Programs / Events

    • Tuesday, March 08, 2016
    • 5:45 PM - 8:30 PM
    • WPI/MBI: 60 Prescott St., Worcester, MA

    March: Innovation Month

    Co-hosted with MBI: Symposium on Women and Entrepreneurial Leadership: Join us for a special conversation with the most innovative women in life sciences locally and regionally. We will learn from these innovative leaders who founded and sold companies, obtained financing, invented patented healthcare breakthroughs, commercialized products, and received FDA approvals. A program of TVF's Innovation Month.

    Dr. Yael Schwartz is a Massachusetts life science executive and serial entrepreneur with a 25-year broad record of achievement in pharmaceutical drug discovery and development. She built and led several research and product development areas in women’s health, dermatology, CNS disorders and respiratory diseases. Following her stint at Sepracor (Sunovion) where she worked on teams that developed Lunesta® (insomnia), Brovana® (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), Xopenex® (asthma), she founded Hygeia Therapeutics and Canterbury Laboratories. Both companies were acquired and taken public by RestorGenex (RESX). At RestorGenex she was on the Board of Directors and the Executive VP of Preclinical Development. In late 2015 she founded Or-Genix Therapeutics, a company developing non-prescription topical products for aging skin, hair and mucous membranes for women over 40 years of age.

    Yael received her Bachelor’s degree from Salem State University, a Master’s in Pharmacology/Toxicology at Northeastern University, and a Ph.D. with honors in Human Physiology from a joint program at WPI and the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

    For the past 8 years, Yael has served on the Board of Trustees of Massachusetts Biomedical Initiatives (MBI). In 2011, she co-founded a non-profit organization for executive women in the healthcare sector, the NEWISE Club (New England Women in Science Executive’s Club), Boston, MA. She is an Honorary Member of Phi Lambda Sigma, The Pharmacy Leadership Society, for her teaching and mentorship activities at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.

    Lenore Rasmussen, PhD, Chair of Board, Founder & CTO

    As a PhD level polymer chemist with dual masters in Chemistry and Biology, Lenore has over 10 years of experience working with electroactive polymer (EAP) based materials and actuators, and she is a recognized leader in the EAP industry with multiple peer reviewed publications, patents, and the book "Electroactivity in Polymeric Materials" ( Previously, she worked at the Johnson & Johnson Corporate Biomaterials Center. Lenore is the inventor of Ras Labs Synthetic Muscle™, and provides additional expertise in research and development, patent writing and strategy, grant writing, and FDA roadmaps.

    Anastasia Khvorova, PhD, is Professor in the RNA Therapeutics Institute and the Program in Molecular Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) in Worcester, Massachusetts. Before joining the UMMS faculty, she held leadership positions in industry, including Vice President of Research & Development and Chief Science Officer of Dharmacon (now a Thermo Fisher Scientific company), Founder and Scientific Advisor of Advirna, and Chief Science Officer and Senior Vice President of RXi Pharmaceuticals. Among the major advances with which Dr Khvorova is credited, her team at Dharmacon developed and facilitated the commercialization of the first functional siRNA collection targeting the human genome (siGENOME), and at RXi, her group made significant progress in chemically modifying RNAi compounds to create self-delivering rxRNA compounds. Dr Khvorova’s industry experience in drug discovery and development collaborations with pharmaceutical companies along with her expertise in chemistry and cell biology allowed her to establish a lab at UMMS that brings together organic chemists and RNA biologists to develop novel approaches and solutions to understanding natural and therapeutic RNA trafficking and delivery. Dr Khvorova is a member of the Board of Directors of the Oligonucleotide Therapeutics Society and sits on the editorial board of Nucleic Acid Research. She is the author of more than 150 abstracts, more than 40 peer-reviewed articles, several book chapters, and more than 250 patents and patent applications; her publications are widely cited.
    Dr. Tanja Dominko obtained her PhD in Endocrinology and Reproductive Physiology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. As a staff scientist at the Oregon Regional Primate Research Center in Portland, Oregon, she investigated mechanisms of somatic cell reprogramming in non-human primates. She continued her research in the area of cellular reprogramming as a senior research scientist with Advanced Cell Technology in Worcester, MA developing strategies for autologous cell therapy. In 2002 she founded CellThera, Inc. to develop new strategies for treatment of degenerative diseases that do not rely on embryonic stem cells. Between 2003 and 2011 CellThera participated in significant research efforts in DARPA’s Restorative Injury Repair program. During this time CellThera announced its partnership with Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Worcester, MA, where Dr. Dominko holds an Associate Professor appointment.
    • Tuesday, April 12, 2016
    • 5:30 PM - 8:30 PM
    • WPI Campus Center, Odeum PARKING: Best parking is the lot on Park Ave. under the rooftop field

    5-Minute Pitch

    Gold Sponsors:

    Bronze Sponsors:


    Apply for the Pitch Today!

    This is The Venture Forum’s 10th Annual 5 Minute Pitch Contest that has been so incredibly powerful in getting startups the outlet that they need to launch their business to the next level.

    On April 12th we will have 8 of New England’s finest pitching for you, the audience, and our team of judges. In addition, the room will have approximately 20 other businesses displaying their ideas before the event and during networking time. With food, wine, coffee, and dessert, the atmosphere couldn’t be better.

    Setup for the evening will begin around 4:30 with networking and food available beginning at 5 PM. At 6 PM the presentations will start. Each will have five minutes to tell their story and three minutes to answer judges questions, all in an effort to convince you and the judges why their idea is the next great business.

    See the WPI Campus map for directions.

    PARKING: Best parking is the lot on Park Ave. under the rooftop field

    Meet the Five-Minute Pitch Contest Judges

    Jerry Bird, President, MassVentures

    Jerry is the president of MassVentures, a firm he joined in 2005. He has over 25 years of experience advising and financing entrepreneurial-driven companies, the past 18 in venture capital.

    Throughout his professional career, Jerry has operated both as an investor and an active partner to entrepreneurs building their companies. His direct investment experience covers dozens of companies and in many cases as the lead or co-lead investor. Several of these companies were acquired by significant publicly-traded companies. Among the companies Jerry has been on the board of are e-Travel (acquired by Oracle), (Nasdaq: ANDV, purchased by VA Linux), LinkSoft Technologies (purchased by QuadraMed), NexCen Technologies (purchased by UCMS), and Bitpipe Inc. (purchased by TechTarget).

    He currently is a board member or board observer at MassVentures’ portfolio companies Forerun, lifeIMAGE, and Applause. He also serves on the advisory board of MassDevelopment’s Emerging Technology Fund, and the Board of the Massachusetts Technology Transfer Center.

    He’s on the boards of Massachusetts Audubon, Crossroads for Kids, and the Massachusetts chapter of the Trust for Public Land. In his free time, Jerry spends time in the mountains on his bike or skiing or hiking.

    James Geshwiler, Managing Director, Converge Venture Partners

    James has been an active seed-stage investor in mobile, cloud, consumer and enterprise software for more than 15 years. He has been on the boards of many early stage technology companies and is passionate how companies can best transition from seed to scaling.

    He helped shape the transformation from Converge Venture Partners’ predecessor organization, CommonAngels, and has been a leader in shaping the professionalization of angel investing, co-founding two associations with the help of the Kauffman Foundation.

    James has been on the Board of Trustees of the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council and the Board of the MIT Alumni Association. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the Plan II Liberal Arts Honors Program at the UT-Austin, a master’s degree in political science from UCLA, and an MBA from MIT. James also is an avid rower and member of Cambridge Boat Club.

    Tripp Peake - General Partner, Long River Ventures

    Tripp brings over 20 years of venture building and investing experience to the funds.

    Immediately prior to Long River, Tripp was a partner at Kestrel Venture Management, where he focused on the management of Mass Ventures Equity Fund, a $14 million early stage fund established in western Massachusetts in 1997. Tripp serves or has served on numerous boards, including Extreme Reach, Health Guru, Optasite (acquired by SBA Communications), Profile Systems (acquired by Comergent), Protedyne (acquired by LabCorp), Qteros, Sovereign Hill Software (acquired by Dataware), and Western Mass Radio Group (acquired by Pamal Broadcasting). Before joining Kestrel, Tripp was co-founder and CEO of two venture development consulting companies: Mass Ventures, based in Amherst, MA and associated with the University of Massachusetts; and Science Park Associates, based in New Haven, CT and associated with Yale University. Both of these companies provided university spin-offs and regional entrepreneurs with strategic and financing advice and helped raise over $50 million in private equity for 18 different early stage ventures. Tripp holds a B.A. from Dartmouth College and an M.B.A from Yale University.

    Jennifer Schwall Rousseau, Executive Director, Cherrystone Angel Group

    At Cherrystone, she manages the angel group's operations as well as serves on the Steering, Screening and Due Diligence Committees. She has experience in screening deals, determining valuation models and conducting market research for several verticals including pharmaceutical, medical devices, software, hardware and internet/mobile applications. She advises portfolio companies on fundraising strategies and works with the CEOs to keep investors updated.

    Jenn also serves as a representative of Cherrystone in the Boston and New York markets at various fundraising and networking events.

    Jenn graduated Summa Cum Laude from Bryant University with a B.S. in Finance and a minor in Legal Studies. She received the Delta Sigma Pi Scholarship Key, awarded to the graduating senior with the highest cumulative academic average, as well as the Jack H. Rubens Leadership in Finance Award.

    Previous Winners

    10 Pitches
    5 Minutes
    $2500 Cash Prize

    Where will you be?

    • Wednesday, May 11, 2016
    • 5:30 PM - 8:30 PM
    • WPI Salisbury Lab Amphitheatre

    Learn the ins and outs of running a successful crowdfunding campaign to fund your startup.

    • Tuesday, June 14, 2016
    • 5:30 PM - 8:30 PM
    • WPI Salisbury Lab Amphitheatre

    We all have a basic understanding of networking but the networking masters will share their secrets with us while we practice – interactive and fun!

Past events

Tuesday, February 09, 2016 Emerging Technology Series #4 -- Optics, Lasers and Photonics
Tuesday, January 12, 2016 Entrepreneur’s Lounge: What’s It Really Like to Start a Tech Firm?
Tuesday, December 08, 2015 Entrepreneurs Demo Night with VentureMeets
Tuesday, November 10, 2015 Robotics: What’s Next?
Tuesday, October 13, 2015 Bringing the Passion and Loyalty of Gaming to your Product or Enterprise: What Games Teach Us About Engagement
Tuesday, September 08, 2015 Making the Digital Physical: Industrial, Biomedical, Consumer: What's New in 3D Printing
Tuesday, June 09, 2015 Your First Five Sales
Tuesday, May 12, 2015 Reinvent Your Market Strategy and Your Company Too
Tuesday, April 14, 2015 Five-Minute Pitch Contest
Tuesday, March 10, 2015 Grant Funding 101 – Gain funding without giving away the store
Tuesday, February 10, 2015 Network with a New Crowd
Tuesday, January 13, 2015 Your IP Plan – from Idea to Execution
Tuesday, December 09, 2014 Attract Investor Attention in Innovative Ways
Tuesday, November 11, 2014 Choosing Your Target Market…Let It Choose You
Tuesday, October 14, 2014 Build Your Team to Create Together
Tuesday, September 09, 2014 War Stories from Successful Entrepreneurs
Tuesday, June 10, 2014 Guy Kawasaki on Getting Your First Investment
Tuesday, May 13, 2014 Manufacturing How-tos for Startups
Tuesday, April 08, 2014 Battling Diabetes and Obesity with Technology and Exercise
Tuesday, March 11, 2014 Five-Minute Pitch Contest
Tuesday, February 11, 2014 Stages of Social Innovation Growth
Tuesday, January 14, 2014 Innovation Fair
Tuesday, December 10, 2013 Personalized Medicine
Tuesday, November 12, 2013 Business Plan Contest
Tuesday, October 08, 2013 Lean Startups
Tuesday, September 10, 2013 "Visions of Growth" with Tim Murray and Michael O'Brien.
Saturday, September 07, 2013 Jim Fee Start-up Clinic
Tuesday, June 11, 2013 Ask the Experts
Tuesday, May 14, 2013 Go To Market: Market, Sell or Perish - The Most Critical Phase of a Fledgling Business
Tuesday, April 09, 2013 Building the Team - The Most Critical Part of a Nascent Business
Tuesday, March 12, 2013 Networking Event at Metso Automation
Tuesday, February 12, 2013 5 Minute Pitch Contest

Gold Sponsors

Interested in becoming a Gold Sponsor? 

Copyright 2015 - The Venture Forum -- 306 Main Street, #400 -- Worcester, MA 01605 --

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software