A Houston-area company has created an easy-to-use health-check app for employees returning to work. Pexels

A Woodlands-based health services company recently announced a new app that can serve as a self-service pre-screening tool for COVID-19 to be used by employees to return to their workplace.

Axiom Medical created the CheckIn2Work app to make the transition into the workplace after the coronavirus crisis safer and easier, making it simple for businesses and offices to reopen after stay-at-home orders shut down workplaces during the height of the pandemic.

"Given the current challenges we have all experienced with COVID-19, we recognize the workplace will be forever changed," says Axiom Medical President and CEO Mark Robinson. "Our CheckIn2Work app simply adds another layer to protecting the health of team members, customers, and vendors from the risk of infectious disease in the workplace."

The app includes features such as a 24/7 self-service illness screening with the latest screening criteria approved by Chief Medical Officer Scott Cherry. The app also includes immediate access to U.S.-based Clearance Center for exposure/illness alerts, real-time reporting, and ongoing best practices to reduce the spread of the virus in the work environment.

When an app user is flagged as exposed to the virus, Axiom Medical's Rapid Response Contagious Respiratory Illness Assessment Clearance Center professionals can conduct secondary screening procedures via a phone call to confirm cases and eliminate false positives.

The app has 50,000 users already from Axiom's new and existing clients who have signed on to the platform. Some of their partners include BJ Services, Tyson Foods, ISS Facility Services, and Fort Bend Kia, Robinson says it creates safe and healthy facilities for both employees and customers.

"It enables our clients to be appropriately responsive to trying to screen out the infection in their workplace," says Robinson, "It also gives employees confidence that returning to work and exposing themselves to their coworkers is safe while providing customers who have contact with the employees with the confidence who they will be interacting with has been screened and cleared."

For the health services company, keeping employees safe has been the heart of their mission since it was founded more than two decades ago. Axiom Medical markets itself as an employer's outsourced "in house" medical department, managing a complete array of occupational health services such as scheduling exams, verifying results for accuracy, and maintaining records.

"Our focus is on the health of the worker in the workplace," says Robinson. "Both our traditional services and our new service all focus on keeping people as healthy as possible, returning them to work as quickly as possible after an injury or illness keeps them out of the workplace, and making sure they are tested for a variety of risks."

CheckIn2Work is now available on iOS and Android mobile devices including a web portal where employees can check in before work every day to check for symptoms of COVID-19. The app is adaptable with language settings in English and Spanish and allows for customizable questions to fit an organization's needs.

"I hope we can continue to take this seriously and take good precautions," says Robinson. "This is a really horrible disease, it isn't just about the people who die as a result, it's also about those who are permanently disabled because of it. Those weeks in a hospital are mirrored by more weeks in recovery before they can even think about working again."

The Cannon is expecting to open by the end of next month. Courtesy of The Cannon

Photos: The Cannon enters home stretch ahead of opening next month

Cannon Countdown

If all goes according to plan, The Cannon's new space will be up and running by the end of June. The bulk of the construction, which started a little over a year ago, is done, and the team is on the home stretch.

The original plan was to open in March, but construction faced a series of setbacks due to weather.

"Houston's rainy winter pushed back our initial timeline a bit, but we are currently on track for opening late next month and are excited to get our amazing community moved into our brand new home," says Lawson Gow, founder and CEO of The Cannon. "We can't wait to show off our space to Houston's entrepreneurial community through events, programming, new partnerships and more, continuing in our mission to support Houston's startups and small businesses."

Two Houston-based companies are responsible for the 120,000-square-foot, 32-acre coworking and entrepreneurship campus in West Houston — Burton Construction is the general contractor and Abel Design Group is the architect.

The new space is already 80 percent pre-leased. Currently, The Cannon has a 20,000-square-foot space next door to the construction site. While companies working out of this so-called "waiting room" building will be moving over, Gow, who is the son of InnovationMap's CEO, is excited to announce a few new startups excited to call The Cannon home next month.

The goal of The Cannon's project is to fulfill a need Gow says he recognized in Houston.

"The problem that we're addressing — every startup is addressing a problem — is Houston has really struggled to develop vibrant startup communities," Gow tells InnovationMap in a previous interview. "Entrepreneurs and talent will leave to go to Austin and beyond, and so the mission was to create a place and an infrastructure and a density of resources to prevent them from having to do that and keep our entrepreneurs here."

The new space will allow Gow and his team to host pitch events and even live fundraising events, due to a partnership with LetsLaunch.

Progress

Courtesy of The Cannon

The Cannon's construction delays were mostly due to a rainy season in Houston.

Take a video tour of The Cannon here:

The Cannon Flythrough www.youtube.com

Houston-based WorkLodge announced its annual contest to give away a year of free work. Getty Images

Houston coworking space to give away a free year of workspace to a worthy startup

Need space?

WorkLodge, a Houston-based coworking space franchise, is again offering up a chance for a free year of space for a lucky startup in town.

IGNITE by WorkLodge, an annual program, launched on March 14 and closes on April 7. Applicants can enter for free at ignitebyworklodge.com. The form asks for business ownership details, marketing, basic financial information, and entrepreneurial vision questions, per the website.

If selected as a finalist, the startup founder will pitch their business at a judging panel on April 11 at 6:30 p.m. at WorkLodge's Woodland location located at 25700 I-45 Suite 400. It's at this event where a winner will be selected.

"During our previous IGNITE By WorkLodge for nonprofits office giveaway, we saw an astonishing turnout of individuals with incredible business concepts and no central office to help their dreams become reality," says WorkLodge CEO Mike Thakur in a release. "Through IGNITE By WorkLodge, our goal is to serve as the invisible supporters, knowledgeable mentors, and loudest cheerleaders for our community's startups. We're happy to give one lucky business the freedom to focus on their meaningful work in an environment designed for growth."

IGNITE by WorkLodge also has a contest for nonprofits, which begins accepting applications on October 1. Last year's nonprofit winner was Mythiquer Pickett, founder of The Woodlands-based nonprofit, We See Abilities.

"Winning IGNITE By WorkLodge has greatly impacted We See Abilities — finally a place we can call home," Pickett says on the program's website. "Businesses, family, and friends can see we have an established imprint in the community with this brand-new office by WorkLodge."

WorkLodge was founded in 2015 in Houston. The company has two locations in Houston — one in The Woodlands and one in Vintage Park. Dallas has two locations, Fort Worth has one, and St. Petersburg, Florida, is sixth location and only office outside of Texas.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

H-E-B leader gifts $5 million to historic Houston-area university for future students

HEB and PVAMU

The leader of the Lone Star State’s beloved H-E-B has bestowed a monumental gift upon a historic Houston-area university.

On November 17, Prairie View A&M University announced that H-E-B chairman Charles Butt — one of America’s favorite CEOs and member of one of Texas’ richest families — has donated $5 million to create Founders Scholarships for incoming PVAMU students.

“The $5 million gift will provide a permanent endowment to support students today and in the coming years,” a release notes. “Initially generating approximately $200,000 a year for scholarships, the fund will grow significantly in coming years, making even more available to support students.”

The scholarships will be available to students from public high schools in Texas graduating in the top quartile of their class, the release says. They must be incoming first-year students, enrolled in a full-time course load, and as scholarship recipients, they will benefit from “enrichment opportunities unique to their [Founders Scholarships] cohort.”

Scholarship disbursements will begin in fall 2022, a spokesperson confirms; the number of initial scholarships available has not been revealed.

“Charles Butt has been amazingly generous to our university. He has shown time and time again that he genuinely cares about the opportunities afforded to students at PV. We are indebted to him for his grace and his humanity,” says Ruth Simmons, president of PVAMU, in the release.

Prairie View A&M University is the second-oldest public institution of higher learning in the state and is one of Texas’ historically Black universities. It is located approximately 50 miles northwest of Houston and has a current enrollment of more than 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

Houston logistics software startup secures $8.4M series A from international investors

money moves

A Houston-based software company that's reducing cost and risk in the marine supply chain has closed its latest round of funding.

Voyager Portal, a software-as-a-service platform closed an $8.4 million series A investment round this week. The round was led by Phaze Ventures, a VC fund based in the Middle East, and included new investors — ScOp Venture Capital, Waybury Capital and Flexport. Additionally, all of Voyager's existing investors contributed to this round.

Voyager has reported significant growth over the past two years since its $1.5 million seed round. Between Q3 2020 to Q3 2021, the company's revenue has increased 13 times and was up 40 percent from Q2 2021. Voyager now manages over $1 billion in freight on the platform, according to a news release.

“Voyager Portal was created to significantly reduce cost, risk, and complexity when transporting bulk materials around the world,” says Matthew Costello, CEO and co-founder of Voyager, in the release. “The last two years have demonstrated just how critical shipping bulk commodities is to global markets – freight rates have increased and port congestion is at an all-time high – accelerating the demand for Voyager’s solution.”

Costello says the fresh funds will be used to support Voyager's continued growth.

“With our Series A funding, we’ll be able to expedite our product roadmap to support an international client base whilst expanding our engineering, development, marketing and sales teams internationally," he adds.

Matthew Costello Voyager Matthew Costello is the CEO and co-founder of Voyager.

Built from the ground up, Voyager's software was created to replace the antiquated and complex legacy systems the market has seen for decades. The platform allows companies to seamlessly collaborate in real time over a single shipment.

“Voyager's implementation has been hugely impressive,” says Adam Panni, operations manager at OMV, a multinational energy company based in Austria, in the release. “The low-code functionality allows almost real-time modifications to the developing workflows and reporting capabilities with no lengthy development and minimal testing prior to implementation. By digitizing data capture across all our physical movements, we are able to analyze our business much better, enabling faster and smarter decisions driven by data. This, in turn, will provide significant, quantifiable cost reductions for our business.”

Abdullah Al-Shaksy, co-founder and CEO of Phaze Ventures says the platform is evolving the industry as a whole at an important moment.

“Voyager is changing the way companies are thinking of their global shipping operations,” he says. “Global supply chains are becoming increasingly complex and strained, and there is an incredible treasure trove of data that organizations are underutilizing in their decision-making process. We believe what Voyager has created for their customers across the globe will revolutionize this space forever.”

Rice research: Revisiting the merits of nondigital data collecting

houston voices

Academics are learning quickly that investigations based on data from online research agencies have their drawbacks. Thousands of such studies are released every year – and if the data is compromised, so too are the studies themselves.

So it’s natural for researchers, and the managers who rely on their findings, to be concerned about potential problems with the samples they’re studying. Among them: participants who aren’t in the lab and researchers who can’t see who is taking their survey, what they are doing while answering questions or even if they are who they claim to be online. In the wake of a 2018 media piece about Amazon’s Mechanical Turks Service, “Bots on Amazon’s MTurk Are Ruining Psychology Studies,” one psychology professor even mused, “I wonder if this is the end of MTurk research?” (It wasn’t).

To tackle this problem, Rice Business professor Mikki Hebl joined colleagues Carlos Moreno and Christy Nittrouer of Rice University along with several other colleagues to highlight the value of other research methods. Four alternatives – field experiments, archival data, observations and big data – represent smart alternatives to overreliance on online surveys. These methods also have the advantage of challenging academics to venture outside of their laboratories and examine real people and real data in the real world.

Field experiments have been around for decades. But their value is hard to overestimate. Unlike online studies, field experiments enhance the role of context, especially in settings that are largely uncontrolled. It’s hard to fake a field experiment in order to create positive results since each one costs a considerable time and money.

And field experiments can yield real-life results with remarkable implications for society at large. Consider one experiment among 56 middle schools in New Jersey, which found that spreading anti-conflict norms was hugely successful in reducing the need for disciplinary action. Such studies have an impact well beyond what could be achieved with a simple online survey.

The best way to get started with a good field experiment, Hebl and her colleagues wrote, is for researchers to think about natural field settings to which they have access, either personally or by leveraging their networks. Then, researchers should think about starting with the variables critical for any given setting and which they would most like to manipulate to observe the outcome. When choosing variables, it’s helpful to start by thinking about what variable might have conditions leading to the greatest degree of behavior change if introduced into the setting.

Archival data is another excellent way to work around the limitations of online surveys, the researchers argue. These data get around some of the critical drawbacks of field research, including problems around how findings apply in a more general way. Archival data, especially in the form of state or national level data sets, provide information and insight into a large, diverse set of samples that are more representative of the general population than online studies.

Archival data can also help answer questions that are either longitudinal or multilevel in nature, which can be particularly tricky or even impossible to capture with data collected by any single research team. As people spend increasing amounts of time on social media, the internet also serves as a source of newer forms of archival data that can lend unique insights into individuals’ thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors over time.

With every passing year, technology becomes increasingly robust and adept at collecting massive amounts of data on an endless variety of human behavior. For the scientists who research social and personality psychology, the term “big data” refers not only to very large sets of data but also to the tools and techniques that are used to analyze it. The three defining properties of Big Data in this context include the speed of data processing and collection, the vast amount of data being analyzed and the sheer variety of data available.

By using big data, social scientists can generate research based on various conditions, as well as collect data in natural settings. Big data also offers the opportunity to consolidate information from huge and highly diverse stores of data. This technology has many applications, including psychological assessments and improving security in airports and other transportation hubs. In future research, Hebl and her team noted, researchers will likely leverage big data and its applications to detect our unconscious emotions.

Big data, archival information and field studies can all be used in conjunction with each other to maximize the fidelity of research. But researchers shouldn’t forget even more old-fashioned techniques, including the oldest: keen observation. With observation, there are often very few, if any, manipulations and the goal is simply to systematically record the way people behave.

Researchers – and the managers who make decisions based on their findings – should consider the advantages of old-style, often underused methodologies, Hebl and her colleagues argue. Moving beyond the college laboratory and digital data survey-collection platforms and into the real world offers some unparalleled advantages to science. For the managers whose stock prices may hinge on this science, it’s worth knowing – and understanding – how your all-important data was gathered.

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This article originally ran on Rice Business Wisdom and is based on research from Mikki Hebl, the Martha and Henry Malcolm Lovett Professor of psychology at Rice University, and Carlos Moreno and Christy Nittrouer, who are graduate students at Rice University. Additional researchers include Ho Kwan Cheung, Eden B. King, and Hannah Markellis of George Mason University.