Batten Institute spurs innovative business ideas
By Chris Allerton
F. Bruner, executive director of the Batten
Institute, describes the institute as a catalyst for intellectual
supporting and funding research and programs, we encourage pioneering
thought and practice across the University, he says. We
provide capital to start these activities and look for University
partners to help them succeed long term.
result of two substantial gifts from U.Va. alumnus Frank Batten
Sr., the institute addresses entrepreneurship the aim of
Battens original gift as well as supporting and funding
research and programs related to creating, leading and transforming
business enterprise. Its endowment stands at more than $80 million.
Batten Institute supports research on problems of compelling interest
to business practitioners, Bruner said. It funds seven multidisciplinary
research initiatives undertaken by Darden faculty, including diversity,
supply chain management, mergers and acquisitions, e-business,
leading innovation, environmental management, and risk capital.
It also supports research, conferences, and publications related
to these initiatives.
housed at Darden School,
its aspirations and influence reach beyond the North Grounds.
advance and support both the Darden and University missions,
said Bruner, a Distinguished Professor of Business Administration.
Indeed, many of the institutes programs reflect this commitment.
example, teams from across the University have participated in
institute-sponsored business concept and business plan competitions.
Diffusion Pharmaceuticals, a company commercializing the oxygen
diffusion research of Engineering School professor John Gainer,
placed first in the most recent business plan competition. CaseNex,
a company developed at the Curry School which sells Web-based
products and services to teachers and school administrators, placed
and other finalists were invited to join Dardens Progressive
Incubator, which assists University entrepreneurs in taking their
first steps in developing business ideas into viable enterprises.
Incubator participants are provided limited pre-launch resources
office space, Internet access, funding leads and a summer
stipend to assist them in refining their ventures. The
Incubator also provides informal guidance and mentoring by Darden
faculty, alumni and others. About a dozen venture teams are in
the program currently, located in facilities in downtown Charlottesville
and the Darden Schools office in Reston.
year the institute co-hosts the Charlottesville Venture Forum
with the Charlottesville Venture Group and Virginia Gateway, which
represents the Universitys interests in the development
of Central Virginias high technology business sector. Held
at the Darden School, the Venture Forum brings together emerging
businesses, investors and entreprenesurs for presentations and
dialogue. The event drew more than 200 participants last year. The
institute also supports the U.Va. Entrepreneurs Network, which
connects interested parties from across the University.
E. Dunn III, director of U.Va.-Darden Partnerships for the Batten
Institute, forges and nurtures these and other University relationships.
He also represents Darden and the institute on the boards of the
U.Va. Patent Foundation and its venture development subsidiary,
key element of the Batten Institutes mission is to involve
prominent thought leaders in the University community, Bruner
institute underwrites the Batten Fellows Program, which brings
research scholars and innovators to Darden.
Batten Fellows share important perspectives, experiences, insights
and relationships, Bruner said. Darden, and the University,
benefit from their visits in many ways: collaborative research
with faculty, classroom presentations to students, seminars, small
group meetings and individual interaction with faculty and students.
this month, Jeffrey K. Skilling, recently named CEO of Enron Corporation,
will deliver the keynote address at the institutes first
annual dinner. Enron is a Texas-based energy company that transformed
itself from the countrys largest natural gas distribution
firm to an energy trading company by creating new markets and
effectively utilizing the Internet. It has built a portfolio of
gas, electric and communications businesses and now operates the
largest e-commerce site in the world. Fortune magazine recognized
the company as Americas Most Innovative Company
for the sixth consecutive time in 2000.
Batten Institute is also helping the Darden School establish its
presence in the Northern Virginia high-technology corridor. Its
funding of Dardens Reston office supports case-writing activities,
serves as a base of operations for numerous student business projects
undertaken for corporate clients and offers education programs
to the regions executives.
a Darden faculty member since 1982, has received more than 10
awards from faculty and students for teaching, as well as several
awards for case writing. In 1999 he received a Harrison Award
for teaching excellence. He is the author of more than 250 cases,
many focusing on corporate finance and corporate transformation,
and a consultant to dozens of global organizations. Bruner was
tapped to lead the Batten Institute last year.