Local Techies Honor Their Own

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NCTC Executive Director Cory Donovan.
NCTC Executive Director Cory Donovan.
NCTC Executive Director Cory Donovan.

Members of the NewVa Corridor Technology Council (NCTC) gathered last week for TechNite, an annual celebration of the NewVa region’s technology community. The evening was highlighted with an awards ceremony, where leaders were recognized in six categories, including Rising Star, Entrepreneur, NewVa Leadership, Innovation, Educator and People’s Choice.

Many of the NCTC members are smaller companies or startups. Some are connected to Virginia Tech, while others have chosen the Roanoke area as a result of a series of programs recently held and designed to attract young professionals, and more high tech companies, to the valley.

Several months ago, the NCTC reached a milestone when it welcomed its 200th member. Executive Director Cory Donovan said the non-profit NCTC exists “to serve and promote the region as a place where technology companies can start [up] … and thrive.”

Reaching 200 members was important, in part, said Donovan, because of all the “doom and gloom” regarding the economy.

“This is something very positive. We’ve got a lot of technology companies here in diverse industries.”  Despite the challenges, Donovan said many are “doing well; they’re growing.”

Since there are not “huge headquarters here with thousands of employees,” Donovan said, it’s hard sometimes for those passing through to recognize the Roanoke-Blacksburg corridor as a high-tech hub. Providing a support structure for the local tech community is a major part of the NCTC mission, and reaching that milestone was important.

“Passing 200 members – reaching out to let other technology companies that may be small, [by] letting them know that there’s a community here that they can tap into for support,” Donovan said.

TechNite is the Council’s annual event to recognize its biggest achievers, and a record number watched at Hotel Roanoke as U.S. Senator Mark Warner (an early cell phone millionaire), announced this year’s award winners.

Rising Star Award: recognizes a local technology company which “star is rising.”  The winner was ADMMicro in Roanoke, ADMMicro competes with industry giants like Honeywell and General Electric. The company offers a unique intelligent energy management system equipped that can monitor usage of electricity, natural gas, propane, and water consumption. The company has grown to 50 employees since being founded in 2002 and continues to grow, having recently moved into the former Johnson & Johnson facility in Roanoke.

Entrepreneur Award: Dr. James Rancourt, Founder of Polymer Solutions Corporation. Rancourt founded Polymer Solutions in 1987, prior to finishing graduate school, with a government contract and one analytical instrument in his garage. Since then, it has become one of the leading experts worldwide in the polymer and materials science area and is often called upon to testify in highly sensitive court proceedings.

NewVa Leadership Award: Neil Wilkin, Jr., President of Optical Cable Corporation. Wilkin is the President and CEO of Optical Cable Corporation and Chairman of the Board. When he was hired at Optical Cable in 2001, the company faced many challenges including mounting debt, a stock price that was at a historic low, multiple lawsuits, and an investigation by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In recent years, the company has been recognized for its performance standards by the US Military, for Excellence in International Trade, as Manufacturer of the Year, as Business of the Year, Exporter of the Year, and received the Presidents Award from the NAACP.

Innovation Award: Attaain, Inc., an online, real-time market research service, the web-based Attaain system provides comprehensive real-time market and competitive intelligence on an affordable subscription basis.

Educator Award: this award recognizes a K-12 educator in the NewVa Region that promotes math, science and/or use of technology in creative ways to transfer knowledge and help develop future technology leaders. Winners are Molly Bullington, Burton Center for Arts and Technology, who is co-chair in the Center for Engineering, and Georgette Yakman, Pulaski County High School. Yakman teaches Materials & Processes, Construction Technology, and Communications Technology courses. She was recently chosen as the Virginia Technology Education Association President-Elect.

People’s Choice Award: Wireless MedCARE, a company focused on applying wireless, sensor, and embedded system technology to meet the needs of the world’s aging population. The company founders are experts in medicine, wireless communications, computer networks, integrated circuit design, sensors, and electronics.

Visit thetechnologycouncil.com for a complete list and description of Tech Nite winners.