published Thursday, April 18th, 2013

MapArt, other firms seek tech dollars

Reed Tomlinson, from MapArt Systems, demonstrates the company's software for cataloging damaged art during the Enterprise Center Technology Forum on Wednesday.
Reed Tomlinson, from MapArt Systems, demonstrates the company's software for cataloging damaged art during the Enterprise Center Technology Forum on Wednesday.
Photo by Jay Bailey.

MapArt Systems chief executive Taylor McDonald told potential investors here Wednesday that his company offers a chance to change the way the world's art treasures are maintained.

The art insurance market alone is $5.4 billion, he told venture capitalists at a forum in Chattanooga, as he seeks $350,000 to help get the business off the ground.

MapArt was one of 10 companies seeking capital to grow their fledgling ventures at Chattanooga Enterprise Center's technology conference.

Matthew Carroll, Chattanooga-based MapArt's chief creative officer, said the company uses a new approach to an old problem. Digital photography and scanners produce images to help care for art and artifacts.

The old, existing system involves-written descriptions of art and whatever damage a piece may have, he said. MapArt's system can be superimposed over an art work.

"It collapses this big stack of papers," Carroll said, adding that its product is being beta-tested at the Smithsonian Museum. "It increases efficiency and saves time and money. It seems ahead of the game."

Carroll and others involved in MapArt attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Their idea of offering museums, insurance companies and art collectors a better way to store and describe art reflects the type of customer focus that is key to successful ventures, according to Imran Akbar of Motorola Solutions.

Akbar, vice president and general manager of enterprise networks and communications at Motorola and the keynote speaker at Wednesday's conference, urged businesses to listen to their customers.

"They will show you the way," Akbar said. "A super-majority of the ideas we work on come from the customers."

Motorola's hardware and software make up Chattanooga's wireless mesh network that has been developed for public safety and other city agencies. The network, building off of EPB's hyper-fast Internet capabilities, houses a communications pipeline for mobile applications. An early initiative was deployment of wireless access to police vehicles to create a virtual office that's never offline. Officers have immediate, real-time access to web security cameras strategically placed in the city.

Akbar said next steps in the use of the network would be for education and health care.

The tech transfer meeting was the sixth by the Chattanooga economic development group.

"We're seeing some great progress," said Wayne Cropp, the Enterprise Center's CEO.

Other local companies pitching for capital were Headlight Renew Doctor, which offers a three-step auto headlight restoration system; Hooch, which has a mobile and web-based application allowing users to search for a specific brand of alcohol with real-time prices and locations; Signal Pump, which offers portable lighting and pumps for the construction and industrial markets; and WeCounsel, which has a cloud-based platform enabling mental health providers to communicate and interact with clients and colleagues online.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318.

about Mike Pare...

Mike Pare, the deputy Business editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has worked at the paper for 27 years. In addition to editing, Mike also writes Business stories and covers Volkswagen, economic development and manufacturing in Chattanooga and the surrounding area. In the past he also has covered higher education. Mike, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida Atlantic University. he worked at the Rome News-Tribune before ...

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