Three suburban tech companies, along with another 12 Illinois companies, are likely on their way home this weekend, after their state-led delegation exhibited for the first time at a major trade show in Barcelona, Spain.
Optulink Inc. of Naperville, which improves capacity of mobile networks; Velocent Systems Inc. of Naperville, which monitors and improves data networks; and Sennco Solutions Inc. of Plainfield, which serves retailers, all had their first shot at the global marketplace during this week's Mobile World Congress, a major gathering of about 1,700 exhibitors and roughly 72,000 attendees. It was sponsored by various companies, some of them local, including Motorola Mobility.
Contact information ( * required )
Executives and key decision-makers from all types of global communication companies, including app developers, Google and Facebook were all in one central location, said Optulink COO Brian McConnell via email from Barcelona.
"The state of Illinois provided Optulink, a small startup company based out of Naperville, the opportunity to meet with many global mobile network operators and potential partners to introduce our new Self Optimization Network solution," he said. "Optulink was able to meet with key decision-makers of our target customers," he added.
This delegation of 15 small tech firms also was supported by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and other state agencies, said Daniel Goff, deputy director of the Illinois Office of Trade and Investment.
"This is a great time to show them off to the world," Goff said of the local companies.
The state helped them make their connections on a global stage by paying for their exhibit booths and half their travel expenses, or roughly $8,000 for each company in the delegation, Goff said.
The companies then paid the rest of the expenses to produce their exhibits, payments to staff, and the remainder of the travel costs, he said.
While the state has provided other events for local companies to exhibit their products, services and talents, this was the first major one on a global stage and at a major event, Goff said.
Besides making new business connections, these companies could show the world what they had to offer, and ultimately boost their bottom lines. They were selected after they submitted applications, Goff said.
"Illinois, over the last five years, has become a technology hub, even though they always had a lot of technology before, but there has been quite an uptick, especially with the new incubators like 1871 (at the Merchandise Mart) and others that have opened," Goff said.
Surfing: A team of students at Bartlett High School has been named one of eight winners in the second Verizon Innovative App Challenge. The team's app, Fittastick, tracks food intake and exercise to encourage fitness and weight loss through social networking. Bartlett High School is one of four middle schools and four high schools named Best in Nation, and selected from about 1,300 teams nationwide, Verizon said.
The Bartlett students will now work on developing their concept into a real app. They will learn to code and how to use MIT App Inventor, with hands-on support and training from Verizon employees and members of the MIT App Inventor Training Corps. Verizon will then help the teams share and distribute their finished apps via a platform such as the Google Play store, the company said.
•Bernina of America in Aurora, the manufacturer of sewing, embroidery and quilting machines, has launched My Bernina accessories mobile app for the Android-based Kindle Fire. The app enables Bernina owners to track their machine accessories and learn about new and existing devices. The app is free and available from Amazon.com for second-generation and newer Kindle Fires.
• Follow Anna Marie Kukec on LinkedIn and Facebook and as AMKukec on Twitter. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.