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MoreLIP: Santa Claus, St. Patrick and North Texas

03/15/2010 — George Lipper, Development Capital Networks

It's Tuesday morning in Arlington, Texas -- the eve of St. Patrick’s Day as well as the 8th annual World’s Best Technology Showcase.

There's not much snow here in North Texas, but plenty of excitement as over 100 screened and mentored technologies prepare to display their market-ready innovations to WBT2010's 550-plus attendees, including a substantial number of venture capitalists, angel investors and licensees.

Not much thought of Santa for these hopeful entrepreneurs from across the U.S. and the globe, rather of the pot of gold at the end of their rainbow. Curiously enough, North Texas is swiftly becoming the new choice destination for such companies as these.

Yesterday I popped by WBT2010's onsite headquarters and spoke with Executive Director Amanda Radovic. Amanda said that this year's WBTshowcase is the biggest ever, a good sign in today's economic climate.

"It's great to see this kind of response to WBT2010," Amanda told me. "The success of this year's event is the product of eight years of committed effort to bringing emerging technologies to the marketplace."

Over a hundred judges, including potential investors, will rate the WBT technologies, under the watchful eye of the Showcase’s new Title Sponsor, Lockheed Martin (full disclosure, one of my first jobs, post Marine Corps, was working at the Lockheed Wind Tunnel in Burbank more than 50 years ago). Senior VP and CTO for Lockheed, Dr. Ray Johnson, called WBT "an invaluable opportunity to connect entrepreneurs with industry to help bring these promising technologies to the market."

I remember when WBT first came to life in Pittsburgh in 2002, at the encouragement of the US Department of Energy and the Federal Laboratory Consortium. It has grown steadily since then with support from the Arlington Center for Innovation and the University of Texas at Arlington.

Amanda told me that eight federal agencies will be at this year's event, including the Department of Defense, NASA, the USDA, the National Science Foundation and the Department of Homeland Security.

Keynote speaker Marc Stanley, Deputy Director of NIST, is scheduled for tomorrow, as is the awards banquet, at the end of the rainbow.