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CBJ Report: Ekberg assumes leadership at CRST International

Ekberg assumes leadership at CRST International

CRST International’s Hugh Ekberg officially become president and CEO of the transportation and logistics giant on Oct. 1, succeeding leader Dave Rusch under a two-year leadership transition plan.

Under the plan, Mr. Rusch will remain in a full-time advisory capacity to John Smith, chairman of Admiralty Holdings and owner of the CRST International family of companies, until Dec. 31 and remain on the CRST board of directors.

Mr. Ekberg joined CRST in September 2016 as COO and group president with more than 25 years of strategic leadership experience. He last served as president at Kitchen & Bath Americas for Kohler Company. Prior to Kohler, he was division president and a board member at Weitz Company, a full-service general construction and design-build firm.

"Considering Hugh's extensive expertise in corporate strategy and strategic growth, leadership and multi-site management, we are thrilled to have an executive of his stature named as CEO," Mr. Smith said. “Hugh’s strengths will complement and enhance CRST's strong team of operational executives. We look forward to Hugh leading CRST through the next chapter of our company’s growth and success story.”

Idle Turner Alley site sold to firm with Lion Bridge ties

The former Turner Alley Brewing property at 2715 12th St. SW in Cedar Rapids has a new owner.

El Jonny LLC, organized this summer by Lion Bridge Brewing founder Quinton McClain, acquired the 14,000-square-foot food-grade industrial building on Sept. 6, according to city assessor records.

Turner Alley was one of the early entrants into Cedar Rapids' burgeoning craft brewing scene, but closed in 2016 after about two years when founder Bill Patterson moved to California. At the time, Mr. Patterson said the business had made good progress, but needed a new owner who could invest in a canning or bottling line to move forward.

Mr. McClain did not respond to a request for comment on El Jonny or its plans for the building. Lion Bridge Brewing, an award-winning craft brewer based at 59 16th Ave. SW, is a two-time winner of the Best Brewery category in the CBJ's Best of the Corridor Awards.

The 12th Street property was operated by Mr. Patterson as a 15-barrel brewing operation, but about half of the building is leased to industrial distributor DXP Inc. The property was sold by Pacific Realty Company for $685,000.

IDx secures $33 million in new venture capital funding

IDx, the Coralville company that developed the first and only FDA-cleared autonomous artificial intelligence (AI) diagnostic system, announced today it has secured $33 million in venture capital funding from four strategic investors.

The company said the funding will be used to accelerate market adoption of its IDx-DR diagnostic system - approved by the FDA in April to detect diabetic retinopathy - and to further develop additional diagnostic systems for its AI platform.

"We received numerous requests from the investment community to participate in this financing

round," said IDx Vice Chairman Stefan Abrams in a release. "We carefully selected our co-investors because of the strategic value they provide to the company. We expect this investment to accelerate the adoption of IDx-DR, a unique and much-needed solution for the 30 million people with diabetes in the U.S. alone who need to be tested for diabetic retinopathy each year."

Since its founding in 2010, IDx has been funded by a group of private angel investors. The new financing round was led by San Francisco-based venture capital firm 8VC with participation from Optum Ventures, Alpha Edison and Heritage Provider Network - investors with links to potential customers, hospital supply chains and other resources that can speed IDx-DR to market, President Dr. Michael Abràmoff told the CBJ.

"Looking at that led us to these investors," Dr. Abràmoff said, adding that by proving it could get its product through FDA approval, IDx had its pick of more than 50 eager funders. "It was sort of a contest."

IDx-DR automates the detection of diabetic retinopathy, which causes blindness in about 24,000 Americans a year, enabling health care providers who are not normally involved in eye care to interpret results with minimal training. Although it is the company's first FDA-approved product, the company believes it will not be the last. IDx is working on additional AI-based diagnostic systems for the detection of macular degeneration, glaucoma, Alzheimer's disease, cardiovascular disease and stroke risk.

"Some of the biggest companies in the world are trying to implement AI in health care, but IDx is leading the way in real-world execution," Drew Oetting, founding partner at 8VC, said in the release. "The company leveraged Iowa's ophthalmology expertise to develop a clinically-inspired AI - not a black box. This innovative, biomarker-based approach has separated IDx from the hype, allowing them to become the first to introduce autonomous AI-based technologies to health care."

In June, University of Iowa Health Care implemented IDx-DR into its clinical practice, marking the first time patients have received a medical diagnosis from an autonomous AI system in the United States. The company plans to go live with IDx-DR at several additional health care systems this year, Dr. Abràmoff said.

Look for more on this story and more in Monday's print and digital editions of the CBJ.

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