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Innovation Stars Award Winners

The Southern Piedmont Technology Council’s Innovation STARS Awards Banquet partnered with the Southern Virginia STEM-H Summit to promote the extraordinary achievements of our region’s educational and industrial leaders, punctuated with an impressive keynote address from NASA astronaut Leland Melvin of Lynchburg, VA.
With 200 of the area’s most influential in attendance in IALR’s Great Hall, the evening’s festivities began with SPTC President Jon Horin recognizing the Tech Council’s 20 years of advocating the importance of investing in technological fields in both the public and private sectors to meet the adapting demands of economic development in the region.
“Since its inception, SPTC has been an advocate for the region’s technology investments by educating the community and increasing Southern Piedmont's exposure relative to technology,” Horin stated. “Over the past two decades, we have recognized many technological achievements that have catapulted our region forward.”
“On behalf of the SPTC Board, and our anchor members – the Center for Innovative Technology, American National Bank and Trust Company, Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communications Corporation, the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, and Noblis, I thank you for your support and commitment to the importance of this event for our region,” Horin remarked. “We are extremely proud of the significant accomplishments that will be highlighted as we recognize and honor our region’s innovation stars.”
Award winners include:
Senator Frank M. Ruff
Chairman's Award
Innovation in Education and Community Outreach Award

Troy Simpson - Precision Machining Workforce Development Pipeline
Innovation in Community Award
Innovation in Technology - Small Business Award
Microsoft Data Center
Innovation in Technology - Large Business Award
Samantha Smith-Herndon
Rising Star Award

Danielle Jeffers
Student Innovator Award
Michael Ashby
Student Innovator Award

Significant Technology Achievements Recognized!

Special recognition was given to the innovative achievements of many industries throughout our region at the Innovation Stars Awards Banquet.
Tad Deriso of Mid Atlantic Broadband, responsible for Microsoft and Mid Atlantic Broadband joining forces to ensure no child is without opportunity, utilized a spectrum called white space to deliver internet service to school children in the Southern Virginia region.
Dr. William Schmachtenburg, a pioneer educator in our region, teaches students about the opportunities of developing coding applications at Franklin County High School. Students from his class have successfully competed in the Congressional App Challenge in 2015 and 2016 and he has also taught classes across the SPTC service region to share this important skill to students who do not have access to this training.
Dr. Angeline Godwin & Patrick Henry Community College have worked with Leanna Blevins at the New College Institute, in conjunction with Eastman Chemical Company and community leaders, to ensure that local industries have access to advanced, customized training to support their industry’s technology needs through the Center for Advanced Film Manufacturing.
Kelly Shotwell instructs and recruits for the IT Academy program at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center where she has helped over 75 trainees learn the skills to become IT professionals in the work place. Over half of the trainees now have full-time IT professional employment.
Intertape Polymer has made a tremendous investment in research and development of materials and automation of their industrial facility utilizing state-of-the-art robotics, CNC equipment and other modernization that advance the growth and success of the business.
Capewell Aerial Systems is a defense contractor in Patrick County, Virginia that utilizes advanced automation to make safety devices that save the lives of EMT's, soldiers, fire and rescue individuals, and other essential operations. Their utilization of technology has enabled them to expand into many new markets that make our nation a safer place.
JTI Leaf Services has established an international company's presence in the United States with an adept IT team. Their logistics, communications, and joint departmental data management for a company that conducts business with many countries around the globe, are all managed from Switzerland and Danville. Their business proves the proficiencies of broadband capacity in our region, but only due to the intellect and commitment of the Danville team.
Frank Della Pia brought his history in research and development for General Motors to Southern Virginia to establish the premier international center for tire research at the Virginia International Raceway Research Park. His Global Center for Automotive Performance Simulation (GCAPS) is a leading research model performing testing for automotive and tire companies around the world.
The Dan River Nonprofit Network & EvelynRiley have partnered with Averett University and Goodwill Industries to provide computer and technology assistance to 18 local nonprofits when they cannot afford to pay for services. This partnership connects community members to those individuals who have technology skills and require hands-on experience for their future careers.

Awards Dinner Keynote Speaker Announced

The SPTC is pleased to announce its Innovation Stars Awards Banquet guest speaker, Leland Melvin. Leland is a former NFL player, astronaut, head of NASA Education, co-chair on the White House’s Federal Coordination in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education Task Force, and author of Chasing Space: An Astronaut's Story of Grit, Grace, and Second Chances. 

Read more: Awards Dinner Keynote Speaker Announced

Welcome New Members


It Is Time to Nominate Our Innovations Stars!

Nominations are open for the Innovation Stars Awards for 2018, presented by the Southern Piedmont Technology Council. 

Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund (CRCF) FY2018 Solicitation

The Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund (CRCF) advances science- and technology-based research, development, and commercialization to drive economic growth in Virginia, create and foster high-potential technology companies in the Commonwealth, and to encourage and strengthen collaboration and partnerships between the public and private sector. The Fund seeks to advance Virginia's position in strategically important area including, but not limited to human health, cyber security, and smart communities. $2.5 million is available to award during the single FY2018 round. 
The following five (5) programs are available in FY2018. Click on the program for more information.
Private Sector
Academia, Federal Research Facilities, University Research Consortia, and Other Nonprofit Research Institutions
Key Dates
Webinars and Regional Briefings
Informational webinars discussing the FY2018 solicitation will be available throughout the submission period. Live webinars will be recorded and available for those unable to participate. View webinars below and click on the corresponding link to register; you'll have the option of selecting which session you will attend via each registration link.
  • REGISTER: CRCF FY2018 Solicitation -- Completing the LOI
  • Learn more about the CRCF FY2018 solicitation and details regarding the Letter of Intent (LOI) process. Opportunity for Q&A.
Visit for more information.


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