CloudTop, Ketchup, Todd Park, & A New President: An MIT Recap

5/16/12Follow @xconomy

It’s been an eventful 24 hours for MIT.

The university held the finale of its $100K Entrepreneurship Competition last night, naming CloudTop the grand prize winner.

The company comes from the Web/IT track of the competition and is developing an application allowing users to access of all their online content and applications through a Web browser. It has also developed an application programming interface to help other Web developers easily integrate Dropbox, Gmail, and other services into their own applications.

And just this morning, MIT elected a new president, L. Rafael Reif, to succeed Susan Hockfield, who announced in February that she was stepping down. Reif has been a member of the MIT faculty since 1980. He has been chief academic officer since 2005, and is currently the Fariborz Maseeh Professor of Emerging Technology in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

But back to the entrepreneurship competition. Todd Park, who is now chief technology officer of the United States, having replaced Aneesh Chopra, kicked off the night with a energetic talk on how the government is taking its cues from MIT and its efforts in running business plan competitions and hackathons. Park joined the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as chief technology officer in 2009. He’s advanced the agency’s efforts in putting much of the health data the government has online and making it accessible for entrepreneurs to use as starting points for new software applications.

The government has held “health datapaloozas,” in which it brings in entrepreneurs who have built these technologies to give TED-style talks. The next one is coming up on June 5 and 6 in Washington, DC.

“We’re copying your play,” Park said.

He touted the fact that all of these startups have the potential for vastly improving the healthcare system and adding new jobs, and are working off of data the U.S. government has already collected.

All in all, Park was very jazzed up about the potential for entrepreneurs to transform areas like public safety, education, and finance, and said he was going to “double down” on the government’s efforts to support innovation in these areas.

“I’ve seen entrepreneurs who have invented the future. It just needs to scale,” said Park, who’s also an Xconomist.

And what got last night’s audience most excited about the future? Getting every last drop out of mayonnaise and ketchup bottles. LiquiGlide nabbed the $2,000 audience choice award for its slippery, non-toxic coating that can be applied to food packaging to allow for easy and complete dispensing of condiments. So there’s that.

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