Sen. Warner speaks at TechNite 2018, celebrates local technology gains

BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) - In Blacksburg, the leaders in the tech industry of the Roanoke and New River Valleys gathered to celebrate the past year.

It was TechNite 2018 on the Virginia Tech Campus Thursday, hosted by the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council.

The gala honors local tech leaders and allows for networking among members.

Senator Mark Warner delivered the keynote speech. He said Southwest Virginia has a lot of tech potential, especially when it comes to cyber security.

"Areas like unmanned systems and cyber security, huge growth opportunities and also concerns that touch on national security," Senator Warner said.

Warner said he'd like to see that all higher learning institutions in Virginia are equipped to train students for high paying, vacant cyber security jobs.

The council president, Robert McAden, said the council has continued to mature and expand, offering valuable networking opportunities to its members. He said, in particular, he's seen growth in the health technology sector in the region.

"We're maturing in the health sciences in a lot of ways and I would say we're just broadening in advanced manufacturing," McAden said.

The list of winners at Thursday's gala included:

STEM-H Educator: Rick Weaver, Montgomery County Public School System and John Warf,
Burton Center for the Arts and Technology

Regional Go-To-Geek: Darrell Little, Noke Codes | Carilion Clinic

Regional Connector: Jeff Smith, Voltage Leadership Consulting

Rising Star: Securitec Screening Solutions

Entrepreneur of the Year: Steve Critchfield, MOVA

Innovator of the Year: Deb Kelly, VTCRI

Regional Leadership: Kevin Bloomfield, Bloomfield Partners

Company of the Year: TORC Robotics

Ruby Award: Victor Iannello, Radiant Physics