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For the past two summers, the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh has seized upon the energy and opportunities within its community’s backyard aviation gathering, the Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture. The event is a catalyst for aviation-and-aerospace-related innovation and investment .

This summer, AeroInnovate 2011 will spend its first full week at the planet’s largest fly-in and aviation convention, helping bring together innovators and business and investment leaders. The goal is to help give new partnerships and even entirely new enterprises wings – maybe even one that could land along a runway or in an industrial park within UW Oshkosh’s native NEW North region.

“AeroInnovate is helping spotlight the ingenuity and seed the partnerships that will launch aviation and aerospace businesses and breakthroughs people will see at AirVentures in the years and decades to come,” said Meridith Jaeger, business development officer with UW Oshkosh’s Business Success Center and AeroInnovate co-director. “We have a dynamic slate of AirVenture forums and events that will again capture the entrepreneurial and innovative energy that annually converges on Oshkosh, thanks to the EAA.”

Four years since its conceptualization at UW Oshkosh, AeroInnovate will stage its first seven-day run at AirVenture. The aviation celebration will draw tens of thousands of aviation enthusiasts, aircraft, aviation-related businesses and government officials from around the globe to Oshkosh’s Wittman Regional Airport from July 25 through July 31.

Since 2007, UW Oshkosh’s Business Success Center has supported AeroInnovate. The initiative also has the backing of the Wisconsin Entrepreneur’s Network and a number of other partners.

AeroInnovate is sponsoring its annual “Pitch & Mingle” on Friday, July 29 designed to showcase selected companies business pitch in front of a group of “investors, advisors and fellow aviation and aerospace  entrepreneurs.” The event also is an opportunity for all to network and stay up to speed on emergent technology and industry trends.

The event has already had opportunity to spotlight breakthrough innovations.

At AeroInnovate’s 2009 inaugural Pitch & Mingle, Glenn Martin, founder of New Zealand-based Martin Jetpack, first pitched his company’s jetpack technology. In May, the Martin Jetpack was test-flown to an altitude of 5,000 feet and demonstrated the first ballistic jetpack parachute as a safety feature. The technology was featured as one of Time Magazine’s best new inventions of 2010.

The week’s-worth of AeroInnovate 2011 forums are also designed to help spark the technological and investment fires that are essential to launching an aviation or aerospace venture. Topics range from “Telling your business idea in 30 seconds or less” to “Protecting your Intellectual Property” to more technology-geared subjects such as “Airborne Aero-Optics.”

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