TechNite 2023: Region’s Biggest Night in Tech Honors This Year’s Best from Innovation Ecosystem
The most vibrant and entertaining celebration of the year for tech and biotech returned to Blacksburg this year attracting hundreds of statewide and regional leaders. Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council’s TechNite 2023 was held Thursday at the German Club Manor, celebrating the many breakthroughs and technologists who are driving innovation in the regional tech-based economy.
Among the highlights of the evening was the induction of Eddie Amos into the RBTC Hall of Fame.
TechNite, presented by Woods Rogers Vandeventer Black Attorneys at Law, is an annual celebration for the best in innovation in Virginia’s Region 2.
“The energy at TechNite reflects the energy our innovators and entrepreneurs pour into their work every day. It’s a privilege to bring together our best and brightest from around the region and celebrate the accomplishments that are changing the world right from the Roanoke and New River Valleys,” said Erin Burcham, President of Verge and Executive Director of RBTC.
Virginia Region 2, which includes the Roanoke and New River Valleys and Lynchburg, continues to grow at an exciting pace, noted the evening’s MC Hal Irvin, PhD. Irvin is the Associate Vice President for Health Sciences and Technology Outreach at Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at Virginia Tech Carilion where he facilitates partnerships between companies and researchers.
“The tech and biotech research and innovation coming out of this region is world-class. The way we work together here – our spirit of collaboration – greatly benefits our start-up companies and those looking to relocate. With the advent of additional research space, the Roanoke-Blacksburg innovation ecosystem is poised for substantial growth,” Irvin said.
The following entrepreneurs and companies were honored at the awards ceremony.
Named to the RBTC Hall of Fame, Amos is the former Chief Transformation Officer at TORC, a pioneering autonomous vehicle company based in Blacksburg, VA where he brought over 35 years of tech industry leadership experience.
Amos spent his career in tech including 10 years as a Partner at Microsoft. He also served as a general Manager of Visual Studio, and Vice President of Software and Developer Evangelism at Juniper before helping grow start-up Meridium into a sector leader in asset performance Management. Amos served as Chief Technology Officer at GE Digital and, after the acquisition of Meridium, led the successful integration of both teams. He was later made a Corporate Officer at GE and named Sr. Vice President of Digital Engineering. He was honored for the tremendous leadership and vision he provided the Roanoke-Blacksburg community throughout his impressive career.
New this year is the Hart of Entrepreneurship Award, created to honor the memory of local trailblazing entrepreneur Bonz Hart. Bonz was a loyal champion of RBTC and served in various leadership roles, including the first technology entrepreneur president. RBTC collaborated with Bonz’s loved ones to create an endowment that will continue Bonz Hart’s tremendous spirit and contribution to the Roanoke-Blacksburg technology community. The Hart of Entrepreneurship Award will be given annually to an outstanding entrepreneur in the region.
This year’s recipient is Rendyr, Inc. Founded and led by Virginia Tech alum Martin Angst, the Blacksburg-based desktop robotics startup is developing a first-of-its-kind portable laser cutter that dramatically improves access to rapid prototyping and digital fabrication.
Additional award winners include:
- Dr. Amy White, STEM-H Educator Award which recognizes an educator in the Roanoke-Blacksburg region that promotes math, science, and/or use of technology in creative ways to transfer knowledge and help develop future technology leaders. Amy White is Virginia Western Community College’s Dean for the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics department. White began at VWCC as a biology professor in 2003, and her passion for educating led her to her role as STEM dean. White focuses on educating and mentoring those who are interested in STEM careers, as well as creating equal opportunities for all students wishing to make an impact on the healthcare system.
- Geoff Boyer, K-12 STEM-H Educator Award, which recognizes a K-12 educator in the Roanoke–Blacksburg region that promotes math, science, and/or use of technology in creative ways to transfer knowledge and help develop future technology leaders. Craig County educator Geoff Boyer has dedicated 20 years to teaching math and computer science at Craig County High School. His students design and build portable gaming machines and learn to code using Arduino IDE. A master teacher with Mobile CSP, he travels around the country during the summers to train other teachers, empowering them to impact more students through STEM. In addition to teaching, Geoff also owns his own 3D printing business.
- Qentoros, Rising Star Award, which recognizes an early-stage technology company. This award emphasizes the importance of small firms to our region’s technology economy. Qentoros harnesses the power of platelets to treat orthopedic injuries in horses. Their unique product called BIO-PLY combines powerful pain relief with restorative properties that heal formerly terminal injuries. Qentoros is led by Founder and Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Jessica Gilbertie. Dr. Gilbertie is a veterinary translational scientist and holds a BS and MS from Virginia Tech and a DVM from Iowa State University, and PhD and postdoc from North Carolina State University.
- Chad Burchett, Innovator Award, which recognizes an individual, a team, or organization that has blazed new trails in the areas of research and innovation. Chat Burchett boasts an international career in the commercial vehicle industry via the Volvo Group and Trova Commercial vehicles Inc. He currently serves as Trova Commercial Vehicle’s Chief Technology Officer and is working to significantly accelerate the development and industrialization of zero tailpipe emissions in commercial vehicles. Mr. Burchett is a Virginia Tech trained mechanical engineer with 6 granted patents and 11 patents pending.
- Angela Pope Dickerson, Regional Leadership Award, which recognizes a member who succeeds in the workplace, but also leads by example by contributing significantly to the RBTC community. Angela Pope Dickerson is a manager at Bullish, a Blacksburg-based blockchain company. Over the past year she has tirelessly donated her time and energy to spearhead the founding of a local chapter of Blacks In Technology for Southwest Virginia (BIT SWVA). The global organization, BIT, is dedicated to increasing the representation and participation of Black people in the technology industry.
- Alex Hyler, Entrepreneur Award, recognizes a leader exemplifying what it means to be a risk-taker in technology. Dr. Alex Hyler serves as the Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer for CytoRecovery, a dynamic startup working to commercialize new cell separation and recovery technologies and advance understanding of disease initiation, progression and treatment. Dr. Hyler earned her PhD in biomedical engineering from the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences. During her time at VT, she earned a Fullbright and was named the Outstanding Graduate Student of the Year for her work in scholarship and community outreach.
- KlariVis, Leading Small Tech Company, recognizes a Roanoke or New River Valley company committed to advancing the region’s technology community and demonstrating excellence in people, programs, and projects within its industry. Roanoke based KlariVis is an enterprise dashboard and analytics tool designed by bankers for bankers to provide critical, actionable insights to empower strategic decision making. Founded by CPA Kim Snyder, KlariVis provides advanced report capabilities, offering a unique, holistic view of the entire organization in easy to digest, multidimensional views.
- Intuitive Surgical, Leading Large Tech Company recognizes a company committed to advancing the region’s technology community and demonstrating excellence in people, programs, and projects within its industry. Intuitive Surgical is an international corporation with a strong presence in Blacksburg, VA that develops robotic-assisted surgical systems to advance minimally invasive care. Their Blacksburg, VA location has a deep manufacturing presence, where everyone from quality assurance engineers to assembly team members to supply chain managers work together to get Intuitive’s products to the world.
- Dr. Rafael Davalos & Elizabeth McClanahan, Ruby Award, which recognizes an outstanding member who has proven to be a brilliant and valuable asset to the Roanoke-Blacksburg region. This year, two winners will take home the prize.
- Rafael V. Davalos is an Endowed Professor of Biomedical Engineering in the Virginia Tech – Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences. He also holds Adjunct Appointments in Mechanical Engineering, the Wake Forest Comprehensive Cancer Center, and at the Wake Forest Institute of Regenerative Medicine. He serves on the editorial board for the ASME Journal of Medical Devices and IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering. Davalos was also the lead inventor at CytoRecovery and was instrumental in producing revolutionary marker-free cell sorting technology.
- A Justice on the Supreme Court of Virginia until 2011, Elizabeth McClanahan is now the CEO of the Virginia Tech Foundation. She also teaches Legal, Financing, and Ethical Issues for Entrepreneurs at Virginia Tech. She has served as Chair of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia; Williamson Fellow at William and Mary College of Law; Street Memorial Distinguished Visitor in Real Estate Law at Appalachian School of Law; and the El Paso Natural Gas Law Fellow at the University of Colorado School of Law. In addition to Elizabeth’s published opinions for the Court of Appeals of Virginia and the Supreme Court of Virginia, she was a nationally recognized expert in coalbed methane development, having published and/or presented almost 40 papers on coalbed methane, mineral title rights, and regulatory issues.
Thanks to all the sponsors and companies that helped make the 2023 event a success: Woods Rogers Vandeventer Black Attorneys at Law, Carilion Clinic, Virginia Tech Foundation, City of Roanoke, Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation, Botetourt County, Cox Business, P1 Technologies, Roanoke County, TechLab, Inc, MemberOne Federal Credit Union, Montgomery County, Pulaski County, and CSC Leasing.
RBTC, part of the Verge Alliance, exists to promote the growth of the Roanoke-Blacksburg technology community with a vision for the region to be globally recognized for its innovation, entrepreneurship, and talent assets. The Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council is a member-driven association working to promote the growth of the regional technology community, supporting a strong tech-based economy. The organization is the essential business resource for technology entrepreneurs and companies seeking to achieve greater success with members that range from emerging technology firms to the largest employers in the region. Learn more at rbtc.tech.
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