UVA Venture Summit Hopes To Bring Business To C'ville
The University Of Virginia is bringing some deep pockets to grounds in hopes of starting up more companies in Charlottesville. It's all part of the fourth annual Venture Summit at UVA.
The summit features two days of talking to investors about where they might want to put their money now and in the future. The way UVA innovators see it, a lot of research plus a lot of capital could equal big business booms that benefit everyone involved.
HemoShear co-founder Brian Wamhoff knows that firsthand. His scientists are busy testing drugs with a process thought up in a lab at UVA.
"We invented the technology we spun it out into a company," explained Wamhoff, who is also the vice president of research and development for HemoShear.
The Charlottesville-based biotech company started back in 2008 after an investor took interest in the pitch at the first Venture Summit. That led to the business's first contract with a pharmaceutical company. Now, HemoShear has five times the number of employees than when it began.
Wamhoff credits the university for spurring and continuing to support his company's success. He's also looking forward to the biotech business growing across the city with the help of Charlottesville, the state, and UVA.
"They've [the university] changed the way and put a lot of emphasis on translating technology out of the basic academic labs, trying to commercialize that, building businesses, innovate and create jobs," Wamhoff said.
On Thursday and Friday UVA will become a hub of venture capitalists and academics talking about how innovation in labs or classrooms can turn into viable businesses in the area. The two-day summit is meant to be a one-stop shop for the money-minded crowd.
"What we're really trying to do ultimately is to create a real innovation ecosystem in and around Charlottesville," executive director of UVA innovation Mark Crowell said.
This year's program includes presentations from a pair of doctors on their Alzheimer's and cord blood stem cell findings. Senator Mark Warner will also be at UVA to talk about a business start-up bill the university helped author.
Crowell says it's not only about science, medicine, and technology. Ideas in architecture and education have turned into business models and are becoming solid entrepreneurial ventures for those schools.
"We like to see our investors and the university make some money," Crowell said, "but really what we want to do is get UVA's intellectual property used."
Crowell admits that throwing thousands - if not millions - of dollars at these profit pitches can be risky. But Wamhoff says his company wouldn't be here without the financial support that started at the summit, and his company's successful science proves that it can be worth it.
"Its all happening here," Wamhoff adds. "Its all going to stay here in Charlottesville."
Anyone is welcome to sit in on UVA Venture Summit presentations and discussions. Click here for a more detailed outline of the event.
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Dannika Lewis joined the NBC29 news team as a general assignment reporter in June 2010. She started her ventures in broadcast news at Elon University where she graduated with a bachelor's degree in Broadcast Journalism. Email/Follow on Twitter/ Full Story