Thursday, December 22, 2011

Carilion, Eye Clinics To Collaborate

Carilion Clinic, Vistar Eye Center, Eye Care & Surgery and Blue Ridge Eye Center will collaborate to provide emergency and in-patient eye care to patients at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital.

The agreement includes the provision of 24/7 on-call service for Carilion’s Level-1 trauma program, along with general and retinal ophthalmologic care for emergency/urgent care and hospitalized patients.

The three physician groups will continue as independent practices, but will collaborate with Carilion’s trauma and emergency programs to further advance the level and quality of eye care in the region.

The physicians participating in the collaboration include:
  • Eugene H. Eng, M.D., Carey W. Robinson, M.D., and William M. Thompson, M.D., with Eye Care & Surgery;
  • Chad Albright, M.D., Jon Brisley, M.D., Timothy Byrnes, M.D., Frank Cotter, M.D., John Facciani, M.D., Kurt Guelzow, M.D., Craig Hartranft, M.D., John Hines, M.D., David Kinsler, M.D., Scott Strelow, M.D., Kenneth Tuck, M.D., and John R. Wood, M.D. with Vistar Eye Center;
  • Joseph S. Weisman, M.D. with Blue Ridge Eye Center.


Wireless Medcare Has Joint Venture

Wireless MedCARE, LLC today announced a customer and joint venture agreement with Senior Homestyle Living, LLC of Arlington, Texas in which Wireless MedCARE will provide its FDA-cleared VivaTRAK sensor assisted care system to two Senior Homestyle Living (SHL) facilities currently under construction in Texas.

The VivaTRAK platform technology aggregates sensor and device information for healthcare applications in long-term care facilities and in homes. Benefits include higher quality care and operational efficiencies. In addition to the 32-bed installation, the two companies have agreed to form VivaSense Solutions, a joint venture that will be owned equally by the two companies.

VivaSense will focus on further product development, marketing and sales of technology products with applications in the independent living, assisted living and home healthcare market segments. Wireless MedCARE staff will provide product development and an advanced technology roadmap to meet the product needs at SHL installations.

Senior Homestyle Living will provide beta testing for new products designs and market feedback for new product enhancements and features. "SHL is committed to delivering the highest quality care at an affordable price," says Ron Cheney, CEO of Senior Homestyle Living, LLC. "By jointly working with Wireless MedCARE, we are confident we can deliver on our commitment to improve both the quality and efficient delivery of care while advancing information technology tools for the care of our aging population. Our ultimate goal is to provide the highest quality of life to our residents."

"Since its founding through the Carilion Biomedical Institute, Wireless MedCARE has focused on opportunities to use its technology to deliver patient informatics to doctors, nurses, technicians as well as electronic medical record systems. VivaTRAK™ improves the effectiveness and efficiency of care in skilled nursing and other healthcare facilities," says Dan Wrappe, the company's CEO. "We are pleased to partner with SHL to forge a path into the assisted living, independent living, and home healthcare markets.”

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Roanoke Co-Op Helps Charities, Keeps Bags from Landfill

The Roanoke Natural Foods Co-op has released figures from a year-old program that allows shoppers who use their own grocery bags to fund local charities while preventing thousands of disposable paper and plastic bags from landing in local landfills.

Just a year after launching the program, the Co-op estimates the program has kept nearly 60,000 bags out of the trash, while nearly $5,0000 has been contributed to local charities.

Co-op Director Bruce Phlegar says the program is straightforward. “If shoppers opt to use their own, re-usable shopping bag it saves the Co-op money that would have been spent on traditional paper or plastic grocery bags. We wanted to help the environment and local charities, by channeling our savings to agencies that need and deserve extra income.”

Phlegar explained that customers receive a poker chip every time they use their own bag instead of one provided by the store. Customers drop their chips into bins near the exit. Each bin is labeled with the name of a local not-for-profit organization. At the end of the month, the Co-op pays the charity a nickel for every chip.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

G&H Gets School Contract from Roanoke County

The Roanoke County School Board has awarded a $1,884,000 contract to G&H Contracting to construct an expansion to Burlington Elementary School to house preschool and kindergarten classrooms.

“This is a needed expansion at Burlington,” says Roanoke County School Board member Jerry Canada. “This helps get classes out of the basement at the school and into a new space,” Canada said.

Construction is expected to begin within the next few weeks with the intention to have the new classrooms ready for the start of the 2012-2013 school year.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Manufacturers Receive Second Round of Grants

Salem Vent (above), Dex and Dynax are among the recipients.

Nine projects totaling more than $700,000 have been approved for Southwest Virginia’s transportation equipment manufacturing industry. The grants provide funding to make industrial plants more efficient, fuel new product creation, or beef up company research-and-development efforts, New River Valley Planning District Commission announced.

This announcement comes at the beginning of a second round of funding as part of three rounds.

The largest grant recipient for the second round is Dex Truck Parts, headquartered in Floyd. Five other companies successfully competed for the grants:Volvo Trucks North America in Dublin, Salem Vent in Salem, Dynax America in Roanoke, Graham-White in Salem, and TRW Automotive in Atkins.

The grants are issued under a U.S. Economic Development Administration project focused on the transportation equipment manufacturing sector of Southwest Virginia. The money is designated to provide the kind of technical assistance that allows companies to grow and create jobs. In some cases Virginia Tech College of Engineering faculty or experts from the GENEDGE Alliance (formerly the Virginia Philpott Manufacturing Extension Partnership) will offer research guidance.

“All of these projects are delivering innovations to the shop floor. For example, at Salem Vent International, the father-daughter team of Tim and Cary Kelly owns a plant employing 40 people making vent systems for truck cabs. A Virginia Tech engineering faculty member is working with the Kellys, moving ahead on a new product that will reduce truck idle times – making green by going green. I am very excited in the second round that we are able to extend this opportunity for collaboration to additional companies, and I look forward to helping build jobs in this industry in this region” says John Provo, director of the Virginia Tech Office of Economic Development.

The projects include green facility upgrades (Dex Truck Parts, Salem Vent International), new product development (Graham-White, Salem Vent International), and process improvements (Volvo Trucks North America, Dex Truck Parts, Dynax America, Salem Vent International, and TRW Automotive).

The grant will underwrite more than $525,000 of the work, along with approximately $180,000 in contributions from the companies, resulting in more than $700,000 in total investment for the transportation equipment manufacturing industry in Southwest Virginia.

Over the two rounds of funding to date, more than $1.2 million has been invested in the region’s transportation equipment manufacturing sector. “The leadership team sees a lot of promise in these projects creating new jobs in the region. This program is also helping companies retain jobs and solidify their presence in the region for the future” says Kevin Byrd, director of the New River Valley Planning District Commission.

A third and final round of grant funding will commence with company letters of intent due by January 23 2012.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Social Media Meetup: Christmas Lunch

Raquel Rothe and Patsy Stewart deep in conversation.

Janeson Keeley (left) and Raquel Rothe chat.

The table kept having to be expanded as guests arrived.

Patsy Stewart thanks those gathered for coming.

Social media's Roanoke area meetup group held its annual Christmas lunch today at Shakers at Valley View Mall and a full complement showed up to chat and compare notes. Here's some of what it looked like.

Luna Plans To Redefine Its Mission

Luna Innovations in Roanoke has announced a new corporate strategy to grow revenue that focuses on serving high-growth industries with new technology solutions to measure, monitor, protect and improve critical processes in the medical, defense and composites industries.

The strategy, recently approved by the company’s Board of Directors, focuses on three key objectives:
  • Become the leading provider of sensing systems and standard test methods for composite materials by offering disruptive technology that revolutionizes the industry.
  • Continue to pioneer the way and be the leading supplier of fiber-optic shape sensing technology for robotic and minimally invasive surgical systems.
  • Be the leading choice for ensuring the integrity of integrated circuits used in defense systems.
“Over the past few months, our leadership team and board members have worked together to conduct a comprehensive analysis of our products, strengths, market position and market needs,” says My Chung, CEO of Luna Innovations. “We believe that our technologies, our people and our research and development, along with our partnerships in numerous industries, provide us with some very attractive opportunities.”

“Now, following a successful reorganization, we want to provide investors and other stakeholders with a road map to the future that emphasizes the compelling value proposition for markets we serve,” Chung says.

One example of a product implementing our strategy is the ODiSI (Optical Distributed Sensor Interrogator), Luna’s new sensing platform. It provides fully distributed strain or temperature measurements and delivers an unprecedented amount of data by using an optical fiber as a continuous sensor over up to 50 meters of surface. Compared to traditional sensing methods, such as strain gages, Luna's technology provides greater insight into the performance, tolerances and failure mechanisms of structures and vehicles. The company believes the technology will provide value to the fast-growing composites manufacturing market, particularly in aerospace and green energy applications.

Another growth opportunity is in the medical market. Luna maintains product development relationships with two leading players in robotic medical technology – Intuitive Surgical and Hansen Medical and is working with both companies to support the development of high-speed shape sensing and localization of minimally invasive surgical devices using fiber-optic technology. The technology is helping to improve healthcare with advances in medical robotics and minimally invasive surgery.

“These are just a few examples of technology and markets where we’ve identified opportunities to increase revenues and market share,” Chung said. “Together with our continued emphasis on research and development and new focus on cultivating a high-performance team with the energy of a start-up company, we have mapped out a future direction that takes advantage of technology trends and high-growth industries to position Luna for what we expect will be a strong and promising future.”

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Dresser-Rand Acquires Synchrony for $50M

Dresser-Rand Group Inc., a global supplier of rotating equipment and aftermarket parts and services, has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Synchrony, Inc., of Roanoke County. The transaction is expected to close in January 2012.

Synchrony, whose president, Victor Ianello (right) was FRONT's executive of the year in 2009 and is a former chairman of the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce Board, is a technology development company of technologies and products including active magnetic bearings (AMB), high speed motors and generators, and power electronics for clean, efficient, and reliable rotating machinery.

Under the agreement, Dresser-Rand will acquire Synchrony, Inc. for approximately $50 million net of cash acquired. The agreement includes the potential for additional consideration of up to a maximum of $10 million tied to technical milestones and to business performance. It should be noted that the operating costs for this acquisition are already included in the Company's guidance for 2012 previously provided.

Founded in 1993, Synchrony manufactures, and tests its products in an ISO 9001-certified facility which includes a best-in-class model shop for rapid prototype fabrication and assembly.

Iannello says, "We are truly excited about becoming part of Dresser-Rand as we believe its global presence and resources will accelerate our growth. I am confident that the combination of Dresser-Rand and Synchrony provides for new opportunities and unparalleled value for our business partners."

According to Christopher Rossi, Dresser-Rand's Vice President of Technology and Business Development, "Several years ago we identified the strategic importance of being able to offer oil-free solutions in high speed rotating equipment applications.

"The overall value proposition for eliminating auxiliary oil systems centers around three principles: a) reduced footprint and weight in platform and FPSO applications which generates overall CAPEX savings in the construction phase, b) oil-lubricated bearings in subsea applications are neither practical nor reliable, and c) lubrication oil in compressor and steam turbine applications in general needs to be reconditioned and ultimately discarded as it is mixed with process gas or steam, thus making it environmentally unfriendly.

"As we believe that this technology will need to develop on an ongoing basis along with the normal evolution of the other components of our compressor and turbine offerings, we made the decision that we either needed to invest in our own internal R&D effort or acquire excellent design capacity in the marketplace.

"After an extensive technology assessment process we concluded that we have found, what we believe to be, the best technology that exists today in the form of Synchrony.

"We believe that the seamless integration of this capability into our product development process will provide us with the ability to continuously improve our overall equipment designs, and is the fastest and least expensive way to build this capability internally.

"Synchrony has already realized this value in the defense, HVAC, wastewater, and renewable energy markets, and will continue to supply its products and technology to leading rotating equipment manufacturers in these respective markets."

Executive Coaching Tips Workshop Set

Allan Tsang of 88 owls inb Blacksburg is presenting a workshop on the techniques, methodology, system and secrets that he uses to advise and coach executives and consultants Jan. 16 and 27. It is a four-hour, intensive, interactive workshop is for both new and veteran leaders.

It is scheduled 8 a.m.-noon at the Hilton Garden Inn in Blacksburg and costs $97. That includes breakfast, book, handouts, advance work, and 30 minutes of phone coaching.

You can register here. Register early enough and the tuition is cut in half.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Tech-Wake Research Rewarded with Projects

Of four new research projects announced today by Toyota’s Collaborative Safety Research Center, two include the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences.

Just a few days ago, the Brain Trauma Foundation honored the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest University biomedical program with its 2011 Brain Trauma Foundation Award. Toyota funded some of the research that led to this award.

“We are confident our research advancements will help reduce the risk of traumatic brain injuries in both automobile impacts as well as on the football field,” said Stefan Duma, professor and head of the biomedical engineering program for Virginia Tech and Wake Forest University. “We are grateful to Toyota for its support of this important, lifesaving research and to the Brain Trauma Foundation for its recognition.”

Toyota launched its research safety center in January 2011 with an initial investment of $50 million. This center pursues automotive safety research through a collaborative model that prioritizes sharing Toyota’s talent and technology with a broad range of institutions, and Virginia Tech’s biomedical program continues to receive significant support.

At Virginia Tech, one of the new Toyota projects will focus on abdominal injuries. Duma said this study will look at the relationship between age and abdominal injuries caused by automobile crashes in the United States, to determine if a specific population, such as senior drivers, is more vulnerable to abdominal injuries during these events.

The second project involving Virginia Tech is a partnership with George Washington University. Duma explained the project will upgrade a frontal impact test dummy, initially developed by the National Highway Safety Transportation Safety Administration, that allows automotive manufacturers an advanced tool to assess the injury risk of drivers and passengers in vehicles using crash tests. The dummy, named THOR, may lead to new technologies for the design of vehicles and their restraint systems.

Virginia Tech’s biomedical program has a history of work in crash mechanics. Over the past three years, the U.S. Army awarded Duma and his colleagues Warren Hardy and Clay Gabler, also biomedical engineering faculty members, over $10 million in research awards to study the biomechanics of head, neck, and chest injury.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Michael Miller Wins Top FRONT Award

Contributor of the Year Michael Miller (left) with Editor Dan Smith.
Speaker Andrea Brunais makes a point.
Smith and Publisher Tom Field introduce the contributors.
Technology writer Michael Miller, whose technological insight, outstanding photography and general reporting and feature writing have been outstanding during the past year, is the 2011 Valley Business FRONT Contributor of the Year.

Alison Weaver
Michael, whose day job is at Virginia Tech Intellectual Properties, received the award at the FRONT's annual Writers Luncheon at Hunting Hills Country Club, where Virginia Tech's Andrea Brunais gave the address. Andrea is an award-winning writer and editor, who has also been involved in public relations and freelance writing.

Janeson Keeley
Editor Dan Smith said of Michael, "He's good at everything he wants to be good at and we're fortunate he wants to be good at writing and photography. And we're very fortunate he's with us."

Other writers winning one of the four top awards included:
  • Alison Weaver, Story of the Year, for her cover story "Alternative Medicine." Alison has won one either Story of the Year or Contributor of the Year each of the four years of VBFRONT's existence. Runners-up in this category included Rob Johnson for his cover story on homebrew and small beer breweries; Laura Purcell for cover stories on labor and veterinarians; and Susan Ayers for a cover piece on angel investing.
  • Janeson Keeley, who wrote the FRONT's NetFRONT column (about the internet) for more than a year, was the winner of the Columnist of the Year because, says Smith, "she put so much into her work. She would often quote as many people as you'd see in other publications' cover stories--everybody in the room, sometimes. She got around and she put great effort into the column. You could tell it." She gave up the column this past fall when her own business became more demanding.
  • Laura Purcell was named the Editor's Choice award winner, selected by Dan Smith. He said, "This one is for whatever I want it to be at a given time and this year it is for Laura's outstanding reporting and bulldog approach to her cover stories. I'm afraid I might have underestimated her at one time. I won't again. She's a dandy."
    Laura Purcell

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A History Lesson from the Ex-Governor

Chamber President Joyce Waugh and Ex-Gov. Gerald Baliles.
Baliles addresses the membership.
Former Virginia Governor Gerald Baliles addressed the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce's annual dinner last night and it was nearly a full house on hand to see the popular Democrat.

Baliles in a 40-minute talk gave an interesting rundown on the history of financial crises in the United States and talked a good big about dysfunctional government. He left the crowd with some promising thoughts about the future.

It was announced that the chamber's membership was increased 20 percent during the past few days because of an initiative spearheaded by popular Chamber President Joyce Waugh.