Two days after a chemical leaked into the Elk River and contaminated the water supply of 300,000 West Virginians, a website launched to make the lives of those affected a little easier. quickly garnered 10,000 hits and sent hundreds of SMS alerts to people who had registered with the site. An interactive map on showed visitors where they could grab a clean shower, wash their laundry or go for a bite to eat knowing which restaurants remained open during the chemical leak.

One of the minds behind this innovative service is Samuel McLaughlin, a computer science senior at West Virginia University.

It’s just one prime example of ingenuity that will be on display Wednesday (Jan. 29) at Innovation and Entrepreneurship Day, hosted by Industries of the Future-WV and TechConnectWV, at the state Capitol in Charleston.

McLaughlin, a cofounder of West Virginia-based software company Floco Apps, will be one of many WVU representatives on-hand for the event.

Also participating from WVU is Marjorie Darrah, associate professor of mathematics. Darrah won the Startup Innovation of the Year award from TechConnectWV in 2013. Darrah heads eTouchSciences of Grafton and helped develop software for students with visual impairments to learn science and math. The learning system, geared toward middle schoolers, uses haptics—communication in the form of touch—to add touch to science and math education.

“We’re hoping to set up a display to showcase our recent projects and network with other West Virginia innovators,” FlocoApps’ McLaughlin said. is not the company’s only creation.

“We’ll be showing our fundraising software,, and a new service for suicide prevention called CheckUp,” McLaughlin said. “The idea behind CheckUp is to use Twitter to find and answer cries for help.”

The main goal of the event is to showcase the innovation economy in West Virginia, said Anne Barth, executive director of TechConnectWV. WVU is a huge part of that economy, she added.

“Students like Samuel, in addition to the research faculty at WVU, are making things happen in West Virginia,” Barth said. “WVU is an economic engine that moves the state forward. My idea for this day is to demonstrate to lawmakers that these innovations aren’t a ‘pie in the sky’ deal. These things are actually happening all over the state.”

Innovation and Entrepreneurship Day will take place in the upper rotunda level of the Capitol from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

More than 35 exhibits, representing innovation firms and entities throughout the state, will be on display. Legislators and the public are encouraged to stop by the exhibits.

“It also provides a networking opportunity to share information and to learn about ideas and initiatives that will continue to increase jobs, create new businesses, and spur economic development,” Barth said.

“I am very excited to participate in Innovation Day at the Capitol,” math professor Darrah said. “It is a great opportunity to be able to see some of the most innovative businesses in West Virginia and to be able to take this information back to my students at WVU.”

For more information on Innovation and Entrepreneurship Day, go to or contact Anne Barth at (304) 444-2918.



CONTACT: University Relations/News

Follow @WVUToday on Twitter.