U.Va. Venture Summit: Turning Ideas Into Businesses

By H. Brevy Cannon
UVA Today

Technology and business ventures with ties to the University of Virginia will be pitched to an audience of investors from across the
country, representing roughly $20 billion in active capital funds, at U.Va.'s fourth annual Venture Summit, being held April 19 in the Old Cabell Hall auditorium and April 20 in room 50 at the Darden School of Business.

At the past three summits, "between two-thirds and three-quarters" of the presenting start-ups found funding from investors attending the summit, said W. Mark Crowell, executive director of U.Va. Innovation and associate vice president for research. The annual event is perhaps the best example of U.Va.'s efforts to become an ever-stronger engine of innovation and job creation powered by fundamental research, Crowell said. And the success of those efforts is starting to get noticed in Congress. On Thursday morning at 10, U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) will discuss (via video link if the Senate is in session) the Start Up Act (S.1965), legislation he introduced in December that would promote innovation and start up businesses by relaxing several tax and regulatory hurdles. One of the bill's most significant provisions, dealing with ways to speed up the transfer of research and technology from university laboratories to the marketplace, was written with major input from U.Va., Crowell said.

In the six years from 2006 through 2011, U.Va. researchers reported the invention of 981 technologies, 341 of which have been licensed to companies and institutions for further development. U.Va. researchers were awarded 37 patents in 2011, 32 in 2010, and 128 total from 2006 through 2011. More than 600 of the University's early-stage research discoveries have been put on the path to commercialization, many through strategic research partnerships with major corporations and industry leaders such as AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Rolls-Royce. "The University of Virginia has rapidly become a global destination for technology-based venture creation," Thomas C. Skalak, vice president for research, said.

As part of the Venture Summit's focus on big-picture innovation and technology transfer issues, Aneesh Chopra, who stepped down in January as the nation's first U.S. chief technology officer, will be part of a panel discussion on Thursday, "Innovation: A New Day in the U.S." Vonage CEO Marc Lefar and Weather Channel CEO David Kenny will discuss "Opportunities and Challenges for Traditional Businesses in a Digital World." Thursday's public events will conclude with a panel of veteran venture capitalists who will discuss the state of the venture capital industry.

Five Charlottesville-based companies – Cardagin, Diffusion Pharmaceuticals, iTi Health, Lend Street and ProteiosBio, all founded or
led by a U.Va. alumnus, faculty or staff member or student, or based on a technology developed at the University – will participate in the summit's interactive showcase, on Friday from 9 to 11:30 a.m. in room 50 at the Darden School of Business.
Each company will pitch to an audience of investors, followed by a question-and-answer period. Presenters will then receive feedback from a panel of experienced investors including Jonathan Aberman, founder managing director of Amplifier Ventures; Doug Garland, chief revenue officer of Shazam; Cody Nystrom, a senior associate at SJF Ventures; and Rob Patzig, senior managing director and chief investment officer at Third Security.

After that, the investor panel will also hear pitches from and give feedback to four student-led startup business plans: the two top
finishers from this year's Darden Business Plan Competition, held Thursday – WalkBack and RadioFetch – and the two top finishers in the last U.Va. Entrepreneurship Cup,held in November: Memoria and Powersole. "To be able to pitch and receive invaluable feedback from this elite group is really a tremendous opportunity for our innovative U.Va. and community entrepreneurs,"
Crowell said.

The Venture Summit is hosted by the Office of the Vice President for Research, U.Va. Innovation and the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, part of the Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Darden School of Business. A number of networking sessions will offer opportunities for innovators and investors to build relationships. Attendance is free but registration is required. Details are available on the Venture Summit website.

Related Links:

U.Va.’s Annual Venture Summit Builds Local ‘Ecosystem’ for Entrepreneurs (UV.a. Today. 04/23/2012)
UVA holds fourth Venture Summit to capitalize on innovation (CharlottesvilleTomorrow. 04/20/2012)
Senator Mark Warner Talks Business at UVA Venture Summit  (NBC29. 04/19/2012)
Innovators, Investors Paired Up at Annual UVa Venture Summit (Newsplex. 04/19/12)
UVA Venture Summit Hopes To Bring Business To C’ville  (NBC29. 04/18/12)