In the current economic climate, investors are evaluating all investment opportunities with a critical eye, looking for enhanced returns and reduced risk. While aerospace and defense technologies represent a fertile area for investment, many investors are hesitant as they do not fully understand the landscape.
Our panel will provide the complementary perspectives of investors and of leading private companies working on cutting edge products in the aerospace industry. Both potential investors and entrepreneurs seeking growth capital will benefit from the discussion on the rewards (and the challenges) of investing in this industry.
This panel will discuss:
1) What are key high-potential and growth areas for the aerospace sector?
2) Who are the active investors in earlier and mid-stage aerospace and defense companies? What are their criteria?
3) What does a promising early and/or mid-market aerospace venture look like?
- Laurence Vigeant-Langlois, Director, Business Development & Tech. Partnerships, Sikorsky Innovations
- Stuart A. Auerbach, General Partner, Ampersand Capital Partners
- Mark Cherry, President and COO, Aurora Flight Sciences
- Courtney B. Graham, Associate General Counsel, NASA HQ regarding NASA’s SBIR Program
- Adam Harris, Vice President of Government Sales, SpaceX
- Don Thoma, President and CEO, Aireon LLC
Thanks to Fitzpatrick & Hunt, Tucker, Collier, Pagano, Aubert, LLP and Holland & Knight for hosting this event!
Thursday, November 29, 2012
5:30pm - 6:00pm: Reception
6:00pm - 7:30pm: Panel Discussion
7:30pm - 8:30pm: Networking
Holland & Knight - Directions
31 West 52nd Street
New York, NY 10019
Free to members of MIT Enterprise Forum
$50 non-members, $10 extra at door
All members and guests are welcome.
Panel Moderator Biography
Laurence Vigeant-Langlois, PhD
Director, Business Development and Technology Partnerships
Laurence works for the technology development arm of Sikorsky Aircraft, where she manages partnerships & equity investments, and leads teams running the company`s contract R&D with the US Department of Defense, advanced aircraft operations analysis and open innovation initiatives including the Sikorsky Entrepreneurial Challenge. She joined Sikorsky in 2011 from aircraft lessor CIT Aerospace where she gained increasing responsibilities evaluating advanced products and negotiating the purchases of $9B in aircraft and engine assets from Airbus, Boeing, Embraer, Pratt & Whitney, GE and Rolls-Royce. She previously worked in product management for WSI, A Weather Channel Company, where she led the go-to-market strategy and doubled the revenue of the company`s aircraft solutions, and as a Learjet pilot flying for Air Cargo Express internationally. She earned PhD and SM in Aeronautics & Astronautics from MIT, a BEng with Distinctions from McGill University in Montreal, is an aircraft owner, commercial multi-engine instrument pilot and sailplane instructor, has flown in micro-gravity and competed in sailing, rowing and triathlons. She has published 30 articles, has patents granted and pending, has received awards from NASA, ESA, NSERC and serves on the board of the MIT Enterprise Forum and IAWA.
Panel Speaker Biographies
Stuart A. Auerbach
Ampersand Capital Partners
Stuart is a General Partner at Wellesley, MA based Ampersand Capital Partners for almost 20 years. Over that time frame, Stuart has successfully participated in raising 6 venture capital and private equity funds and invested in and served on the boards of a wide range of companies in the industrial and healthcare sectors. Prior to joining Ampersand back in 1991, Stuart spent three years with Bain and Company in their management consulting activity and five years in manufacturing and engineering management at Lever Brothers. Outside of Ampersand, Stuart is active in the aviation community and serves on the board of EAA and its related Foundation. Stuart holds a B.S. in Engineering from Columbia University and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.
President and COO
Aurora Flight Sciences
Mr. Cherry joined Aurora in October 2012 as President and COO, with responsibility for the operational and financial performance of the company.
He joins us from Sikorsky Aircraft, a Division of United Technologies where he held roles of increasing responsibility, ending as the Vice President of Corporate Strategy and Synergy. There he led Sikorsky`s strategic planning function conducting market and competitive analysis, partnering with Sikorsky business leaders to develop strategic plans to ensure profitable business growth.
He joined United Technologies from Teradyne Inc. where he held operations planning, program management and business development roles. Previous to Teradyne Mark was a consultant in the Boston office of Boston Consulting Group where he participated in a number of engagements with technology and industrial goods companies.
Mark joined industry after serving as an officer in the United States Air Force. He held several roles including lead battle damage engineer for the A-10 program office. He led the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) efforts to demonstrate technology in the Advanced Fighter Technology Integration (AFTI) program, as well as unmanned aircraft demonstrators. Mark started his Air Force career as an acquisition officer managing installation of local area network systems.
Mark holds an MBA from Stanford University and Master of Science degrees in Systems and Aeronautical Engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology. He is a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy with a Bachelors of Science in Engineering Mechanics.
Courtney B. Graham
Associate General Counsel
NASA HQ regarding NASA`s SBIR Program
Courtney Graham is the Associate General Counsel for Commercial and Intellectual Property in the Office of General Counsel at NASA Headquarters. She is responsible for providing Agency-wide legal support and direction for NASA`s commercial and interagency partnership, outreach and education initiatives, and manages the Agency`s intellectual property portfolio. She spent her career in private practice prior to joining NASA, specializing in transactions relating to technology marketing and acquisition, venture capital investments, and corporate mergers and acquisitions. She also worked in-house with a top-10 government contractor supporting its federal and commercial business units on technology commercialization, intellectual property rights under government contracts, infringement issues, privacy, and the regulation of online commerce. Courtney received her J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of Law in San Francisco, her undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin, and attended the LL.M. program in Intellectual Property at the George Washington University School of Law.
Vice President of Government Sales
Mr. Harris is the Vice President of Government Sales and is responsible for implementing and overseeing SpaceX interactions with Federal agencies. In concert with the SpaceX leadership team, Adam works to secure financial support for SpaceX business activities and programs. Prior to joining SpaceX, Adam most recently served as the Staff Director of the House Select Intelligence Oversight Panel on the Appropriations Committee. He also held the position of space budget analyst on the professional staff of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.
Adam's government experience includes serving as a Senior Advisor in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and as a Professional Staff Member on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. He served as an officer for 8 years in the United States Air Force with assignments at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the National Reconnaissance Office.
Adam received his Bachelor of Science in astronautical engineering from the United States Air Force Academy and a Master of Science in aeronautical engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology.
President and CEO
Don Thoma is the president and CEO of the newly formed Aireon LLC, a joint venture between Iridium and NAV CANADA. In this role, he is leading the Iridium NEXT hosted payload initiative to provide a transformational global air traffic surveillance capability by including an ADS-B receiver payload on each Iridium NEXT satellite. Mr. Thoma served as executive vice president, Marketing, at Iridium Communications Inc. where he was responsible for strategic marketing, product management and corporate communications for the company, as well as corporate initiatives related to Iridium NEXT - the next generation of the Iridium satellite constellation. Mr. Thoma is also chairman of the Hosted Payload Alliance, an industry trade group that works to advance the use of hosted payloads on commercial satellites.
Prior to joining Iridium, from 2000-2001, he served as vice president of marketing and business development for ObjectVideo, Inc. From 1992-2000, Mr. Thoma held various positions of responsibility for ORBCOMM, ranging from senior director of transportation to founder and general manager of the Vantage Tracking Solutions business unit and vice president of business development. Prior to ORBCOMM, from 1988-1990, he was the director of integration and launch operations for Orbital Sciences Corporation.
Mr. Thoma served as a Captain in the U.S. Air Force Space Division from 1983-1988. He holds a bachelor`s degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a master`s degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Southern California and a Master of Business Administration from the Harvard Business School.