National Emerging Technology Conference

November 14-15, 2024

Disrupt Up is a new annual innovation event in the Roanoke-Blacksburg region. Speakers, workshops, and panels will center on AI this year.

Nikki Hastings, PhD headshot
Nikki Hastings, PhD
Co-Founder, Executive Director

Professor Hastings is an operations biotech executive and entrepreneurial ecosystem builder with over 15 years of experience with early-stage biotech/medtech and medical device companies, specifically with expertise in working with academic and first-time founders. She has led operations in executive management roles at companies including HemoShear Therapeutics, Contraline, and Cerillo. Professor Hastings co-founded and led a private nonprofit organization, CvilleBioHub, supporting growth of the regional biotech industry in Central Virginia and was the organization’s first executive director. Professor Hastings is an adjunct faculty member in the UVA McIntire School of Commerce and holds a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Virginia.

Paul Nolde headshot
Paul Nolde
Managing Partner
Lighthouse Labs RVA

Paul Nolde has over two decades of experience in the banking, finance, and venture capital sectors, serving in multiple business development and management roles. As the Managing Director of 757 Collab and the Executive Director of 757 Angels powered by VentureSouth, Paul sets the strategic vision for both organizations and oversees day-to-day operations in accelerating and funding venture capital-appropriate startups from idea to seed stage. 757 Collab includes 757 Startup Studios (the “front door” incubator to Hampton Roads’ entrepreneurial ecosystem), 757 Accelerate (a nationally recognized venture accelerator), 757 Angels (one of the nation’s most active angel investment groups), and 757 Innovation Partnerships (innovation programming for organizations and companies). Prior to this he served as the Executive Managing Director of Lighthouse Labs, another nationally recognized venture accelerator based in Richmond, VA, and before that he was the Fund Manager and Managing Director of Riverflow Growth Fund, a seed stage, healthcare-focused venture capital fund. Prior to Riverflow he served as a director at NRV, also an early-stage venture capital firm, having previously managed the angel investment portfolio of a family office. Earlier in his career he held various sales and strategy positions at multiple national and community banks. 

He is an active participant in, and advocate for, Virginia’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, serving on the boards of several local and regional organizations, including the Activation Council, CAV Angels (immediate past president), Innovate Hampton Roads, the Norfolk Innovation Corridor, Hampton Roads’ Regional Organization Presidents’ Council, and The Launch Place Seed Fund (former chair). Additionally, Paul sits on various advisory and governing boards at the University of Virginia, where he also serves as an adjunct professor of impact investing in its Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy.

Paul graduated from UVA with a B.A. in Foreign Affairs, complemented by post-grad business studies through the McIntire School of Commerce Business Institute.

Creed Jones III, PhD headshot
Creed Jones III, PhD
Chief Technology Officer
Globe Medical

Creed Jones is a Collegiate Professor of Computer Engineering at Virginia Tech. He is director of the Master of Science programs in Electrical and Computer Engineering. Dr Jones teaches upper-division and graduate courses in computer vision, machine learning and software development.

Dr. Jones is also the CTO for Globe Biomedical LLC, a startup company in Riverside, California, developing wearable technology for non-contact monitoring of eye diseases and eye condition using imaging and machine learning technologies. Globe’s flagship product, BlinkFrames™, has recently received FDA clearance and is being deployed through optical clinicians and professionals in the pediatric and adult markets.

Dr. Jones’ professional experience includes over 25 years in technology development for computer vision, predictive modeling and image processing. He holds ten US and international patents and often serves as an expert witness in areas related to biometric identification, image processing and machine learning.

Brett Malone headshot
Brett Malone, PhD
President, CEO
Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center

Dr. Brett Malone is a triple Hokie with 20 years of executive experience in growing engineering, biotech, and software business. Malone learned firsthand what it was like to build a company in Virginia Tech’s Blacksburg-based research park, led then by longtime Corporate Research Center President and CEO Joe Meredith.

As co-founder of Phoenix Integration, a firm that creates software for engineering, Malone helped build a notable company that is still part of the Corporate Research Center and serving the aerospace industry. Malone has led multiple companies based around the country since graduating from Virginia Tech in biotech, robotics, engineering, and software. He has a broad background working successfully with early stage companies and with related funding sources.

Malone is respected in the regional entrepreneurship community, with engaging ideas on how to best position the Corporate Research Center to continue its positive impact on the region going forward.

Ruoix Jia headshot
Ruoix Jia, PhD
Assistant Professor
Virginia Tech, Bradley Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering

Ruoix Jia, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Virginia Tech and is affiliated with the Sanghani Center for Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics. Jia completed her Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at UC Berkeley and received her B.S. from Peking University. Jia’s research interests lie broadly in the span of machine learning, security, privacy, and cyber-physical systems with recent work focusing on data-centric AI and trustworthy machine learning.

In her research through the Electrical and Computer Engineering department at Virginia Tech, she leads works with students, including postdocs, PhDs, interns, masters, and undergraduates, on Data Problems for Foundation Models.

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