RALEIGH — More than 175 executives from high-tech, life science, marketing and other high-tech related firms packed the TechExec on Thursday night, but one couple in particular drew more attention that any other.

William Friday, the longtime leader of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and his wife of 63 years, Ida, were the special guest for the networking event at the headquarters of Grant Thornton and The Staubach Company in Raleigh.

“I came especially to see Dr. Friday,” said Sirus Chitsaz, a high-tech veteran entrepreneur who now is chief executive officer of Chorus Systems. “I was on the faculty at North Carolina State University when we launched the Center for Communications Signal Processing in the 1980s. That was a real pioneering effort.

“There was a real separation between academia and industry at the time,” Chitsaz recalled. “Dr. Friday was essential in breaking down the barriers that helped create the partnerships.

Dr. and Mrs. Friday spent nearly two hours at the event, talking technology, business, and about the current state of affairs in the Tar Heel state.

Asked about the launch of the signaling center at NCSU, Friday recalled it with pride.

“There were real divisions between the geniuses in academia and the geniuses in industry,” Friday said. “The idea of working with industry was foreign to the academic world.

“Now, look at how much cooperation is taking place.”

The Triangle has evolved into a hot bed of technology transfer and cooperation between Duke, UNC, NCSU and other schools and the private world. Thanks to people of vision like Dr. Friday, RTP remains a draw to the world.

“People from around the world still travel here to see what the Triangle is all about,” Friday said with a smile.

The TechExec is a joint effort between ClearImage and Local Tech Wire. Thursday’s event was put on by Grant Thornton, Staubach, Peak 10, SAS, Kennedy Covington, Southern Capitol Ventures and Cisco.

(In the photo, the Fridays pose with Dave Murray, right, founder and chief executive of ClearImage, and Rick Smith, managing editor of Local tech Wire.)

At Blue Shoe, Openings — If You Have Clearance

Blue Shoe Technologies in Durham does a great deal of contract work for agencies in the federal government that Andrew Schwab, its president, can’t talk about.

That is, unless you have a top-secret security clearance. Then he can talk with you — and might hire you for a job.

“We have 13 openings right now in our Washington, DC office,” Schwab lamented. But getting clearances these days “takes up to two years,” he said. “What a hairball!”

Roger Staubach Coming to RTP

NFL Hall of Fame quarterback and Dallas Cowboy immortal Roger Staubach is making his first trip to the Triangle since his company acquired Meta Partners in October of 2003.

Staubach will visit Raleigh on Sept. 13, said Guy Harvey, one of the principals in the Triangle office. And Harvey said he is excited about having the living legend in town to meet staff, customers, VIPs and local media.

SAS on the Future of IT

SAS is bringing well-known futurist and author Thornton May to Cary for a web cast about the future of information technology, Margo Stutesman, Americas Marketing Strategist for SAS, reported.

The Aug. 31 event is the third in a series of events put on by SAS about the latest trends in IT leadership. May also will be visiting with SAS staff while in town.

Remembering Road Runner Launch

Thomas Adams, Division President for TimeWarner Cable in Morrisville, is one of the true Internet pioneers when it comes to broadband.

Adams regaled LTW and Jennifer Tilden director of marketing for commercial services at TW in the Triangle, with the story about the launch of the first RoadRunner launch in Elmira, NY 10 years ago.

“We just had a reunion,” Adams recalled, talking about the trials and challenges in setting up the first servers and networks.

The RR team faced a credibility challenge from the get-go, too. Its first official customer was a reporter for a local newspaper.

“I don’t know if that was by design or not,” Adams said with a smile.

Business Is Booming at Alpheon

In the ever-changing world of information technology, one factor remains constant at Alpheon.

Growth.

Alpheon provides outsourced computer services, and Greg Donovan, its CEO, was all smiles as he moved through the TechExec crowd.

“Our sweet spot is companies with between 50-500 employees,” said Donovan. “Fixed priced managed seat support is in real demand. It’s just not cost effective for many companies to hire IT personnel.

“In the IT world today, managed services are very logical. Fairly prcied services do exist.”

Countdown to Carolina Connect

Jim Roberts, executive director of the Blue Ridge Entrepreneurial Council, was in Raleigh touting the upcoming “Carolina Connect” venture conference in Asheville.

“We already have more than 75 people registered to attend,” said Roberts, who is “shooting for 250 people” to pack the Sept. 8 event. Plenty of angel investors will be in town, too. The Angel Capital Association is meeting the previous day and many members are staying over for the BREC show.

“We’re not stressing just raising capital,” Roberts adds, although he already has lined up speakers and attendees representing more than $2 billion in capital. “We’re also talking about sales and how to grow entrepreneurial companies.”

For more information, see: www.ncmtns.biz/carolinaconnect.shtml

VisionPoint on Fast Track

One of the rapidly emerging success stories among Triangle marketing firms is VisionPoint Media.

Diane Kuehn, the firm’s president and CEO, told LTW that she remembered quite vividly starting the business in a guest room and with a few thousand dollars. Now, VisionPoint is providing strategic marketing and other services for a growing number of clients, including several life science and biotech companies from the Triangle to California.

VisionPoint is also looking to hire a web and network engineer. Check out the company at www.visionpointmedia.com