Lt. Governor Bill Bolling and U.S. Senator Mark Warner were paired as speakers at the Technology Council Awards Banquet Thursday evening. Bolling is traveling the state as part of the “Virginia Growing Stronger” tour highlighting the state’s successes in creating an environment for small businesses with technology being a large part of the state’s success. “We’re doing better right now than almost anybody else in the country,” said Bolling.
Senator Warner said that 80 percent of all jobs that have been created in the last 20 years have not come from traditional companies but rather from start-ups. “Those that succeed transform marketplaces,” he said.
The Educator Award presented by Patrick Patterson President of Novozymes Biologicals, Inc. went to Stephanie Crawford of Montgomery County Public Schools and Dr. Linda Gooding Roanoke Valley Governor’s School. The award recognizes a K-12 educator in the region that promotes math, science and/or use of technology in creative ways to transfer knowledge and help develop future technology leaders.
Brian Hamilton Economic Development Director for Montgomery County presented the Rising Star Award. It went to Lujure in Blacksburg. They have developed an application that helps companies customize their facebook fan pages. They have over 60,000 users. This award recognizes a local technology company whose “star is rising.” It may not be a household name yet, but it could soon be another local success story in the region.
Roanoke County Administrator Clay Goodman presented the Regional Leadership Award to former executive vice president and chief operating officer of Virginia Tech, Minnis Ridenhour. “I really do see the future of this region,” he said. This award recognizes one of the county’s own who not only succeeds in the workplace, but also leads by example by contributing significantly to his home community.
Roanoke City Manager Chris Morrill presented the Entrepreneur Award to the co-founder of ADMMicro, Mark Vincent. They have since been acquired by GridPoint but still maintain their office in the city. This award recognizes one of the city’s own that exemplifies what it means to be a risk-taker with “nerves of steel” to blaze a new path in the technology field.
The Innovation Award sponsored by SAIC and presented by Mary Ann Bonadeo went to PowerHub Systems of Blacksburg. Their smart batteries enable utility providers to integrate renewable energy sources back into the power grid. This award recognizes an individual, a group or organization that sets the standard for thought leadership and innovation in their respective field. “They are doing something new or different.”
The Peoples Choice Award was presented by Ed Lawhorn of Suntrust Bank and was accepted by the co-founder of MoGo Mobile Daniel Burgess. The company is doing research in educational games. The audience chose this award winner that allows the opportunity to learn more about other up-and-coming companies in the region.
Ed and Katherine Walker were surprised with a secret RUBY award. Russ Ellis past president of the Technology Council framed them as social entrepreneurs for the region. He said that from time to time, there are achievements that are not easily classified into an award category. The RUBY Award recognizes them as a model for others to emulate. Ed Walker gave credit to the RBTC saying, “It is doing the trench front line work for the most important challenge that we have which is to knit these twin valleys together.”
The night was not complete without a roast of outgoing executive director Cory Donovan who took the helm in 2007. Derick Maggard takes his place. Bethanne Trexell the office manager with the RBTC for 2 ½ years said, “in working with Cory I cannot testify enough to his good nature, his character and his moral and ethic standing.” She said when they started working together in 2003 there were 35 people going to the morning technology breakfasts – now there are 250. Trexell said, “his passion and dedication was intoxicating and contagious.”