University of Virginia Holds Venture Summit to Stimulate Partnerships Between Nation's Leading Venture Capitalists and U.Va. Faculty

March 30, 2009 — The University of Virginia will host more than 50 influential venture capitalists from around the country this week for its inaugural U.Va. Venture Summit.

The two-day summit, to begin Friday, will be a forum for faculty to engage the venture capitalists in thought-provoking conversations about cutting-edge scientific research and innovations that could provide the next generation of investment opportunities.

Thomas C. Skalak, the University's vice president for research and the summit organizer, sees the summit as a way to mesh the expertise of the University's faculty with the interests of venture capitalists who are looking for game-changing ideas in which to invest.

"We believe that the University can offer a window into the future and a new way to think about global issues to leaders of the investment world," Skalak said. "The University of Virginia can be one of the leading information providers to these women and men who will have a hand in reviving the economy."

Skalak said that the university has outstanding research efforts in the areas of energy, health care, education, and science and technology, which have been identified by President Obama as priorities that will move the nation forward.

"Our goal with the summit is to create partnerships between University researchers and investment professionals so that there is a flow of good information leading to solutions that are in alignment with what the current administration is trying to achieve – and that will benefit the American people."

Topics to be explored include global economics and investment strategies; clean technology and energy innovation; personalized and regenerative medicine; grid computing; medical devices and imaging; nanotechnology in engineering and medicine; and complex systems, cyber-security and intelligent infrastructure.

During the first session, on Friday from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. in Old Cabell Hall, four University faculty "technology thought leaders" will present their ideas. This will be followed by an in-depth discussion with investment experts on the question, "How is the venture capitalist evolving to adapt to the global market?"

The faculty presenters are Joe Campbell, Lucien Carr III Professor in the Charles L. Brown Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; Dr. Stephen Rich, director of the new Center for Public Health Genomics; Andrew Grimshaw, professor of computer science and entrepreneur; and Brent Gunnoe, professor of chemistry, who recently joined the U.Va. faculty from North Carolina State University.

The venture capital panelists will include Jim Blair of Domain Associates, Christopher Brightman of the University of Virginia Investment Management Co., Ed Glassmeyer of Oak Investment Partners, Peter Barris and Chuck Newhall of New Enterprise Associates, and C. Ashton Newhall of Montagu Newhall Associates.

On Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon in room 50 of the Darden School of Business, six Darden student teams will present their proposals for start-up companies. These will be followed by discussion and critiques by the investment experts. 

Robert F. Bruner, dean of the Darden School, said he sees the Venture Summit as an extraordinary opportunity for faculty and students to experience firsthand how leading venture capitalists think.

"It also gives us the opportunity to show the outside world the role that a leading research university can play in providing guidance and in creating new knowledge," he said.

Skalak said he expects a "lively exchange" among students, faculty and national investors. "I predict that the event will be a tipping point in our view of the innovation economy," he said.