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State Internet booster sets first conference

From Inside Business
August 30, 1999

A year-old group trying to enhance Virginia's business climate for Internet -based companies will hold its first conference Sept. 13-17 in Blacksburg.

The conference targets two audiences; entrepreneurs who hope to build their own Net businesses and professionals who currently work in the field.

The group putting on the show is the Internet Technology Innovation Center, a partnership among 11 research groups at four state universities: the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, George Mason University and Christopher Newport University.

The state-funded TIC was established by Virginia's Center for Innovative Technology in August 1998 and charged with nurturing Internet technology, businesses and related workforce skills.

"We as a state have gotten a lot of visibility over the co-location of Internet industries, particularly in Northern Virginia." Says Alfred C. Weaver, a UVa. Computer-science professor who heads the group.

As Virginia feeds workers to such well-known companies as America Online and MCIWorldcom, Weaver says, it sparks newer businesses.

"As people become trained in one of these high-technology areas," he says, "that boosts the level of entrepreneurism that an area can support."

The conference, to be held at Virginia Tech's Donaldson Brown Hotel and Conference Center, will offer half-day and full-day seminars on such topics as security protocol, digital libraries, Internet2 and Java technology. Donald Upson, Virginia's secretary of technology, is scheduled to speak, as are other government and industry leaders.

The conference has company. Other Internet seminars are springing up across the state this fall.

Virginia's Department of Business Assistance will hold a one-day seminar on e-commerce Sept. 29 at the Sheraton Inn in Fredericksburg. Virginia Military Institute will host the Information Technology Symposium, targeted at state government workers, Sept. 19 and 30. And locally, the Greater Richmond Technology Council is coordinating its first E-Commerce Conference set for Oct. 19 at the Richmond Marriott.

But Weaver's not worried there will be too many conferences. It's just a question of focus, he says. "Here we're looking for [entrepreneurs and] the practicing businessman, scientist or engineer who is doing Internet-related work."

Weaver hopes the conference will help create an environment where Virginia is to cyberstores "what Delaware is to corporations."

For more information on the conference, you can visit http://www.internettic.org


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