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Thursday, February 2 2012 11:00 PM

KANSAS CITY, KAN. (Jan. 26, 2012)- The PIPELINE entrepreneurial fellowship program unveiled its first Regional Class of entrepreneurs ("Innovators") tonight at its capstone event "Innovator of the Year." The Regional Class of 12 includes entrepreneurs from Kansas City, Wichita, Lincoln, Omaha and St. Louis. The class includes the following high-potential entrepreneurs:

Mark Allen, Wichita (Enertech); Pierre Barbeau, Kansas City (Moblico); Nathan Benjamin, Kansas City (InvenQuery/Planet Reuse); John Carpenter, Omaha (BastLab LLC); Miranda Coggins, Kansas City (The Lano Co.); Justin Graves, Kansas City (Infegy); Blake Lawrence, Lincoln (Hurrdat Social Media); Matthew MacEwan, St. Louis (NanoMed LLC/Retectix LLC); Ben Pankonin, Lincoln (Social Assurance); Brandon Shuey, Wichita (; Xandra Sifuentes, Olathe (Metactive Medical LLC); and, Ben Vu, Omaha (SkyVu Entertainment)

PIPELINE also announced its 2011 "Innovator of the Year," Kyle Johnson, Audio Anywhere, Lawrence. He was selected after a competition that included a refined business plan, a pitch to an expert panel and a score carried over from performance during the fellowship year.

The evening event celebrated many milestones:

• The awarding of PIPELINE's Entrepreneurial Leadership Awards to it's Regional Founders: Peter and Kate Brown (Grassmere Foundation); the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, PIPELINE alumni and a Nebraska Coalition of Funders, including the University of Nebraska, Paul Hogan (Home Instead), Scott Technology Center, Rod Markin (Prairie Ventures), David Milligan (Advent) and the Jim and Karen Linder Foundation.

• Announcement of the PIPELINE Innovator Growth Award to Nate Gregory, MoJack, Wichita.

• Announcement of the PIPELINE Innovator Leadership Award to Toby Rush, Eyeverify, Lenexa.

• Recognition of the 2011 Class of Pipeline Innovators: Jeff Blackwood, Overland Park (ABPathfinder); Sue Brothers, Fairway (Omni Symmetry); Bill Donovan, Lawrence (Pulse Aerospace); Gary Hicks, Olathe (; Kyle Johnson, Lawrence (Audio Anywhere); Tim Lockyear, Overland Park (Cloud Sherpas); Michael O'Shaughnessy, Kansas City (Baxi Tax Credit Exchange); Gerald Rues, Wichita (Electronic Sensors); Suman Saripalli, Lawrence (IntelliSpeak); Brian Williamson, Wichita (JCB Labs)

The evening's honorary chairs were Peter and Kate Brown. Both are entrepreneurs: Peter is chairman and founder of Grassmere Partners and Kate recently founded Sweet Creations.

"We fully support the work of PIPELINE," Peter Brown said. "Our passion for entrepreneurs manifests itself in the work we do to foster the next generation of "corporate oaks" who will create new opportunities for all who live here. PIPELINE has proven for the past five years that it has a unique approach to doing just that - and we are excited for what the future will bring with its regional expansion."

The evening event boasted nearly 600 in attendance and drew attention and participation from entrepreneurs and business leaders around the country, including more than 30 Kauffman Global Scholars and Faculty.

"We are so grateful and inspired by all of the visionaries who have joined us to expand PIPELINE across the region," said Joni Cobb, PIPELINE president and CEO. "Tonight's announcements and celebration of milestones added even more momentum to our work, and we are excited to get to work with this first Regional Class."

About PIPELINE Now in its sixth year of operations, the PIPELINE Entrepreneurial Fellowship Program is emerging as a national and global leader in the field of entrepreneurial development strategies. PIPELINE is a melding of techniques and approaches perfected by venture capital investors, business coaching programs, leadership training programs and the latest thinking from America's leading entrepreneurial experts. It combines these ingredients in an entrepreneurial "immersion program" for high growth entrepreneurs which simultaneously works to build out a robust national network to support their sustained growth. PIPELINE is a 501(c)(3) organization. For more information, visit