#TheNext North Carolina Innovators are Democratizing and Decentralizing

The second day of the 2016 edition of CED’s Tech Venture Conference highlighted industry wide trends of sharpening consumer focus and opening access to innovation, all with an eye to promoting the region’s increasing economic momentum.

MedFusion CEO Kim Lebow kicked off the morning with a dissection of the power of “informed decision makers” in the world of healthcare IT. Lebow unpacked the shift from practice-first mentality that previously guided product development in the healthcare vertical to the rise of the patient-as-consumer, whom her digital, personal medical records product serve.
The new normal in healthcare IT, she notes, places consumers in the driver’s seat, flipping the old B2B sales model.
A similar inversion is underway in the investor courtship process with the passage of Senate Bill 481 (also known as the PACES Act) which legalized crowdfunding in North Carolina. NC Secretary of State Elaine Marshall said at a well-attended workshop led by the NC Department of Commerce that she is thrilled about the way the legislation “balances protection for investors and opportunity for companies” by attracting new money for emerging companies.

The corporate VC panel focused on championing deals and products, sometimes well before those companies are ready for growth-stage funding. Alisyn Malek, investment manager at GM Ventures, and Chris Langford of Lowe’s Ventures explained in a panel moderated by Don Rainey of Grotech Ventures that corporate-style VCs are striking agreements without the old standard downsides.

Both said they’ve forsworn first right of refusal clauses that bound corporate portfolio companies to their corporate partners and the danger of “inheriting enemies” as Langford termed the shadow big companies can cast on their investments. They and their fellow corporate investors strive to style themselves more like their independent peers all while bringing innovation to their parent companies.

The morning wrapped up with yet another example of a democratizing technology (3D manufacturing) and a comment on the ongoing political controversy in the state.

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