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Data analytics expert and former senior presidential advisor will help headline April conference in Winston-Salem, NC exploring the use of data to address business and healthcare challenges

Inmar, a company that operates intelligent commerce networks, today announced that David Plouffe, Senior Vice President for Policy and Strategy, Uber will be a keynote speaker for the 2015 Inmar Analytics Forum — taking place April 7-9 in the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter in Winston-Salem, NC. The Inmar Analytics Forum is an annual event, hosted by Inmar and presented in partnership with the Wake Forest University Center for Retail Innovation, that brings together the best minds in academia and business to explore the practical application of data analytics to drive conversion, create operational efficiencies and bring about improved business and consumer/patient outcomes.

Plouffe’s presentation, “Big Data – Knowing Instead of Guessing,” will be a highlight among the more than 50 information sessions being offered to Forum attendees. He joins a host of senior subject matter experts and world-class thought leaders from the promotion, supply chain and healthcare industries who, as presenters, will deliver real insight into developing data-based solutions to today’s business and healthcare challenges.

A pioneering force in the field of politics, technology and grassroots leadership, Plouffe built a billion-dollar nationwide organization in 2008 that inspired millions and made history electing Barack Obama president. He is an innovator with extensive experience in successfully leading large teams and is now bringing his expertise as a proven field general and strategist to Uber, where he serves as Senior Vice President for Policy and Strategy. He is also the author of the New York Times bestseller, The Audacity to Win: The Inside Story and Lessons of Barack Obama’s Historic Victory.

The Inmar Analytics Forum holds a unique place in the meeting space because of its focus on the practical application of data analytics to improve promotions, healthcare and supply chain operations and the attention given to using data to stimulate collaboration between manufacturers, retailers and healthcare providers/systems. Those interested in the Forum can learn more about the event, and register, by visiting the Forum web page. Information is also available by calling (866) 440-6917.

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and Wexford Science + Technology, a BioMed Realty company, have received one of five national “Preservation’s Best of 2014” awards from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the National Trust Community Investment Corporation and Preservation Action.

Wake Forest Baptist and Wexford received the award earlier this week for the redevelopment of Building 90 in Wake Forest Innovation Quarter. The recognition singles out exemplary rehabilitation of historically significant buildings that utilized the federal historic tax credit to revitalize cities and small towns across the country.

“We are honored to receive this national award and see it as recognition of our commitment to public-private partnerships that advance the economic development of the region,” said John D. McConnell, M.D., CEO, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. “Wexford Science + Technology continues to be a wonderful partner in our next redevelopment project, the new medical education building already underway in Wake Forest Innovation Quarter.”

Building 90, a former R.J. Reynolds Tobacco manufacturing facility, now houses the headquarters for Inmar, Inc., and 525@vine which is home to the Medical Center’s Division of Public Health Sciences and Department of Physician Assistant Studies as well as the Innovation Quarter YMCA of Northwest North Carolina; Flywheel, a co-working space; Clinical Ink, a provider of electronic data-capturing technology; and Forsyth Tech at Innovation Quarter.

2. Entrance-of-525

“Wexford is honored that this award recognizes the investment that we and our partner Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center have made and continue to make in redeveloping the community, enhancing the economic base of downtown Winston-Salem and creating a strong future of medicine and innovation in biomedical science and information technology here,” said Daniel Cramer, Wexford’s senior vice president of development.

The three national preservation organizations praised Wake Forest Baptist and Wexford for the positive impact the redevelopment project has had on the economy of the Winston-Salem community.

“Building 90, and the other restored R.J. Reynolds buildings in the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter, are not only transforming biomedical science but also expanding the possibilities for reusing historic buildings,” said Michael Phillips, public policy manager, National Trust Community Investment Corporation. “These projects show how historic preservation triggers additional development while at the same time preserving important local heritage.”

The $150 million project combined state historic tax credits, federal historic tax credits, and new markets tax credits to finance the development.

To read the full list of winning projects including Building 90 visit: National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Media contacts: Mac Ingraham,, 336-716-3487; Shannon Putnam,, 336-713-8261.

Graduate student teams from some of the country’s top universities will gain insight into real-world healthcare problems on March 13-14 at the 6th annual Healthcare Strategy Conference & Case Competition.

The event will be held at Wake Forest Biotech Place.

The lead sponsor for the competition will once again be Boston Scientific, a company that develops medical solutions to health problems in areas such as heart, digestive, pulmonary, vascular, urological, women’s health and chronic pain. Boston Scientific’s president and CEO, Michael Mahoney, will give the keynote address, “Leadership in Medtech Innovation,’’ on March 13 at 4 pm.

Dr. Eric Tomlinson, Chief Innovation Officer of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and President of Wake Forest Innovation Quarter, will moderate a panel discussion immediately following the keynote address. The panel will include Boston Scientific’s Mahoney, as well as:

  • Mark Furth, Executive Director, Product Innovation Services, Wake Forest Innovations
  • Christina Bellinger, Director of Interventional Pulmonology, Wake Forest Baptist Health
  • Jeff Pepperworth, President, Inmar Healthcare Network
  • Jeremy C. Johnson, Managing Director, Bourne Partners

Both the keynote address and panel discuss are open to the public. Register to attend.

Healthcare Industry Connections

Len B. Preslar Jr., executive director of the conference and a former CEO of N.C. Baptist Hospital, has been involved with the case competition from its first year. He says it is a great way for graduate students in business, health, law or other fields to gain practical experience and make connections in the healthcare industry.

The competition pits multidisciplinary graduate student teams from around the nation—Johns Hopkins University teams have won each of the past two competitions—in developing a solution to an issue posed by the lead sponsor. For example, students were asked in a previous competition how a company could enter the urology market in China.

The student teams receive the problem about a week before the competition, and work on it from multiple angles—marketing, scientific, practical—to develop a 20-minute presentation.

Those presentations are given at the weekend competition and judged by a panel of experts from Boston Scientific. The judges immediately follow the presentation with a tough 10-minute review and question session, which Preslar said helps to distinguish the winning teams and elevates the learning process for students.

The competition stakes are high; the winning team gets a $10,000 prize, with second place worth $5,000 and third place, $3,000.

“For students, this is a way to help them interact, listen and learn across disciplinary lines,’’ Preslar says. “They have to understand what other people are talking about, and to value and apply contributions others bring to the process. For the lead sponsor, this is a way to get creative solutions to a real-world business problem.’’

The weekend also exposes students to industry professionals and helps them make connections that in the past have led to jobs in the healthcare industry, he says.

Learning through case competition

Crystal Redfern, one of the event organizers, is a fifth-year PhD/MBA student at Wake Forest School of Medicine who is working on her degree in microbiology. She says for students, the competition helps to reinforce the kind of learning needed in health care today.

“There’s a new generation of scientists who are different than previous generations,’’ says Redfern, who hopes to pursue a career as director of a clinical microbiology laboratory.

“The goal is to create this breed of business individual who can also translate into the science and healthcare industry, and a scientist who can translate into business,’’ Redfern says. “That’s what the competition will bring out.”

Learn more about the weekend at

The Inmar Analytics Forum is an annual event, held in Winston-Salem, NC, that brings together business professionals from the Promotion, Healthcare and Supply Chain industries to explore how data can be employed to drive conversion, create operational efficiencies and bring about improved business and patient outcomes. Offering attendees a variety of educational sessions featuring senior subject matter experts and world-class thought leaders, the Forum is an interactive information exchange delivering real insight into developing data-based solutions to today’s business and healthcare challenges. The Inmar Analytics Forum holds a unique place in the meeting space because of its focus on the practical application of data analytics and the attention given to using data to stimulate collaboration between manufacturers, retailers and healthcare providers/systems.

This year’s forum will be April 7-9, 2015. The Inmar Analytics Forum is a collaboration between Inmar and Wake Forest University. Learn more about this event.

Wake Forest Innovations presented its Innovation Award to Anthony Atala, MD, on February 6 for his breakthrough work in regenerative medicine and leadership as director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Atala, the W.H. Boyce Professor and Chair of Urology at Wake Forest School of Medicine, is a world-renowned researcher and recipient of many awards and honors, including the U.S. Congress funded Christopher Columbus Foundation Award, bestowed on a living American who is currently working on a discovery that will significantly affect society.

The award was presented to Dr Atala by Eric Tomlinson, DSc, PhD, chief innovation officer of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and president of Wake Forest Innovation Quarter in recognition of Atala’s important contributions in the fields of urology and regenerative medicine.

Dr. Atala heads a team of over 300 physicians and researchers. Scientists are working on regenerative therapies for more than 30 different parts of the body. In 2003 he was named by Scientific American as a Medical Treatments Leader of the Year for his contributions to the fields of cell, tissue and organ regeneration. Dr. Atala’s work was listed as Time Magazine’s top 10 medical breakthroughs of the year and as Discover Magazine’s Number 1 Top Science Story of the Year in the field of medicine in 2007. In 2009 Dr. Atala was featured in U.S. News & World Report as one of 14 Pioneers of Medical Progress in the 21st Century, and his work in 2010 was listed by the Smithsonian Magazine as one of 40 things to know about the next 40 years. Dr. Atala’s work was listed in the Huffington Post as one of 18 great ideas of 2011, in Time Magazine as one of the top 5 medical breakthroughs of the year in 2011, by the American Association of Retired Persons as one of the 50 influential people who will make life better in 2012, and by Time Magazine as one of 5 discoveries that will change the future of organ transplants in 2013.

Innovation Awards are presented to outstanding innovators in our community and are recognized at each Innovation Quarter Network Night, an event held every 3 months that offers Innovation Quarter tenants and the surrounding community the chance to network and interact in an informal setting. Sign up to receive invitations to these and other events in the Innovation Quarter.


Jeff “Smitty” Smith has been covering the Winston-Salem scene since the late 1990s in Smitty’s Notes, a website and monthly e-newsletter. His vantage point hasn’t changed – he’s lived in Albert Hall at the corner of North Chestnut and East First streets for the past 15 years – but much else has.

Smitty-Body-2For one, the city today has a whole lot more going on in terms of arts, entertainment, dining, nightlife and community events than it did when Smith produced his first newsletter, which went to about a dozen subscribers. And the district where Smith lives, now part of Wake Forest Innovation Quarter – has been similarly transformed.

A lifelong city resident, Smith started Smitty’s Notes in 1997. That same year, he made plans to move into a renovated building downtown, the former R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. Plant 256 on North Chestnut.

“The concept of living downtown was brand new at that time and it was considered somewhat of a risky venture,” Smith said.

A real estate developer had purchased the abandoned four-building factory – where Reynolds made Prince Albert pipe tobacco and its iconic tins – from Forsyth County in 1996 and started to convert it into a mixed-use facility with office, laboratory and residential components. The renovation project was near completion in August 1998 when the three main structures in the complex were destroyed in a fire that ranks as one the largest in Winston-Salem’s history. Only the fourth building – erected in 1917 as an addition to the original 1890s construction – survived the blaze, though not without suffering extensive damage.

That building was Albert Hall, named after the pipe tobacco. The fire damage was repaired during the fall and the building welcomed its commercial and residential tenants that winter.

Among them was Smith. With a condo in the larger complex no longer an option, he chose to move into Albert Hall – enticed in part by the opportunity to contribute to the design of his home.

“I basically designed my house,” Smith said. “I worked with the architect and picked out design elements, down to the electrical outlets. That probably wouldn’t happen today.”

Smith’s condo is one of 18 on the fourth floor of Albert Hall. Ranging in size from 550 to 2,000 square feet, the lofts today are home to 23 people.

The first three floors of the brick-facade structure contain office and laboratory spaces that are occupied by 15 tenants representing the commercial, government, nonprofit and research sectors.

And those who now live and work in Albert Hall are far less isolated than the occupants were when the building opened. Numerous renovation and construction projects have in recent years brought a wide range of businesses, institutions and people into the former industrial district, giving it a new vibrancy.

“It was more than putting housing downtown,” Smith said of the neighborhood’s growth.  “There was a vision of different elements working together to create the environment we have today.

“I have to give the Innovation Quarter a lot of credit for creating the research park and rehabbing a number of historic buildings. It has made all the difference in our downtown, and people have followed.”

Perhaps not coincidentally, Smitty’s Notes now has more than 15,000 monthly subscribers.

“We have definitely come a long way since 1997,” Smith said.

Photos courtesy of Jay Sinclair

Eric Tomlinson, DSc, PhD, president of the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter, was interviewed by Shawn Fitzmaurice at SciWorks Radio on 88.5 WFDD about the concept of innovation. Along with explaining the difference between innovation and invention, Tomlinson describes the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter’s role in making Winston-Salem the City of Arts & Innovation.

Read the transcript or listen to the audio below.


Inmar, Inc., a retail technology company and Wake Forest Innovation Quarter tenant, releases survey data on holiday shopping trends. With U.S. shoppers spending less to fill up their gas tanks, they’re spending more filling up holiday stockings – according to a survey conducted by Inmar Analytics earlier this month that found 25 percent of shoppers planning to spend more on gifts this year than last. Another 49 percent of the shoppers surveyed said they plan to spend at least as much this year as they spent in 2013. And that spending is well underway, with 90 percent of the 520 shoppers surveyed on December 1 and 2 reporting they have already made a holiday gift purchase.

Read the full story.

Carroll-with-AwardWake Forest Innovations presented its Innovation Award to David L. Carroll, PhD, on December 10 for his innovative research and leadership as director of the Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials at Wake Forest University. Carroll, professor of physics at Wake Forest, leads a research group that has developed such innovations as the Hybrid Sterling Energy Generator solar panel, the Power Felt thermoelectric fabric and field-induced polymer electroluminescent lights.

The award was presented by Eric Tomlinson, DSc, PhD, president of Wake Forest Innovation Quarter and chief innovation officer of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, in recognition of Carroll’s important contributions in the field of alternative energy.

Carroll started a nanotechnology laboratory at Clemson University in 1997, which he moved to Wake Forest University in 2003. He holds a portfolio of twelve issued patent families and helped found startup companies to manufacture some of the products developed from his group’s research. His research interests include nanomaterials, light emitting device technologies, solar device technologies and medical nanosciences. He holds adjunct appointments at Wake Forest in cancer biology and biomedical engineering, and is a fellow of the American Physical Society.

Innovation Awards are given at each Innovation Quarter Network Night, an event held every 3 months that offers Innovation Quarter tenants and the surrounding community the chance to network and interact in an informal setting. Sign up to receive invitations to these and other events in the Innovation Quarter.

“It takes a village,” said Sean Gaillard, principal of Wiley Magnet Middle School.

He was talking about the Future Innovators mentoring program, a partnership between the Winston-Salem school and Wake Forest Innovation Quarter.

“A magnet school requires unique community support,” Gaillard said. “Last fall, I got with my instructional leadership team and as we thought about innovation we naturally thought about the Innovation Quarter. We also wanted to find a sincere community partner that supported our school mission of ‘Inspiring Innovative Minds.’”

Wiley has a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) curriculum that promotes dialogue and critical thinking, making it a perfect fit with the Innovation Quarter.

Gaillard reached out to the Innovation Quarter, he and his team were invited over for a visit and a conversation about how to make a lasting impact on students who might not otherwise have such an opportunity got rolling.

“We wanted a sustainable program, not just a one-time field trip for our kids,” Gaillard said.

Chad Campbell, communications director for Wake Forest Innovations, came up with the idea of matching 10 mentors from the Innovation Quarter with 10 Wiley students for personalized learning. “Individual mentors saved and changed my life,” Campbell said. “I have no doubt this program can do the same for these students.”

The one-to-one model was suggested and accepted, and the Future Innovators program was born.


At Wiley, teachers selected 10 seventh-grade students who showed an aptitude and high interest in STEAM-related activities to be the first Future Innovators. At the Innovation Quarter, Steve Susalka, associate director of commercialization at Wake Forest Innovations, was charged with finding 10 mentors. He didn’t have to look for long: Ten men and women representing a variety of fields quickly volunteered.

The program began in September with a two-hour session that started with the students meeting their mentors. “It was humbling and energizing to see these professionals connect with kids,” Gaillard said.

The hands-on learning experience during the first session focused on robotics, with the students programming Lego robots to navigate an obstacle course.

“Our goal was to create an engaging program that highlighted the many varied disciplines here in the Innovation Quarter,” Susalka said. “The students learned quickly that there was more than one way to overcome an obstacle and used a trial-and-error approach to generate solutions.”

Daniel Yohannes, associate director of product innovation and commercialization services at Wake Forest Innovations, enjoyed his first experience with the youngsters from Wiley. “The students were a wonderful reminder of how infectious the joy and enthusiasm of learning can be,” he said. “And the lesson of teamwork in the robot challenge and throughout the morning is one that never really gets old.”

In their monthly sessions at the Innovation Quarter throughout the school year, the Future Innovators will learn about microbiology, computer science, regenerative medicine, digital design and biomedical engineering, with all activities related to their classroom studies. And, as in most educational programs, the students will have a test at the end. In May, the Wiley students will present their own innovative ideas to a panel of the Innovation Quarter experts in a contest modeled after the television program “Shark Tank.”

“We believe it is incredibly important to offer these young people the opportunity to gain first-hand knowledge of the exciting developments in science and technology that are happening here,” said Eric Tomlinson, president of Wake Forest Innovation Quarter. “We’re also looking forward to seeing them demonstrate their intelligence, imagination and ingenuity.”

The mentoring program is off to a promising start. Quickly, new friends have been made and bonds have been formed.

At the end of the session in September, as the students and mentors sat down for a healthy lunch, Susalka’s young protégé called out, “Hey, Steve. We saved you a spot!”