On May 26, the Charlottesville Business Innovation Council (CBIC) honored the area's most innovative and inspirational entrepreneurs, companies, teachers and students at its sold-out 18th annual awards gala.

Monticello High School teacher, Eric Bredder, took home the CBIC Educator of the Year Award and a $2,500 grant for technology in his classroom. Since 2003, CBIC has gifted more than $30,000 to area teachers to help further the use of technology in area classrooms.

Educator of the Year was just the top tier of a nine-layer award cake served up at the annual gala hosted each year by CBIC. More than 400 local business, government, and education leaders mingled together in an evening of entertainment and comradery. Executive Director Tracey Greene, co-chair of the gala, explains the importance of the CBIC Awards to central Virginia:

"This annual gathering seeks to inspire and inform as well as to further the creation of a community where we celebrate each other's accomplishments and recognize individual contributions to our innovation-based ecosystem. The gala also encourages attendees to develop relationships that create a fertile future for growth and expansion."

In addition to Mr. Bredder, the following are the 2016 CBIC Award winners:

  • The 2016 CBIC Entrepreneur of the Year is Dr. Brian Wamhoff at HemoShear Therapeutics for a novel method of assessing drug candidates.
  • Suz Somersall took the top honor as CBIC Innovator of the Year for her work founding KIRAKIRA 3D Printing Academy teaching girls mechanical engineering through fashion design.
  • CBIC Student Entrepreneur of the Year, Kevin Eisenfrats, CEO of Contraline, is developing a unique male contraceptive that is long-lasting, non-hormonal, and reversible.
  • CBIC Volunteer of the Year went to Kim Wilkens, who last year snagged the inaugural CBIC Social Good Award for her work with Tech-Girls and the SPARK Teen Hackathon. Kim was recognized by the CBIC Board of Directors for her generous service to the Council in the past year, particularly as chair of CBIC's annual Tech Tour.
  • The CBIC Social Good Award was selected by attendees at the event. The crowd selected Grow Oyster Reefs for its work to restore and repair oyster reefs, supporting the role that oysters play in mitigating climate change.
  • CBIC recognizes a Job Creator of the Year for not just bringing money and technology to the community but also well-paying jobs. Four-time INC 5000 company, WillowTree, took the title this year. 
  • University of Virginia spinoff, BrightSpec, took the top honor as CBIC Startup of the Year. The company manufactures next-generation spectrometers that are cheaper, faster, and better at a variety of crucial chemical tests.
  • The CBIC Business of the Year recognizes maturation and growth in an area technology firm. The 2016 Award went to Apex Clean Energy, builder and operator of utility-scale wind and solar power facilities. 

As the region's technology council, CBIC promotes innovation and entrepreneurship and supports growth and success among the Charlottesville region's technology-focused organizations. CBIC provides a forum for ideas and a collective voice on behalf of the technology sector. Through collaborative partnerships, educational resources and strategic relationships, CBIC enhances, publicizes, and champions technology initiatives that strengthen economic and social vitality in our area.

2016 CBIC Award Finalists

CBIC Business of the Year

 CBIC Educator of the Year

  • Betsy Agee, Crozet Elementary School
  • Eric Bredder, Monticello High School
  • Adam Mulcahy, Western Albemarle High School

 CBIC Entrepreneur of the Year 

 CBIC Innovator of the Year 

 CBIC Social Good

 CBIC Startup of the Year 

 CBIC Student Entrepreneur/Student Startup Venture of the Year 

 CBIC Top Job Creator of the Year