Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Six Reasons to Come to Lawrence for Labor Day Weekend

Monument to the 1912 Strikers
Labor Day Weekend in Lawrence brings together labor history, immigrant history and culture, music, food, and celebration in a vibrant city still very much the Immigrant City. In this spirit, the whole city becomes a city of festivals. With the Festival of the Three Saints, the Mahrajan, and the Bread and Roses Festival you can celebrate Italian culture, Lebanese culture, and labor history from Friday evening through Monday.  Celebrating in a city that actually celebrates labor on Labor Day is reason enough to be here, but in case you need more reasons, here's a list.

1. The Feast of the Three Saints is celebrating its 95th year!
From from Friday evening through Sunday, the feast celebrates three Catholic saints — St. Alfio, St. Filadelfo and St. Cirino. The three brothers were martyred for their faith almost 1,800 years ago and have been commemorated with a feast in Trescastagni, Sicily for centuries. Italian immigrants who came to Lawrence to work in the mills, brought the tradition with them.  You'll get a real sense of Lawrence history as you enjoy food, music, and the procession , celebrating both a religious festival and Italian culture.
Members of the St. Alfio Society Getting the Saints Ready for the Procession
Some highlights this year are:

Bocce

New this year, is bocce for kids and a bocce tournament for the grownups! Never played bocce? It's not too late to learn. Learn to play or refresh your skills on Friday evening in the parking lot next to North End Deli on Common Street.

The Original Drifters

This year's music lineup features classic doo-wop music by "The Original Drifters"on Saturday evening. This should be a fun show for all ages.

Taste of Italy Cooking Demos and Tastings

Cafe Tre Santi, aka the church parking lot, will host wine tastings, food tastings, cooking demos, and a cheese making demo.  You can learn about Italian wine and food pairings, hear all about wine making from the Merrimack Valley's most popular wine makers (Franco and Johnnies Vino), watch the "Original" Crispelli King Peter Messina of the Italian Kitchen make the legendary treat (crispelli), and learn all about the art of making fresh mozzarella and ricotta cheese from Luca Mignogna of Wolf Meadow Farms (and taste the fresh cheeses of course).

 2. Bread and Roses Heritage Festival

Learn about and celebrate the history and legacy of the 1912 strike that changed labor history and also celebrate the diverse cultures of Lawrence.

The Crowd at Bread and Roses
On Labor Day from 11:30 AM - 6:00PM Campagnone Common hosts an amazing array of activities:
  • enjoy live music on multiple stages in an amazing diversity of styles from traditional Garifuna dance and drumming to jazz and hip-hop and everything in between -- check out the schedule to see who's playing each stage
  • learn about Lawrence's history and its present from  historians, writers, union representatives, and community activists at the live history stage
  • listen to speakers on labor and social issues, poetry readings, and labor songs or take to the soapbox yourself to tell it like it is at the community corner and soapbox
  • have fun with kids' activities including pony rides, face painting, and arts activities
  • take a tour -- both trolley tours and historic walking tours take you to sites related to the 1912 strike and other aspects of this historic mill city
  • check out a variety of tables with vendors and non-profit organizations -- everything from food to labor organizing  -- and did you know that Mill City Zine Distro will be on of those tables? If you missed them at the Lowell Anarchist Book Fair last weekend, catch them on Labor Day in Lawrence.
3. Oompa

This year's Bread and Roses Festival is a great chance for you to hear the amazing Boston-born poet and rapper, Oompa! Trust me, she is reason enough to come to Lawrence on Labor Day in and of herself.  2016 WOWPS (Women of the World Poetry Slam) Winner and a finalist at the 2016 National Poetry Slam, Oompa is a rising star on the Boston music scene. Check out her bio on the festival schedule and get yourself to the Teoli Stage at 2:00PM on Monday for a real treat.

4. Lebanese Mahrajan Festival

Get a taste of Lebanese culture at the 44th Mahrajan at St. Anthony's Maronite Church. Three days of music, dancing and plenty of  Lebanese (and American) food starts Friday evening. That's plenty of time to enjoy the food, music, dancing, hookah, games, and even cooking classes. Stop by  Friday 6PM-Midnight,  Saturday 5PM- Midnight, and Sunday Noon-Midnight.


The food is all homemade and delicious, the pastry tent is three tables long, the music is great, and the parishioners are friendly. You'll feel right at home partaking in this great Merrimack Valley tradition.
Just a Few of the Delicious Pastries at the Mahrajan
5. Leonard Bernstein Was Born Here

Leonard Bernstein was born in Lawrence on August 25, 1918. Lawrence celebrated his centennial year with a wonderful 10-day festival and orchestras all over the USA are still doing centennial tributes to one of the best known sons of the Immigrant City. The Lawrence History Center has folders chock-full of mementos of Bernstein's many visits back to his home town after he became famous.   In many ways, his family history is similar to that of lots of people in Lawrence. Why not celebrate the centennial by exploring Lawrence and getting a feel for the mills and the immigrant history? Look around for possible sources of his inspiration and evidence of his impact.


6. Murals

Island Street Murals
Lawrence is home to loads of beautiful murals. Go on a mural quest. Take a walk, turn a corner, and be surprised by colorful art where you least expect it.  Many of these murals are the work of Lawrence-based Elevated Thought, which works with several other local communities as well. Three murals painted by Elevated Thought feature in the set for the Bread and Roses Festival's grand finale "Lawrence Hustle & Soul", a multi-media production based on the play “Morir SoƱando” by Nilson Mata.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

six (or so) reasons to come to Lowell this weekend

The Lowell Folk Festival is almost here. That's right, the longest running and second largest free folk festival in the USA starts this Friday! Only a couple more sleeps until downtown Lowell celebrates the very best in traditional folk music, artisan crafts, and ethnic foods for the 32nd year.

The Opening Parade Arriving at Boardinghouse Park (2017)
Do you need some reasons to come to the festival? C'mon, how long has this been on your bucket list? Go for it! Here a few reasons you should get here this year:

1. Free Music: Beatboxing, Georgian Polyphonic Singing, Traditional Penobscot Drumming, Cape Verdean Morna and All That
This year's festival lineup features Rahzel, one of the biggest names in beatboxing. This is your chance to hear a legend in hip hop culture for free. This is the guy who can sing a chorus and beatbox the backup simultaneously. You seriously do not want to miss this.

Iberi Choir is bringing the complexity and sheer beauty of Georgian polyphonic singing. The Georgian song tradition goes back to ancient pagan roots and weaves in early Orthodox Christian liturgical music and a rich mix of at least 15 different regional singing styles for an almost hypnotic experience.

Interested in the indigenous cultures of New England? The Burnurwurbskek Singers, a traditional drum group, are making their very first appearance at the Lowell Folk Festival.  They're from the Penobscot Nation on Indian Island near Old Town, Maine and have been performing traditional Wabanaki songs for audiences across Maine for years. We are lucky to finally have them in Lowell.

Love Cape Verdean music? Neuza will be here singing not only the traditional mornas that Cesaria Evora was most famous for, but also songs in the local traditions of the island of Fogo. I'm especially looking forward to hearing her.

Those are only a few of the highlights among the amazing lineup of musicians on the Folk Festival stages. Still need more music? There will be music all over the place. Restaurants, bars, coffee shops and the streets all add to the musical landscape. Popular local Lowell acts such as Lowell's own Americana/Folk/Rock guys Whiskey Duo and singer songwriter Eddy Dyer will be doing their own mini-tours, playing several venues such  unchARTed, Vinyl Destination, The Hearing Room , Dudley's, and the Olympia throughout the festival weekend.

2.  Discover Some Traditional Foodways
Learn how to make 5 different kinds of flatbread! Yes, 5 different kinds of flatbread.  This year's theme in the folklife/foodways area in Lucy Larcom Park is Flatbreads: Plain & Fancy. Try your hand at flipping some traditional Franco crepes, learn to make Penobscot frybread, Lithuanian pancakes, Greek hortopita, or Asian Indian flatbread, and hear family stories about these flatbread traditions.  And you get to taste samples! You might just come home with a recipe or two.
Pickle Making Demo from the 2015 Lowell Folk Festival Foodways
3. Baklava Sundaes
Need another food-related reason to come? Two words: Baklava Sundaes. The baklava sundaes from the Hellenic American Academy PTA are the most anticipated sweet treat of the entire folk festival. There are people who come to the festival just for the baklava sundaes. Have you really experienced the Lowell Folk Festival if you have not had a baklava sundae? You decide.



Baklava Sundae

4. Food, Food, Food!
Take a culinary tour of the world without leaving downtown. You can experience Greek, Polish, Brazilian, Lao, Burmese, Liberian, and so many other wonderful ethnic food traditions all presented by local churches and nonprofits to raise money for their community programs as well as showing off their food culture.  The longest lines are always for the lumpia, turon, and other Pilipino offerings from Iskwelahang Pilipino, who have been participating for over 25 years now. New this year is New Life Kingdom International Ministry, many of whose members hail from Sierra Leone. They'll be serving African BBQ as well as cassava leaves and Jollof rice. The pierogi from the Lowell Polish Cultural Committee are legendary, as are the gyros from Hellenic American Academy PTA. My personal favorite is the loobie & rooz from St. George Antiochian Church. You'll be sure to find old favorites and new tastes. Oh, and be sure to check out the Calla (Liberian donuts).


5. Art All Over the Place

 Art in the Courtyard

Art in the Courtyard is another great part of the Lowell Folk Festival. The pleasantly shady brick courtyard between the National Historical Park Visitor Center and the Brush Art Gallery will be full of tents showcasing the work of a wide range of artists for sale. You'll find everything from flutes to felt, paintings to jewelry, and even handmade bath and body products. Local artists will also be displaying and selling their artwork at the neighboring Brush Art Gallery and Studios. What will you take home?

Folk Craft Area 

The theme for this year’s folk craft area centers around four basic techniques underlying the work of traditional master artists: painting, plaiting, pounding, and pulling.  Watch masters of traditional crafts turn birch bark into baskets, create icons to enhance spiritual practice, pound metal into drums, or turn yarn and burlap into a rug.

Galleries

Lowell is full of artists all year round, not just during folk festival. Several of the local galleries have shows up right now running through Sunday.  Check out botanical paintings at the Arts League of Lowell gallery at Gates Block. Celebrate July at the Ayer Lofts Gallery.  See what's up at Gallery Z. See what's up on the walls at the coffee shops. Just go around and absorb Lowell's art scene.

6. There's a lot to like about Lowell!
Folk Festival is the perfect time to enjoy all the things there are to like about Lowell. Besides strolling among the red brick mills and along the canals,  you can check out several impressive works of public art, enhance your record collection with a shopping spree at three (count them three!) vinyl record stores, and savor delicious coffee at one of Lowell's amazing array of coffee shops.

7. Box Hockey
Did you know that the game of box hockey may well have been invented in Lowell? This playground (or street or driveway) game is usually played between two people with sticks, a puck and a compartmented box.  Try your hand at box hockey in the Shattuck Street games area and get all nostalgic for your, or someone else's, childhood.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Innovation Thriving in Roxbury -- Recapping #MIN111

On Wednesday June 13 Mass Innovation Nights returned to Roxbury following on the success of last year's first ever event in Roxbury. Once again Greater Grove Hall Main Streets hosted us at the Thelma D Burns building for an African-American and African tech themed event. An enthusiastic and diverse crowd checked out tables showcasing 12 startups, consulted with experts in the Experts Corner, and networked with each other. There was a wonderfully lively vibe circulating through the space.
MIN111 Crowd Beginning to Build
Products ranged from health care analytics to a mobile barber shop, so there was a lot to take in. The format for the presentations was different this time. Instead of four presenters chosen ahead of time by voting on the website everybody got to do a 1-minute pitch. I managed to talk with most of the presenters at their tables beforehand.
The audience choice winners were

  • Eden GeoPower
  • Amooti
  • AfyaKit
  • Vinylmint -- Grand Prize
AfyaKit aims to bring cutting edge analytics capabilities to health facilities throughout Sub-Saharan Africa.  Afya's comprehensive health facility supervisory tool, deployed on both web and mobile, provides in-facility analytics to assist decision making by public health managers. This is an impressive project. Naturally they were one of the audience choice vote winners.


Vinylmint is a marketplace that connects video producers to musicians and voice actors around the world to create custom sounds on demand. Its huge community of creators ensures that producers will find the right match for their projects. It was generating so much enthusiasm that I wasn't surprised when Vinylmint won the grand prize in the audience choice vote.
Vinylmint
Amooti is an e-commerce platform that enables African artisans, artists, and fashion designers to sell their wares to people living in North America -- basically, expanding the global market for African design. It was great to see Amooti again -- I remembered them from MIN93 (yikes, that was a long time ago). Once again, they had a table full of beautiful goods. The necklaces were particularly gorgeous and very popular. The table was constantly busy. Amooti won second place in the audience choice vote.
Diane from Amooti Posing with Cool Guys

Eden GeoPower is on a mission to generate megawatts of renewable energy by converting oil and gas wells that are no longer used into sources of geothermal power. Their unique technology transforms low-grade heat from depleted oil and gas reservoirs into geothermal power using the existing infrastructure.  Their method greatly reduces cost. Do take a look at their website. The technology is fascinating. I thoroughly enjoyed talking with them. Their table was very popular and I was not surprised that they won an audience choice prize.

Note that they've chosen California as the first place to deploy this but they have also had interest from Texas. Note to self: tell my Texas oil and gas brother about this.

They had cool T-shirts too, so I got a couple of them to pose wearing the shirts so I could award them Best Costume of MIN111.
Eden GeoPower


Best Costume of MIN111
Ganderflock is a marketing and technology company that covers all the bases: content strategy, website design, and omnichannel marketing. They offer an integrated customer experience solution that brings together usability, diversity, and strategy to help your company establish and nurture deeper and more meaningful relationships with your customers.
Ganderflock

CyberHabits is a cybersecurity awareness system that helps your company manage the shift to a cybersecurity conscious culture. More than half of cyber threats result from a company's own employees either through lack of awareness or a company culture that undermines security. Training,  personalized learning, and analytics combine with cybersecurity advice and insight to engage all your employees in the solution.
Vibechain is a peer-to-peer platform for making playlists and sharing music for party organizers and their guests. Connecting friends around music and dance brings good vibes to the party. Who knew you could use the power of the internet to bring people together and to make a good time even better? Vibechain CEO Donaldy Salvant gave the most enthusiastic 1-minute pitch of the night.

FRWD (pronounced forward) is an automated savings app that helps consumers build an emergency fund and reports positively to credit bureaus. More than half of the people in the US don't have enough savings to handle a $400-$500 emergency. That can mean more debt for even a fairly small financial emergency. That realization inspired FRWD founder Savant Moore to teach himself coding so he could develop an app to make the process of saving automatic and setting and meeting savings goals easier.
Savant Moore FRWD Founder
Through their mobile application, ExpressCuts allows barbers to connect with the clients right where they are. The app makes getting a quality haircut simple. Just select your barber, choose your hairstyle, time, date and location. A professionally licensed barber will come to the specified location and deliver an exceptional haircut experience.
ExpressCuts
Mobile Cuts offers a men's haircutting service for professionals during the work week (Monday-Friday) out of a custom-designed state-of-the-art recreational vehicle built specifically for this purpose. It's a barber shop that comes to your office. They travel to corporate locations, working with the property managers and companies to secure permission to serve the tenants and employees.
Mobile Cuts

It was great to see so many exciting entrepreneurs and such an enthusiastic audience. Just seeing everybody lined up on stage after the presentations while they awaited the awarding of prizes was inspiring. So much energy! So many great ideas!
What a group of entrepreneurs!
The Experts Corner wasn't really a corner, more like tables in the center of the room and roving experts circulating around the showcase. Our host Ed Gaskin, Executive Director of Greater Grove Hall Main Streets, introduced the experts, who told us about their agencies or services.


Expertise Flowing in the Experts Corner
As always, I'll end with an Expert Looking Expert. This month's Expert Looking Expert is Damon Cox, Assistant Secretary of Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Expert Looking Expert

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Recapping EforAll Lowell Lawrence Winter Accelerator Awards Celebration

Crowd Beginning to Arrive at Everett Mills -- Such a Beautiful Space
On Thursday, March 15 (two whole days after the blizzard) Everett Mills hosted the EforAll Lowell Lawrence event celebrating the completion of the winter accelerator program. It never ceases to amaze me how beautiful this historic mill is with its old wooden floors and big windows. It also never ceases to amaze me how much entrepreneurial energy there is in the Merrimack Valley. Thank you to Marianne Paley Nadel for hosting such a wonderful celebration of local entrepreneurship in this historic building.
Marianne Paley Nadel Welcoming Us to Everett Mills
A showcase of the businesses in this cohort, tasty food from El Taller and Cafe Azteca, an inspiring keynote speaker, a wonderful class speaker, the traditional one-minute pitches, and the awarding of $15,000 in prize money made for a great evening. I love going to these awards celebrations because I get to catch up with entrepreneurs that I met at the pitch contests and hear about their experience of the accelerator program. Everyone I asked used the word "amazing" to describe it.
Nate McNiff -- The Wandering Stage
I enjoyed catching up with Nate McNiff whose idea for a mobile theater was my favorite at the All Ideas Pitch Contest back in October. He's changed the name of the project to The Wandering Stage (it was Mobile Entertainment Theater back in October) and made great progress in lining up funding and starting to get some bookings.
Michaela Quigley of Shine Magazine with Mentor Todd Smith
Michaela Quigley started Shine, an online publication for teens and young adults with disabilities, so that young people would have a place where they can celebrate their abilities. It's a general interest magazine, not a magazine that's only about disabilities.
Kim Mahady -- TLC Autism Parent Community
TLC Autism Parent Community supports the needs of parents with children on the autism spectrum. There are lots of services for kids with autism, but not so much for their parents. Kim Mahady and Andrea Magnell have been scheduling events to connect with parents to discuss what they need. 
Cindy Ngin -- Sugar Dust
Sugar Dust is a bakery specializing in custom cakes and French macarons. My mouth started to water at the thought of macarons.
Heather DeBerio -- Powerhouse Juice
Powerhouse Juice showcased some of the juices and an article about them from the Globe Magazine. Powerhouse provides cold pressed juices and farm to table catering all over Massachusetts.
Kim BeBe's Table
Kim BeBe is a small batch manufacturing facility that caters to fashion designers. Manufacturing fashion and accessories locally is a growing trend, you could even say it's a movement. Kim's one minute pitch emphasized the importance of bringing manufacturing back to the USA.
Angel Hernandez -- FocusedPT
FocusedPT provides customized personal training and health coaching emphasizing the client's individual needs and goals. Check out Angel's EforAll Lowell-Lawrence post on their Medium blog for a glimpse into his EforAll accelerator experience.
Chris Janowski--WakeMe and Yetta Procope--Yettaz Studioz
WakeMe is a social video alarm clock that plays short, personalized videos from your friends and family on your smart phone to wake you up. Making waking up a social experience gets you engaged in your day immediately. It's a much more pleasant awakening than an alarm clock -- you might even start to look forward to waking up.

Yettaz Studioz is a custom designed clothing company that combines modern fashion and traditional Senegalese fabrics.

As I made the rounds of the tables, the theme I kept hearing from the entrepreneurs is how they have formed a strong bond during the accelerator program and how much they value that connection. I could feel that in the air and see it in practice as they interacted throughout the evening, sharing insights and experiences and supporting each other.

Keynote Speaker Mary Guerrero
Lawrence entrepreneur, Mary Guerrero co-owner of Cafe Azteca and El Taller, gave an inspiring keynote address emphasizing the role of businesses in building community. One insight she gleaned from running restaurants really resonated with the crowd: "I've come to realize that restaurants aren't just restaurants, they're places where people come together."  She convinced us that it's not just restaurants and coffee shops that build community. She had the audience talk with each other about businesses they remembered that had been important in their lives. I was surprised to find myself talking about The Barn, a shoe store in my home town, which also sold sporting goods. I bought my first baseball glove there. It's the sort of place that people remember long after they've moved away. I've actually shared memories of buying shoes at The Barn with people I didn't even know when I was a kid -- a different generation. Thinking about that along with my favorite coffee shops and restaurants and the people I've met through them really brought home what she said about the power of small local businesses:  "Your businesses are going to be much bigger than yourself. They will be apart of a community, and help people feel like they belong. They have the power to transform."
Class Speaker Nate McNiff

Class Speaker Nate McNiff's talk addressed community also -- the community of the EforAll Winter Accelerator cohort. He said he looked up the origin of the term cohort and found out it referred to an ancient Roman military unit and that struck him as very appropriate for the group of entrepreneurs in the accelerator.  The thought that stood out for me was  "We are going to rise together, just like a group of warriors, we're going to have each other's backs."(Hope I got that right.) I could see the spirit of the group in the way they listened to each other doing the one minute pitches and cheered for each other as the awards were presented.
Cohort Lined Up for the One Minute Pitches
One Minute Pitches -- Kim BeBe

Kravant Boutique is a Khmer specialty boutique in Lowell focused on renting, buying, and selling high end dresses. I remembered Bora Chiemruon from the October pitch contest when she pitched it as Jewell by BC.
One Minute Pitches -- Kravant Boutique
 I appreciated hearing the one minute pitches because I somehow didn't manage to talk with each entrepreneur one-on-one and I like to include at least a summary of each one in the write-up. Here are the ones I didn't get to:
  • The Leap Network is an umbrella company for professional services ranging from recruiting and career advisory/coaching to social networking.
  • My Playground Spanish Academy is a for profit bilingual preschool that will expose children to Spanish.
  • Crose Nest Collective, LLC is modern botanica offering locally sourced herbal, holistic, and hand-crafted artisan goods.

Yetta Procope Listening to the One Minute Pitches
The Cohort with Lianna Kushi and Joey Banh
After the one minute pitches, the cohort received their certificates and class gift. Then it was time for the awards. The award money went to:
  1. The Wandering Stage - $5,000
  2. Del Sur - $4,000  A maker of all natural empanadas sold at farmers’ markets, catering, and specialized retail
  3. Sugar Dust - $3,000
  4. WakeMe - $1,500
  5. KimBeBe - Christina Hamilton Award - $500
The Wandering Stage with the $5,000 Check
Del Sur with the $4,000 Check
Sugar Dust with the $3,000 Check

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Innovation Thriving at Brandeis -- Recapping #MIN108

Standing Room Only Crowd at Brandeis for MIN108
Brandeis University's Gosman Sports and Convocation Center was the setting for Mass Innovation Nights 108 last Wednesday. On the day after a blizzard, the third in a series of northeast storms that has plagued Massachusetts this month, the turnout was amazing. The Gosman Center was buzzing and it was standing room only for the presentations. Brandeis is a hotbed of innovation and all the companies showcasing products were led by students, alumni, or faculty of Brandeis. Innovation is definitely thriving at Brandeis.
People Checking out the Tables
There was pizza and pie and whoopie pies to celebrate Pi Day and product tables to check out along with a busy Experts Corner. I found it a bit of a stretch to check out every product before the presentations, so I don't have photos of everybody, but I certainly learned a lot. As I made the rounds, I kept thinking that the Girl Scientists (a biochemist and a physicist -- my family grows science geeks) would be excited by some of these products.  Anyway, I had a blast learning what I could learn.

BobbieC Telling Us MIN is Nine Years Old
Rebecca Menapace, Associate Provost for Innovation, welcomed us to Brandeis, told us a bit about all the innovative stuff going on there, and asked us to raise our hands if it was the first time we'd ever set foot on the Brandeis campus.  I was surprised at how many people raised their hands. For the record, it was definitely not my first time on the campus but it has been a long time since I've been there and the university has grown a lot since then.

Then it was time for the presentations. The four chosen presenters for the night were:
GreenChoice presented GreenScore, a software tool (essentially a browser extension as I understood it) to help you assess the healthiness and sustainability of the food products you buy online. GreenScore uses artificial intelligence to aggregate and synthesize information on companies and products to score food products (on a 1 to 100 scale) for things like freshness, nutritional value, health and safety, animal welfare practices, and sustainability. They seem to have a good grasp of their target market: millennials who shop online. 
Green Choice Presenting
RC Survey 2.0 from  Relational Coordination Analytics, Inc. uses a simple survey to analyze complex communication patterns in organizations that have a lot of interdependence along with time constraints and uncertainty -- think health care or airline travel. The goal is to find where such an organization can reinforce strengths and improve weaknesses  for smoother, more coordinated interaction and happier, more engaged workers.
Relational Coordination Analytics
ThermaGenix makes reagents that improve the product yield and specificity in polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplifications (that's biochemist-speak for making lots of copies of a segment of DNA -- told you the family biochemist would dig this). This sounds like a big improvement for use in the world of DNA and RNA sequencing.  That's about as much as I understood about it, but I was pretty impressed.
ThermaGenix
WorkAround described themselves as an impact sourcing provider helping companies get more done for less, while giving jobs to refugees. The name "workaround" really says it all. The basic concept is to use the Internet to take advantage of work that can be done remotely and entirely online so that refugees who can't get work permits in the countries where they have taken refuge can find jobs.
Workaround

Tranquilo Mat had one of the busiest tables. The portable, vibrating mat soothes your baby in the crib, the stroller, or wherever you go. The mat mimics a mom’s heartbeat and womb-type motions through gentle vibrations and soft sounds to calm the crying baby.
Tranqilo Mat
Articulate Biosciences showcased their ABX product family of injectable viscoelastic gels for lubricating and cushioning diseased soft tissues. I enjoyed talking with them about their first product offering, which is intended to relieve pain and increase mobility for people with osteoarthritis. I love this idea. They got my audience choice vote. Not surprisingly, they won the grand prize in the voting. I'm definitely going to keep track of their progress. As I was sitting down to write this on Friday, they were in Lowell participating in the ribbon cutting for their move into the M2D2 incubator space at the UML Innovation Hub.
Articulate Biosciences
Vata Verks has developed a smart water usage sensor for buildings. It takes advantage of the fluctuating magnetic fields inside a building’s utility meters, so you don't have to call a plumber to cut pipes to install it. The sensor just  straps on so customers can take advantage of the data stream to detect leaks, track costs, and analyze building performance simply and cheaply.
Vata Verks

ModiBrace is a modifiable back brace designed to improve scoliosis treatment. The brace can be  adjusted easily and quickly to precisely target and correct curvature in the spine. Made for children and adolescents diagnosed with scoliosis, it can grow along with them.

Sclervey  maps the shape of the sclera for the creation of specialty scleral contact lenses. It projects points of light onto the surface of the eye and does views from multiple cameras for precise 3D modeling. That should make for better fitting lenses for sure.
Busy Tables
Cryo-cell is a freezable fluid cell for cryo-electron microscopy. Cryo-electron microscopy is currently emerging as the preferred method to determine 3D protein structures in biomedical research and drug discovery. This technique requires that proteins be frozen in a thin film of water before imaging. Cryo-cell uses a nanofabricated fluid cell to improve on the current freezing technology and to  reduce the amount of protein needed.
Winners of the audience choice vote were:
ABX Viscoelastics (Grand prize)
WorkAround
Greenscore

The Winners Posing with BobbieC and Rebecca Menapace
For this month's  Expert Looking Expert photo, here's Rebecca Menapace representing all of the Brandeis expertise at MIN108
Expert Looking Expert