Tom Tom Festival to offer money to student innovators

Bands, speakers also headline the Downtown Mall event

A host of block parties, bands and speakers will sweep the Downtown Mall this weekend as part of the second annual Tom Tom Founders Festival.

Partnered with U.Va. Innovation, the event aims to draw crowds from the University and Charlottesville communities.

“[We hope to] transform historic downtown Charlottesville with four days of public talks, concerts, events and creative energy,” program director Paul Beyer said.

One event, held at the Darden School, the “U. Pitch, C’Ville Decides” will encourage crowd members to vote on entrepreneurial ideas pitched by anyone with a vested interest in improving Charlottesville, and will award the winner a grant of $10,000.

The four-day festival will also include a speakers series featuring University President Teresa Sullivan, Education School Dean Bob Pianta, Religious Studies Prof. David Germano and University neurosurgeon Dr. Neal Kassell.

Tom Tom will conclude Sunday with the semifinal round of the Galant Challenge, a $250,000 pitch competition aimed at giving one undergraduate student the necessary capital to launch a business. The University’s Entrepreneurship Group chose 10 finalists to represent U.Va. at the undergraduate level.

Third-year College student Uzair Minhas, president of the U.Va. Entrepreneurship Group said he hoped the project will help bridge University students with members of the community to foster future collaborations and startup companies.

“I hope community and student entrepreneurs will showcase their business and ideas to a large, excited audience,” Minhas said. “I hope Tom Tom Festival will place Charlottesville on the map as an East Coast startup hub, where innovation exists at every industry level.”

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