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Wake County school system looking at $90 million in technology for next bond issue

Should the Wake County school system spend as much as $90 million in the next school construction bond issue on technology?

At Wednesday's school board facilities committee meeting, staff outlined proposals for $54 million to establish a "classroom baseline" and $36 million in network systems. Click h here for the network needs.

A lot of the discussion was around the classroom technology piece, where the goal in the next bond is to reach a ratio of one device (laptop, iPad or tablet) for every three students. This would involve 50,000 devices for $25 million.

Wake County school board discusses security and technology issues

More to come later, but the security topic that got the most discussion at today's Wake County school board facilities committee meeting was the practicality of setting up a buzzer system at all elementary schools.

Staff assured the board that there would be people in the front office to promptly answer when visitors buzz to try to get into what would now become the locked front doors of elementary schools. Staff also told the board that the office personnel would be trained in who to let inside.

There was also some discussion about having a networked visitor sign-in system at all 169 schools. Only 27 schools have the LobbyGuard system with other schools having a free system that staff said doesn't meet security needs.


Click here for the story from the committee meeting..

Restaurant founder starts technology venture

Rob Autry, founder of Cafe Carolina, is teaming up with celebrities, including Reggie Bush and Rafael Nadal to launch mobile apps for Apple devices.

The first, Reggie Bush Workouts, features an exercise routine with the football player leading the way. It includes instructions from Bush.

Vstrator, Autry's tech company, is expected to release a Nadal app in mid-December. 

Read David Ranii's full story here.

Triangle Entrepreneurship Week connecting startups with investors


Triangle Entrepreneurship Week, which extends through Friday, is connecting local startups to investors. 

The five-day event seeks to connect local entrepreneurs to resources, capital and collaborators, according to co-founder Jon Leonardo.  Monday marked the start of the event’s second year in the Triangle.  The schedule includes four morning pitch sessions, along with other discussions such as “Government role in startups” or “How to raise money in the Triangle.” Individuals pay about $15 to attend one session or $199 for a week long pass.

About four of the 12 companies that pitched in the Triangle last year received funding, Leonardo said.

So far, at least two local companies that have pitched to angel and other investors have set up follow-up meetings with investors, Leonardo said.  On Thursday morning three companies pitched to Grant Allen, vice president of ABB Technology Ventures Ltd.

ABB is a large engineering conglomerate based in Zurich, Switzerland.  

“What we do as a corporate venture capital outfit is take balance sheet money from ABB and deploy it into early stage technology companies of strategic interest to ABB,” said Allen, a Duke University graduate whose office is in Washington D.C..  “Those investments are typically two to 10 million dollars, even though we can write checks up to 20.”

Allen is also involved with NextGen Partners.

“We are a group of 40 under 40 angels,” he said. “We are looking to write checks anywhere really from $50,000 to $200,000.”

After the presentations, Allen said he was interested in connecting one of Thursday’s presenters to some Washington D.C.. investors and talking with his NextGen Partners about another.

The fourth and final pitch session will be held Friday morning. For more information about that and Triangle Entrepreneurship Week go here

Cary-based Connexion to liquidate

A federal bankruptcy court approved the liquidation of Connexion Technologies, a comet in the Triangle business universe that at its peak had employed more than 600 people.

The heavily leveraged company, founded by Cary's former mayor, applied for bankruptcy protection in April under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code, the provision that protects the business from creditors and buys time for restructuring.

But the company asked the court to convert the bankruptcy filing to Chapter 7, clearing the way for liquidation of assets and dissolution of the business. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware approved the change Monday.

Connexion was celebrated as a promising Triangle startup and as recently as 2011 the Cary company had made Inc. Magazine's list of the nation's fastest-growing private companies. Its fortunes sank with the real-estate crash that froze residential development on which Connexion's expansion plans depended.

Cisco, Elster come together on smart grid

Two global technology companies with a large Triangle presence have announced a business partnership to develop a smart grid suite of products.

Cisco System, the Silicon Valley computer networking giant, will work with German utility meter designer Elster to create a system that runs Elster's advanced meters over Cisco's infrastructure. Cisco got its start in routers and switches and has expanded worldwide by selling technology that moves and routes voice and data over the Internet.

The deal, announced Tuesday, underscores the increasing dependence of smart meters on complex computer networks. Smart meters operate more like computer terminals linked to a giant wireless network rather than individual meters connected to nothing but a home.

NCSU researchers make elastic displays less of a stretch

Electronic skin? Stretchable displays? Research at North Carolina State University might help push stretchable electronics, even displays, from concept to consumer devices.

N.C. State's Dr. Yong Zhu, an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and Feng Xu, a Ph.D. student in Zhu’s lab have developed elastic conductors using silver nanowires.

The technology could be seen in applications from an electronic "skin" to improve tactility in robotics, or expand the capabilities of consumer devices with stretchable displays and antennas.

IBM layoffs under way, labor union reports

IBM is going through another layoff that could last all day and into the week, according to a labor union trying to represent the company's workers.

The Alliance@IBM in New York state, where IBM is based, began receiving calls and emails from IBM workers this morning. The layoffs are scattered across various sites and affect numerous divisions, said Lee Conrad, the union organizer.

The scale of the layoffs won't be know for days, but the union reports 350 layoffs as of late afternoon, based on reports received from affected employees. The employees receive layoff notifications that reveal how many colleagues in their departments were affected and how many spared, but don't identify the other employees.

Conrad said he didn't know if anyone lost work today at IBM's Research Triangle Park site, where the company is estimated to employ about 10,000 people.

Giving $25,000 to each Wake County school for technology

Wake County schools are drawing up their wish lists for new computers and other technology-related items.

Superintendent Tony Tata said Tuesday he's releasing at least $25,000 this month to each school for a "technology refresh." The money is coming from funds set aside for technology in the $1.056 billion capital improvement program developed in 2006.

Tata said the individual schools will be using the school system's purchasing power to make bulk purchases of new technology. The idea here is  to help schools keep their technology up to date.

There's been a long-running debate about whether technology should be part of school capital improvement programs.

Raleigh tech salaries increased, but we're no Austin

Techies in search of a job need look no further than Texas.

Tech salaries in that city jumped a whopping 12.7 percent last year for an average annual salary of $89,419, according to the tech jobs website Dice Holdings.
That compares to a 2.6 percent jump in Raleigh where the average annual wage was $79,830 for techies last year.

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