by Paige Donner
As an exhibitor at this year’s TechConnect Summit, Pixelligent Technologies has found that participating in this annual event has its payoffs. Craig Bandes, CEO of Pixelligent and a presenter at TechConnect Ventures for multiple years, says that, “We started looking for conferences that were focusing on nanotechnology about 3 years ago and TechConnect was the largest gathering of potential partners and vendors that we could find in North America. We have presented in the Innovation Showcase for the past 2 years and will present again this year. TechConnect has proven to be our most productive conference of the year.”
Not just the private sector but the public sector as well stands to gain through strategic attendance and participation at TechConnect Summits, this year’s held in the San Francisco Bay Area, a geographic zone that has proven attractive in particular to nanotechnology start-ups and companies. Dina Lozofsky, who also serves on the TehcConnect Advisory Committee in addition to her role as Sr. Licensing Officer at UC Santa Barbara, says that, “At Tech Connect I have made many good contacts at the event that have proven to be valuable for pursuing my organization’s goals. Tech Connect has also given us good opportunities to showcase our technologies available for licensing and our startups the opportunity to present to potential partners and investors.”
Can participants look for tangible outcomes from attending or exhibiting at Cleantech Connect Summits? I posed this question to Didier Leconte, President and General Manager at MSBi Valorisation and formerly with Univalor. His response bears testimony to several concrete outcomes from his experiences: “I met several representatives from companies during my first TechConnect Summit (and then after) and ultimately signed a commercialization agreement with one, in addition to developing long lasting relationships.” He added that he thinks “the location this year represents a great opportunity to network in the Bay area.”
Can exposure to a large array of participating companies at a summit like TechConnect World be potentially beneficial? Yes and no seems to be the answers, with an emphasis on potential. For example, University of Minnesota’s Leza Besemann, a Technology Strategy Manager and also on the TechConnect Advisory Committee, says that, “TechConnect provides a great venue to not only promote our available technologies but also to get market feedback and input on the commercial viability of these technologies.” And on the subject of leveraging networking opportunities presented by Summit participation, she says, “We obtained contacts at large companies such as Dow, Honda and Kodak that were potential licensees for our technologies.” She added that they are looking forward to the Innovation Summit, “which is yet another opportunity to increase awareness of the University of Minnesota and our technologies.”
Boris Kobrin, CEO and Co-Founder of Rolith, Inc. had a different take-away: “We participated in TechConnect in 2011. Except a few new contacts no positive outcomes we have seen so far. Even personal meetings requested by 2 corporate partners (Dow and Lockheed) were not useful at all.” However, Rolith will be participating again at this year’s summit and Kobrin says that some of the highlights that keep him coming back are the exposure to the other participating companies that “positively impact our fundraising and partnership-building activities,” and the requests for meetings from two corporate partners – Applied Materials and SK Innovation.