Region's First Sustainable Innovation Summit Coming Up

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Inventors, investors, researchers, academics, and fans of sustainability will convene for demonstrations, networking, and latest information on creating engines of economic prosperity through adaptive re-use, green manufacturing, recycling, renewable energy and efficiency, and high performance green building.

Learn about successful businesses and opportunities in 10 areas of sustainability.

"There is plenty of opportunity in this region for creative, entrepreneurial people who can tolerate some risk, and who will drill down to understand sustainable business principles."

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Got a business idea you think is sustainable? Kicking around an idea for a new product? Then make plans to join fellow innovators and entrepreneurs at the region’s first Sustainable Innovation Summit, Sunday, October 17, at Wilson Lodge, Oglebay Park in Wheeling, WV.

Inventors, investors, researchers, academics, and fans of sustainability will convene for the five-hour event, beginning at 11 a.m., for demonstrations, networking, and the latest information on how others are creating engines of economic prosperity through adaptive re-use, manufacturing for green industries, recycling, renewable energy and efficiency, and high performance green building.

The event will address questions such as how entrepreneurs can access “patient capitol,” where the new “green” jobs are, and where to find emerging New Economy opportunities in West Virginia, eastern Kentucky, western Pennsylvania, and northeastern Ohio. Attendees can learn about successful businesses and opportunities in renewable energy and production of products that support it, business opportunities in the recycling of electronics, plastics, water, glass, fabric, construction and paper, and opportunities in sustainable forestry and valued-added wood product manufacturing.

Valerie Beichner, products and policy manager for the Pittsburgh Green Building Alliance, will explain the links between sustainable business practices and economic growth. Pittsburgh’s long-term plan incorporating high performance building, “green” manufacturing, and smart growth strategies transformed it from a place once described as “hell with the lid off” to one of America’s most livable cities, attracting new businesses and creating thousands of jobs.

Finance professionals in venture capital and banking, and representatives of national and community foundations are also on the list of invitees for a roundtable titled, “Truth or Dare?” which will focus on how financiers and grantors choose investment opportunities.

“There is plenty of opportunity in this region for creative, entrepreneurial people who can tolerate some risk, and who will drill down to understand sustainable business principles,” says Sarah Halstead Boland, a small business owner and executive director of WVGreenWorks.org. “I know there’s plenty of room for new people and new ideas in West Virginia towns, and I think the same is true in Ohio, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania. One of the reasons for this first event is to build a support network for innovators.”

Attendees also will be introduced to the concept of Pecha Kucha, where innovators get an opportunity to show 20 slides for 20 seconds each on a project or idea. “The concept originated in Tokyo in 2003 with young designers who wanted to meet, connect, and show their work in public,” says Halstead Boland. “It has turned into a worldwide celebration of creativity, igniting ideas in hundreds of cities and disciplines.” For more information on how to participate in the Petcha Kucha panel or to exhibit sustainable products or services, contact Halstead Boland at sarah(at)wvgreenworks(dot)com.

The Sustainable Innovation Summit precedes the 4th annual Create West Virginia Conference, which gets underway at 6 p.m. that same day, also at Oglebay’s Wilson Lodge. Cost of the Innovation Summit is $39; participants may register online at http://www.createwv.com/2010conference.

The Create West Virginia Conference will also feature StartUp52, 52 hours of intensive business coaching for would-be entrepreneurs and small business “newbies” and novices. A room in Wilson Lodge will be staffed beginning at noon on October 17 through 4 p.m. on Tuesday, October 19.

“The idea is to provide not only an opportunity for people to develop ideas, but to help them activate those ideas and generate exposure for them via YouTube videos, podcast interviews, and so forth,” says Duane Thomas, a co-leader with Deana Keener of the Business and Innovation Track at the Create conference. “An investor is looking to invest in people,” Thomas says. “People and their passion to activate an idea; that’s what we plan to showcase at the conference.” Thomas is an experienced for-profit and non-profit businessman who is developing a multi-state network of artisans. Keener mentors and works with small businesses in management and business processes.

“Even though the conference is sponsored by a West Virginia organization, we welcome participants from the region,” says Halstead Boland, who is co-chairing the conference’s Quality of Place track. “Our neighbors in Ohio, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania can get as much out of the conference as West Virginians.”

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