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Tech to host Internet technology conference

From Bedford Bulletin
August 18, 1999

By John Barnhart

The Internet Technology Innovation Center (ITIC) will hold an Internet technology conference in Blacksburg next month. The conference, called the 1999 Virginia Internet Technology Week, will take place from Sept. 13 to Sept. 17.

According to Alf Weaver, professor of computer science at the University of Virginia (UVA), the idea for the ITIC was born in 1995 when Weaver saw the need for a statewide service that could answer businessmen's questions.

"I was just swamped with meetings with businessmen across the state," commented Weaver.

A project proposal was made for state funding in 1997 and the ITIC opened its virtual doors Oct. 1, 1998.

ITIC is a partnership among four universities:

There are 12 different research and development groups working in various areas such as electronic commerce, high-speed Internet access and wireless communications. Weaver heads up the Internet Commerce Group.

The center exists to help nurture the entrepreneurial environment in the Commonwealth by helping business' develop products and services that are delivered via the Internet. One feature of its work involves supporting e-commerce by developing software for use throughout the state. This is Weaver's specialty.

In order to help Virginia businessmen use the Web , the center develops e-commerce software that in give it away. In addition, the center will take a company's idea and build a prototype for them. It's up the company to then take the ball and run with it.

But the center can go further, partnering with the company to take the software project all the way to commerce production. In this case, the center and the company share both the costs, reducing the risk for all parties, and the profits.

Weaver said ITIC can be especially helpful to start-up businesses as well as small and medium size companies. It allows them to tap into a pool of expertise that they wouldn't have on an in-house basis.

Another of the center's initiatives is developing high-speed Internet structure in Virginia, called Interent2.

Internet2 will be a data transmission backbone with a speed of 150 megabits per second. Individuals, said Weaver, will be able to tap into this and get data transfer rates of around 10 megabits, and up to 1000 megabits if they have a fiber optic connection in their home. This system will be able to deliver CD quality sound and digital video to home computers.

The center also wants to expand Virginia's high-skill workforce. Weaver notes that universities already have high tech programs, but ITIC would like to see Internet specific courses on subjects such as electronic commerce, security and how to build a cyber-business.

The idea for the technology week came out of a meeting of the 12 development groups in January. The plan is to share their expertise with businesses and raise ITIC's visibility at the same time. Seminars seemed a natural for the center's first public event because the groups all tied to universities.

"We teach," commented Weaver.

Weaver said they expect to hold an Internet Technology Week on an annual basis, more often if there is sufficient interest.

The week will cost between $99 and $499, depending on the number of seminars a participant signs up for. The Internet2 day, held on Sept. 17, is free. For a complete list of the seminars, additional information and e-mail addresses, check out ITIC's web site at http://manta.cs.vt.edu . You can also register for the conference at this site.

Original Article | Local Copy


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