March 7, 2019 Newsletter
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Montana High Tech News

Engineering Innovation

WGM Group integrates technology, entrepreneurship and homegrown talent to build Montana’s future

Missoula stakeholders gather at the future site of the $29 million Russell Street and Bridge project in May 2018. WGM Group are project engineers for the ongoing project, which is scheduled to be completed in 2020. Image via Facebook.

By Katy Spence

Founded by a pair of former Forest Service employees in 1966, planning and design firm WGM Group’s first project was the lift at Montana Snowbowl, just in time for the 1967 World Championship ski races. The ski lift project, still standing though no longer in use, was the first of a series of projects for the city of Missoula, Dennis Washington, and various subdivision work.

A lot has happened in 50 years.

Today, WGM Group is involved with some of the biggest construction projects in western Montana, including the ongoing Old Sawmill District development and the upcoming Innovation Corridor. It saw 50 percent growth last year as the firm brought its total number of employees to 75. And WGM continues to expand their offerings and use high-tech tools and a diverse team to tackle unique challenges.


Maintaining the Entrepreneurial Spirit

President and CEO Brent Campbell said it can be hard for established businesses to adapt to a changing economy, but his passion for economic development and entrepreneurship help keep him sharp and open to new ideas for WGM. He serves on the boards of Montana Ambassadors, Missoula Economic Partnership, and Montana High Tech Business Alliance, and he hosts local business networking events such as Hellgate Venture Network.

“Being around entrepreneurs keeps my entrepreneurial chops fresh and ready in a 50-year-old business,” Campbell said. “I never want to lose the entrepreneurial spirit and that is necessary in today’s world, frankly, and running a technology business.”

Read More

Startups: Register your interest for Disrupt SF and save $500 on registration

TechCrunch's flagship event Disrupt SF celebrates startups and innovation from all around the world. Startups learn, collaborate, and network over three days with ambitious founders, talented developers, leading VC firms and cutting-edge tech companies. Four Montana startups attended Disrupt SF last September, and the Montana Pavilion was featured as a case study on TechCrunch's website.

MHTBA would like to gather a new cohort of talented and ambitious startups for Disrupt SF 2019, October 2-4, 2019. If you think your startup might be interested, register your interest with TechCrunch now to get an additional $500 off when registration opens next month. This is not a commitment: simply input your email address to let them know you're interested and qualify for $500 off the registration fee.

Let us know if you're interested, and we'll keep in touch as we start gathering interest and partners for this fall's Disrupt conference. 

Email with interest and questions about Disrupt SF.

Member News:

Mapping the Future: Blackmore Lidar Sensors Makes Name in Photonics Industry

Image via Blackmore Sensors.
By Alexandria Klapmeier/Make Montana Home

In 2012, a report from Regional Technology Strategies identified a quickly growing cluster of optics and photonics companies and research institutions in Montana. According to this report, the cluster of more than 25 organizations were the highest per capita concentration of optics and photonics companies and research institutions in Montana. Many of these organizations are located in Bozeman, thanks to a strong program at Montana State University.

As the photonics industry in Bozeman grows, one of the companies making headlines recently is Blackmore Lidar Sensors.

Seeing the Future in Bozeman

Blackmore Lidar Sensors was founded in 2016. According to Stephen Crouch, a co-founder of Chief Technical Officer, Blackmore in its simplest form makes 3D imaging devices that can be used in a variety of ways. They are primarily focused on the automotive industry and defense uses, but Blackmore’s technology can be used in other ways such as mapping.

“We had an opportunity to visit Big Sky and went to the top of Lone Peak with a sensor and looked at the glacier on Lone Peak,” Crouch said. “There are a variety of things the technology can do. We can make 3D maps where it is traditionally difficult to deploy lidar technology without taking a huge amount of time. Or without having to put somebody in an unsafe situation.”

But Blackmore’s technology has a big focus on the auto industry, specifically with autonomous or self-driving cars. Some of the company’s investors include BMW i Ventures and Toyota AI Ventures.

“They are the eyeballs,” Crouch said when talking specifically about their technology in autonomous vehicles. “The sensors scan laser beams around the vehicle and that is what builds the 3D image of the surroundings. The measurement approach Blackmore has developed is unique in that it is the only technology that also senses velocity. There are many companies in lidar, but velocity is unique to us.”

Read more on Make Montana Home.

GTUIT to Commission 7th New 3 MMCFD Well Site natural gas liquid Recovery and Flare Capture Unit

Billings, Montana, USA - GTUIT®, LLC announced on March 5 that the firm will soon commission their 7th 3 MMCFD Unit for international and regional Bakken oil energy producers. Two others will be commissioned in the coming month. Bakken producers are using the long-term GTUIT “No Hassle” leases for the new 3 MMCFD well site natural gas liquid (NGL) recovery and flare reduction equipment. These units will join the firm’s fleet of 500 and 1000 MMCFD systems providing a mobile solution for well sites with larger volumes of associated gas.

The 3 MMCFD unit uses innovative, patented, high-pressure separation to provide cost effective gas processing for well sites flaring from 3-12 MMCFD of gas. The units are housed on two skids in full arctic enclosures; providing reliable operations throughout the frigid North Dakota winter.

The units are installed and commissioned in less than a week while competitors units often take weeks or months to install. The units are operating for multiple Bakken producers and two units are currently operating in parallel on a single well site, processing 6 MMCFD of associated gas. 

Read the full press release.

Early Stage MT – Accelerating Montana’s Tech Sector Growth

Seven Montana companies participated in the Early Stage MT HyperAccelerator in Bozeman in July. Alosant, Cardsetter, Elation, Elebase, Sellout, Superior Traffic Services, and WebBuy spent one week with mentors and instructors at Montana State University’s Jabs Hall. Photos courtesy of Early Stage MT.
By Pat LaPoine via Make Montana Home

Early Stage Montana is a non-profit organization whose mission is to accelerate the growth of emerging technology businesses in Montana so they can create more good jobs and expand the economy, faster. Learn more about ESMT's origin and future in this story.

As Montanans, we’re blessed with the natural resources that have allowed us to build a strong economy on extraction industries, agriculture, and tourism. But we’re experiencing a few formidable challenges. Extraction and agriculture have globalized, driving down profits and shedding jobs in the process. And growth in tourism, while great for the local hotels, restaurants, etc., tends to create jobs that pay below-average or seasonal wages.

Fortunately, Montana ranks in the top five states in the nation for entrepreneurism with the highest rates of new company formations and business longevity. Unfortunately, new businesses in Montana are actually less likely to scale in size, hire 20 or more people, or hold patents or other intellectual property. In other words, we’re great at creating small services businesses, but not as effective at creating larger businesses with technology roots to employ hundreds or thousands of Montanans with training, benefits, and above-average paychecks.

Read the full article.

Code Girls United announces May app challenge, sponsor opportunities

Code Girls United has announced the NW Regional App Challenge for girls in 4th - 8th grades on May 11 and 12. Montana students are encouraged to apply, and MHTBA companies are invited to sponsor a team from their area by contacting Marianne Smith at 406-407-0201 or

Girls from the NW Rocky Mountain Region will design, create, and present their computer-coded project, as well as network with other girls, participate in team-building exercises, and learn presentation and computer coding skills. The project could be a mobile app, website, or robotics project, but the girls must be able to demonstrate it and provide a science fair-type display. 

The competition is free and includes scholarship prizes: $5000 for 1st place, $2500 for 2nd place, and $1000 for 3rd place. For more information, visit

Read more: Code Girls program gets financial boost (Daily Inter Lake)

TEDx BOZEMAN features Alliance members Pulsara and Cowboy Cricket Farms

Two Alliance member companies will be represented by speakers at TEDxBozeman 2019, which will explore untapped ideas worth sharing. Check out their speaker bios from the website below. See the full lineup of speakers and buy tickets here.

Kris Kaull, Serial Entrepreneur, Flight Paramedic, and CMO of Pulsara

An aspiring ninja who’s terribly inflexible, Kris has an insatiable love for helicopters, shallow TV & great 80’s music. Kris started and co-founded Most think of Kris as the next undiscovered artist. But he’s a simple ol’ Montana boy trying to make this world a bit better.


James Rolin, COO of Cowboy Cricket Farms

Co-founder of the first edible insect farm in Montana and now largest edible insect producing company in the USA, Cowboy Cricket Farms. I am also a member of the Montana Army National Guard.

Montana High Tech Business Alliance, ATG: ATG gears up for growth, outreach while settling into new Sawmill office (Missoula Current)
Montana High Tech Business Alliance, EduLog: How Montana outdoor recreation attracts the best employees (Montana Connections)
NorthWestern Energy: NorthWestern Releases Plan to Expand Power Generation (Flathead Beacon)
TechLink: Navy files for patent on room-temperature superconductor (TechLink)
KOA: What will the campground of the future look like? (RV Miles)
onX: Cannery District enters ‘red zone’ of development (Bozeman Daily Chronicle)
Stockman Bank: Stockman Bank gives $25K to UM to aid in student recruitment, marketing (Missoula Current)
Great Falls airport: United extending summer direct flights to Chicago (The Electric)
Rural broadband County association launches app to track broadband, cellular coverage data (The Electric)

Upcoming Events:

2019 Economic Outlook Seminars - Statewide. Seminars begin Jan. 29 and run through March 24. This year’s Economic Outlook examines the challenges of affordable housing. EOS 2019 will travel to ten cities across the state and provide a live webcast for other regions. This year, the seminar will visit Helena, Great Falls, Missoula, Billings, Bozeman, Butte, Kalispell, Sidney, Miles City and Big Sky. Find registration information and the full meeting schedule on the website.
2019 Manufacturing and International Trade Day - Helena. March 18, 6 pm -10 pm. Delta Hotels—Helena Colonial. Manufacturing & International Trade Day recognizes the importance of two economic drivers in Montana – exporting and manufacturing. Each year, this event celebrates achievements from these groups, and awards the Manufacturer of the Year. Please join the Montana Manufacturing Association, the Montana Chamber of Commerce, and our partners, at a dinner and reception that includes special guest, retired Senator and Ambassador Max Baucus. Learn more and register.
1 Million Cups Bi-Weekly Meeting - Missoula. March 20. 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.
2019 GRIT High School Trades Workshops - Missoula. Registration forms for Auto Mechanics are due April 1, 2019. This winter and spring, the GRIT (Girls* Representing in Trades) program is offering three 20-hour workshops for high school students in Missoula and western Montana! These in-depth workshops will cover carpentry, welding, and auto mechanics! In each workshop you’ll gain tangible skills through hours of hands-on practice, work as a team to complete projects and solve problems, build confidence and leadership skills, make new friends, and have lots of fun!  For more information and registration, visit this website.
1 Million Cups Bi-Weekly Meeting - Missoula. April 3. 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. April 3. 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.
Montana High Tech Business Alliance Reception - Billings. April TBD, 2019, hosted by Diamond BTS.
Montana Code School Full-Time Course - Missoula & Bozeman. Full-time class dates: May 20, 2019 – Aug. 9, 2019; Sept. 16, 2019 – Dec. 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.
Montana High Tech Business Alliance Reception - Missoula. May TBD, 2019, hosted by Blackfoot.
Big Sky Dev Con - Bozeman. June 8, The Commons, Bozeman. A Montana state-wide tech conference for developers hosted by Montana Programmers. More information will be released on the website as it is available.
Past Newsletters: 
02/21/2019 - ATG launches new office, training; PatientOne raises $1.2M; 2018 MT Cyber-Security Report; LC Staffing in Columbia Falls; MT VC Will Price on Can Do
02/07/2019 - The Lawyers Behind Montana’s Biggest Tech Deal; Zoot wins AVA Digital awards; AdvicePay closes $2M seed round; LMG in NYT; Helena robotics team
01/25/2019 - Jobs board reveals MT hiring trends; Legislature issues to watch; Workiva named Best Workplace; Blackfoot apprentices; XYPN aids furloughed workers
01/10/2019 - Figure brings dozens of jobs to MT; Apply for MT Exporter of the Year; Reg. for Economic Outlook Sem; Submit proposal for Big Sky Dev Con
Click to view more past newsletters.

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