDerm's external continence device is non-invasive, 100% latex free and disposable. The device requires minimal contact with skin, and its sealed system is odor-free and easily hidden under clothes. The part of the unit that attaches to skin is disposable, with a new unit needed every one to three days.

BioDerm has the technology and R&D in place, and its products are ready for sale, but it is still a relatively early stage company, looking for the funding needed to take it to the next level. One fact will certainly help: NASA has approved the use of BioDerm's device for astronaut use on manned space flights.

Columbus McKinnon Corp.

Manatee Co.

Columbus McKinnon has been making shredders designed to process steel-belted passenger car and truck tires for the tire recycling industry since 1982. The company processes more than 150 million tires annually in the U.S., commanding 80% of the domestic tire shredder market. The company's shredders process more tonnage faster and more efficiently than the competition, and can be designed to produce consistent-sized rubber chips and wire free crumb rubber.

Comdial Corp.


Comdial develops and markets communications systems and products for small- to mid-sized offices. Comdial's products include advanced business phone systems, voice over IP, voice processing, unified messaging and computer telephony integration solutions. Comdial has an installed base of approximately 350,000 telephone systems and 3.7 million telephones.

Comdial has a long history, with its corporate roots going back as far as 1894. Its Florida history begins in 1996, when the company purchased Key Voice Technologies in Sarasota, a company that makes a line of voice mail, automated attendant, fax processing and unified messaging products. In 2001, Comdial moved its corporate headquarters to Sarasota as well; it has an additional research and development-based offices in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Comdial stock is traded on the NASDAQ under the symbol CMDL. Its finances and stock values have had a rocky recent history, but industry insiders say that under the leadership of Chief Executive Officer Nick Branica, the company's future looks bright.

Copytalk LLC


A dream for long-distance commuters, Copytalk's service enables customers to listen and respond to e-mail by voice, over the telephone. Customers can dictate e-mails, letters, notes, memos, calendar entries, to do lists and other reminders on their phone to Copytalk, which transcribes and can also send the message. Copytalk has global access and capabilities. Customers pay $34.95 per month for the service.

The company has received a lot of positive press about its service, which is readily visible all over the Web site. Despite some rumors that Copytalk owners were going to sell the company, Copytalk head Norm Worthington denies the rumors and says the company is going along better than ever. He does anticipate making some big announcements in the coming months, but would not disclose them now. Stay tuned.

DNAPrint genomics


This publicly held company has stayed in the local and national public spotlight for a couple of years now with its genetic testing products and services. Its tests include witness and criminal suspect testing, ancestry markers and determinations of how certain people will react to certain drugs given their genetic predispositions.

DNAPrint's products have been used in major criminal and forensic investigations; its tests can predict common hereditary traits like skin pigmentation and hair and eye color. One of the company's products is a "recreational" genetic testing product for consumers. Consumers can buy the home test to help research their genealogy and ancestral origin.

Though it is a public company (trading on the NASDAQ over-the-counter bulletin board under the symbol DNAP), it has claimed multi-million dollar losses nearly continuously, due to its tremendous research and development costs. The company hopes the trends will flip, as it markets the products it has been developing.

HOP Networks


Still in its early stages, HOP has developed "the first True Mobile Broadband Network" that enables consumers to securely access the Internet, television and other consumer communications while on a train. HOP has been working with international transit authorities and service providers to implement the broadband mobile networks within train rail cars.

HOP relies on consumers' increasing demand and availability for WiFi-based systems. Rather than the existing static WiFi hot spots, fixed in one location where wireless service is available, HOP has developed mobile hot spots. The technology has the ability to go beyond train travel, but that's the initial market for this company.

Infinium Labs Corp.


Infinium Labs is essentially a hi-tech video game company. Its flagship product is The Phantom, a high-performance broadband gaming console. When The Phantom is used with Infinium's digital distribution system, end users can beta test, demo, rent, buy and play games on the Internet through the online gaming service. The company intends to become the performance leader in the industry, claiming its system's ease of use, innovative design and robust delivery system are second to none. The company is able to sign up with the many gaming designers unable to work with the big-name gaming systems like Xbox, Playstation, Game Cube, etc.

Even if you're not a gamer, a visit to the company's cool Web site is worth the trip. This company has gotten local press quite a bit lately, though it hasn't all been good. Recently, Infinium was sued over its product, but the company calls the lawsuit frivolous.

MadahCom Inc.


MadahCom began developing its wireless broadband communications system using Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum technology in 1994. The system is geared to high security and high fidelity operations. Its proprietary program, WAVES (Wireless Audio Visual Emergency System), acts as an information distribution, command, control and monitoring network to alert personnel to situations.

For example, the military uses the WAVES system to provide warnings and instructions to troops in emergency situations. The military chose WAVES because it can survive severe electronic countermeasure environments. It has built-in redundancy and automatically reconfigures to prevent from losing a node. The system installs quickly, and the training required is minimal. Many federal buildings and landmarks, including Liberty Island in New York, use WAVES.

Med X Change Inc.


This company provides Internet-based software applications for the health care industry, specializing in custom software development, Web page development and other products and services geared toward the medical manufacturer and distributor community. Several major medical providers use it.

The company has a sales management system that tracks sales and prospectus information, serving as a central location for all sales data used by both sales reps and management. The system does not require any special hardware or software, and it integrates with other databases. The company located to Bradenton in 1999.

Pace Software Inc.


The flagship product for this company is the Yes Management System, a software program for the management of auto shops. The system was developed by a former shop owner, who worked on the program at night while managing his Chicago shop by day.

The Yes system is broken into modules that clients can purchase separately, based on their needs. The modules include invoicing, scheduling, inventory, customer records, daily bookkeeping, check book, accounts receivable, accounts payable, payroll and a general ledger. There are two current versions of Yes - 2.0, a DOS-based version, and 3.0, the newer Windows version. The company also provides consulting to help shop owners with all hardware, software and application purchases.

Understanding its client base well, Pace has started "bring a buddy" open house sessions, which attract existing and potential clients.

Retrieval Dynamics


Retrieval Dynamics is an electronic wireless application service provider and wireless Internet-enabled solutions developer, helping its clients develop wireless solutions to increase productivity. Specifically, it helps businesses make the most out of mobile devices - pagers, cell phones, PDA's and wireless laptops - by combining those conveniences with wireless applications and customized applications.

It made big news in the last year when it struck a deal with Re/Max to provide all Re/Max real estate agents with handheld, wireless access to the Multiple Listing Service. Retrieval Dynamics is a wholly owned subsidiary of RDC International Inc., a publicly held company.

ROBRADY design

Manatee County

ROBRADY design is a custom industrial and mechanical design firm with full rapid prototype capabilities. The company relies on its design skills along with market intelligence to help customers develop marketable products that, with the help of strategic partners, get to market quickly.

ROBRADY's designs include the Vectrix electric scooter, the Polaris MSX personal watercraft, Becton Dickinson Lasik Surgical Tools and Xtools' lightweight floating tools. Watercraft World magazine named the Polaris MSX watercraft of the year. The Vectrix scooter will go head-to-head with gas-powered scooters, and will debut in Europe next year. ROBRADY designed a home safety light for Cyberlux that provides long-term interim lighting during power outages caused by hazardous weather and power grid failures; it launched on QVC this year with record sales.

Sinofresh HealthCare Inc.


Sinofresh has received three patents from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for its medical innovation, the nasal spray that began appearing on chain drug store shelves within the last year. Sinofresh antiseptic nasal spray kills nasal mold and bacteria, the leading causes of chronic nasal and sinus symptoms. The spray also moisturizes and refreshes nasal membranes. The over-the-counter spray is non-addictive and does not cause drowsiness or other adverse side effects.

The company just went public in October and has received significant positive media attention. It trades on the OTC Bulletin Board under the symbol SFSH.

Sylint Group Inc.


We could tell you what this company does, but then we might have to kill you well, not quite. Sylint is an IT company specializing in cyber security, intelligence, forensics and analysis. Sylint's staff includes professionals with high security clearance and experience working with the National Security Agency, the CIA, the FBI and major defense contractors.

The company has both national and international experience and clientele. Perhaps the coolest kind of computer geeks, Sylint says it can prevent competitor hacking, prevent disgruntled former employees from sabotaging with the system, and review a system to ensure maximum security of intellectual property.

Teltronics Inc.


Teltronics has been on the Review's radar screen for several years. Teltronics engages in design, development and assembly of electronics equipment and software to enhance the performance of telecommunications networks. The company manufactures telephone switching systems and software for small- to large-size businesses, government and 9-1-1 public safety communications centers.

The company's newest product is a digital switching system called Cypreon, which the company says is "the first IP-PCX solution to deliver advanced telephone, videoconferencing, and LAN capabilities in one affordable, easily-installed system." Cypreon's hardware, software and applications operate over existing switched Ethernet LANs in place in most offices.

Teltronics suffered during the recent telecommunications industry downturn, with lower client spending than in the past. Company sales for the first six months of 2003 were $24.5 million, a 19% drop from the same period last year, when sales were $30.3 million. Still, the company, publicly traded on the OTC bulletin board under the symbol TELT.OB, expressed optimism, saying its new products combined with a reassessed (lower) breakeven point will help get its numbers going back in the right direction.

Tempra Technology


Tempra Technology, formed in 1992, was a nominee for the Innovation Awards in 2002 as well. Tempra has developed and successfully marketed two complementary innovations using its self-heating and self-cooling product technology.

Tempra was the first company to develop a completely functional, 100% safe, environmentally friendly self-chilling beverage can, the Instant Cool Can. The I.C.Can lowers beverage temperature by a minimum 30 degrees through the use of water evaporation in about three minutes. On the self-heating side, Tempra has developed packages that, when a consumer squeezes the pouch, self-heat to automatically warm the product inside, whether soup, beverages, or pasta dishes.

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