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Connect nurtures pipeline of innovation and emerging technologies

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Connect, a technology and business accelerator dedicated to the success and growth of San Diego-based technology and life science companies, continues to nurture the local pipeline of innovation and commercialization through a range of new and enhanced programs -- many of them free to the public thanks to the generous support of Connect's members.

Over the last 18 months, Connect has introduced several new initiatives to include a broader audience and to support emerging technologies at all stages of development.

The Technology Transfer Roundtable and the Frontiers in Science and Technology lectures series are two of the new initiatives that support the earliest stages of the innovation pipeline by reaching out to local research institutes.

The Technology Transfer Roundtable is a new forum designed to facilitate the exchange of research and business between San Diego's research institutions and R&D companies and large life sciences/pharmaceutical or technology firms. The goal of the Tech Transfer Forums -- which will be held throughout the year -- will be to facilitate licenses or partnerships where there is a fit between technologies, as well as to facilitate inter-institutional exchange of technology and ideas.

Researchers, scientists and faculty from local institutes who are working on technologies at the verge of commercialization have the opportunity to present their findings and market applications to the public through the monthly Frontiers in Science and Technology lecture series.

Institutes who have participated in this series include The Center for the Commercialization of Advanced Technologies (CCAT), UCSD, The Burnham Institute, SPAWAR and SDSU. The April lecture will feature Albert Deisseroth from the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center.

Moving further down the pipeline, the new Connect Venture Roundtable -- a forum for early stage innovation -- aims to introduce concepts in technology to the venture capital community. The new program was conceived to fill a void by connecting venture capitalists with early stage, disruptive technologies emerging in their area of interest.

By engaging the venture community early in the technology business development process, Connect hopes to assist in building investment pipelines through the introduction of today's technologies poised to become the businesses of tomorrow.

Connect will host three Venture Roundtables each year and will showcase a half dozen pre-screened San Diego early stage technologies at each event. The first three roundtables are scheduled for June 2006, featuring high-tech companies, September 2006, featuring life science companies, and February 2007, featuring clean tech companies.

Connect's Springboard program has recently expanded its mission to support companies at all stages of development, from early concept stage to established companies facing challenges.

Another integral part of the program's evolution has been the introduction of Entrepreneurs-in-Residence who coach companies going through the Springboard process. Entrepreneurs-in-Residence are business leaders in the high tech and life science industries who have run companies, raised capital, and led start-ups. They volunteer their time to help entrepreneurs shape their business models and articulate the value propositions they offer. With over 50 companies currently being coached by over 20 Entrepreneurs-in-Residence, Springboard is actively accelerating the formation and growth of technology companies in the region.

To keep the pipeline of innovation flowing well into the future, Connect has created various opportunities for local high school, college and MBA-students to participate in its programs.

For example, the "Young Innovator Program" provides San Diego students the opportunity to attend Connect's highly visible community events as the personal guest of the region's leaders in business and academia.

Additionally, students from local business schools, including UCSD's Rady School and the SDSU Entrepreneurial Management Center, regularly observe Springboard panel presentations or assist Entrepreneurs-in-Residence in the coaching process.

Rounding out Connect's offerings is a series of half-day, in-depth workshops addressing various topics of interest to technology or life sciences entrepreneurs. The Entrepreneur FrameWorks Workshops offer targeted information needed by entrepreneurs in technology-based companies in order to more effectively start, develop and grow their companies.

Last but not least, Connect features two signature recognition programs that celebrate innovation in San Diego and the people who make it all happen -- the Most Innovative New Product ("MIP") Awards and the Entrepreneur Hall of Fame.

The MIP Awards, now in its 19th year, honors the entrepreneurs and innovators who, through the transformation of ideas into products, help make San Diego a global leader in high-tech and life science innovation.

As Connect's highest honor, the Entrepreneur Hall of Fame celebrates San Diego's entrepreneurial heroes, such as current inductees Irwin Jacobs of Qualcomm and Walter J. Zable of Cubic Corp., who have paved the way for today's technological innovations and businesses, and who continue to inspire future generations of entrepreneurs.

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