On May 10, a group of three Virginia Tech students won $100,000 worth of business mentorship through VT KnowledgeWorks as part of its first annual Tech Transfer Competition.
Chris Arena and Mike Sano, graduate students, and Paulo Garcia, a post-graduate student, created a business called VoltMed, which works with high frequency irreversible electroporation, or H-FIRE, to reduce to side effects of some techniques to soft cancer tissue.
“We’re going to help them establish their business and get their business plan together so they can talk to potential investors and also have a strategy for how they’re going to start their business,” said Dick Daugherty, director of strategic services for VT KnowledgeWorks.
A primary goal of the Tech Transfer challenge is to help promote business growth in the town of Blacksburg. Mentors working with the winners will encourage them to keep their business in the local area.
According to Daugherty, there was a large burst of business development in Blacksburg by Tech students and faculty in the 1990s, but that has decreased in recent years.
"This is an effort to try an increase the entrepreneurial activity in the local area and to increase the number of companies in the area," he said.
Along with VoltMed, two runner-up entries will also receive a smaller amount of mentorship to help with their business plan. The companies are Acess, an online behavioral testing service, and Focus Radio, which is using technology to help develop auto-focusing for cameras.
"We're hopefully going to have three wonderful businesses come out of this," Daugherty said.
The winning students are studying biomedical engineering.