A celebration of the region’s booming tech sector recently brought together more than 300 people at the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council annual TechNite party.
Keynote Speakers John Newby, Advocacy Group CEO Organic Virginiaand Conaway Haskins, Vice President of the Crown Corporation Virginia Innovation Partnership Societysaid the region has distinguished itself as a model of collaboration between diverse specialties and communities.
“You have all done an amazing job, especially uniting in Roanoke, Blacksburg, Lynchburg and the New River Valley. The ecosystem here really forms an identity around entrepreneurship and innovation,” Haskins said, adding that the region has skilfully rejected cookie-cutter strategies in favor of developing a vision to term around its unique resources and assets.
These strengths include the expansion of biotechnology research that takes place in facilities such as the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC, said Heywood Fralin, who was recognized as the guest of honor at the event. Fralin was a key advocate for the state-of-the-art research facility that was founded in 2010 and debuted with a 2020 addition of 139,000 square feet.
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In that time, Fralin said, the institute grew from an idea with a single employee to a bustling center with more than 35 research teams, employing more than 450 people and pursuing projects collectively worth $180 million. of dollars.
The facility is well positioned, with the continued support of the community, to continue to generate well-paying jobs and inject new money back into the local economy, Fralin concluded.
“I think we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg,” he said. “We have the best of the best.”
Technite, held on May 19 at Taubman Art Museum, also included the presentation of awards recognizing excellence in the technology community. Winners included:
RBTC HALL OF FAME&underline> : hailed as a “serial entrepreneur and innovator”, Chorda Pharma CEO Victor Iannello, an MIT graduate, has a track record that includes founding several companies, including Radiant physics, which has developed breakthrough products in the energy, industrial technology and healthcare sectors. His current business is a booming pharmaceutical company developing a line of drugs that can manage pain without opioids.
STEM-H EDUCATOR AWARD&underline> : Kathleen O’Dell became a math teacher at Christiansburg Middle School about 15 years ago and is known for incorporating real-world experiences into her curriculum. She became chair of the school’s math department and was named the 2022 Montgomery County Public School Teacher of the Year.
RISING STAR AWARD&underline> : Ticketing, in just two years, has grown its business to reach 1.4 million unique users and process 2.7 million transactions. The company has created a free digital ticketing platform for schools, districts and associations.
INNOVATOR AWARD&underline> : Dr. Robert Gourdie, an entrepreneur, was involved in the creation of three start-up companies doing cutting-edge research. Two of these projects small freight company and Acomhal Research, are on the verge of innovating in the delivery of drugs and the treatment of glioblastoma. Tiny Cargo was one of five companies to receive a Washington, DC, QuickFire Challenge grant of $50,000 to support its work developing a new drug delivery method using nanocapsules derived from cow’s milk. Gourdie’s third startup, First String Researchis in the midst of three active clinical trials.
REGIONAL LEADERSHIP AWARD&underline> : Wendi Pannell, Vice President of Content Production at Ozmo, has been hailed as “a connector of people and ideas”. Pannell has been dedicated to expanding the WoTech program, which supports women in technology.
CONTRACTOR AWARD&underline> : Martin Angst, co-founder of To return, has raised over $730,000 on Kickstarter to support the development of the emerging office robotics company’s first handheld laser cutter. Innovation is poised to dramatically improve access to rapid prototyping and digital manufacturing. More information about this can be found online at launch.rendyr.com.
LEADING TECHNOLOGY COMPANY&underline> : P1 technologies has built a reputation for high standards in one of the most regulated and demanding industries in the market. The company creates wiring and injection molding products with services that include custom specialty designs. The Roanoke County facility focuses on three primary service lines – preclinical medical, audio and in vivo research.
RUBY AWARD&underline> : Kathy Claytor, Vice President of Human Resources for Delta Dental, has been instrumental in working to “build the region’s brand as a destination for top talent, a real necessity for a sustainable and sustainable workforce”, organizers said. Claytor also currently sits on the executive committee of RBTC.
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