Technology startups have long had venture capital forums run by groups like the Council for Entrepreneurial Development to get in front of potential investors. Now, two organizations are banding together for an event that will perform a similar function for publicly traded companies in the Research Triangle and Piedmont Triad areas.

NCInvest 2003 will include presentations from the chief executives or chief financial officers of more than a dozen public companies, including numerous pharmaceutical and information technology firms, as well as sessions for investors to chat one-on-one with company executives, says Patti Gillenwater, president of the Triangle chapter of the Association of Corporate Growth.

ACG is co-sponsoring NCInvest with the Triangle chapter of the National Investor Relations Institute (NIRI). The two groups also teamed up in November to host a seminar on corporate governance and shareholder confidence.

“This is the type of conference that is held in larger cities, and we wanted to try it here,” says Gillenwater, who also owns Elinvar, a recruiting firm. “So many of our publicly traded companies are smaller that they aren’t on people’s radar. We want to generate some buzz around them and create value.”

The conference, which is scheduled for Feb. 13 at the North Raleigh Hilton and will include a luncheon address by North Carolina Treasurer Richard Moore, will be an invitation-only event, with sponsors hoping to attract 200 to 300 institutional investors, industry analysts and media.

“We do think individual investors are important, but the best way to get the biggest bang for our buck is by attracting the big investors, the people who buy thousands and thousands of shares at a time,” says Jenny Kobin, president of the NIRI chapter and director of investor relations for SciQuest.

Range of industries involved

Gillenwater says the event is “very complementary” to the venture capital conferences run every spring by CED that usually attract smaller investors in addition to venture firms.

“CED supports entrepreneurs that are building to an exit strategy, such as going public,” she says. “We’re trying to support the firms that are already public traded.”

NCInvest sponsors are targeting institutional investors in the Carolinas, Virginia and the Washington, D.C., area, such as major banks, public and private foundations and smaller money management firms like Oak Value in Durham or Franklin Street Partners in Chapel Hill, Kobin says. The main selling point to attendees and presenters is that it’s a one-day event with little travel involved, she says.

Organizers invited all public companies in the Triangle and Triad to the event, and these have agreed to make a presentation: Blue Rhino, Closure Medical, Cree, Embrex, Highwoods Properties, Inspire Pharmaceuticals, Krispy Kreme, Martin Marietta Materials, Paradigm Genetics, Pozen, Progress Energy, Quintiles Transnational, Red Hat, Salix Pharmaceuticals, SciQuest, PharmaNetics and Trimeris. Triangle Pharmaceuticals also had planned to take part before its recent agreement to be sold to a California drug company.

Kobin says organizers wanted a range of industries represented at the event to make it more attractive to investors seeking to diversify their holdings.

“Some of these investors back companies all over the world, but they don’t know about those in their own back yards,” she says, adding that the event may be expanded in future years to include Charlotte-based public companies as well.

Association for Corporate Growth: www.acg.org/rtp

National Investor Relations Institute: www.niritriangle.org