News

Licensing & Ventures group hire seed fund director to shepherd UVA innovations

September 27, 2016

Bob Creeden, Managing Director of the UVA Seed Fund and New Ventures

Robert J. Creeden brings decades of experience in bringing ideas to market. (Photo by Dan Addison, University Communications)

Robert J. Creeden has joined the University of Virginia’s Licensing & Ventures Group as its first managing director of the UVA Seed Fund and New Ventures. The Licensing & Ventures Group’s mission is to maximize the impact of UVA’s innovation in research and technology via commercialization while providing high levels of customer service, value-added business development, new venture creation and a focus on driving quality transactions.

“We are very pleased to have been able to recruit as talented a professional as Bob to UVA,” said Michael P. Straightiff, the Licensing & Ventures Group’s executive director. “We believe his extensive experience in company formation and management, early-stage investing and in commercializing new technologies will help UVA continue to grow.”

Read more of the story and UVA Today.

 

Older Entrepreneurs Take On the ‘Concrete Ceiling’

September 9, 2016

Avery Chenoweth spent childhood summers on a front porch in Tennessee, where adults would say, over pitchers of martinis as fans slowly turned, “If you listen carefully, you may learn something.”

He’s still learning. Now 60, Mr. Chenoweth, with a 65-year-old partner, recently started a business called Here’s My Story, whose gaming app brings history alive through location-based role-playing.

It works with Harpers Ferry National Historic Park, where users participate in the lives of historical figures. Slaves, soldiers and nurses are depicted through an interactive process that takes the oral storytelling of Mr. Chenoweth’s childhood beyond the front porch.

It wasn’t easy to become an entrepreneur later in life. Originally a novelist, Mr. Chenoweth had a major heart attack that left him too fatigued to write. He had to look elsewhere to pay the bills.

He began working for Hertz, earning minimum wage by returning rental vehicles that had been abandoned. One car used in a drug deal had “nine bullet holes in the window,” he said. “It was just shot to smithereens.”

A year later, a friend, Philippe Sommer, told him about an incubator at the Darden School of Business of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, where Mr. Chenoweth lives. Known as i.Lab, it began by offering mentorship and courses to support students starting businesses. When Mr. Sommer took over the leadership, he opened it to local residents.

Read more of the story at the New York Times.

 

In Dominica, no business is an island

August 9, 2016

 

 

In May, the University of Virginia’s Batten Global Policy Center and the Social Entrepreneurship at UVA program sponsored the University’s first study-abroad course in the Caribbean country of Dominica, giving students hands-on social entrepreneurship experience in a small, developing island-state where start-ups are crucial to the economy.

“The course takes students to a small economy and shows them the challenges that the entrepreneurs face, and how, inherently in their projects and their entrepreneurial activities, there’s a social good that’s part that activity,” said Bevin Etienne, a lecturer in entrepreneurship at the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy and the McIntire School of Commerce.

Read more of the story at UVA Today.

 

Charlottesville named No. 4 in the US for entrepreneurship

July 27, 2016

 

The University of Virginia’s hometown continues to draw plaudits for its entrepreneurial ecosystem, with Entrepreneur magazine naming the Charlottesville area No. 4 on its list of the 50 best cities for entrepreneurs. The Corner (Photo by Sanjay Suchak/University Communications)

The methodology takes into account a number of factors to identify the “best places to launch and operate a business,” including the number of businesses and employees between 2011 and 2015, the number of venture capital deals in the last 10 years, the business tax rate, cost of living, the percentage of college-educated locals and the growth of good jobs and high-income positions, among other data points.

The result, published in the magazine’s August issue, is what the publication calls “50 of the nation’s most livable, viable cities for entrepreneurs to be successful and enjoy life.”

Read more of the story at UVA Today.

 

From Bali to the Corner

April 26, 2016

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The crowd at the Take it Away deli on the Corner was typically busy during a recent lunch hour, with dozens of University of Virginia students ordering, picking out their drinks and grabbing bags of chips to go with their sandwiches. In addition to the baskets of barbeque and sour-cream-and onion-flavored snacks, customers have a healthy new option to add some crunch to their lunch: cashews.

Crowdfunded Pitch Night's young winning entrepreneurs help the elderly

April 14, 2016

Charlottesville Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy congratulates the night’s winners, Clara Duffy and Leela Ghaemmaghami, after presenting the second place award to Ewa Harr, left.

Charlottesville Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy congratulates the night’s winners, Clara Duffy and Leela Ghaemmaghami, after presenting the second place award to Ewa Harr, left.

The University of Virginia’s i.Lab turned to the community on Wednesday night for help identifying Charlottesville’s next big idea. It sponsored the Crowdfunded Pitch Night at the Tom Tom Founders Festival, an event in which 10 aspiring entrepreneurs made their cases to a large audience gathered at the Paramount Theater.

Competitors were given three minutes to present their venture ideas before the audience voted for a winner. Every year, the winner has the choice of taking the prize money collected from the audience or taking the last spot in the i.Lab’s summer incubator program, which includes a $5,000 expense budget.

“It’s pretty great having someone whose been voted in by the community as part of our cohort,” said Jason Brewster, who directs the i.Lab’s Incubator Program. “Most of the ones that come in from the Crowdfunded Pitch Night are non-profit or community-oriented in some way, so it really gives back.”

This year, the crowd selected the youngest winners in the history of the pitch night. St. Anne’s-Belfield School 11th-grade students Leela Ghaemmaghami and Clara Duffy won with their technology outreach company, Seniors Connect. It’s a service they founded to help older citizens set up and learn to use new electronic devices.

They hope to use their victory at Crowdfunded Pitch Night to expand their services to low-income seniors.

“Our second area of expansion is writing an app called ‘Doctor’s Orders,’ which is a medication notification app,” Duffy said.

Read the whole article at UVA Today

UVA Entrepreneurs Pick Up New Funding at Tom Tom Competitions

April 14, 2016

The Nostrajamus team makes its pitch at last year’s Galant Challenge.

The Nostrajamus team makes its pitch at last year’s Galant Challenge.

Editor’s Note: AgroSpheres walked away as the overall winner of Friday’s Entrepreneurship Cup. They earned a total of $22,500 as the first-prize winners and the recipients of the audience favorite award. Tara Raj and Morgan Murray of AsyncTalent took second place and $15,000. Jack Ross came in third with his company Notable Music, earning $10,000. All three participants in the Galant Challenge received commitments of at least $100,000 and left the stage with plans to continue working with the investors on additional deals. Social Safeguard had the largest potential deal with a commitment of $1 million pending additional research and negotiation.

On Friday night, Wahoo entrepreneurship takes center stage at the Tom Tom Founders Festival. The University of Virginia will host two simultaneous start-up competitions at the Paramount Theater: the UVA Entrepreneurship Cup and the Galant Challenge.

The launch stage of the Entrepreneurship Cup is the third and final phase of a yearlong competition for aspiring UVA entrepreneurs. It’s open to all undergraduates, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, with total prizes available on Friday approaching $50,000 in cash awards and in-kind resources. The winning venture has the chance to walk away with up to $22,500 in funding.

The Galant Challenge will take place during the break while the Entrepreneurship Cup judges deliberate. The challenge is a “Shark Tank”-style event with the goal of connecting promising ventures with potential capital. It’s open to all graduates of UVA and individuals who are otherwise affiliated with the University. To date, the challenge has connected participating ventures with greater than $1 million in capital.

Read the whole article at UVA Today…

Fifth Annual Tom Tom Founders Festival is Filled with Innovative Wahoos

April 6, 2016

UVA alumna Becca McCharen speaks about her clothing company Chromat during the 2015 Tom Tom Founders Festival.

UVA alumna Becca McCharen speaks about her clothing company Chromat during the 2015 Tom Tom Founders Festival. (Photo by Sanjay Suchak)

This year, Tom Tom will hold its first Youth Summit on April 14. A combined team of UVA students from the Curry School of Education, the College of Arts & Sciences and the McIntire School of Commerce hatched the idea as a way to inspire entrepreneurial thinking and creative problem-solving among high school students.

“The speakers we’re bringing in are meant to show high school-age students that they can have an idea to make a business or make a plan for the community that can really change things. We want them to have a sense of agency,” said second-year College student Jared Jones, who worked with other undergraduate facilitators to recruit area high school students for the summit’s student advisory council. With the help of their UVA facilitators, these students selected the summit’s speakers and the topics they wanted to cover.

Youth Summit keynote speakers include UVA second-year and successful jewelry entrepreneur Leilei Secor, acclaimed education advocate and author Nikhil Goyal and Charlottesville Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe will also make an appearance and will sign the commonwealth’s new youth entrepreneurship bill into law. House Bill 1230 requires the boards of visitors at state-supported higher education institutions to adopt policies supporting the intellectual property rights of their students.

Read the whole article at UVA Today...

Growing for CHANGE: Student-Family matches as a way to bridge social barriers

April 5, 2016

Growing for CHANGE volunteers and executive board members work together at the woodshop in the School of Architecture to build the gardens. (Photo courtesy of Shantell Bingham).

Growing for CHANGE volunteers and executive board members work together at the woodshop in the School of Architecture to build the gardens. (Photo courtesy of Shantell Bingham).

Some families will fill their new gardens with fruits and vegetables to bring truly fresh food to the table. Others are hoping for blooming flowers to brighten up their corner of Westhaven, a public housing community near the University of Virginia.

In a student-led project called Growing for CHANGE, Westhaven residents have co-designed hanging or boxed gardens with dozens of UVA student volunteers, working together to bring new verdure to an area where poor soil and small plots have kept most families from gardening.

On Saturday, students and residents will gather at Westhaven for a Community Grow Day to begin planting seeds in the newly constructed gardens. City Schoolyard Garden, which manages gardens at seven Charlottesville public schools, will distribute seeds for flowers, fruits and vegetables and offer gardening lessons during the event, ultimately helping residents grow healthy food right outside their door.

Growing for CHANGE is the brainchild of co-founders Shantell Bingham, a graduate student pursuing a master’s degree in public health, and Artem Demchenko, a fourth-year undergraduate student in UVA’s School of Architecture. Bingham and Demchenko are Dalai Lama Fellows, two of only 19 students worldwide selected for the 2015-16 fellowship sponsored by the Tibetan spiritual leader. Each receives funding for projects supporting the fellowship’s mission of promoting peace, justice and ecology.

Read the whole story at UVA Today...

Alumnae ‘Mothers of Invention’ Connect Influencers With Classrooms

March 23, 2016

Gray and Medaglia film their 2016 Mothers of Invention video, which is featured in the New York Times. It will also be shown at the national Women in the World Summit at Lincoln Center in New York City on April 8. Gray and Medaglia film their 2016 Mothers of Invention video, which is featured in the New York Times. It will also be shown at the national Women in the World Summit at Lincoln Center in New York City on April 8.[/caption]

Over a quiet pizza dinner back in 2013, Monica Gray and Annie Medaglia hatched an idea that is changing the way teachers can incorporate real-world experience into their classrooms.

Both graduates of the University of Virginia’s Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, Gray and Medaglia are the co-founders of DreamWakers, a non-profit organization that uses free videoconference technology to bring exceptional career speakers into public schools across America.

The women had jobs in Washington, D.C. at the time and were frustrated with the lack of volunteer opportunities – especially opportunities in schools – that were possible for working professionals.

“Public service was just a way of life at UVA,” Gray said. “When we got into the working world, we longed for that same meaningful connection to our community. That desire to connect with young people and give back as young professionals planted the seeds of DreamWakers.”

Read the whole story at UVA Today...

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