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Marketing Your Business Offline

– Contributed content –

Business newspaper

(Rawpixel, Unsplash)

26 Nov. 2019. Digital marketing is, of course, important, but it’s not the only type of marketing that you should be engaging in. Some companies spend so much time focusing on their online marketing that they forget that offline marketing is also important. Let’s not forget that the people that use the internet are also the same people who are, you know, just out there in public. So it’s recommended that you’re looking at both forms of marketing. Below, we’ll take a look at some recommended ways to market your venture in “the real world.”

Traditional advertising

Traditional advertising methods seem to lose a lot of their popularity once the internet came along, to the point where some companies avoid it altogether. However, it is worth considering. Advertisements in newspapers, magazines, in public spaces and so on offer the chance to do things a little differently. An ad in these mediums will look much different from an ad on a website, for example. It’s best to focus your ads in publications and areas that are frequently visited by people in your target demographic. Digital space is far too big to reach everyone, and by using this method, you’ll get your message in front of new people.

Events on the street

It’s also worthwhile looking at taking your marketing to the streets by hosting an event. It doesn’t matter whether you’re an online or offline business; people will interact with your street events. It’s a good option because it allows you to market your products or services on a deeper and more interactive level. The key rule is that you have to make it fun for the people that stop. They’re not going to have a favorable impression if you bore them to death with information about your product. Instead, hand on free samples, and make it engaging.

Handing out freebies

One of the best ways to market your business is to hand out freebies. It always has been and always will be. Why? Because people love free stuff. There are multiple ways you can get your freebies in the hands of people, such as the street events that we outlined above to trade shows (more on those below). There are plenty of types of products that people like, so see what works best for your company, and go with that.

It’s worth buying a laser cutter so that you can engrave your company’s name onto your products. This type of marketing is especially effective because it stays with the person; they’ll use a USB pen for years, and your name will be on the side. You can also consider adding freebies to your packaging when you send out goods — it’s a way to make your customers happy with their purchase, and they’ll be more likely to come back again.

At trade shows

Finally, make sure you’re attending trade shows! They’re the best way to get your products and services in front of people who you know are already interested. Plus, you’ll learn a lot while you’re there, too.

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Radiology A.I. Company Raises $4M in Seed Funds

Inspecting lung X-rays

(National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, NIH)

25 Nov. 2019. A start-up company developing systems with artificial intelligence to aid the work of radiologists is raising $4 million in its seed funding round. The early funding round for Rad AI in Berkeley, California was led by Gradient Ventures, Google/Alphabet’s venture finance group that specializes in companies building A.I. systems.

Rad IA’s founders, radiologist Jeff Chang and serial entrepreneur Doktor Gurson, started the company to help radiologists meet greater demands for their professional services, while shortages of radiologists persist in many markets. Chang, a practicing radiologist, studied artificial intelligence in graduate school, and with Gurson started Rad AI last year.

“Radiology is facing severe pressures that range from falling reimbursements to market consolidation,” says Chang in a Rad AI statement released through PR Newswire. “There is also a radiologist shortage that is exacerbated by rising imaging volumes nationwide.  We help radiology groups significantly increase productivity, while reducing radiologist burnout and improving report accuracy.”

The company’s technology uses voice recognition and machine learning algorithms to generate an automated impression section of a radiologist’s report. The impression section sums up findings from the radiologist’s image analysis, combined with the patient’s medical history and condition, to provide a diagnosis, as well as recommendations for further tests.

Rad AI’s impression report, says the company, takes findings provided by the radiologist’s dictation, and generates the impression section in language reflecting the radiologist’s usage and syntax. The automated report begins by answering questions from the ordering physician, then follows with the radiologist’s findings. The radiologist can then review and change the report as needed.

Rad AI says most of its system processing takes place in the cloud, requiring little technical set-up by the users. The company also says its system meets Federal HIPAA requirements in the U.S. for data protection, and its algorithms are based on de-identified data. Rad AI cites data showing its system reduces report preparation time for computed tomography or CT scans by 20 percent, and X-rays and similar images by 15 percent, saving up to 60 minutes a day per radiologist.

The seed funding round raising $4 million for Rad AI was led Gradient Ventures, a division of Google/Alphabet that specializes in companies developing A.I.-based applications. Gradient says it invests mainly in early-stage enterprises, and provides both technical expertise and business networking with fellow entrepreneurs. Joining Gradient Ventures in the round are venture companies Investors UP2398, Precursor Ventures, GMO Venture Partners, Array Ventures, Hike Ventures, Fifty Years VC, and various angel investors.

Rad AI says it plans to use the proceeds of the round to hire more engineers and expand marketing of its impression report product.

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Cell, Gene Therapy R&D/Mfring Center in Works

Lab flasks

(Republica, Pixabay)

25 Nov. 2019. A consortium of companies, universities, and hospitals are creating an innovation and manufacturing center in the Boston area for cell and gene therapies. The facility aims to centralize and streamline development and manufacturing of cell and gene therapies, with backers so far pledging $50 million to get it off the ground.

The as-yet unnamed center will provide research space and manufacturing for taking advances in cell and gene therapy from academic labs through later development stages and scaling up production for clinical trials. The not-for-profit facility is expected to support technologies such as genome editing, stem cells, and immunotherapies. While academic labs are turning out in new developments in these fields, say the developers, they often face bottlenecks as long as 18 months in ramping up production for later development and human testing.

The consortium creating the new center are the companies GE Healthcare Life Sciences, Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies, and Alexandria Real Estate Equities, a developer of life science research campuses. Joining the three companies on the center’s board are representatives from Harvard University and MIT. Contributing organizations include the teaching hospitals and research institutes Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston Children’s Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Massachusetts General Hospital, as well as the life science supplier company MilliporeSigma and the Massachusetts state government.

The new center is expected to offer 30,000 square feet of lab and clean-room manufacturing space meeting industry-standard “good manufacturing practices,” with a staff of at least 40. The facility aims to reduce the time and complexity of transforming a concept shown feasible in research labs into a tangible product, and also reducing its costs and risks. Those development stages, say the developers, are difficult for individual organizations, thus sharing that burden could speed new cell and gene therapies into the clinic.

“There’s an incredible need and a major bottleneck in delivery of many of these methods — as well as [high] cost,” says Harvard Medical School immunologist Arlene Sharpe in a university statement. “So having a nimble facility that’s able to think about DNA, RNA, peptides, cellular therapies is a great thing at this point in time.”

“By bringing together the talent that exists only in the Massachusetts life sciences ecosystem and fostering collaboration,” adds Laurie Glimcher, president of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in a statement, “this new manufacturing center will help to extend the benefit of these technologies to more patients and accelerate discoveries to effectively treat more diseases.”

Alexandria Real Estate Equities is expected to help plan site selection and technical design for the new facility. The company says it has built and managed life science facilities in and near Boston since 1997.

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Computer Literacy Evolves for a New Era

– Contributed content –

Hands on keyboard


25 Nov. 2019. It has been estimated that 85% of jobs that will exist in 2030 have yet to be invented, with most of them arising as a result of our continuing exploration of digital technologies and the rapid pace of change in the business world. Whereas not so long ago listing your proficiency with Microsoft Office was considered enough computer literacy to gain you a position within most companies now recruiters are looking for more. Is computer literacy now an essential skill for all industries? Is it possible to make it in business without embracing technology?

What is computer literacy?

Computer literacy is a continuously evolving term, whereas 10 years ago you would have been deemed computer literate for being able to use a floppy disk nowadays you are more likely to need to understand the cloud. The definition of computer literacy is constantly changing to encompass new areas of IT that have become part of our everyday normality and someone who was considered computer literate in the ’90s may well find themselves illiterate by today’s standards.

So how can we define computer literacy in the present day and what do you need to know to be considered computer literate? Well, because computer literacy is not standardized each company is able to have their own idea of what it means for their employees to be computer literate, whereas Apple may want their employees to have extensive knowledge of the latest Mac operating system, a local school may only require its employees to be able to understand basic word processing, email and spreadsheets. In general though for the present-day minimal computer literacy should encompass the following:

  1. The ability to create word documents, spreadsheets and basic presentations
    It would be difficult for someone to be deemed computer literate without a basic grasp of how to create a word document, a spreadsheet and a simplistic Powerpoint presentation. The most common software to do this with is Microsoft Office, which is why it is still often cited on applicants resumes today to show their ability to conduct these simple tasks.
  2. A basic understanding of computer security and how to protect yourself
    In the same way that being able to legally drive a car encompasses not only the driver’s ability to operate the machine but an understanding of the potential road hazard they may encounter, someone who is computer literate should not only be able to use the basic functions of their device but understand the kinds of basic threats that our out there in the digital world and how they can protect themselves through having secure passwords, and digital common sense.
  3. An understanding of network connectivity
    Computers now come hand in hand with the internet and so it’s vital that a person has a basic understanding of network connectivity and how to get themselves online.
  4. The ability to use a search engine
    Search engines are powerful research tools and when used correctly can save you a lot of time. People should understand how to use search engines efficiently and be able to tell the difference between a sponsored link and one that ranks naturally.
  5. An understanding of browsers
    Not all browsers were created equal and some work better than others with certain programs. It’s important that an individual understands that there are multiple browsers available as well as how to open new windows, new tabs, create bookmarks and clear their history.
  6. The ability to use email
    Email is now one of the most relied upon means of communication across businesses which means it is vital that potential employees understand at least the basics of how to compose and send an email.

Is computer literacy essential?

Technology is now an intrinsic part of everyday life and someone with no computer or technological skills whatsoever will likely struggle to perform even the most basic of everyday tasks If the question as to whether computer literacy is essential had been asked 20 years ago, then answer would probably have been no, but now in 2019, it is a resounding yes, and is especially so in the business world. The way we work is changing, computers and laptops are now commonplace in most households making remote working more popular, saving companies rental fees on offices and enabling them to disregard their geographic location and hire top talent from around the world.

In a traditional office setting PC’s are a key tool for lead generation, customer support, communications and business administration with their importance highlighted by the fact that many companies now spend significant money outsourcing the welfare of their IT systems to third parties who offer Online Computers Support and Consulting Solutions. Even industries such as the health and social care sector, who are traditionally slow adopters of new technology, are making the shift and digitizing many of their processes by adopting more efficient systems. This all leaves very little room for someone without basic computer literacy in today’s competitive hiring market.

How can we learn and remain computer literate?

For our up and coming generations computer literacy is a part of their blood, most will have used a smartphone by the time they are five and many will go on to learn about computers in more depth than we may ever achieve in our lifetimes, with computer language now a part of the syllabus in some schools and technology more readily available than ever before .

For those of us who did not grow up with technology, however, learning computer literacy and remaining computer literate is more of a challenge and is something that we must consciously work on. Take advantage of any and all digital training resources available to you and make an effort to update your hardware and best-practice in line with the evolving industry. Don’t be afraid to ask your employer for more digital training, an understanding of computers today may not make you computer literate tomorrow, and so it is vital that to remain competitive within your workplace you endeavor to keep up with technological advancements.

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Infographic – China Remains Top U.S. Student Source

Chart: international students

Click on image for full-size view. (Statista)

23 Nov. 2019. Even casual readers of Science & Enterprise will notice that many of the faculty, postdocs, and students in our stories about U.S. academic labs come from someplace else. Our friends at Statista this week show the countries from where foreign students on U.S. campuses originated in the 2018-19 academic year, this weekend’s infographic.

The chart’s data come from the annual Open Doors report issued by the Institute of International Education and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The report says 1.1 million students from outside the U.S. attended colleges and universities in the U.S. last year, about the same number as the previous year, making up 5.5 percent of this country’s total academic student enrollment. Citing data from Department of Commerce, the report notes that international students contributed some $44.7 billion to the U.S. economy.

China continues to provide the largest number of international students on American campuses, sending more than 369,000 of its citizens, an increase of almost 2 percent over the previous year. India ranks second with about 202,000 students, a 3 percent increase. South Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Canada occupy ranks 3, 4, and 5, although the number of South Korean students declined by 4 percent, and Saudi students fell sharply, by 16.5 percent from the previous year.

Science, math, and engineering disciplines drew just over half (51.6%) of international students, with mathematics and computer science students increasing by 9.4 percent, making it the second-largest field of study. Engineering remains the discipline drawing the most international students, accounting for more than one in five (21.1%) students.

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Virtual Reality Helps Continue Stroke Rehab at Home

Man in virtual reality headset

PublicDomainPNG, Pixabay)

22 Nov. 2019. Results of a clinical trial show a multi-user computer game using virtual reality helps people recovering from a stroke to continue therapy at home. Findings from the trial appear in the 9 November issue of Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (paid subscription required).

Stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted, cutting the oxygen needed by brain cells to function. The vast majority (85%) of strokes are caused by blood clots, while many other strokes are caused by blood vessel leakage in the brain. Recovery, often in rehabilitation clinics, can take months or years of continuous exercises. World Stroke Organization says one in four people worldwide will have a stroke in their lifetime, with nearly 14 million people suffering a stroke each year.

A team from biomedical engineering labs shared between North Carolina State University in Raleigh and University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill are creating a virtual reality game to extend structured rehabilitation sessions into the home. Researchers led by biomedical engineering professor Derek Kamper note that recovering from a stroke can depend on an individual’s access to a rehab facility.

“Physical and occupational therapy are important parts of stroke recovery, in terms of helping survivors regain dexterity and functional motor ability,” says Kamper in an NC State news release. “However, stroke survivors often face significant challenges in attending their therapy sessions. For example, many survivors don’t live near facilities that offer relevant therapy services.”

Kamper’s lab and colleagues are developing software called Virtual Environment for Rehabilitative Gaming Exercises or Verge, for the Microsoft Kinect computer game system. The software uses motion sensors built into Kinect to track movements of participants and therapists, and provides three types of exercises in multi-user and single-user modes.

“Our goal was to create an online, virtual reality platform that allows patients and therapists to interact in what is essentially real time,” says Kamper. “Clients could also use the system to work on therapy exercises with loved ones who live far away.”

The researchers tested the Verge software with people recovering from a stroke at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago, a rehabilitation facility for spinal cord and brain injuries.. The team recruited 20 individuals with continuing impaired use of their hands and arms to try the Verge software for four weeks. The researchers randomly assigned half of the group to first use the system in multi-user mode for two weeks, then switch to single-user mode for another two weeks. The other half of the participants started with single-user mode for two weeks, then switched to multi-user mode.

The team measured the number of rehab clients taking part in the exercises and amount of time participants spent doing the exercises in multi-user versus single-user mode. The results show participants completed nearly all (99%) of exercises in multi-user mode, somewhat more than the 89 percent completed in single-user mode. Participants also spent 7.6 more minutes in multi-user than single-user mode.

Participants also recorded more movement of their hands and arms in multi-user mode, 415 meters, than the 327 meters in single-user mode. Using a standard scale of stroke recovery, Verge participants scored about at about the same level as people attending sessions at a full-fledged rehab facility for the same amount of time.

“While these results are promising,” adds Kamper, “we’d like to scale up to a larger, multi-site study that can help us more fully evaluate the technology before making any decisions about how to make it available for widespread clinical use.”

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New Antibiotic Discovered to Fight Drug-Resistant Bacteria

Root-knot nematode

Root-knot nematode (Agricultural Research Service, USDA)

22 Nov. 2019. Researchers in the U.S. and Germany discovered a new source of antibiotics to fight drug-resistant bacteria from common worms living in soil. A team from Northeastern University in Boston, Justus Liebig University in Giessen, Germany, and other institutions report their findings in the 20 November issue of the journal Nature (paid subscription required).

In its annual report on antibiotic resistance for 2019, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says more than 2.8 million of infections from drug-resistant bacteria occur each year in the U.S., leading to more than 35,000 deaths. A particular difficult type of microbe to battle are called gram-negative bacteria. “Gram” refers to a classification for bacteria where the microbes either retain (gram-positive) or shed (gram-negative) a test stain on their protective cell coatings.

The tough coating on gram-negative bacteria causing the microbes to shed the testing stain also helps protect the bacteria from antibiotics. Escherichia coli or E. coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae, often found in health care facilities are examples of gram-negative bacteria.

The microbiology lab led by Kim Lewis at Northeastern studies uncultured bacteria, microbes living naturally and making up the majority of organisms on the planet but not grown in the lab as new sources of antibiotics. The lab looks particularly for protective mechanisms developed by these microbes that can be harnessed for humans. That search led to nematodes, a common parasitic worm living in soil, often used as a model organism in the lab. Nematodes carry a bacterium called Photorhabdus that protects the worms against its natural enemies.

Photorhabdus lives in the nematode’s gut and secretes a peptide, a short chain of amino acids, with a symbiotic relationship that allows it live inside the worm but is still toxic to enemy caterpillars. The researchers call this peptide darobactin, and in their investigation reveal several desirable qualities for human antibiotics. First, it has a unique chemical ring structure making it difficult to build resistance. Second, darobactin binds to a protein on the target bacterial outer cell membrane that disrupts the membrane, making bacterium more susceptible to attack.

The researchers hypothesized darobactin would kill drug-resistant bacteria, but still be non-toxic to mammals. “Since Photorhabdus bacteria live in the nematode, and the nematode is an animal just like we are, whatever they make has to be non-toxic [for us],” says Lewis in a Northeastern statement. “These compounds also have to move through and survive in the tissues of the caterpillar, which is also an animal and is actually very similar to us.”

Tests with lab mice show darobactin cleared infections of antibiotic-resistant strains of E. coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae bacteria in lab mice, with no signs of toxicity to the animals. Further tests show that when a strain of E. coli bacteria developed a resistance to darobactin, that resistance also weakened its outer cell membrane, making E. coli more susceptible to ordinary antibiotics.

Darobactin is still in drug discovery, requiring more testing and refinement before its ready for human clinical trials. Lewis and colleagues at Northeastern founded the company NovoBiotic Pharmaceuticals, LLC in Cambridge, Massachusetts to discover new antibiotics from natural sources. The company received numerous small business set-aside grants over the years supporting its work.

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Foundations Direct $5M for Neurodegenerative Tests

Brain cell networks

(Gerd Altmann, Pixabay)

21 Nov. 2019. Two foundations are spending $5 million to develop new diagnostics for frontotemporal degeneration, an inherited neurodegenerative disorder and form of dementia. The $5 million award by the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration and Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation is made to the Bluefield Project, a consortium of several academic medical centers, supporting research on frontotemporal degeneration.

Frontotemporal degeneration or dementia, or FTD, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease affecting the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. FTD is marked by a gradual decline in behavior or language, similar to dementia, but usually not affecting memory. People with FTD often find it difficult to plan or organize activities, engage in social interactions, behave appropriately in professional situations, or care for oneself. According to the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration, the progression of symptoms in behavior or language can vary from 2 to 20 years.

In July 2018, the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration and Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation formed a joint venture called Diagnostics Accelerator to support development of diagnostics for FTD, as reported by Science & Enterprise. Diagnostics Accelerator aims to find biomarkers — specific chemical indicators in the body — to detect early development of FTD and Alzheimer’s disease, and develop simple, non-invasive tests that identify the presence of these biomarkers before damage to the brain becomes extensive.

About a quarter of FTD cases are caused by inherited mutations, say the organizations, making the need more vital to identify biomarkers of the disease. Current diagnostics, say the organizations, are based on a limited number of biomarkers, and require confirmation by MRI or PET neuroimaging, or cerebrospinal fluid samples.

The new grant to the Bluefield Project is expected to support researchers to evaluate the neurofilament light chain, or NfL, protein in blood as a biomarker for FTD, in individuals with mutations that put people at risk for the disease. NfL is found in the brain, but can appear in the blood when cells in the brain start to break down due to injury or disease. The funding organizations believe testing for the biomarker will lead to more efficient clinical trials and eventually treatments for FTD.

“Most families face a very long journey to an accurate diagnosis: nearly four years on average,” says Susan Dickinson, CEO of Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration in an organization statement released through PR Newswire. “Through the Diagnostics Accelerator, we are hopeful that our investment in FTD biomarkers will bring earlier, more accurate diagnosis as well as more effective clinical trials.”

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Trial Shows Safety, Activity of ALS Stem Cell Therapy

Neurons illustration

Neurons (Laura Struzyna, University of Pennsylvania,

21 Nov. 2019. A clinical trial shows a treatment for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, derived from bone marrow stem cells is safe and improves a patient’s condition. Results from the trial, conducted by the biotechnology company Brainstorm Cell Therapeutics in New York, appear in the 18 November issue of the journal Neurology.

ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder where neurons or nerve cells controlling muscles in the body begin to waste away, and can no longer send or receive signals from the brain or spinal cord. As the nerve cells stop functioning, the muscles in the limbs, and later speech and breathing muscles, begin weakening and eventually stop functioning. Most people with the disease die of respiratory failure.

BrainStorm’s NurOwn technology extracts stem cells from the patient’s bone marrow that are transformed into cells supporting development of nerve cells. These transformed stem cells, says the company, secrete proteins called neurotrophic factors that protect nerve cells, as well as encourage their growth and interactions with muscles. Because the original cells come from the patient, they have little risk of rejection by the immune system.

The clinical trial is a mid-stage study conducted at three sites in the U.S.: Massachusetts General Hospital, Mayo Clinic, and University of Massachusetts Medical School. Some 48 patients with ALS were randomly assigned to receive either a single NurOwn treatment or a placebo. The trial’s primary objective is to test for the treatments’ safety and tolerability.

However, the study team also recorded indicators of efficacy, namely a rating scale measuring decline of various muscle and communications functions, and analysis of cerebrospinal fluid for neurotrophic factors and inflammatory biomarkers. These measures were taken before the treatments and at several points over 24 weeks. Science & Enterprise reported on early results from the trial in July 2016.

The new findings report on the full sample. After a three-month preparation period, 36 of the 48 participants received the NurOwn stem cell treatments, while 12 participants received a placebo. Of the 48 participants, 43 completed the in-person follow-ups, while two participants followed-up by telephone. Nine of the 36 participants and two of the placebo recipients experienced serious adverse effects during the trial, which the study team attributed to the patients’ progression of ALS, not the treatments. The researchers conclude from these results that NurOwn treatments are safe for ALS patients.

The study team found more NurOwn recipients show an improvement of at least 1.5 points per month on the rating scale of muscle and communications functions than placebo participants. Among a sub-group of participants with rapidly progressing ALS, the difference in rating scale improvements are large enough for statistical reliability at four and 12 weeks following the treatments. Analysis of cerebrospinal fluid samples taken two weeks after treatment shows patients receiving NurOwn stem cells have more proteins supporting growth of neurons and fewer inflammatory biomarkers than placebo recipients, again with differences large enough for statistical reliability.

The study team concludes the results support the company proceeding with a phase 3 or late-stage trial of NurOwn stem cells. “Results from the study underscore the importance of conducting a larger phase 3 clinical trial that will build upon the data collected in our phase 2 study,” says Chaim Lebovits, president and CEO of BrainStorm Cell Therapeutics in a company statement. “Our phase 3 study has recently reached full recruitment.  All 200 ALS patients have been enrolled.”

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Low-Carbon Solutions Set to Change the World

– Contributed content –

Concentrated solar array

Concentrated solar array (Heliogen)

21 Nov. 2019. In the last few years, climate change has become a hot topic all across the globe and for good reason. Our failure to help mitigate the rise in greenhouse emissions could lead to a number of big ecological disasters here on planet Earth that are set to negatively impact us all.

While many people are backing a change of lifestyle or diet to help save the planet, more and more scientists and economists are seeking more immediate natural and technological solutions that could help to save us.

The current projection for greenhouse gas emissions overshoots the targets agreed upon in the Paris Agreement. The result of failing to meet the carbon emission targets set out in the agreement could be anything from extreme weather to life-threatening food shortages. The lack of action from world governments is worrying and could see us facing these catastrophic issues much sooner than we all think.

On the bright side, there have been some groundbreaking ideas and developments that could significantly help us move to a more stable and decarbonized world. New policies have been set out and new technologies have emerged that give us a significant amount of hope for the future of our planet. All is not lost and while the solution to climate change is complex and multi-faceted, there are some solutions that are far more impactful than others.

Here are the top three low-carbon solutions that might just save the world.

Natural carbon capture

One of the best ways to mitigate the issue of climate change could be a completely natural solution. Humans have spent the better half of a century tearing down and destroying natural areas of biodiversity for precious resources such as oil, gas, and coal. It’s thought that restoring our natural areas around the globe could be a fast track to decarbonization. By capturing carbon naturally, it’s thought that we could substantially mitigate the effects of global warming in a safe and effective way.

The ocean, for example, absorbs 90% of the heat we generate and captures nearly a quarter of all carbon dioxide released into our atmosphere each year. Therefore, restoring natural areas such as coral reefs and coastal habitats could play an integral role in our fight against climate change. Coral reefs all around the world are currently under threat and dying due to overfishing, mining, pollution, and poor management. Similarly, coastal habitats are also disappearing due to logging, dredging, draining of wetlands and coastal developments.

The benefits of a natural climate solution like carbon capture could have multiple benefits for our planet and species including biodiversity conservation, proper ocean management, and sustainable communities. Rectifying the issue with natural climate solutions could fast track us back to a stable and sustainable planet far quicker than any other idea we have.

Concentrated solar power heat

A new project in which concentrated solar technology converts sunlight to heat that exceeds 1000C is being funded by Microsoft founder Bill Gates. It is thought the new technology could revolutionize global industrial processes and eventually help replace fossil fuels.

The company leading the innovative venture is Heliogen, a clean energy company determined to remove the world’s reliance on fossil fuels. Heliogen are specifically focused on their concentrated solar power technology which they say can significantly decarbonize the manufacture cement, lime, steel, and coke. All are carbon-intensive industries and some of the biggest polluters on the planet.

Heliogen’s CEO and Founder, Bill Gross, believes that his company with the backing of Bill Gates, and other powerful investors, can take a huge technological leap forward in helping the fight against climate change by decarbonizing the industry and transport sectors. Bill Gates, who is actively investing claims “Today, industrial processes like those used to make cement, steel, and other materials are responsible for more than a fifth of all emissions,”

The groundbreaking technology uses sensors to align a large number of small mirrors that reflect sunlight onto one focused area, usually a transmission pipe. This creates a large source of intense heat that could potentially reach 1,500C. It could be said that this new technology works a bit like a death ray from a sci-fi movie.

Prior to Heliogen’s technology, other solar concentrated technology could only reach temperatures of 565C, which is way short of the heat needed to generate power.

In regards to existing industrial operations, Gross said “They already have a power source/burner that is variable, based on the flow rate of materials, and is servo-controlled to have the correct airflow exit temperature, so when we add heat (when the sun is out) the fossil fuel burner just automatically gets scaled back like a thermostat on a room heater (albeit at much higher temperature). So it’s a seamless control integration.”

Concentrated solar power is no new technology, it is well-known throughout the energy world but it has yet to be applied in the way Heliogen has. Their new application using AI, computer vision, hi-res cameras, sensing, and accurate positioning has allowed them to develop such groundbreaking technology capable of extreme heat.

One useful application is the ability to create cement without the use of fossil fuels such as oil and petroleum. Cement accounts for nearly a third of the world’s emissions behind oil and coal. Production of cement is predicted to continue to grow rapidly as developing countries continue to benefit from economic growth and further urbanize their country.

Another potential revolutionary application for Heliogen’s solar technology is the production of steel. Its 1000C+ capability allows manufacturers to melt steel without the need for fossil fuel-intensive technology. Nearly 1.7 billion metric tons of crude steel was produced in 2017 which comes at a hefty cost for the environment in the form of carbon emissions, around 7-9% of all emissions from fossil fuels comes from steel production.

This new solar technology could also one day heat our homes and power our cars using the extreme heat to separate hydrogen from water. Hydrogen has been discussed extensively as an alternative fuel but the required fossil fuels needed to produce it has kept it from any real progress. That could now change.

Pricing carbon

Many scientists and economists will tell you that climate change is the failure of our economy. Perpetual economic growth which promotes rapid construction and mass consumerism has led us to this nightmare predicament. It is therefore only logical that one of the main solutions to the problem is an economic solution.

Pricing carbon could be the answer we’re looking for. By charging companies a carbon tax, we force them to invest in and discover low-carbon solutions. Companies speak one language, the language of money. By putting a price tag on climate change you demand change. Over the last 10 years, there has been a significant increase in the amount of carbon pricing mechanisms. In 2019, the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition reports that over 46 national jurisdictions are putting carbon tax and emission trading systems in place. This covers approximately 20% of all current global GHG emissions.

Companies are now planning for carbon pricing as a result of such mechanisms being put in place. This means large organizations are already looking for innovative ways to decarbonize and are already factoring in the costs of a carbon tax. China has already launched a carbon trading scheme back in 2017, once fully established this will be the largest carbon market on the planet.

Pricing carbon effectively opens the door to cost-effective low-carbon solutions that all companies and industries can benefit from. Proper carbon pricing forces the hands of large organizations to set the pathway for low-carbon operations which will be critical in helping mitigate the impending ecological dangers of climate change.

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