29 Oct Virent's Eric Apfelbach, investor Robert Conn to speak at Early Stage Symposium
Madison, Wis. – A homegrown entrepreneur who has raised more than $80 million in angel and venture capital for his companies and a lead investor of the largest venture capital firm based in Southern California are keynote speakers at the 2008 Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium.
Eric Apfelbach, the president and CEO of Virent Energy Systems, will speak during dinner on Wednesday, Nov. 5. Robert Conn, managing director of Enterprise Partners in San Diego, will speak the morning of Thursday, Nov. 6.
Virent Energy Systems is developing “green gasoline,” or gasoline that is derived from plant sugars. It is virtually the same as gasoline produced from crude oil and is often cited as a “drop-in” replacement for conventional gasoline because it blends easily and uses the same delivery systems. Like gasoline made from crude oil, green gasoline produces carbon dioxide when burned. But there’s virtually no net impact on climate because the carbon dioxide released comes from carbon dioxide absorbed from the atmosphere when the plant was growing.
Apfelbach is transitioning out of his role at Virent, which is concluding a search for a CEO with extensive experience in energy markets. Apfelbach may start a new venture capital fund to support engineered technology solutions.
Before joining Virent in the spring of 2004, he co-founded Alfalight, where as president and CEO he grew the high-power diode laser company to 85 employees in two years and raised $49 million in venture capital in three rounds. Prior to Alfalight, Apfelbach was a general manager and officer at Planar Systems, Inc.
Conn’s investment focus at Enterprise Partners covers the areas of semiconductors, components and systems, technologies that enable mobility and consumer applications, specialized materials and energy. Enterprise Partners has invested in 150 companies since its founding in 1985, representing $1.1 billion in assets under management. During the past two years, it has invested in 17 companies and has realized nine acquisitions and three initial public offerings.
Conn co-founded Plasma & Materials Technologies, a venture-backed company he spun out of UCLA; the company went public in 1995. Conn is on the board of the San Diego Venture Group, part of a community effort to network entrepreneurs, venture investors, service providers and public companies in the region.Before joining Enterprise Partners in 2002, Conn was dean of the Jacobs School of Engineering at the University of California-San Diego, which is now ranked by U.S. News and World Report among the top 10 engineering schools in the country. He began his career on the faculty at the UW-Madison, where he held the Romnes Faculty Professorial Chair in Applied Physics.
The annual conference, which has existed under different names for more than 20 years, will also feature the second annual Wisconsin Angel Network Early Stage presentation track for companies seeking angel investments beginning in the $500,000 range.
Two-dozen companies were selected for the WAN track. Companies in the WAN track feature technologies in major sectors: information technology and Internet services, biotechnology, medical devices, advanced manufacturing and “cleantech.” These companies are located in communities across Wisconsin as well as other Midwestern states. They will present for seven minutes each Nov. 5, followed by up to three minutes of questions from investors from across the “I-Q Corridor” region of the Upper Midwest.
The symposium will also feature the annual Elevator Pitch Olympics, a look back at the founding of University Research Park, a dozen panel discussions and a networking receptiontor Pitch” tracks will also be eligible to take part in “The Entrepreneurs’ Edge” presentation training seminars.
The conference is produced by the Wisconsin Technology Council and its partners and sponsors. Visit here to register, review sponsorship opportunities, or to learn more.