Archive for the ‘Ventures’ Category

Students’ Award-Winning WalkBack App Now Available

Have you ever promised to let a friend know when you arrive home and forgotten to do it? There’s an app for that, and it was developed by U.Va. engineering students!

Students Duylam Nguyen Ngo (’13) and Ashutosh Priyadarshy (’12) developed WalkBack to increase safety on college campuses, especially for students walking home alone at night. WalkBack is a free mobile app that creates an instant mobile connection between friends by simply touching their phones together, after which each person is automatically notified when everyone arrives home. Colleges can also anonymously use the data collected from WalkBack to make informed decisions on student safety.

This award-winning app won the Student Startup Madness competition at the 2012 SXSW conference in Austin, Texas, and the 2012 U.Va.-Darden Business Plan competition.

iPhone, iPad and iPod users, download WalkBack from the App Store here.

U.Va. Engineering Alum’s Lifesaving Innovation Now Available to the Public


An epinephrine auto-injector developed by an innovative U.Va. alumnus is now available in U.S. pharmacies.

Evan Edwards (Mechanical Engineering ’02, Systems Engineering ’04) and twin brother Eric are the founders of Richmond-based Intelliject Inc. Both sufferers of severe allergies, they combined their respective engineering and medical educations to develop an improved epinephrine self-injector for the treatment of severe allergic reactions, such as those affecting more than 6 million people at risk for anaphylaxis in the U.S.

Their product, Auvi-Q™, is about the size of a credit card, has a self-retractable needle, and provides audible instructions and visual cues for self-administration. Intelliject licensed Auvi-Q™ to Sanofi North America pharmaceuticals for commercialization in the U.S. It is now available at thousands of U.S. pharmacies with a doctor’s prescription.

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Darden Incubator Project “Coverplay” Seeking $30K on Kickstarter

A team out of the Darden School of Business incubator is looking to bring the world’s thinnest premium Bluetooth speakers to your living room, and they’re using Kickstarter to get there.

CoverPlay,” the Darden Business Incubator project developed by first-year Darden student David Marriott and his brothers Adam, Will, Wesley and Sean, is currently featured on the venture-funding website Kickstarter. CoverPlay’s product is the Mojo speaker: a high quality, “uber-portable” Bluetooth speaker that is only seven millimeters thick.

Kickstarter provides an online platform for entrepreneurs and others to solicit funding for their ideas. Its all-or-nothing model creates a lower-risk, highly motivating environment for both the project creators and the people supporting their ideas.

The Marriott brothers set their Kickstarter deadline for Jan. 3. Until then, anyone can contribute to their $30,000 funding goal. On their page, Marriott and his brothers provide incentives for contributing to their start-up: donors can vote on future speaker colors, buy a CoverPlay t-shirt or hat, or even pre-order the Mojo speaker.

Check out the video above that David and his brothers created to promote their project. Click here to go to their Kickstarter page.

16 Charlottesville Entrepreneurs Among CIT’s “GAP 50″

Breaking news: We’ve just received word from the Center for Innovative Technology‘s GAP 50 awards luncheon that 16 Charlottesville entrepreneurs made the list! These Charlottesville-based innovators and business leaders were selected by their peers as being among the top 50 “most likely to build Virginia’s next generation life science, technology, and energy companies”:

Congratulations to all the winners and finalists throughout Charlottesville and the commonwealth!

For more about CIT’s GAP 50 awards, visit For a list of all Charlottesville-area nominees, visit

Student Perspective: The Power of Startup Weekend

We asked Kyle Bye, a third-year student in U.Va.’s McIntire School of Commerce and president of the Entrepreneurship Group at McIntire, to write a guest blog on his experience at Charlottesville’s Startup Weekend Oct. 26-28. Read on for his take on the power of Startup Charlottesville.

Startup Charlottesville

Team leaders selected on Friday night pitch to potential team members for the weekend hackathon. Photo courtesy of Kyle Bye.

Startup Weekend is a 54-hour event that brings developers, designers and business enthusiasts together to try and form businesses in a weekend. It is an exciting initiative adding another leg to the growing entrepreneurial ecosystem here in Charlottesville.

How does it work?

Friday evening, individuals line up to pitch their concepts. Teams form around the best ideas (pictured). Saturday is filled with seemingly endless work sessions, and then teams prep for Sunday’s presentations to a panel of esteemed judges and industry leaders.

Entrepreneurs are salespeople at heart, with an unyielding sense of pride and determination for their ideas. From the initial pitch on Friday to recruiting those top-notch team members and even when presenting to potential customers for feedback, it is clear that success at a Startup Weekend event can be attributed to how well you can sell yourself and your idea.

The weekend’s events are all about experiential learning.

Local Charlottesville mentors are always floating around the room to coach you on specific topics, such as UX/UI design, user validation and the business model canvas.

One of the most useful aspects for students is that you can apply skills learned in the classroom. For instance, in my Project Management class the week before the event, we were discussing the differences between the traditional waterfall method and agile methodologies. Who knew that a few days later I would be working on a team with a professional agile coach?

Kanban, scrum, stand-ups and sprints are no longer theoretical terms buried in a textbook. I am now able to fully appreciate their real-world applications as productivity drivers in software development teams.

Following these streamlined, iterative approaches led our team to focus on a minimum viable product, share ideas efficiently among our team’s diverse functional areas and build a working prototype by the end of the weekend. My team’s concept, called Spur, provides viral fundraising for charitable organizations by harnessing the power of social media.

I also had the opportunity to lead a team during Charlottesville’s first ever Startup Weekend last March. As a second-year student, I remember walking into the tech incubator downtown overwhelmed with the energy and technical talent in the room. Sure enough, I pitched my idea of an online volunteering platform called Flash Karma, selected as a finalist, and was able to receive invaluable feedback over the weekend.

One of the most amazing feelings as an entrepreneur is having a vision for a concept and then watching others connect with your vision as you work together to bring it to life. That’s the power of Startup Weekend.

Reach Kyle at

U.Va. Researchers Develop Online ADHD Assessment

Attention Point, a U.Va. start-up dedicated to improving the diagnosis of neurobehavioral health disorders, recently launched DefiniPoint, the first online ADHD assessment system in the U.S. Sam English, founder and CEO of Attention Point, made the announcement at last week’s Virginia Psychological Association Fall Convention.

DefiniPoint is based on the work of U.Va. researchers Kim Penberthy, Boris Kovatchev and Daniel Cox and collaborators. The product uses patented Bayesian algorithms developed at U.Va. to integrate the results from multiple rating scales and multiple informants, such as parents and teachers, to create a single, more accurate probability rating for ADHD. Traditional ADHD assessments use paper-based rating scales that are difficult to customize and often lead to an incomplete assessment of the child’s ADHD symptoms.

The Center for Disease Control reports that 9.4 percent of all children in the U.S. have been diagnosed with ADHD. Attention Point hopes that this new system will vastly improve the accuracy of ADHD classification and treatment plan for millions of individual children.

Attention Point offered free use of the DefiniPoint system to all Virginia Psychological Association members for three months and expects to launch the product nationally in early 2013.

See the full story here.

Workshops to Prep Students for Entrepreneurship Cup

Students, interested in competing in this year’s U.Va. Entrepreneurship Cup? Are you looking for team members, or an idea to get you started?

Get started on the right foot by attending a Design Thinking Workshop. Held at OpenGrounds on the U.Va. Corner, these workshops will provide students with opportunities to compare interests, form teams and develop concepts for their E-Cup submissions. Business experts will also be on hand to help students craft their business concepts in the emerging style of “design thinking.”

Workshops will take place on Sept. 28 at 12 p.m., Sept. 29 at 9:30 a.m., and Oct. 2 at 5:30 p.m. The October 2 workshop will be a part of the Venture Forward on First Tuesdays series. To learn more about the workshops and to register, click here.

We’ll also be hosting an information session Sept. 26, 4-6 p.m., in Newcomb Hall’s Kaleidoscope Room. To attend this session and learn everything there is to know about competing in the E-Cup, please RSVP to

ADial, Xdynia Selected to Present at Mid-Atlantic Bio

ADialTwo U.Va. spin-off companies have been selected to present at the 2012 Mid-Atlantic Biotech Conference, to be held Sept. 27-28 in Bethesda, Md.

Charlottesville-based ADial Pharmaceuticals LLC and Xdynia will join 20 other companies from Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia in presenting to an estimated 850 conference attendees, including investors. Both companies will present in the conference’s “Emerging Growth” category, which features companies seeking investment for “promising technologies or products” in development.

ADial will showcase its emerging treatment for alcoholism.

“Alcoholism is a debilitating diseases that afflicts over 200 million people worldwide,” said William Stilley, CEO of ADial. “Our drug, AD04, effectively treats alcoholism by reducing the harm from drinking among those with specific genetics.

“ADial is excited to have the opportunity to shed more light on the disease and treatment of alcoholism at Mid-Atlantic Bio.”

Founded earlier this year, Xdynia will present drugs that could be used to prevent and treat neuropathic pain, such as the chronic pain caused by diabetes, shingles, fibromyalgia, cancer, HIV, trauma and phantom limb.

Read the full story here.

U.Va. Ventures Take $500,000 in Latest Round of CIT Funding

Tau Therapeutics

Andrew Krouse, Timothy Macdonald (center) and Lloyd Gray of Tau Therapeutics. Photo by Tom Cogill.

U.Va.-affiliated ventures HemoSonics LLC, PocketSonics Inc. and Tau Therapeutics LLC and engineering professor Eric Loth were awarded a total of more than $500,000 from the Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund, administered by the state’s Center for Innovative Technology, in its second round of funding.

Under the fund’s Commercialization Program, Tau Therapeutics will receive $200,000 to advance its novel cancer therapy, mibefradil; HemoSonics will receive $100,000 to support the development of its in vitro diagnostic device for assessing abnormal bleeding and clotting; and PocketSonics will receive approximately $54,000 to improve the interconnect design of the SonicWindow, a pocket-sized medical ultrasound device that images vascular structures beneath the skin.

Loth, associate chair of aerospace engineering and professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, will receive $150,000 under the fund’s general Matching Funds Program. Providing a match to National Science Foundation funding, the award will fund the development and commercialization of an innovative coating that can be used to protect structural building materials from the elements.

The fund awarded a total of $3.1 million to 20 organizations throughout the commonwealth in its 2012 cycle, following its initial distribution of $3.6 million in fall 2011. To see a complete list of the companies and projects receiving funding from the Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund in 2012, click here.

See the full story.

U.Va. Architecture’s “Breathe House” Erected in Haiti

Breathe House

Photo courtesy of Sara Harper

Breathe House

Photo courtesy of Sara Harper

We checked in with U.Va.’s Initiative reCOVER this week, following the build of its innovative “Breathe House” in the Haitian community of Bois l’Etat, near St. Marc.So named for its natural ventilation strategy, the Breathe House was designed by students in the U.Va. School of Architecture. Led by Anselmo Canfora, the team took first place in an international competition that sought disaster-recovery solutions for Haiti’s displaced population following a magnitude 7.0 earthquake in January 2010. (Read more about the Breathe House here.)

Coming in first gave the team the opportunity to fulfill their vision, which was erected this week.

“Working in Haiti has many challenges,” said Initiative reCOVER research fellow Sara Harper, “but with the team that traveled to Saint-Marc, Haiti, we were able to overcome those difficulties and produce a safe and healthy building that will serve the FEBS (Fondation Esther Boucicault Stanislas) community for many years to come.”

The Breathe House was made possible by the generous support of the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission — which awarded U.Va. a grant for the Partnership for Affordable, Energy Efficient Housing Systems — and that of several other local partners, said Phil Parrish, U.Va. associate vice president for research.

“Based upon that grant, the team manufactured the Breathe House structural panels in Southside, Va., which were subsequently shipped to Haiti and assembled,” Parrish said. “Manufacture of this first prototype of the Breathe House was a joint effort between U.Va.; SIPS of America Inc. (Blairs, Va.); and the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center, the Riverstone Energy CenterAWFI and Kyoger (all located in South Boston, Va.).”

The build team, pictured at left, included Harper; Parrish; Kenny Stevenson from AWFI; Trace Steffen from Kyoger; and Mary Butcher, John Diven, Mike Gallahue and Ethan Tate from the Building Goodness Foundation.