U.Va. Hosts Kickoff to Startup Virginia Tour

Aneesh Chopra, former U.S. Chief Technology Officer, addresses the audience at the Startup Virginia kickoff event

On Monday, the University teamed up with Charlottesville business leaders and the Startup America Partnership to kick off Startup Virginia’s six-stop tour around the state. The event featured remarks from former U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra, U.Va. Vice President for Research Tom Skalak, U.Va. Innovation’s Mark Crowell and Donna Harris, managing director of Startup Regions for the Startup America Partnership.

In addition to the featured speakers and panel of local entrepreneurs, the event also featured student business concept presentations from the two of the top teams from the U.Va. Entrepreneurship Cup: winner “PhageFlag” and honorable mention “Virginia Toastie.”

In her address, Harris stated that Startup America has “amassed literally billions of dollars of resources, for you, for free,” and that entrepreneurs should not be discouraged by the challenge of finding startup capital and investors.

Startup Virginia was founded by the Startup America Partnership in early 2012 to promote startup ventures across Virginia and connect entrepreneurs with the resources they need to succeed. The remaining stops along the statewide tour include Blacksburg, Roanoke, Richmond, Norfolk, and Arlington.

Want to see more photos? Click here to see our photo album!

Additional media coverage of the event:

Click here for more information about Startup Virginia and the Startup America Partnership.

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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 kdb2hz@virginia.edu.

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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.

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Introducing the U.Va. Innovation Learning Center!


Want to know what it takes to start your own company, or get SBIR/STTR funding? Could you use a refresher on intellectual property? We’re here to help!

Our new Learning Center is home to informational primers designed to assist non-experts in learning the basics of technology transfer, intellectual property and entrepreneurship. Our first five presentations include:

  • Introduction to Technology Transfer
  • Introduction to Intellectual Property
  • Determining Inventorship in an Academic Setting
  • Launching a Company
  • Introduction to SBIT/STTR Awards

Big thanks go out to all of our partners who contributed to this new addition, including the Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Darden School of Business. We’ll continue to add to the Learning Center as time goes on, so let us know what topics you’d like to see — and if you’d like us to present any of these topics or others to your department, lab or other group.

Ready to learn? Click here now to get started!

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SXSW Eco to Feature U.Va. Bay Game

The U.Va. Bay Game, an interactive simulation based on the Chesapeake Watershed, will be featured at the second annual SXSW Eco conference October 3-5 in Austin, Texas. The three-day conference will address the need for a collaborative approach to solving the challenges facing the environment, the economy and civil society.

As an alternative to a traditional conference panel, the U.Va. Bay Game will be presented as an interactive session, in which attendees can sign up to participate in a simulation. CNN Correspondent and SXSW Eco alum Philippe Cousteau, head of Azure Worldwide, will lead two simulations of the interactive Bay Game, providing a unique platform for the project to attract more attention and resources.

The U.Va. Bay Game is sponsored by the U.Va. Vice President for Research in partnership with Azure Worldwide. For more, visit SXSW Eco or the U.Va. Bay Game.

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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 chiara@virginia.edu.

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U.Va. OpenGrounds, Vonage Sponsor $25,000 Student Competition

U.Va.’s OpenGrounds and Vonage, a national communications company, are jointly sponsoring a competition challenging U.Va. students to invent the next generation of social messaging.

The competition, which offers $25,000 total prize money, invites U.Va. undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral students to submit technical or non-technical proposals with their ideas for the future of social messaging.

OpenGrounds director Bill Sherman and Vonage CEO Marc Lefar, a 1985 graduate of U.Va.’s McIntire School of Commerce, hosted a kickoff event for the competition at a gathering on the Rotunda steps yesterday.

For more information about the competition, click here or view the media coverage below.

Related Links
U.Va. and Vonage Challenge Students to Invent the Next Big Thing in Social Messaging (U.Va. Today 9/9/2012)
Collaborators Launch Contest (Cavalier Daily 9/11/2012)
U.Va., Vonage Partner in Social Media Competition (NBC29 9/10/2012)
U.Va. Students Take Part in Vonage Competition (Newsplex 9/10/2012)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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