U.Va. Entrepreneurs Take Top Honors in Local Business Innovation

June 17, 2011

June 17, 2011 — University of Virginia researchers and spin-out companies were recognized for their leadership in business and innovation at the 13th annual Charlottesville Business Innovation Council Awards Gala, held Wednesday at the Farmington Country Club.

The awards honor "area individuals and organizations making a noteworthy impact on society through entrepreneurship and through the development, use and commercialization of new technologies."

"We are fortunate to have several outstanding leaders in high-tech innovation at the University, and a growing number of our researchers are choosing to advance their innovations to the market through entrepreneurial ventures," said Miette H. Michie, interim executive director and CEO of the U.Va. Patent Foundation.

HemoSonics LLC, a medical device company spun out of the University's Department of Biomedical Engineering, received the Breakthrough Award for achieving the "most remarkable breakthrough or quantum advance."

Founded in 2004 by U.Va. researchers William F. Walker, Francesco Viola and Michael B. Lawrence, HemoSonics is developing technology to rapidly assess patients' blood for abnormal clotting characteristics. This information could allow physicians to respond more effectively to patients with excessive bleeding or overactive clotting in the operating room, the emergency room and many other clinical settings.

Last year, the company received $2 million in federal funding through the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs.

"Everyone at HemoSonics is honored and appreciative of this recognition," said Walker, company president. "We are excited to build upon this 'Breakthrough' to develop a successful product and company that will help patients throughout the world."

Robin A. Felder, professor of pathology and associate director of clinical chemistry and toxicology at U.Va., received the People's Choice Navigator Award for demonstrating "exceptional leadership in the local or regional business community."

The Navigator Award is the only award determined by public online voting. In Felder's acceptance speech, the self-proclaimed "serial entrepreneur" called the award a misnomer, noting that – unlike entrepreneurs – "Navigators get to work from a map."

Felder has spun eight ventures out of U.Va., including WellAWARE Systems, which develops next-generation, technology-based wellness monitoring solutions for senior care, and Global Cell Solutions, which markets a novel cell culture technology to the stem cell market. WellAWARE Systems recently closed on a large growth capital round, and Global Cell Solutions has raised more than $1.5 million using local investors.

"The CBIC awards highlight the growing entrepreneurial activity not only at U.Va., but throughout the region," Felder said. "As an entrepreneur, I am always pleased with the supportive atmosphere at U.Va. that transitions into the broader community support." 

Two additional ventures with U.Va. roots were recognized as award finalists. ADial Pharmaceuticals LLC, founded by Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences chair Dr. Bankole Johnson, was recognized as a finalist for the Breakthrough Award. The School of Architecture's Initiative reCOVER, led by Anselmo Canfora, was named a finalist for the Spotlight Award for bringing "positive attention to the region."

The awards gala was sponsored in part by the U.Va. Patent Foundation, Office of Innovation Partnerships and Commercialization, Curry School of Education  and the Batten Institute at the Darden School of Business.

Media Contact

Morgan Estabrook

Senior Manager of Marketing & Communications U.Va. Innovation