Knight Blog

The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

BioInnovation Institute opens new center in Akron

Oct. 2, 2012, 10:32 p.m., Posted by Jennifer Thomas

More than 150 leaders in Akron, Ohio celebrated the grand opening of the  Austen BioInnovation Institute’s new $13.3 million headquarters and Center for Simulation and Integrated Healthcare and Education. The institute is a partnership of Akron Children’sSumma, and Akron General hospitals and the University of Akron and Northeast Ohio Medical Universitywith support from Knight FoundationDr. W. Gerald Austen, Knight’s former board chairman of 14 years and an Akron native for whom the institute was named, attended.

The center will allow doctors to simulate complex operations and procedures and for innovators to create medical device prototypes. It is the largest simulation center in the country. “At the end of the day, we want to be contributing to jobs, spinning out companies and reducing the burden of disease,” said Dr. Frank L. Douglas, the BioInnovation Institute’s president and chief executive.

To date, the institute has contributed to the creation of more than 300 jobs and the creation of six companies, including four launched through the Women’s Entrepreneurship Program, and led community health initiative that brings more than 60 diverse Akron & Summit County organizations together to focus on combating chronic diseases while empowering patients and reducing costs.


@jsb: four things we're focusing on in 2013

Oct. 2, 2012, 1:33 p.m., Posted by John Bracken

By John Bracken, director journalism/media innovation at Knight Foundation

Today, I’m speaking at the SOCAP conference on a panel, New Alliances in Social Innovation, with Knight partners Jesse Shapins of Zeega and Corey Ford of Public Radio Exchange. The panel was put together and will be moderated by Jeff Leifer.

I’m talking about four things that Knight Foundation's journalism and media innovation program is  looking to focus on in 2013:

  • Many social entrepreneurs do not work within the standard nonprofit 501c3 organization. To support them, we’ve developed funding tools for whatever structure they choose, for example our Enterprise Fund, Prototype Fund and Program-Related Investment. With these tools we can work with the best partners regardless of how they choose to organize. The Slideshare above, by Knight's Director/Business Consulting, Ben Wirz, helps you decide what makes sense for your project in just four easy steps.
  • We’ve found that transformative leadership is the key ingredient to successful projects and, but its nature, the hardest to manufacture. We're exploring ways we can try to foster more transformative leaders and higlight their work.
  • Our emphasis has been on funding projects that are first over the wall. We’re also exploring ways we might better support the most successful of these early stage projects. 

Using tech to transform democracy

Oct. 2, 2012, 9:52 a.m., Posted by Marika Lynch

Today, we’re excited to share a new report and a new set of investments - both centered on how technology can help communities shape their own futures.

First, as part of Knight’s Tech for Engagement Initiative, we’re announcing $1.3 million in support for four projects that are helping to empower people and communities. They are:

  • The nonprofit seeks to build a stronger community by connecting corporate donors with nonprofits. With Knight funding, nonprofits users will be able to create “wish lists,” seek financial support from their social networks, and share impact stories with corporate and individual donors, alike.

Also, a new Knight report released today, Digital Citizenshiptakes a snapshot of this emerging tech for engagement field, explores some early successes and road blocks and offers recommendations for the future. It also outlines the steps Knight Foundation is taking to help deliver on the promise that technology can transform our democracy.