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Special Report
University Entrepreneurship

 March 2000



From the Advisory Board Chair...

What is a "start-up"? The concept of forming a company based on an emerging technology or product idea is certainly nothing new. Most of today's top technology companies started this way, some of them not too long ago. What is new are the vast number of companies being launched each year, the ways in which they are funded, and the short timeline they have for becoming successful. This faster-paced, high stakes game helps define the current meaning of "start-up."

While much has changed, there is a common element among the high technology companies of yesterday and today. Many of these companies can trace their beginnings, either directly or indirectly, back to a university. Top universities provide a unique environment for new, breakthrough ideas and technologies to flourish. This is happening today at Virginia Tech, in the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Right here in the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, in many of its groups and centers, there are a number of exciting research programs and "start-ups." From the Center for Wireless Telecommunications to the Fiber and Electro-Optics Research Center to the Virtual Corporation program, the department has an impressive portfolio of products and technology under development. How should Virginia Tech participate in the commercialization of products and technology? How will the resulting intellectual property be handled? Managing these entrepreneurial activities to best benefit the university, the department, and the state is a key challenge for the coming year. The Advisory Board hopes to make a significant contribution by helping the university and the department create a new model for the future.

In addition to the issue of entrepreneurship the Advisory Board is working with the department on a few other initiatives. Our support for the microelectronics education and research program continues from last year. Several past and present board members work in the semiconductor industry and have provided valuable advice, contacts, and resources to this effort. Later this year we will focus on reviewing the curriculum and improving the department's programs for corporate equipment donations and sponsorships.

This Advisory Board consists of an excellent mix of individuals from large and small companies, old and new companies, and a wide variety of industries. We hope our diversity of knowledge and experience will be a major asset to the department during this era of tremendous change.


Sharon E. Holt
The Advisory Board

Global Accounts Manager
Agilent Technologies
Semiconductor Products Group


The Bradley Department

of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Virginia Tech

Last Updated, March 30, 2000
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