If you're reading this, you've been a subscriber to the Corridor Business Journal's weekly Education Report newsletter - something we thank you for. But a new year is all about change, and so we're excited to debut the next iteration of this newsletter, called Innovation Watch.
Sent every Tuesday afternoon, Innovation Watch will cover many of the same topics previously featured in the weekly Education Report, from STEM education to university spinouts, but it will also expand to cover the tech, startups and breakthrough research happening right here in the Corridor.  
We hope you'll find it as useful and interesting as our Education Report, and as always, invite your feedback and leads as this newsletter takes shape.
If you know anyone who might be interested in the CBJ's Innovation Watch, please consider forwarding this newsletter or our online subscription link. Thanks for reading - here's to an innovative year ahead!
- Adam Moore, editor
Story2The Corridor's 7 biggest tech success stories of 2017 
Eric Engelmann, executive director of NewBoCo, at Launch Day. CREDIT NewBoCo/Naomi of Rockadot
2017 was a big year of growth for the Corridor's tech sector, which saw startups raising millions in funding and two major acquisitions. With 2018 underway, we thought it would be instructive to look back at seven of the biggest stories in the Corridor's tech scene over the past year for a glimpse at where the region's innovation economy is headed:
HLT buys gWhiz, secures $8 million in funding
Coralville-based Higher Learning Technologies kicked off 2017 by closing on its acquisition of gWhiz, a competing mobile learning app developer. The 150 mobile apps and publishing agreements that came with the acquisition included popular mobile learning apps for the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) and the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test). In July, HLT raised $8 million in additional funding from its previous backers, including Des Moines-based venture fund Next Level Ventures.
Voxello's 'noddle' receives FDA clearance, closes Series A round
Coralville-based Voxello, the producer of the noddle, a medical device that helps impaired patients communicate with nurses and caregivers, in February received FDA clearance for its trademarked device and closed its Series A funding round of more than $800,000. "The FDA clearance of the noddle brings us one step closer to offering a solution for this urgent unmet need," CEO Rives Bird said at the time.
Pear Deck announces $4M investment from Growth Street Partners
Corridor ed-tech firm Pear Deck in March secured a $4 million equity investment from San Francisco-based Growth Street Partners and its existing investors, including Village Capital, Hyde Park Venture Partners and AOL co-founder Steve Case. The investment closed Pear Deck's Series A round, and pushed the total amount of funding raised by the Iowa City-based company past $5 million.  
Trimble acquires Innovative Software Engineering
Publicly traded Trimble Corp. in June acquired fast-growing Innovative Software Engineering (ISE) in a bid to meet demand for electronic logs in the trucking industry. Coralville-based ISE has appeared four times on the CBJ's list of Fastest Growing Companies in the Corridor. CEO Hass Machlab told the CBJ that he will remain with the company to lead its operations, which will remain in the Corridor.
NewBoCo continues its rapid growth
The New Bohemian Innovation Collaborative (NewBoCo) in Cedar Rapids continued its rapid growth in 2017, including the launch of an angel investor group, new educational initiatives like the Delta V code school and a nonprofit innovation program, to name a few. The organization's Iowa Startup Accelerator has become an in-demand program for tech entrepreneurs, with its 32 participating companies raising a collective $9.25 million since 2014. "It's unusual," Executive Director Eric Engelmann said in a June presentation to the Cedar Rapids City Council. "If we were a for-profit company, we would be on the [CBJ's] Fastest Growing Companies list."
UI medical startups receive seed, SBIR funding
In August, medical device developer iotaMotion Inc. raised $2 million in seed funding to fuel its development of robotic systems for cochlear implantation surgery. The company says its technology, based on research within the UI Carver College of Medicine, will enable surgeons to achieve more precise solutions for patients experiencing hearing loss. In October, Viewpoint Molecular Targeting LLC, based at the UI BioVentures Center in Coralville, was awarded a $2 million Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract to support studies of its lead product, an injectable radiophar­maceutical that can be used to both de­termine the location and extent of can­cerous tumors.
SmartScripts announces $2.5 million in funding
Washington-based SmartScripts Holdings in November secured $2.5 million in new investment funding to commercialize its Regimen Management Pharmacy solution for people who need help managing their daily medications. The funding was led by the Rural Vitality Funds in partnership with Next Level Ventures, the Iowa Startup Accelerator and other Iowa-based investors. 
Para3UI Health Care's STEM programs see record engagement
An infographic from UI Health Care's annual STEM education report on FY17 programming. 
University of Iowa Health Care leaders reported that the organization's STEM (science, tech, engineering and math) education programs engaged more than 37,000 students across the state in fiscal year 2017, an increase of 64 percent over the previous year.
UI Health Care staff engaged students with STEM programming in 76 of Iowa's 99 counties in fiscal 2017 - a 34 percent increase over 2016. That number is expected to grow in the coming year, as the organization puts a greater emphasis on connecting with rural students. 
Sixty-eight percent of students participating in programs in fiscal 2017 were female; 33 percent were students of color, according to the organization's report.
The STEM programs, designed for students in elementary through high school, are intended to inspire younger students to consider STEM-related careers, and appear to be having a positive effect. Seventy-two percent of participants said their interest in STEM-related careers increased greatly or very greatly.  
UI Health Care's annual Girls Go STEM! Event also received an award of excellence from the Association of American Medical Colleges' Group on Institutional Advancement, and a seal of approval from the Governor's STEM Advisory Council in recognition of its impact across Iowa.
Coe College in Cedar Rapids has received a $636,000 award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for student-faculty research on the science of glass over the next four years.

The proposal receiving the award was entitled "RUI: Structure and Properties of New, Practical Glasses." Under the direction of physics professors Steve Feller, Mario Affatigato and Ugur Akgun, the grant will be used to fund continued glass research at Coe from May 2018 through April 2022.

Specifically, the grant will support student-faculty research in glass on campus and in leading laboratories around the world. Coe students will travel to England, Japan, Italy and Brazil; the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Switzerland, known as CERN; and Fermilab, short for the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, in Batavia, Illinois, to conduct research. The students will then present their findings at national and international conferences as a result of the grant funding.

The Coe Physics Department is known worldwide for working with undergraduate students in glass research, according to the college. The department has now received NSF research grants continuously for more than 30 years. Since 2000, Coe has garnered nearly $10 million in funding from the NSF to support scientific research and equipment, as well as the renovation of Peterson Hall of Science.

"Once again, we are extremely gratified by the ongoing NSF support for our glass research at Coe,"  B.D. Silliman Professor of Physics Steve Feller said in a press release. "This grant represents more than three decades of continued endorsement of our work by the NSF. Thanks to the grant, more than 40 Coe students and 10 high school students will be provided with extraordinary research opportunities over the next four years."  
Para5UI flood researcher awarded AI grant from Microsoft

Ibrahim Demir 
Assistant Professor Ibrahim Demir of the Iowa Flood Center at the University of Iowa has been awarded a grant from Microsoft as part of the software giant's newest initiative: AI for Earth.
Mr. Dimir will use the award to develop "Flood AI," an artificial intelligence (AI) system that serves as a virtual flood expert similar to Siri. Flood AI is accessible through many smart devices, including smartphones, and chat applications such as Skype. Users can ask Flood AI any flood or weather-related question and get a quick answer.
"It's like talking to a friend who happens to be a flood expert," said Mr. Demir, who leads the Demir Hydroinformatics Lab
AI for Earth aims to help people and organizations solve global environmental challenges by increasing access to AI tools and educational opportunities while accelerating innovation, according to the UI. Via the Azure for Research AI for Earth award program, Microsoft provides selected researchers and organizations access to its cloud and AI computing resources to accelerate and improve work on climate change, agriculture, biodiversity and/or water challenges.
Mr. Demir is among the first recipients of AI for Earth, which launched in July 2017 after a competitive grant process. Microsoft intends to invest $50 million in the program over the next five years.
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Short-Term Event Planner
Jan. 3
1 Million Cups , by 1 Million Cups, 9-10 a.m., MidWestOne Bank, 102 S. Clinton St., Iowa City. Join for community connections, startup pitches and free coffee. Free. For more information, visit facebook.com/1MCICR.
Jan. 4
Open Coffee , by Washington Chamber of Commerce, 8-9 a.m., Dodici's Shop, 120 S. Iowa Ave., Washington. This event is open to the public and anyone interested in an open discussion about fostering creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship in the Corridor is encouraged to attend. Free. Call (319) 653-4712 for more information.
Jan. 5
First Friday Coffee Connections , by Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce, 7:30-8:30 a.m., Iowa Donor Network, 550 Madison Ave., North Liberty. Enjoy an hour of energetic networking before heading to work. Will be held the first Friday of each month at a member business. Free. For more information, visit iowacityarea.com.
Headlines from CBS2/FOX 28 
These news items are provided by CBS2/FOX 28 
Cedar Rapids Mayor Elect Brad Hart was sworn into office this morning at 8 a.m. Mr. Hart, a business attorney, defeated former city council member Monica Vernon in a runoff election on Dec. 5. After the ceremony, Mr. Hart told CBS2/FOX 28 he plans on prioritizing flood protection, affordable housing and hearing the perspective of the city's youth.

Cedar Rapids Police say the suspect in a shooting that took place over the weekend is in custody and an arrest is pending. CRPD spokesperson Greg Buelow said the suspect of the shooting that happened Saturday night in the 1600 block of Bever Avenue SE is in custody in Illinois on other charges. Police were called to that area at 7:24 p.m. Saturday. When they arrived, they found a 41-year-old woman with a gunshot wound to the abdomen. She is still hospitalized, but is expected to recover. Police say this was not a random shooting and there is not a threat to the public. The suspect will be extradited to Linn County pending the resolution of other charges.
T hese news items are provided by CBS2/FOX 28 
CBS2 Chief Meteorologist Terry Swails' Weather First Forecast
Bitter cold continues today but temperatures will rise above zero for the first time in over three days. With plenty of sunshine and a southwesterly wind, temperatures will rise into the single digits this afternoon. A cold front will move through the area tonight and bring in some clouds and the chance for light snow. Very light snow showers/flurries will be possible after 7 p.m., moving in from northwest to southeast. A dusting to three tenths of an inch of snow are possible by Wednesday morning. Otherwise the rest of the week will be calm and cold. Temperatures will be in the single digits in the afternoons and nights below zero.