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Make Montana Home: Friday Five

Missoula, MT

Every week we highlight five stories from around Montana and the country that highlight the Treasure State or entrepreneurs. Here are five stories that stood out to us this week.

1. Venture Capital Firm Opens Missoula Office

In a story from the Missoulian, the paper detailed recent changes and additions in the high tech sector in Missoula.

Like on March 19 when Next Frontier Capital, which is based in Bozeman, opened a Missoula office. This venture capital powerhouse has invested in companies such as onXmaps and Submittable. Next Frontier Capital has participated in more than million worth of investment in companies with a Montana presence over the past three years.

“In the last three years, our investments have confirmed that Montana is home to quality entrepreneurs previously ignored by the broader VC market, and great investment opportunities exist to source and lead venture class deals,” said NFC managing partner Richard Harjes in the Missoulian article. “Missoula is helping lead the way in validating both of these hypotheses.”

The story also touched on Blackfoot Telecommunications plans to launch a high tech innovation program and how the University of Montana plans to build an Innovation Corridor.

2. New App to Help Bees

A story from The Economist highlighted an app that helps beekeepers and was created at the University of Montana.

The app was developed by Jerry Bromenshenk and other researchers at UM. Bee Health Guru, the name of the app, is in its final stages of testing. This app will allow beekeepers to troubleshoot any issues with a colony by listening to the buzz using a smartphone app.

Bee Health Guru uses a form of artificial intelligence to analyze the sound bees are making to figure out what they could be suffering from. These problems might provide an indication of an impending Colony Collapse Disorder that involves bees leaving for no reason and leaving the queen behind.

3. An Economic Profile of Gallatin and Park Counties

In a story from the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, a recent report detailed the changes residents are already seeing in Gallatin and Park counties.

The report, which is released by the Prospera Business Network, detailed everything from population trends to wages and housing. Some of the details included how tourism contributes to both counties and the increase in venture capital firms in Montana. In 2016, firms in Montana invested in 22 companies — more deals than the previous 10 years combined.

4. #StartupsEverywhere Profiles UM’s Blackstone LaunchPad

Engine (a policy, advocacy and research organization supporting startups for economic growth) caught up with Paul Gladden, the director of the Blackstone LaunchPad at the University of Montana. Blackstone LaunchPad is an entrepreneurial education program.

Paul talked about his role in Missoula, the changes he’s seen and what makes Missoula and ideal place to start a company.

5. Montana Sells Well

During the recent Made In Montana trade show, statewide reporter Holly Michels went around and discussed with vendors what sells best in Montana. The answer: Montana.

One hundred fifty-five exhibitors gathered in Helena to show off their handmade goods and attract more business. Many of the vendors discussed how the outline of Montana makes for a great design and how much pride Montanans have in rocking Montana gear. Some vendors also mentioned how they sell their popular Montana shaped products former Montanans who now live out-of-state.

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