The May issue of Wired highlighted Klout, a company that pulls metrics from social networks to give you a single measure of influence: the Klout score. In St. Louis, marketing agency Infuz built STL Index last year to measure local influence, ranking Twitter users by STLi score (the lower, the better).
Last month, COCAbiz brought in blogger Seth Godin and tech writer Jonah Lehrer for its second “business creativity” conference, SPARK, which included pecha kucha–style presentations. Miss the conference? The next PechaKucha Night St. Louis takes place July 12 at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis.
Collectives are also changing the way St. Louis connects. Spaces like Arch Reactor and Saint Louis Coworking—and networks like WasabiNet, which runs mesh Wi-Fi in the vicinity of Cherokee Street—now provide St. Louisans with low-cost ways to share ideas.
Across the river, Swansea, Ill.–based Juggle is rethinking Web commerce. The company runs CrowdSource and Write.com, sourcing workers through Amazon Mechanical Turk, as well as LocalDeal.com, which aggregates daily deals; shopping site MonsterMarketplace; domain broker ClickableNames; advertising network ROImedia; and debate site Debate.org.
In April, local nonprofit biotech startup Rare Genomics Institute received a $30,000 grant from D.C.’s inaugural Praxis Accelerator Program. The institute helps families of those with rare diseases run Kickstarter-style microfunding campaigns, connect with researchers for gene sequencing, and consult with doctors and genetic counselors to apply that research.
The computers these companies rely on, as well as smartphones and hybrid cars, use rare earth metals—most of which come from China. ThREEM3 hopes to change that by mining rare earth metals at the Pea Ridge mine in Sullivan; once processing begins, it will be one of only two U.S. rare-earth producers. The difficulty: safely separating the metals from radioactive thorium.
As Popular Science has reported, ThREEM3 is lobbying to use the thorium in small nuclear reactors. In the meantime, Nidec Motor Corporation has developed switched-reluctance motors that work without rare earth metals or magnets. And Zoltek estimates that more than 20,000 tons of its carbon fiber is now in use in wind turbines worldwide, helping make sustainable energy generation a reality. The company’s carbon fiber may also make future cars lighter and more efficient.
From social-media algorithms to hardcore materials science, St. Louisans are creating the building blocks of the future.
WEB EXCLUSIVE: OTHER TECH NOTABLES
• The St. Louis Regional Business Plan Competition, which seeks to award monetary prizes to early-stage startups, has set a competition deadline for June 4.
• Earlier this spring, Anheuser-Busch InBev launched a new tech toy called Track Your Bud that lets Budweiser drinkers find out more about the beer they’re drinking online.