2013 Excellence in Innovation Finalists

2013 Excellence in Innovation Award Winner: Addgene

AddgeneAddgene operates a repository for a research reagent called a plasmid and serves as a scientific supply house. Plasmids are important for understanding basic biology. Typically, when scientists make discoveries about a gene, other scientists ask them to send a plasmid containing the gene. However, plasmid sharing is time-consuming and the time spent fulfilling and documenting many requests takes time away from research. Addgene’s information and materials repository provides a new and much improved way for scientists to share their reagents. Addgene makes it easy to request and receive plasmids by taking care of customs and shipping. They also add quality control for all materials in the library. Addgene’s electronic Material Transfer Agreement system lowers the hurdle of legal paperwork required. Paperwork can slow the pace of research, which sometimes means losing the research opportunity. The system created by Addgene has allowed dramatic improvement. Currently over 22,000 plasmids are stored in the repository from over 1400 contributing laboratories at 280 institutions worldwide. Addgene provides scientists that have financial need with further discounted or free materials as another way to accelerate research.

Father Bill’s & Mainspring

Father Bill'sFather Bill’s & Mainspring (FBMS) leads innovations to end homelessness, with programs that shelter and reconnect people to housing, jobs, and services. As the only provider of shelter for individuals in their region, thousands came each year for help, but providing a bed and a meal did little to end homelessness. In 2009, FBMS created their Triage model. They converted their shelters to Triage centers, where, like in a hospital emergency department, guests entering shelter are assessed in days, with the goal of ending their homelessness with housing or care. The focus is on identifying the specific needs of each guest, matching them to services, and rapidly moving them on. Triage moves people out of costly shelter and into housing, reducing the burden to government and taxpayers, and provides a direct path from shelter to housing. With positive Triage outcomes, government will be motivated to shift funding priorities to support more sustainable solutions of Triage and housing. With the Triage model, 100% are assessed in days, more people move to housing or care, guests with disabling conditions have better access to services, and the chronically homeless can move on.

Found in Translation

FoundInTranslationFound in Translation offers a 12 week Medical Interpreter Certificate course at no cost to bilingual women who are low-income or homeless and includes on-site childcare, transportation assistance, mentoring, career coaching, and job placement. This program is meant to help these women achieve economic security through the use of their language skills and to reduce ethnic, racial, and linguistic disparities in health care. Poverty and homelessness affect women and minorities disproportionately, and language is a major barrier to health care. Found in Translation’s approach represents a paradigm shift in thinking about poverty, diversity, and the US workforce. Some of the most highly-demanded skills exist in a population that is often overlooked because of prejudice and systemic barriers. Found in Translation is the only organization providing medical interpreter training to the population. Over five years, Found in Translation will raise 230 women and their children out of poverty. The median wage of an interpreter represents a 585% wage increase compared to the average earnings of participants.

Cape Abilities

CapeAbilitiesCape Abilities serves individuals with disabilities on Cape Cod by educating, counseling, and providing residential, therapeutic, social, and employment supports to empower them to achieve meaningful and valued roles in society. Its services have expanded to include jobs, housing, transportation, and day habilitation. Within Cape Abilities employment program, it provides job training and coaching to individuals with disabilities as well as job placement. With new business development and partnerships, jobs for participants are created, providing both income and meaningful work. Businesses include a vending machine business, Welcome to Cape Cod Beach Buckets and Bags, the Cape Abilities Farm(s), and the Farm to Table shop in Chatham. The business activities provide more sustainability for the people it serves by providing paid employment. Cape Abilities started a Welcome to Cape Cod employment project in 2002, providing employment for participants to fill buckets and bags with product samples from sponsoring businesses.