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HEALTHCARE INNOVATION

Leading Change

Ascend is a collaborative innovation center with a purpose to improve life by forging commercially viable human health solutions.

About

Ascend Innovations™ is a new venture between the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association (GDAHA) and Kaleidoscope with a focus on combining purpose driven design and state of the art technology to develop an ecosystem that produces commercially viable solutions in human health innovation.

Specifically, Ascend is a cross-functional product design and development team made up of clinicians, researchers, industrial designers, engineers and business analysts focused on constantly redefining what is humanly possible.

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Our Story

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Ricky Peters

Chief Executive Officer

As CEO, Ricky applies his vast leadership experience to the management of Ascend Innovations. Ricky recently served as executive director of the Air Force Research Laboratory, where he was tasked with managing a multi-billion dollar program and roughly 6,000 people. He has held additional leadership positions, such as director of test and evaluation for the U.S. Air Force and deputy director of air, space and information operations at Air Force Materiel Command Headquarters at Wright Patterson AFB. His educational background includes a bachelor’s degree in systems engineering from Wright State University and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Dayton, as well as being chosen as a National Security Management Fellow at Syracuse University. In his personal time, Ricky enjoys water sports with his family, rehabbing homes, grilling and gardening.

Aaron Swick

Innovation Director

As innovation director at Ascend, Aaron is leading the process for how the team identifies and analyzes opportunities for commercialization. After obtaining his master’s degree in biomedical engineering, he completed a fellowship in medical innovation at the University of Michigan. This experience provided him with the skills needed to systematically approach the front end of product development.  His experience in both research and design allows him to contribute across all phases of insights, design and engineering.

Mike Clem

Senior Advisor

As Ascend Senior Advisor, Mike thrives at the juncture of medical technology and clinical understanding. From his training as a veterinary surgeon through more than 20 years with Johnson & Johnson, Ethicon Endo-Surgery, Ethicon and Cordis, he has developed innovative solutions to complex customer problems. His deep corporate and clinical experiences allow him to guide clients through medical device design, strategic planning, innovation processes, concept development and more. He is named an inventor on over 30 issued or pending U.S. patents and as the author or co-author on over 90 published papers, abstracts or book chapters. Away from work, he likes to spend time with family and play golf.

Matt Kornau

Partner

As Ascend Partner, Matt’s commitment to exceptional results for clients will provide a touchstone and strong foundation for the team. Matt will lend his expertise to Ascend while continuing in his role as CEO at Kaleidoscope, where he has motivated the team since 1995.

Bill Taylor

Partner

As President of Kaleidoscope and Ascend Partner, Bill brings his expertise in relationship and business building to the venture. His dedication to the client is core to who he is. His mantra, “make it work the way they want it,” epitomizes his approach to business. Bill’s tenure in client management is unparalleled, having run global sales teams for corporate America and dot coms. Bill’s positive, upbeat demeanor keeps Kaleidoscope focused on serving our clients.

Bryan Bucklew

Partner

Bryan brings with him to Ascend the executive experience he has gained as President & CEO of Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association (GDAHA), where he regularly works with the leadership of 28 area hospitals. He strives to keep Dayton at the forefront of healthcare innovation and research, health data analytics, disaster preparedness, and gauging regulatory impacts. Bryan continues in his leadership role at GDAHA and lends support to Ascend as a partner.

Kory Gunnerson

Engineering Director

Kory Gunnerson earned his master’s degree in mechanical engineering at Purdue University and his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Central Florida. Kory applies his expertise in mechanism design, robotics and electro-mechanical systems to his dual roles for Ascend Innovations and Kaleidoscope. In his work as a design engineer and director, he has designed medical devices, consumer products, consumer appliances and military personal safety equipment.

Kristen Barrera

Senior Research Psychologist, AFRL Exchange Scientist

Kristen has always been drawn to creating better training environments for military and medical personnel. Her 15 years of military training research include her work as a behavioral scientist and as the lead human factors analyst for the United States Air Force. Kristen believes in the power of team and that with them, nothing is impossible; walls do not stop a team, teams find a way to break through.

Candace Dalmagne-Rouge

Business Director

Candace is a creative strategist who thrives on translating concepts into tangible, meaningful products and applications. She has a proven track record working for the Air Force Research Laboratory, Wright Brothers Institute and boutique consulting firms focused in defense, R&D, healthcare and manufacturing. Candace is driven to help clients solve complex challenges in strategic decision making, innovation and technology commercialization. Candace holds a master’s degree in Business Administration and a bachelor’s degree in International Business, both from the University of Dayton. In her personal time she enjoys traveling, painting, hiking and learning French.

Christian Phillips

Operations Manager

Originally from New Lebanon, Ohio, Christian’s experience with leadership and operations began during his time in the Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (AFROTC) at Ohio University. There he found a passion for building and organizing teams to accomplish missions. Christian graduated from Wright State University with a bachelor’s degree in business management. Outside of work he enjoys hunting, working out and spending time with his family and friends.

Robert Slater

Senior Design Engineer

Rob is a graduate of The Clemson University, receiving his degree in electrical engineering in 2002.  As Sr. Design Engineer at Ascend, he brings 13 years of engineering and program management experience spanning government and industry domains.  Rob’s expertise culminates through several engineering channels ranging from smart-grid metering for Itron in SC, to drone communications for SelectTech and antenna design for the USAF Research Labs in OH.  Rob leverages this technical experience with his master’s in Innovation and Entrepreneurship from Wright State to support lean startup initiatives at Ascend.

Maria Lupp

Design Engineer

Maria graduated from the University of Dayton with a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. She joins the team with previous medical device experience at both Ethicon Endo-Surgery and Midmark Corporation. Maria is driven by the ability to directly impact people’s lives by creating and innovating within a core team. She has also previously applied her engineering skills to developing a solar refrigeration system in India. In her free time, Maria enjoys playing tennis and traveling.

Kim Byrwa-Neff

RN, VP Clinical Operations

Kim cares about leveraging research to create innovative ways of solving difficult health care problems. She has worked both in Dayton and Cincinnati as a critical care nurse prior to working for managed care organizations WellPoint/Anthem and CareSource. At Ethicon Endo Surgery, she developed strategies to provide clinical evidence for marketing claims to support new and commercial surgical devices. Most recently she was the director for clinical integration at an oncology group. Kim has a degree in organizational leadership, a certification in health care quality, earned a black belt in process excellence and owns a way-too-energetic Boxer named Rocky.

Stephanie Eichman

Design Engineer

Stephanie graduated from Purdue University with a bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering. She has worked in several research labs, as well as for Cook Research Incorporated as a co-op performing bench testing on many different kinds of medical devices. Stephanie is passionate about improving patients’ lives through innovation and the development of medical devices. She believes that keeping the patient’s needs central to the design is key to creating a successful solution. In her free time she enjoys hiking, camping and traveling.

Our Team

Ricky Peters

Aaron Swick

Mike Clem

Matt Kornau

Bill Taylor

Bryan Bucklew

Kory Gunnerson

Kristen Barrera

Candace Dalmagne-Rouge

Christian Phillips

Robert Slater

Maria Lupp

Kim Byrwa-Neff

Stephanie Eichman

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WORKING TOGETHER

Ascend employs purpose driven design and development to identify challenges with our healthcare partners and then explore the re-application of AFRL technology and independent insights to produce commercially viable health innovations.

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MAKING A DIFFERENCE

Ascend leverages the unique strengths of the Dayton region by establishing and cultivating collaborative relationships between the healthcare and national defense sectors. Our goal is to yield tangible and impactful innovation, improve the health and well-being of individuals, create new business and employment opportunities, differentiate the community and increase economic prosperity.

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BUILDING AN ECOSYSTEM

Ascend is focused on creating a collaborative ecosystem for healthcare innovation in the Dayton region. The firm is currently developing a diverse and balanced portfolio of healthcare solutions, with a focus on rapidly delivering tangible, impactful and commercially viable solutions in health innovation.

FAQ's

Question

How did Ascend come into existence?

Answer

The board of the GDAHA was interested in exploring innovation and collaborating with AFRL. This desire led to conversations with Kaleidoscope and it was determined a partnership could deliver tremendous value. Thus, Ascend was created.

Question

Who is Kaleidoscope?

Answer

Headquartered in Cincinnati, Kaleidoscope is an innovation and product design firm. By focusing on improving life for people, we create products and experiences that grow businesses from our expertise in consumer insights, technology and health and wellness.

Question

Can I submit an innovative idea to Ascend?

Answer

Yes! In addition to working with our partner health systems, Ascend accepts ideas from the public. Please use the contact us form to submit your idea.

Question

When will Ascend launch a product?

Answer

While there is no set deadline for the launch of the first product, Ascend is in the midst of establishing an innovation pipeline designed to rapidly produce human health innovation.

Question

Who is GDAHA?

Answer

The Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association (GDAHA) is a member service organization for 28 hospitals that have an $8.1 billion economic impact and directly employ 34,497 individuals in the Greater Dayton region.

Question

What is Ascend’s relationship with AFRL?

Answer

Ascend operates in close collaboration with the Air Force Research Laboratories, to use military research technology to help produce human health innovation.

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Why Dayton?

Answer

Dayton provides one of the most unique locations in the country, where strong healthcare, national defense, research and technology sectors come together. With Dayton’s rich history of innovation, it provides the prime location for Ascend to grow.

Question

What is the process that Ascend will follow to realize breakthroughs?

Answer

By identifying our health care partners’ challenges, Ascend will design and develop emerging technology and independent insights—producing commercially viable human health innovation.

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Why focus on human health innovation?

Answer

Just as aviation’s pioneers transformed human life a century ago, breakthroughs in human health will change the world in this century. Ascend represents the next generation of global pioneers.

EVALUATION CRITERIA

When analyzing opportunities for commercialization, Ascend uses the lenses of desirability, feasibility and viability.  First, we ensure there is a pressing unmet need and a desire for a new solution. Additionally, we look at the technical feasibility of developing a novel solution in this space and confirm alignment with our mission. Finally, the potential market and profit model must be attractive enough to pursue development; the viability of a new business is critical. The intersection of these requirements provides the greatest opportunity for meaningful change.

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Contact Us

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