Yesterday was Pro Day in the Swamp as draft prospects from the National Champion Gators put on a show for over 100 NFL coaches and scouts. It sounds like Reggie Nelson (running a 4.3 40), Chris Leak (completing 64 of 65 passes) and others left a pretty strong impression on those in attendance. That show, however, is not what this post is about.
Last Friday I attended the University of Florida Technology Showcase 2007, A Celebration of Innovation. The birthplace of Gatorade, Sentricon, Trusopt and Regeneration Technologies has become a nursery of world-changing technologies busting at the seams, with entrepreneurs and investors completing the spinout equation. The Showcase brought together over 200 entrepreneurs, investors, researchers and corporate partners to network, matchmake and gather feedback on this year’s top prospects.
UF’s Vice President of Research Win Phillips and UF’s Office of Technology Licensing dynamic duo of David Day and Jane Muir deserve every kudo they received on Friday, having created a refreshingly open and proactive approach to licensing and company-building. My experience with other university licensing offices pales in comparison. If you’re an early-stage entrepreneur or investor and you haven’t met David or Jane, you should. They’re an investor in our fund and I’ll gladly make the introduction if you ping me with an email.
After various welcomes and introductions, the show started with a diverse set of 3-minute technology briefs — some of UF’s youngest technologies, looking for a partner or entrepreneur. Following that, the core agenda involved two concurrent tracks of presenting companies: Technology and Biomedical.
Because I couldn’t be in two places at once, I focused my time on the Technology track that included:
- Prioria (Bryan daFrota): Unmanned aerial vehicles and visual navigation
- Pervasa (Sumi Helal): Sensor network adapters and middleware
- ChaoLogix (Eric Buffkin): Chaos-based run-time reconfigurable chips
- DsPherical (Don Beech): Signal recognition/extraction
- GrooveShark (Sam Tarantino): Legal P2P music sharing
- ViewRay (Will Wells): Full-motion radiation therapy
- Underground Fiber (Huikai Xie): Underground power fault detection
- Walleye (Chris Adams): Portable X-ray camera/viewer (yes, like Star Trek)
In parallel, the Biomedical track included:
- AxoGen (Karen Zaderej): nerve regeneration
- Sabine Neurotechnology (Ryan Kern): DBS surgical guidance system
- Ruperion (Chris Stevens): Pancreatic cancer treatment
- NeuroPoetix (Caroline Popper): Regenerative medicine therapeutics
- Breast Cancer Targeting (William Cance): FAK-based therapeutics
- Innovative Diagnostics (Weihong Tan): Chemical biomarker discovery
- Ixion (Robert Harris): Cellular therapy for disabetes
- Neurological (Anatoly Martynyuk): CNS treatments
I’d seen some of these before, while others were new. On the whole, they did a great job of sharing their excitement and explaining the business opportunities well beyond the science. After canvassing some of my fellow attendees, I’d have to give “Best of Show” golden KangaRuas to Will Wells of Viewray for a very strong presence and presentation, and to Ryan Kern of Sabine for sharing what’s possible when Deep Brain Stimulation moves from disjoint guidance tools to a dedicated, integrated probe guidance system. New readers should see my post last year covering DBS-patient Tyler Staab‘s fight against Dystonia and his Tyler’s Hope for a Dystonia Cure Foundation.
The day ended with an interesting lunchtime talk by Edward Iacobucci, co-founder of Citrix and current President and CEO of DayJet. He seems to savor the entrepreneurial fight at DayJet as much today as he did when founding mega-success Citrix.
Overall, the show was very well run and I feel lucky to live in a town creating this much good stuff. Congratulations to all the entrepreneurs that presented and here’s hoping your first round fortunes shine as bright as Reggie Nelson’s 😉