October 15, 2015 by Tracy Novak, TransTech Energy
Morgantown, WV – In the first 30 seconds of his TED talk, famous bond investor and entrepreneur Bill Gross says, “I believe the start-up organization is one of the greatest forms to make the world a better place.”
Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal and author of “Zero to One,” writes that “start-up thinking” is when “small groups of people bound together by a sense of mission have changed the world for the better.”
Carl Irwin, director of the TransTech Energy Program at West Virginia University (WVU) couldn’t agree more. That’s why he created the TransTech Energy Business Development Conference, which promotes start-ups that are redefining materials technologies, manufacturing processes, recycling, sensors, energy efficiency, and sustainability.
“The goal is to help create innovative companies, new jobs and a sustainable economy in the West Virginia region,” said Irwin, “by giving start-ups a forum to present their ideas to investors, potential industry partners, and the general public.”
Not only can they pitch their ideas, they can network with each other, university researchers, government agencies and business developers, Irwin added. “With research programs at WVU, NETL and other regional innovation centers, Morgantown is the perfect place to hold the TransTech Conference. I invite the public to attend and catch the excitement of new technologies, start-up companies, and the potential for jobs of the future.”
“I attend because TransTech is a great event for bringing people together from West Virginia and the surrounding region who are focused on innovation and commercialization,” said Kevin DiGregorio, director of ChemCeption, a chemistry-based incubator at the West Virginia Regional Technology Park. “I find it’s a great place to meet entrepreneurs and start-ups as well as investors and large companies interested in new technology.”
The first day, Thursday Nov. 5, features pitches by start-up companies and commercializable projects that are scored by panels of investors and industry experts to determine the best commercial ideas. These sessions have been compared to the popular TV show “Shark Tank.”
Also on Thursday morning, entrepreneurs like Keith Masavage, founder and CEO of BioBent Polymers, and West Virginian David Levine, founder of Geostellar, will present their thoughts on strategies for start-up success.
On Thursday afternoon Dr. Brian Anderson, director of the WVU Energy Institute, Brian Baynes, senior partner with Boston-based Flagship Ventures, and Craig Kirsch, CEO of Puris LLC, Bruceton Mills, WV, will discuss pathways from research innovations to start-ups with impact.
The Conference dinner on Thursday evening features a keynote session with Dr. Cheryl Martin, consultant on adoption of new technologies into key markets, and former Acting Director of the U.S. DOE Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy; and Dr. Mark Johnson, director of the U.S. DOE Advanced Manufacturing Office.
The pitch competition continues on Friday, Nov. 6, along with a panel discussion on “Manufacturing and New Business Development Opportunities.” A luncheon discussion on Friday focuses on “Accessing Capital, Technical Assistance and Strategic Partnerships in Underserved Areas.” Finalists from the previous pitch sessions will make brief “elevator pitches” one more time before lunch on Friday with the winners announced in the afternoon.
New this year is the Link-Up and Learn! Conference Reception, featuring WVU research and other emerging technologies, where attendees can:
- drive “Marvin” compliments of Mountaineer Area Robotics (MARS),
- hear about ORNL’s 3-D printed full-size Shelby Cobra,
- greet “Cataglyphis” the intelligent robot built by WVU students that just won the $100,000 NASA Challenge,
- meet “Baxter” the next generation manufacturing robot,
- talk with WVU’s Solar Decathlon team fresh from the 2015 competition in Calif. and,
- assess your home’s solar energy potential with Geostellar.
TransTech Energy is a program of the National Research Center for Coal and Energy at West Virginia University. The program’s goal is to promote new companies and commercializable projects that can provide solutions to energy, environmental, and economic development challenges such as creating new jobs and more competitive industries.
Energy technologies and strategies are constantly in transition as countries around the world strive for economic growth and stability, a reasonably healthy environment, and national security. The term TransTech Energy (TTE) refers to transition technologies, strategies, apps and software that move us along the pathway to a lower carbon, industrially competitive, sustainable economy of the future.