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Venture capitalist swoops in

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A kite-surfing venture capitalist with a flair for air will return to test the Western Australian water at the upcoming Univation 2011.

After Univation 2010, Bill Tai (pictured) was appointed an innovator-in-residence and visiting professor at Curtin University.

Mr Tai helped found the Silicon Valley office of Charles River Ventures and is an ‘Olympic Ambassador’ for the International Kiteboard Association.

Curtin’s Director of IP Commercialisation, Rohan McDougall, said Mr Tai’s keynote presentation was a highlight of the conference that each year showcases the best commercialisation prospects from WA’s research-rich universities.

“Bill stimulated a lot of enthusiasm for making the most of WA’s supercomputing capacity,” Mr McDougall said.

“He visited the campus in May and met with more than 200 staff, students and members of WA’s innovation community to talk about ways to do this.

“The trip led to the launch of the WApp Awards that were specifically designed for Univation 2011 to identify the best mobile app concept from staff, students and alumni of WA universities.”

The pool of prize money for the inaugural WApp Awards has swelled to $80,000, and may rise further.

“Finalists will be judged by a panel of world-leading investors and entrepreneurs including Mr Tai, and will get to present their apps at Univation 2011,” Mr McDougall said.

“It is shaping up to be an exciting program and we are already seeing strong interest.”

Hand-picked international speakers include David Henderson of the Toronto-based XPV Capital Corporation, one of the world’s largest firms solely dedicated to investing in companies that manage the world’s water.

Scheduled for November 2 and 3 at Perth’s Burswood Convention Centre, Univation 2011 will spotlight 16 exciting technologies – including several from Curtin University.

Curtin innovations to be displayed include the ICetana intelligent surveillance application that can automatically monitor an entire CCTV camera network in real time and detect unusual events.

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