December 13, 2018 Newsletter
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Montana High Tech News

Montana tech businesses seek to strengthen partnerships with University of Montana

Tech company leaders and University of Montana representatives from various disciplines gathered at First Interstate Bank to discuss opportunities to improve connections. Photos by Slikati.

By Noah Hill

While some university professors draw criticism for staying in their “ivory towers,” Dr. Jay Evans is defying that mold. Depending on which side of the Clark Fork River he is on, Evans might be wearing a different hat. A research professor of immunology and director of the Center for Translational Medicine at the University of Montana, Evans is also the President and CEO of Inimmune Corp., a biotech startup that has amassed $22 million in money from grants and contracts since the company’s establishment in 2016.

“We wouldn’t be here without the university’s partnership,” Evans said. “Sixteen employees from [the Center for Translational Medicine at UM] are also enclosed in Inimmune.”

Evans shared his story on November 27 during a high-tech roundtable co-hosted by UM and the Montana High Tech Business Alliance at First Interstate Bank in downtown Missoula. Attendees included leaders from local tech businesses and the university, including Alliance member and nonmember companies. The discussion highlighted numerous successful partnerships and relationships, like Evans’, and opportunities for further collaboration, such as internships, alumni relations, and tech transfer.

Inimmune was founded after a major corporate reorganization effort shuttered a GlaxoSmithKline research laboratory in Hamilton, 50 miles south of Missoula. Because Evans and his team were not willing to sacrifice their Montana lifestyle to retain employment with the pharmaceutical giant, they instead turned to the University of Montana to develop a creative solution. The result was a unique partnership between the public and private sectors.

“It’s been greatly successful because we are able to leverage everything the university has to offer in research and basic academic studies,” Evans said. “The funding agencies like that model because they can see money going to research that ends up developing medicines for people.”

Evans also hopes that other disciplines on campus could adopt the model he has helped develop.

“Computer Science and Business also could make this public-private partnership model very successful,” Evans said.

Read more

MHTBA upgrading member directory to improve search and visibility

The Montana High Tech Business Alliance is upgrading to an advanced member directory, which will allow visitors to search companies by categories and keywords as well as view contact information and custom links for higher-level members.

We're excited that this new directory will increase member visibility as well as more easily connect job seekers and potential clients to what they're looking for. In the future, we'll be making more announcements about advertising opportunities and a member forum.

Our new directory will be live beginning next week. Members should have received an email with instructions on how to create an account and manage their own directory listing, if they so choose. Find more instructions on this page on our website.

Thank you for your patience during this time of transition! Please email or if you have any additional questions or feedback.

Member News:

Montana World Trade Center session offers insights on GDPR compliance six months after implementation

Montana World Trade Center Executive Director Brigitta Miranda-Freer introduces the speakers for the November TechEx event about complying with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Photo courtesy of Montana World Trade Center.

By Katy Spence

Montana World Trade Center (MWTC) continues to be a resource for companies seeking to learn more about the European Union’s (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). On November 27, more than a dozen company representatives met at or tuned into a TechEx presentation about GDPR six months after its adoption.

TechEx aims to connect Montana businesses in industries such as cloud computing, photonics, and bioscience with insights from international trade and technical law experts. This is the second session MWTC has hosted about GDPR, building upon its introductory session in May.

Isabelle Roccia, Senior Policy Advisor with the U.S. Mission to the EU, skyped in from Brussels, Belgium, to give attendees a high-level view of why the EU enacted GDPR and where enforcement of the regulations is today.

GDPR was proposed in 2012 as a replacement for the 1995 Data Protection Directive. After four years of negotiation, the new regulations were adopted in 2016. As of May 25, 2018, any company that processes the data of EU citizens is subject to GDPR. Roccia pointed out that companies who simply target EU audiences may also be subject to the new regulations.

Under the new regulations, individuals have more control over their personal data. Among other rights, EU citizens have the right to erasure, or the right to be forgotten. In other words, under certain circumstances, companies must be able to remove someone’s personal data from their systems within four weeks of a request to do so.

Failure to comply with these or other requests could result in fines up to four percent of a company’s annual revenue or €20 million ($25.5 million), whichever is greater.

Roccia said no fines have been enforced during the first six months of GDPR’s implementation, though several complaints have been brought forward and warnings given. It’s anticipated that fines will begin to be enforced before the end of 2018.

The full reach and implications of GDPR are still unknown, Roccia said, and it’s also unknown how Brexit will affect or be affected by GDPR.

Worden Thane Attorney Joel Henry said there’s no “one size fits all” solution and encouraged attendees to go beyond updating their privacy policy and terms of use to comply with GDPR. But compliance may take a little research.

Read more.

ChickTech Missoula event inspires girls to tackle tech careers

Terri Cheff, director of IT development at Washington Corporations, tells the high school attendees that her favorite parts of working in tech include learning something new every day, taking risks, and making great money. Photo by Katy Spence/MHTBA.
Stephanie Ralls stood in a classroom, the ingredients for a peanut butter sandwich spread on the desk before her. She looked at the eight high school girls sitting in front of her.

“Tell me how to make a sandwich,” she said.

“Open the bread!” the girls instructed.

Ralls picked up the loaf of bread and ripped the bag right down the middle. The girls burst into laughter and changed their instruction-- open the twist-tie at the end and use one hand to take a slice of bread out of the bag. It was the girls’ first lesson in how talking to a computer is different than talking to a human -- part of the Mobile Application class during ChickTech Missoula’s Dec. 1 High School Program.

ChickTech is a national organization with more than 25 chapters around the country. The Missoula chapter was established last year to help get more Montana high school girls interested in pursuing tech careers.

Ralls is a Missoula-based consultant with ATG, a Cognizant company, and was one of more than a dozen volunteers working with students. The girls had their choice between three full-day classes, where they learned skills and prepared for a community showcase at the end of the day.

In the Mobile Applications class hosted by ATG, girls learned the steps of building software to build a game for the final showcase. Kelsey Iverson of Elevation Web Design hosted the User Experience workshop and helped students learn how to work with clients to design a website that fit their needs and personality. spectrUM Discovery Center hosted Soft Circuits, wherein students built closed-circuit lights into fabric, such as bracelets and patches.

Terri Cheff, director of IT development at Washington Corporations, spoke to the student attendees in the morning, encouraging them to consider a rewarding and lucrative career in technology.

Cheff said technology careers are for lifelong learners, problem-solvers, risk-takers, multi-taskers, and great communicators.

“These are all things girls are naturally good at,” Cheff told the girls. “We already have a leg up on the boys.”

Cheff said having a female role model and strong support network is important for young girls looking to enter the tech sphere, as she herself discovered when a friend encouraged her to study tech during school. Now, she works with ChickTech to help other young women realize their potential in the tech industry.

View more photos on our website.

Read more about the event:

ChickTech workshop brings technology know-how, careers to Missoula-area girls (Missoula Current)

ChickTech encourages young women to join the tech industry (KPAX)
Montana High Tech Business Alliance, Inimmune, LMG Security, : Missoula tech leaders, UM look to build stronger partnerships as industry grows (Missoula Current)
Montana High Tech Business Alliance,, Big Nerd Ranch: Can teleworking bring Montanans big-city wages? Yes, for some (Missoula Current, Bozeman Daily Chronicle) 
LumenAd, Missoula Economic Partnership: Missoula’s LumenAd, Consumer Direct share $450K state grant for 63 new jobs (Missoula Current)
Pulsara: Pulsara Selected as Winner of the 2018 EMS World Innovation Award (Pulsara)
SOVA Partners: Missoula women launch law firm with full business services for entrepreneurs (Missoula Current)
Stockman Bank: Trout Unlimited, Missoula bank work toward West Fork, Rattlesnake creek restoration (Missoula Current)
High school tech education: Gianforte visits Bozeman school to promote coding lessons (Bozeman Daily Chronicle)

Welcome New Members: 

4Cast, Jenni Graff, Missoula

Upcoming Events: 

Hellgate Venture Network meeting - Missoula. Dec. 13, 4:30pm, 1804 Elison Ln, Missoula. HVN facilitates informal networking among entrepreneurs and advisers engaged in building growth businesses in Montana. Learn more on the HVN Facebook page.
1 Million Cups Bi-Weekly Meeting - Missoula. Dec. 19. Meets the first and third Wednesday each month at 9:00 am at The Loft, Missoula. 1 Hour Free Parking across the street in the city parking garage. Start your morning with coffee and start your business with 1MC Missoula, a place to percolate your startup. Entrepreneurship runs through it. For more information visit the website or Facebook page.
1 Million Cups Monthly Meeting - Bozeman. Jan 2 (may be rescheduled due to holiday). Meets the first Wednesday of the month at 7:30 am at Red Tractor Pizza, Bozeman. Creating conversation around Bozeman startups, business development, and economic growth in the most entrepreneurial state in the nation (plus, coffee). For more information and application to present, visit the website.
Women's Ascent Retreat 2019 - Whitefish. Jan 23 – Jan 25. Ascent Retreat 2019 is for female entrepreneurs and business leaders who need consultations around start-up strategy (scaling, exiting, pitching), organizational culture development (HR, people development), personal & leadership coaching, and health and wellness coaching. Gain insights from women who have worked in esteemed positions in Nike, Patagonia, and BlogHer. In addition, connect with other women who have been in your position from starting up to CEO-ing. Learn more.
Montana Code School Full-Time Course - Missoula & Bozeman. Full-time class dates: Feb. 4, 2019 – April 26, 2019; May 20, 2019 – Aug. 9, 2019; Sept. 16, 2019 – Dece. 6, 2019, Monday-Friday, 9 am - 5 pm. Part-time class dates: April 9, 2019 – Sept. 24, 2019; Oct. 8, 2019 – April 14, 2020; Location: Missoula & Bozeman, Tuesday & Thursday for 6 months, 6pm – 9pm + 1 immersive weekend a month. Financing available. Montana Code School’s full-time immersive program gives you the skills and fundamentals you need to land a job as a full-stack Jr. Web Developer. Contact 406-219-1392 or Learn more here.
Past Newsletters: 
11/29/2018 - Photos: FIB Missoula reception; CTA celebrates 80 years; Zoot on Can-Do podcast; Volunteer with ChickTech; Last day regular price on Digital Forensics
11/15/2018 - Montana CEOs discuss K-12 computer science education; Perficient acquires Elixiter; atgSHE and onX host inclusivity event; ChickTech to host Dec event
11/06/2018 - Photos: Helena event; Experts offer Montana tech companies real estate advice; Perficient acquires Elixiter; Goodworks Ventures backs Reflex Protect
10/18/2018 - Bozeman's Zoot invests in new platform, new markets, & MT communities; Leaders grow high-tech workforce; Charter 1GB Billings; STEP trade show grant
Click to view more past newsletters.

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Montana High Tech Business Alliance · 1121 E Broadway St, Suite 108 · Missoula, MT 59802 · USA