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Va. Universities discuss power of Internet for local businesses

From Peter Savodnik
September 1, 1999

By Peter Savodnik

University of Virginia professors, U.S. congressmen and regional business leaders converged on Virginia Tech's campus at Blacksburg on Monday to launch the first Virginia Technology Week.

The Internet Technology Innovation Center, a state-funded partnership between 11 research groups at UVa, Virginia Tech, Christopher Newport University and George Mason University, is sponsoring the conference.

Alfred Weaver, Internet TIC's director and a professor of computer science at UVa, said the conference would help to cultivate a more entrepreneurial environment for Internet-based startup companies. "Out goal is that by working with Virginia companies we can help develop the Internet infrastructure," Weaver said.

Weaver outlined two other objectives for the conference and, more broadly, the partnership: developing software tools to promote electronic commerce and increasing awareness of the need for high-skilled, high-tech employees.

The conference received support from Litton Network Access Systems, nanoCom, IBM, Microsoft and other high-tech companies.

Congressmen Frederick "Rick" Boucher, D-Abingdon, and Robert W. Goodlatte, R-Roanoke, spoke Monday about economic development opportunities online and federal legislation affecting the Internet.

"Our Southwest Virginia location is particularly fitting as we discuss the economic development opportunities of the Internet," Weaver said, referring to the conference location at Blacksburg.

"Rural geographies today have the potential to reach global markets. The first annual Virginia Internet Technology Week will present a wealth of information in support of this revolutionary economic trend," he said.

Weaver said that in the past year he had met with representatives from about 50 companies in Virginia, half from the Charlottesville area.

Two of those companies are Cornerstone Networks and Bridgewater Research Group. Bridgewater, based in Palmyra, has developed a tool that allows people with specific areas of expertise to brainstorm with other people in their field via the Internet.

"A company comes in and has a chat with me. We discuss what they're trying to do with the Internet. Then we review the specialties that out center has," he said.

Original Article | Local Copy


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