U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, honorary chairman of the DRWV Foundation, and Celeste Thomasson, President and CEO of MorphoTrak LLC, were the featured keynote speakers at the Foundation's eighth annual Identification Intelligence Expo held in Morgantown on December 6. For the first time in program history, the Expo, previously held in Washington, D.C., was held in the state. The annual program is designed to highlight and expand West Virginia's growing identification intelligence sector and attracts companies involved in cybersecurity, forensics, biometrics and data analysis. Tom Heywood, managing partner of Bowles Rice LLP and president of DRWV, served as the Expo's official host and emcee.
MorphoTrak, a subsidiary of Safran, provides biometric security solutions for law enforcement, government services, border control and commercial security, and is the newest security firm to invest in West Virginia, opening an office in Morgantown just this past month. The decision to open an office in the state was due to the company's work with the FBI and their partnership with West Virginia University. Once the decision was made to open an office in the Mountain State, the hiring process showed Thomasson and the company that West Virginia has a vast range of "high-tech talent." "There's an incredible talent pool in this area," Thomasson said. "We were thrilled to staff the office with all local hires."
"There's no place better right now for the identity management sector than right here in West Virginia," said Senator Manchin. "Thanks to years of strategic investments and collaborating industry, research, education and government, the North-Central region is home to state-of-the-art infrastructure, advanced telecommunications facilities, high-tech cyber security support, innovative forensics laboratories, and extensive biometric databases."
This year's Expo drew a record crowd of 180 executives and government officials representing some of the nation's largest security and identity management companies and federal agencies. The EXPO is designed for out-of-state executives to explore investment opportunities, business partnerships and research synergies with West Virginia companies and universities. Another first for this year's program was that it was held over the course of two days and featured a trade mission. Twenty four out of state executives and agency officials participated in a tour of the I-79 Technology Corridor, specifically the I-79 Technology Park in Fairmont, and attended presentations by the High Technology Foundation, the West Virginia Department of Commerce, FBI CJIS Division, the FBI's IC3 division, and Marshall and West Virginia Universities' researchers.
The Expo was hosted by the DRWV Foundation, the I-79 Development Council, West Virginia Development Office and the Identification Intelligence Ridge, along with significant supporting roles from both Marshall University and West Virginia University.
Representing the I-79 Corridor this year with exhibits were Allegheny Science & Technology (AST), Azimuth, Athena Sciences Corporation, CACI International, Inc., CSRA, FBI-Biometric Center of Excellence, FBI-Next Generational Intelligence, Frontier Communications, Marshall University, MorphoTrak LLC, MorphoTrust USA, Northrop Grumman, TMC Technologies, Tygart Technology, West Virginia Robotics Alliance, and West Virginia University.