focusing on the future of tech and life science in north carolina

 MARCH 17-19, 2020 | Raleigh Convention Center

Redefining the traditional conference, Venture Connect, is a new three-day experience. Recognizing the innovation potential across the Tech & Life Science communities, we are focused on creating an environment that supports stronger connections, valuable programming, and learning for all.

Nov 11 – Feb 14
Feb 15 – Mar 11
Mar 17 – 19


421 South Salisbury Street, Raleigh, NC 27601
Rate: $169 plus taxes
Cut off date: Feb. 24 at 5pm Eastern Time
Reservations: 800-325-3535
Ask for CED Conference rate

Book Here


616 South Salisbury Street, Raleigh, NC 27601
$189 plus taxes, includes full breakfast
Cutoff date: March 4 at 5pm Reservations: 919-856-0017 reference group code VCS

Book Here

Who Attends?

The Summit attendees are ones that are: Scaling start-ups and growth stage companies, Local and out-of-state investors looking to connect, NC Corporate and strategic partners, Community resources aligned with the growth of companies, Explorers looking to connect with others.

Where will Venture Connect be Held?

Venture Connect will be held March 17-19 at the Raleigh Convention Center: 500 S Salisbury St, Raleigh, NC 27601 General Information: (919) 996-8500 Web:

Are any sponsorship opportunities available for the Summit?

Yes, sponsorship packages are available in a wide range of options. A sponsorship can provide your company with high-profile visibility to a large number of influential executives and decision-makers in attendance. See our sponsorship package for details.

What is the nearest airport? Raleigh/Durham International Airport?

(RDU) is the nearest airport to the Raleigh Convention Center.

Am I allowed to record any of the Summit sessions or events?

No, any unauthorized recording of the Summit sessions or events is strictly prohibited.

Will anyone be taking pictures during the Summit?

Yes, pictures will be taken during the Summit. By registering for the Summit, you acknowledge that there is a possibility your picture may be taken.

Educational Workshops


More info to follow

Life Science and Tech CEO Breakfasts


Invite only. More info to follow

Evening Receptions

Proceeding closing keynote each night // Relax

More info to follow

Tech and Life Science Investor Dinners


Invite only. More info to follow

presenting companies

Check out all of the amazing tech and life science companies that will be presenting on stage at Venture Connect!

view the full company list now

6am city

6am City

Achelios Thera

Achelios Therapeutics

Advanced Chemo

Advanced Chemotherapy Technologies

Advanced Nano

Advanced Nanocoatings Incorporated




AgEye Technologies




Altis Biosystems, Inc.


AnelleO, Inc.


Aniluxx Biotechnology

what you can expect

This powerhouse event is clear evidence of how strong our tech and life sciences ecosystems really are.


Entrepreneurial Companies Onstage


Regional and Out-of-State Investors Onsite


Summit Attendees


1:1 Meetings


Nonstop programming and workshops over three days, packed full of both technology-rich and life science-focused content that will equip you with the knowledge you’re looking for to take your venture to the next level.


Be a part of the largest gathering of innovative tech and life science companies under one roof in this region.This powerhouse event showcases the strength of our growing ecosystem and you don’t want to miss out on the opportunities that await.  



A three-day agenda loaded with some of the nation’s top talent in the tech and life science industries on topics you want to explore. Past speakers have included: John Doerr, Jim Goetz, Clayton Christensen and John Carreyrou.


Venture Connect offers companies the unique opportunity to present their scaling plans to investors and potential partners over 3 days. Join along with over 135 national and local companies live on-stage as they present their company goals to gain visibility and potential backing.


Companies that integrate digital technology with the intent to streamline everyday life.

E-Commerce | Smart devices | Digital health

and more


Companies that offer solutions to increase productivity and efficiency in business. 

Artificial Intelligence | Augmented Reality | Big Data | Cyber Security

and more


Companies creating solutions that improve the quality of life and well being of the human race.

Therapeutics | Medical Devices | Advanced Diagnostics

and more

download our media kit and help us spread the word about Venture Connect!

Venture Connect Media Kit

visit the full Summit Agenda and download the App to gain access to features like partnering (meetings) and more.

summit leaders

The summit is a collaborative effort that brings together the ecosystem, as well as out-of-region supporters interested in entrepreneurial activity in North Carolina.  Sort highlighted speakers and summit chairs by selecting a category below.

bill hawkins

Summit Leader

Bill Hawkins

Former Chairman and CEO of Medtronic

Mr. Hawkins is retired Chairman and CEO of Medtronic and currently a corporate director serving on public and private boards as well as non for profit boards. He was recently elected to the National Academy of Engineering and is an AIMBE Fellow.

Mr. Hawkins currently serves as Lead Director and previously served as President and CEO of Immucor (a private equity backed company) from October 2011 to July 2015.  Prior to Immucor, Mr. Hawkins served as Chairman and CEO of Medtronic, one of the worlds’ largest and most innovative medical technology companies. Mr. Hawkins assumed the role of CEO in 2007 and became Chairman of the Board in 2008. He joined Medtronic in 2002 as SVP and President of Medtronic Vascular. He served in that role until June 2004. From 2004 until August 2007 he was President and Chief Operating Officer of Medtronic.

Prior to Medtronic, Mr. Hawkins served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Novoste Corp. Nasdaq (NOVT) and held senior leadership positions at American Home Products, Johnson & Johnson, Guidant Corp., and Eli Lilly & Co. He began his medical technology career with Carolina Medical Electronics in 1977. 

Mr. Hawkins received his bachelor’s degree in electrical and biomedical engineering from Duke in 1976, where he also conducted medical research in pathology. He then went on to earn an M.B.A. from the Darden School of Business, University of Virginia, in 1982.

He is a Senior Advisor to EW Healthcare Partners, a leading private equity firm investing in life sciences. Mr. Hawkins serves as a Director of Avanos Health NYSE: AVNS. He is Chairman of the Board of Bioventus, and 4Tech; a cardiology startup in Ireland, and on the Board of Virtue Labs, Baebies, Cereius, AskBio, Cirtec Medical, Biogen (BIIB: NASDAQ) and Tissue Tech.  Mr. Hawkins is the past Chairman and Co-Founder of the Medical Device Innovation Consortium (“MDIC”) and past-president of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (“AMIBE”).  Mr. Hawkins was elected to the Duke University Board of Trustees in 2011 and currently serves as Vice Chairman of the Board. He is on the Executive Committee and the Audit, Risk and Compliance Committee.  Mr. Hawkins is Chair of the Board of the Duke University Health System.  He is a member of the NC Biotech board and serves on the Board of the Focused Ultrasound Foundation Society.

Mr. Hawkins also serves as a Member of the Advisory Boards at Arboretum Ventures, Hatteras Venture Partners, HealthQuest Ventures, and past member of A*STAR SERC Cluster Advisory Board in Singapore, and the Biomedical Research Council of Singapore.”

Summit Leader

Steve Nelson

Co-Founder at Carbon, Inc.

Steve served as Carbon’s launch CEO. After raising the original Series A funding from Sequoia Capital, he became the initial Chairman of the company.

Steve is also Co-founder of re—inc, a purpose-driven, global lifestyle and wellness company founded by 2019 World Cup Champions, Megan Rapinoe, Tobin Heath, Christen Press, and Meghan Klingenberg. Additionally, he is an advisor to Chopra Global and its not-for-profit partner, The Chopra Institute, with world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine, Dr. Deepak Chopra, MD. Steve is also lead investor in and board member of Diveplane Corporation, a technology company dedicated to keeping the humanity in AI.

Steve has served on the boards of many companies, including Blue Cross of North Carolina since 2002 until today, where he recently concluded a four-year term as Chairman. Steve was also Managing Partner at venture capital firm, Wakefield Group, for 14 years. He joined Wakefield after 19 years of executive and general management experience in technology, software, business services, and cloud computing businesses, including at Quokka Sports and NBC/Quokka Ventures. He was formerly VP of the Americas for Informix Software in Menlo Park, CA. His business career began at IBM, where he served for 14 years in Chicago and White Plains, NY, and then ultimately as VP and General Manager in San Francisco.

Steve received his B.S. degree in Business from Wake Forest University. He is a former member of the Board of Trustees at Wake Forest, the Board of Visitors at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, and was Foundation Board Chair at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics.

melissa smith

Summit Leader

Melissa Smith

Managing Director, Head of Specialized Industries, Middle Market Banking, J.P. Morgan

Melissa Smith is the Head of Specialized Industries for JPMorgan’s Middle Market Banking & Specialized Industries (MMBSI) business. She leads a team of national managers responsible for industry verticals including Agribusiness, Apparel, Beverage, Emerging Growth, Life Sciences, Media and Entertainment, Technology, and the Middle Market Financial Sponsors Group. The industry teams provide traditional banking services and investment banking solutions to mid-cap sized companies across the country.Melissa is also responsible for the Government, Healthcare, Higher Ed, and Not-for-Profit businesses within MMBSI and sits on the Management Committee for the Commercial Bank.

Prior to joining MMBSI, Melissa spent 3 years as the Northeast Group Head for Corporate Client Banking & Specialized Industries (CCBSI) where she also served on the Management Committee. Since joining CCBSI she has acted as the Regional Chair for the Northeast Market Leadership Teams and as Senior Sponsor for the CB Columbia recruiting team.

Melissa joined the firm in 1998 in Public Finance and has spent most of her career in the Corporate & Investment Bank (CIB), most recently as the Head of EMEA Investment Grade Finance in London. As part of her role running the DCM business in Europe, Melissa was a co-chair of the Debt Underwriting Commitments Committee (DUCC), a member of the EMEA balance Sheet Committee, a senior sponsor of the ED Connect program in EMEA and a member of the Analyst and Associate Development Council.Prior to her London move, she spent 14 years in the Debt Capital Markets group in New York as the Head of the Consumer, Retail, Healthcare and Chemicals team.

Melissa received a BA in Political Science from American University and a Masters in Public Policy from the University of Chicago. Since 2009, she has served on the Board of Trustees of American Ballet Theatre.

Summit Leader

Mike Capps

Founder/CEO Diveplane Corporation

Dr. Michael Capps is a well-known technologist and CEO of Diveplane Corporation, which develops transformative technology that keeps the humanity in AI. Before co-founding Diveplane, Mike had a legendary career in the videogame industry as president of Epic Games, makers of blockbusters Fortnite and Gears of War. His tenure included a hundred game-of-the-year awards, dozens of conference keynotes, a lifetime achievement award, and a successful free-speech defense of videogames in the U.S. Supreme Court. He’s survived trending on Twitter, iPhone launch events with Steve Jobs, and raising two toddlers. Michael began his career with post-graduate degrees at UNC, MIT, and the Naval Postgraduate School; for his research in VR, he was one of 50 scientists featured in SIGGRAPH’s historical documentary on computer graphics. He has keynoted dozens of conferences, and remains a regular host of television series on the Discovery and Science Channels.  

Summit Leader

Sheila Mikhail

CEO, President, Co-Founder AskBio

Sheila Mikhail co-founded and was the initial CEO of AskBio from 2002 through 2007. Ms. Mikhail left the company to become CEO of NanoCor Therapeutics, Inc. Most recently, Ms. Mikhail co-founded and was CEO of Bamboo Therapeutics, Inc., which in 20 months raised $50 million, advanced a therapeutic for GAN into the clinic, completed Pre-IND studies for the Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy therapeutic, and built a GMP manufacturing facility. Bamboo was acquired by Pfizer in August 2016.

Trained as a lawyer, Ms. Mikhail practiced law for over 15 years, including a law firm that she founded, Life Sciences Law, which serviced clients such as Bayer, Gilead, GSK, Sanofi, and Aventis. Ms. Mikhail also practiced with Ropes and Gray in Boston. Ms. Mikhail earned a JD, with honors, from Northwestern University; a finance MBA, with honors, from the University of Chicago; and a BS, with highest honors, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

summit speakers

explore the profiles of our speakers and panelists. The Summit is loaded with some of the nation’s top talent in the tech and life science industries. We are always adding more speakers, so keep checking back!

physicist and a biotech entrepreneur

Safi Bahcall

Safi is a second-generation physicist and a biotech entrepreneur. He received his BA summa cum laude from Harvard and his PhD in physics from Stanford.

CEO Spreedly

Justin Benson

Justin joined Spreedly as CEO in 2011. He has driven Spreedly’s dramatic expansion through a successful pivot and evolution of the company’s go-to-market strategy. He led the company’s recent fundraising of $75 million from Spectrum Ventures in November 2019 to accelerate Spreedly’s growth strategy. He combines a technical background with strong sales and customer experience.

Justin began his career in the Bay Area during the height of the dot-com boom in the 90s. He joined an early-stage startup as their first technical support employee. During his tenure, the company grew from 40 to 400 in three years, went public, and was acquired.  He was steadily promoted through business development, direct sales, and then onto the senior management team before a successful exit. He subsequently joined SafeNet as VP of Sales for the Americas prior to moving to NC.

He lives in the Triangle with his wife and two daughters. He enjoys supporting Durham and the Triangle start-up community. He can be frequently seen speeding down roads and trails with his cycling team.

Speaker:Fintech Panel

Chairman of the Board, Chief Executive Officer Amicus Therapeutics, Inc

John Crowley

John Francis Crowley is the Chairman and CEO of Amicus Therapeutics, a global biotechnology company focusing on developing treatments for rare genetic diseases. John has been Amicus CEO since 2005 and has overseen the company’s growth from a four person start-up to one with operations in more than 30 countries, with 550+ employees and a market value of nearly $3 Billion. John’s involvement with biotechnology stems from the 1998 diagnosis of two of his children with Pompe disease—a severe and often fatal neuromuscular disorder. In his drive to find a cure for them, he left his position at Bristol-Myers Squibb and became an entrepreneur as the Co-founder, President and CEO of Novazyme Pharmaceuticals, a biotech start-up conducting research on a new experimental treatment for Pompe disease (which he credits as ultimately saving his children’s lives). In 2001, Novazyme was acquired by Genzyme Corporation and John continued to play a lead role in the development of a drug for Pompe disease as Senior Vice President, Genzyme Therapeutics. 

John and his family have been profiled on the front page of The Wall Street Journal and are the subjects of a book by Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Geeta Anand, “The Cure: How a Father Raised $100 Million-And Bucked the Medical Establishment-In a Quest to Save His Children.” The major motion picture, Extraordinary Measures, starring Brendan Fraser and Harrison Ford, is inspired by the Crowley family journey. John is the author of a personal memoir: Chasing Miracles: The Crowley Family Journey of Strength, Hope, and Joy. 

John served as a commissioned intelligence officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve from 2005-2016, assigned to the United States Special Operations Command and is a veteran of the global war on terrorism, with service in Afghanistan. He graduated with a B.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University, and earned a J.D. from the University of Notre Dame Law School and an M.B.A. from Harvard. The Crowley family was the recipient of the 2011 Family Exemplar Award from the University of Notre Dame. He is also a member of the University Council on Science & Technology at Notre Dame. John served as the National Chairman of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America (2014-2016) and is a founding Board member of the Global Genes Project. John is a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute.

Community Evangelist at AvidXchange

Chris Elmore

Chris was a millionaire at age 28… For six weeks. The first tech company he started fell like a lead
balloon. He dusted himself off and would soon be one of the earliest employees of a tech company that went from $0.00 in revenue and three product failures to thousands of employees and business unicorn status. His out of the box approach of putting people first and concentrating on selling value has helped thousands.

Called a “Startup Hero” by North Carolina Business Magazine and a maverick and mold breaker by SouthPark Magazine, Chris has written 9 books, and is a Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at UNC – Charlotte and Queens University of Charlotte. Chris serves on the board of four startups and advisor three other Charlotte-based companies. Chris travels the country speaking on the topics of startup success, innovation, entrepreneurship, sales, technology, and automation. Chris began working at AvidXchange in 2000 as one of its earliest employees. AvidXchange, a global unicorn, aka a private company valued at +$1 billion, is one of the fastest-growing fintech companies in the country with 1,300 employees across seven offices.

Chris has been on a journey to perfect a message that resonates and motivates audience since he wa18 years old. “My dad had me read the book, See You At The Top, by Zig Ziglar. I fell in love with the ideas and with making improvements in my life.” “The best testimonial I can give you to hire me to speak is my wife still loves me, loves being around me, and still thinks I am funny, and we have been together since 1992”. Chris lives in Lake Wylie SC, where teaching, business, four kids and a wife keep him very busy.

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Live Oak Bancshares

Chip Mahan

Chip Mahan is the founder, Chairman and CEO of Live Oak Bancshares. He serves on the board of directors for Apiture, a joint venture between Live Oak and First Data which focuses on creating next-gen technology for financial institutions. He is also a director of Payrailz, a digital payments company which offers advanced solutions for the financial services industry. Chip is a co-founder of nCino, a cloud-based banking software built on the Salesforce platform.

Prior to Live Oak, Chip was the Chairman and CEO for S1 Corporation and founder of Security First Network Bank, the world’s first Internet bank. Under his leadership, S1 Corporation grew to become a $234 million software and services provider in only six years, averaging more than 200 percent growth year over year. At its peak, S1 had a market capitalization of $7.8 billion. During his term as CEO, Chip was ranked as one of the 10 Most Influential Personalities in Financial Services by FutureBanker magazine.

Prior to founding Security First Network Bank and S1 Corporation, he launched Cardinal Bancshares, where he served as Chairman and CEO. Chip built Cardinal into an institution with $800 million in total assets and took the company public in 1992. Before launching Cardinal, Chip spent several years with Citizens Union National Bank & Trust Co., serving as President, Chief Operating Officer and Vice Chairman and becoming Chairman and CEO in 1984. In 1986, he formed an investment group that purchased Citizens Union and subsequently sold it to BankOne Corp. of Columbus, OH. Chip began his career in 1973 at Wachovia Bank & Trust Co. in Winston-Salem, NC, after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in economics from Washington & Lee University in Lexington, VA.

Summit Leader

Sheila Mikhail

CEO, President, Co-Founder AskBio

Sheila Mikhail co-founded and was the initial CEO of AskBio from 2002 through 2007. Ms. Mikhail left the company to become CEO of NanoCor Therapeutics, Inc. Most recently, Ms. Mikhail co-founded and was CEO of Bamboo Therapeutics, Inc., which in 20 months raised $50 million, advanced a therapeutic for GAN into the clinic, completed Pre-IND studies for the Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy therapeutic, and built a GMP manufacturing facility. Bamboo was acquired by Pfizer in August 2016.

Trained as a lawyer, Ms. Mikhail practiced law for over 15 years, including a law firm that she founded, Life Sciences Law, which serviced clients such as Bayer, Gilead, GSK, Sanofi, and Aventis. Ms. Mikhail also practiced with Ropes and Gray in Boston. Ms. Mikhail earned a JD, with honors, from Northwestern University; a finance MBA, with honors, from the University of Chicago; and a BS, with highest honors, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Managing Partner CFV Ventures

Dan Roselli

Dan is co-founder of Charlotte’s entrepreneurship center called Packard Place who’s alumni have raised over 2 Billion dollars in capital and had over 200 million in exits. 

Dan also co-founded the QueenCity Fintech program which is one of the top Fintech Accelerators in the World and has over 90 alumni companies with over $50M in raised capital.

Dan 1st career was in Fortune 500 marketing at General Mills, Colgate Palmolive, and M&M/MARS.  Dan also served on the Operating Committee of Bank of America as the Brand & Advertising Executive. 

Dan began his entrepreneurial career in 2003 and was one of the co-founders of Red Ventures and has co-founded three different companies that have made it to the INC 500 list of fastest growing private companies in America. 

Dan has a finance degree from Michigan State University and a MBA in marketing from the University of Minnesota. He is the father of two sets of twins and is a passionate Spartan.  Go Green.

Speaker:Fintech Panel Moderator

Chief Executive Officer Stridebio

Sapan Shah, Ph.D.

Sapan Shah, Ph.D. joined StrideBio as Chief Executive Officer in January 2019. He has spent the past 20 years as an advisor, entrepreneur, founder and CEO working with innovative companies advancing novel therapeutics for areas of unmet medical need. Prior roles have included CEO of ARMGO Pharma, CEO of Shionogi, Inc., Co-founder and Chairman of Ezose Sciences, Founder and CEO of Novatherx, EIR at Yale University and Associate Principal at McKinsey & Company. Dr. Shah holds a Ph.D. in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry from Yale University and B.A. degrees in Mathematics, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Cell Biology from the Integrated Science Program at Northwestern University.

Speaker:CEO Panel

CEO Ribometrix

Michael Solomon

Mike has more than twenty years of experience in the biotechnology industry, with the last fourteen
focused on creating and operating early-stage therapeutic-focused companies.

Most recently, Mike was Chief Operating Officer at Decibel Therapeutics, a biotechnology company
focused on broadly treating hearing disorders. Mike’s involvement at Decibel was part of his work as
an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Third Rock Ventures; he led a team that created Decibel’s
business plan resulting in a $52 M Series A round.

Prior to Decibel, Mike was Chief Operating Officer at Ember Therapeutics, a Third Rock Ventures
company focused on obesity and diabetes, and Chief Business Officer at Link Medicine, a
neurodegeneration focused biotechnology company that was sold to Astra Zeneca. Mike was also a
founder and VP of Discovery at Epizyme Therapeutics, a company focused on epigenetic
modulators that is now a publicly-traded company, and VP of Discovery at Hypnion, Inc a sleep
disorder company that was sold to Lilly in 2007 for $325 million. Mike also spent two years as a
biotechnology analyst at Bank of America Securities. He started his career at Millennium
Pharmaceuticals, where he was project leader for multiple programs.

Mike received his BS in Chemistry from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He earned his
Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry at the University of Wisconsin, and completed postdoctoral work in
Synthetic Organic Chemistry at Scripps.

Speaker:CEO Panel

headline sponsor

We are excited to announce J.P. Morgan as headline sponsor for the Summit. They have been a consistent supporter of CED for years and we value their involvement in enabling us to provide a powerful program.

J.P. Morgan Press Release


A special thank you to all of our sponsors who have helped to bring you Venture Connect – 2020 Summit. You can view a highlight of our partners below. If you are interested in becoming a sponsor, view our sponsorship opportunities, here.

Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati

Track Sponsor


Track Sponsor

Hutchison PLLC

Tech Investor Dinner Sponsor

Smith Anderson

Life Science Investor Dinner Sponsor


Premium Featured Content Sponsor


Premium Featured Content Sponsor

Wyrick Robbins

Premium Featured Content Sponsor


Featured Content Sponsor


Featured Content Sponsor

Red Hat

Featured Content Sponsor


Networking Sponsor


Networking Sponsor

Mispro Biotech Services

Networking Sponsor

Pfizer CentreOne

Networking Sponsor

Research Triangle Foundation

Networking Sponsor


Reception Sponsor

Veracity Logic

Reception & Signature Drink Sponsor

North Carolina Biosciences Organization (NCBIO)

Life Science

North Carolina Biotechnology Center

Economic Development


Story Partner

Venture Connect Resources

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