Local Start-Ups Will Pitch Investors at Third Annual U.Va. Venture Summit

February 23, 2011

February 23, 2011 — Technology and business ventures with ties to the University of Virginia will be pitched to an audience of investors from across the country at U.Va.'s third annual Venture Summit, being held March 3 in Old Cabell Hall and March 4 in room 50 at the Darden School of Business.

The companies – 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 be presented to venture capitalists representing roughly $20 billion in active capital funds.
"It's a unique event in my 25 years of experience in tech transfer at universities," said Mark Crowell, who joined the Office of the Vice President for Research in May as executive director and associate vice president for innovation partnerships and commercialization.

"Once a year it brings representatives of the top venture funds from across the country to Grounds and shows them an advance look at some of the coolest future fields of science, where disciplines are merging and converging, going into new areas of innovation and discovery that have potential for both commercial and human benefits," he said.

U.Va. has a strong record in the highly competitive field of translating university research into commercialized products, Crowell explained. One of the keys to success has been U.Va.'s commitment to fostering technologies "farther along the R&D pipeline before investors need to start funding the company – by building a prototype, doing some proof of concept work, doing a clinical trial. That de-risks the investment, adds value and puts U.Va. higher on their priority list."

Between mid-2005 and mid-2010, U.Va. researchers reported the invention of 885 technologies, 302 of which have been licensed to companies and institutions for further development. Thirty-two U.S. patents were awarded in 2010 to the U.Va. Patent Foundation. 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, as well as a novel translational research partnership with the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation.

"The University of Virginia has rapidly become a global destination for technology-based venture creation," Thomas C. Skalak, vice president for research, said.

Nearly all of the U.Va.-based start-ups that were presented at the 2009 and 2010 Venture Summits found funding, Skalak said. "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," he said.

Connecting technology and businesses with U.Va. ties with some of the nation's leading investors, he said, "is essential to our collective efforts to stimulate innovation, which produces economic growth, jobs and social good."

The summit, Skalak said, is an illustration of how universities, and U.Va. in particular, have become the primary engine of innovation, based on the fundamental research produced at university laboratories.

Six companies (listed below) will participate in the summit's interactive showcase, hosted by the Office of the Vice President for Research and the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, part of the Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the  Darden School of Business. The showcase will be held from 9 to 11:45 a.m. on March 4 in Room 50 at the Darden School of Business.

Participants will present their pitches, each of which will be followed by a question-and-answer period. Presenters will then receive feedback from a panel of experienced investors including Sean Stalfort of PBM Capital Group, Adair B. Newhall of Domain Associates, Cody Nystrom of SJF Ventures and Renard Charity of Fletcher Spaght.

The summit will also feature panels and presentations on March 3 in Old Cabell Hall Auditorium on topics including "Is Sustainability a Viable Venture Capital Opportunity?" and "Social Media: Asset or Liability," as well as a talk by James D. Duffey Jr., Virginia's secretary of technology, on "Enhancing Virginia's Role as an Innovation Partner." Several U.Va. faculty members will present their thinking on innovation, social responsibility and the biotechnology economy.

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.

The six companies that will participate in the Venture Summit's interactive showcase are:

•    BioBehavioral Diagnostics, maker of a diagnostic tool that aids in the objective and accurate assessment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, commonly known by its acronym ADHD. McIntire School of Commerce graduate Byron Hewett is the executive chairman.

•    Columbia Power Technologies, which aims to develop generators that capture energy from ocean waves. Darden School of Business graduate Reenst Lesemann is the chief executive officer.

•    HemoSonics, developer of an ultrasound-based medical device that can rapidly assess patients' blood for abnormal clotting characteristics, allowing physicians to respond more effectively to excessive bleeding or overactive clotting. Based on technology developed at U.Va., the company was founded in 2004 by U.Va. researchers William F. Walker, Francesco Viola and Michael B. Lawrence.

•    Ozmosis, an online network that connects doctors and allows them to answer each others' questions and share insights. Co-founder and chief executive officer Joel Selzer is a Darden graduate.

•    TRUE linkswear, maker of a new type of spikeless "performance golf shoe." Darden graduate Sean Eidson is the co-founder and chief executive officer.

•    ZyGEM/Microlab Diagnostics, maker of lab-on-a-chip technology for biochemical analysis developed by U.Va.'s James P. Landers, a professor of chemistry in the College of Arts & Sciences who holds joint appointments in the schools of Engineering and Medicine. A single Microlab device smaller than a credit card can deliver accurate DNA testing results in the lab or in the field in under an hour.

— By Brevy Cannon

Media Contact

H. Brevy Cannon

Media Relations Associate Office of University Communications