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Local Tech Wire

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — UNC Charlotte’s Charlotte Research Institute is sponsoring a competition Tuesday for the best innovative business ideas in the areas of pharmaceutical, medical devices, energy, green tech, information technology, software-as-a-service and retail and students.

One session of the daylong event features student teams from universities. Four others feature small companies from North and South Carolina.

“The contestants in the Five Ventures Conference bring fresh ideas and new ways to deliver technologies and services to the public. They reinforce Charlotte’s reputation as a vibrant place where talented people with good ideas can contribute to the economic development of an entire region,” said Robert Wilhelm, executive director of the institute.

Twenty-two startup companies were selected as finalists from among 51 startup businesses representing North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee and Georgia, UNCC said.

The finalists are vying for more than $100,000 in cash and in-kind services.

The center describes itself as "the portal for business-university technology partnerships at UNC Charlotte."

The Five Ventures conference comes a day before the North Carolina Technology Association holds its annual statewide conference in Charlotte. The 2010 event, “Thriving in the New Economy: How Technology Drives Business and How People Drive Technology,” is Wednesday at the Hilton Charlotte Center City.

As part of the conference line-up, NCTA Charlotte WISE will present a panel discussion titled "Diversity Drives Innovation." The panel is sponsored by Microsoft and will be moderated by Charlotte WISE leader Kathy Harris, vice president and  distinguished analyst at Gartner Research.

Panelists are Susan Harwood, VP of IT strategy, Lowes; Dr. Joan Lorden, provost and vice chancellor of academic affairs at UNC Charlotte; Onyeka Nchege, VP of information systems and services, Coca Cola Bottling Consolidated; Theresa Wilson, executive vice president and CIO for operations and technology, Wells Fargo.

In addition to the WISE panel, featured speakers include keynote speaker Pete Walsh, head of technology for the Dallas Cowboys, along with business and technology leaders from Sony Ericsson, Premier Inc., Duke Energy, UNC Charlotte, Catawba County EDC, and the Charlotte Regional Partnership.