Activation Capital Names New Vice President of Entrepreneurship & Ecosystem Development

The new role will oversee strategic initiatives to grow deep-tech entrepreneurship and a regional ecosystem conducive to health and life sciences company formation and scaleup.

RICHMOND, Va., Activation Capital, an innovation ecosystem development organization, announced today that it has appointed Michael Mancini, Ph.D., as its Vice President of Entrepreneurship & Ecosystem Development. The new role is part of a shift by the organization to address a gap in support for IP-driven tech companies built upon cutting-edge engineering, science, and technology. The appointment of Mancini will help build a regional pipeline of deep-tech entrepreneurs translating high-potential discoveries into high-growth companies, principally those launching health and life sciences ventures.

“Activation Capital was founded to help strengthen the innovation economy by increasing the number of successful homegrown tech companies operating in the region. These high-impact firms can be transformational for the region because they solve tough challenges and create high-paying jobs,” said Chandra Briggman, President and CEO of Activation Capital. “But these startups are time and capital intensive and require a continuum of specialized support to become commercially viable. Michael is an entrepreneurial scientist with a unique blend of startup, commercialization, and academic experience needed to build the support infrastructure these entrepreneurs most need. We are honored to welcome him to the team and are confident in the significant contributions he will make to the organization’s deeply impactful work.”

Mancini earned a Bachelor of Science in biomedical engineering at the University of Rochester and a Doctor of Philosophy in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University. His dissertation research was centered on the development of nanotechnology for biomedical imaging. He is experienced in business development, technology transfer, lean entrepreneurship, technical and scientific communication, engineering project management, and medical device design and development.

At Virginia Commonwealth University, Mancini served as Director of Project Outreach in addition to an affiliate appointment as a professor of the practice in biomedical engineering. He was responsible for two experiential learning programs in the College of Engineering: Capstone senior design and Vertically Integrated Projects. Mancini previously served as a Business Development Manager at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Innovation Gateway (now TechTransfer and Ventures). In that role, he helped facilitate tech transfer and maintained a portfolio of high-value medical device, pharmaceutical, and catalysis technologies for research development, licensing, and commercialization. Before joining VCU, Mancini was a co-founder and Vice President of Research and Development of Spectropath, a medical imaging startup founded to commercialize an all-optical intraoperative cancer imaging technology platform he co-invented during his dissertation research.

“My passion is to build useful things – that’s what sparked my initial interest in engineering and my academic studies,” said Mancini. “Before completing my doctoral research, I had the opportunity to bring inventions I created as a scientist from the bench to the bedside. That opportunity was my first startup, Spectropath. As a result of that experience, I began to understand the unique challenges of building and scaling this type of company.”

Mancini added, “Deep tech startups demand that entrepreneurs possess a broad skill set of scientific and technical literacy, business savvy, and humility. It’s not enough to just build something people want – the underlying science has to be bulletproof and the long time to market requires patient capital that understands the space. I look forward to leveraging my knowledge and experience within the Central Virginia tech  community as we build a thriving ecosystem of deep tech companies. The results of our collective work will benefit the region by expanding economic opportunities and improving lives through innovative technology applications.”

The appointment of Mancini coincides with a period of rapid growth for Activation Capital and the launch of signature initiatives, including a recent award of $1.5M in the federal Omnibus budget to support life sciences commercialization and business formation, leading the efforts to secure a $55.9M to scale up an Advanced Pharmaceutical Manufacturing and R&D cluster through the Build Back Better Regional Challenge, a $450K GO Virginia Region 4 Grant to design a regional entrepreneurship strategy, and the addition of new team members responsible for advancing the organization’s mission in 2023.

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