Blum Launches Online Venture, a Resource for Optical Inventors

ROANOKE, Va.—Attention optical inventors. Ron Blum wants you.

More precisely, Blum, an optical inventor himself who has been associated with some high profile products, is hoping to attract others with the same interests to his new online venture, (VCI). Blum, who launched VCI this month and serves as its president and CEO, described it as “an interactive knowledge exchange dedicated to identifying, supporting and promoting today’s and tomorrow’s most innovative and impactful eyecare inventions and inventors.”

Designed to be a comprehensive resource, VCI can connect companies, inventors, entrepreneurs, researchers and consultants with experienced professionals who can offer advice and an assortment of specialized services. Among those services is idea assessment and development, communications, market research, product development, business planning and launch, talent acquisition, funding introduction and exit assistance, legal and intellectual property. The site will also host a “featured inventor” podcast and an “Invention of the Month” section.

Blum, who is also an optometrist, said his own experience with developing eyewear and eyecare technologies motivated him to create VCI.

“I’ve been deeply submerged in innovation and new technology in the vision care space since 1988,” he said. “I wanted to take the knowledge I’ve gleaned from all of my experiences, both good and bad, and the relationships I’ve developed around the world, and put that together to help entrepreneurs in the vision care world, so they would have an easier run of it than I did. Many of those learnings have been a lot of fun with great outcomes, and some were very painful. As with R&D, though, you often learn more from what doesn’t work than from what does work.”

Ron Blum, OD
Among Blum’s accomplishments is being involved with 500 issued patents or patent applications pending worldwide for products he has invented, co-invented or managed the invention and development, including an eye drop treatment for presbyopia, dual surface progressive lenses, composite optics involving single vision and multifocal lenses, a selective high energy blue light filter and electronic focus eyeglasses.

Blum’s expertise extends to the financial area. By his own count, he has raised or assisted in raising over $250 million of capital for startup companies.

As an entrepreneur, Blum has founded or been associated with founding over 10 companies in the vision care space, including PixelOptics, Innotech and The Egg Factory, an incubator for new optical technologies. The Egg Factory consists of companies such as High Performance Optics, which has developed selective, high energy blue light wave length filtering technology and Encore Vision, which is developing a topical ophthalmic pharmaceutical treatment for presbyopia.

Although Blum maintains an ownership stake in The Egg Factory, he noted that VCI is a separate venture. “The Egg Factory will be a source of innovation for us to feature, and there will be inventors from The Egg Factory featured on our podcasts, but they will be a small fraction of what’s on the site,” he said.

To complement his own knowledge and experience, Blum has recruited several industry veterans for VCI’s management team. Richard Clompus, OD, FAAO, serves as vice president, media communications. Paul Karpecki, OD, FAAO, is in charge of the VCI blog, white papers and IP intelligence. Marguerite McDonald, MD, FACS, is contributing editor.

McDonald, a clinical professor of ophthalmology at NYU School of Medicine in Manhattan, and an adjunct Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology at Tulane University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans, also serves on VCI’s advisory board, which includes several other notable optical industry figures:

- Rick Elias, a senior vice president for optical and specialty materials at PPG Industries, who helped manage and grow Transitions Optical into a major force in the optical industry.
- Ed Greene, CEO of The Vision Council and past president and CEO of Titmus Optical and Carl Zeiss Optical.
- Richard L. Lindstrom, MD, an ophthalmologist and internationally recognized leader in corneal, cataract, refractive and laser surgery and a past president of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery.
- Jim Sheedy, OD, PhD, a professor at Pacific University’s College of Optometry and expert in progressive lens design and vision ergonomics, especially with electronic displays.