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School of Law Drone Entrepreneurship Conference Draws Tech and Aerospace Experts

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Over 160 drone entrepreneurs, industry professionals, and School of Law students and alumni convened at Cross Campus in Santa Monica, California, for the 2015 Drone Entrepreneurship Conference. Hosted by Pepperdine’s Geoffrey H. Palmer Center for Entrepreneurship and the Law, the conference featured expert panels of speakers from start-ups, venture capital firms, and leading law firms. The panels examined current and future prospects in the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) industry, a sector expected to account for $82.1 billion in job creation and economic growth over the next 10 years.

The event was developed and emceed by drone expert Gregory S. McNeal, associate professor of law at the School of Law, whose scholarly work and appearances before Congress and in the media have led to national recognition in the fields of drone regulation and national security. McNeal is also an expert on topics related to security, technology, and crime. He is a nationally recognized commentator for Forbes and a frequent keynote speaker about technology, law, and policy. He recently colaunched a mobile app, AirMap, to enable safe, legal, hassle-free drone flying.

“Classroom learning must be supplemented with experiences where students understand the challenges that businesses face and that lawyers can help to solve,” says McNeal. “That’s a key objective of the Palmer Center and the law school, and I think we achieved that with this event. For students to learn about entrepreneurship, they need to be out of the classroom mixing with entrepreneurs. That’s why it was so critical for us to bring this event and our talent to Santa Monica—the home of Silicon Beach.”

McNeal was joined onstage by other drone and aerospace experts, including Amir Blachman, managing director of Space Angels Network, an international angel network providing capital, business, and technical guidance and industry intelligence for early-stage aerospace companies; Brendan Schulman, one of the country’s most prominent advocates for clear and reasonable civilian drone regulations; and Matthew Sweeney, CEO and cofounder of Flirtey, a startup that recently made history with the first FAA-approved drone delivery in the U.S., delivering 24 packages of urgent medical supplies to Wise, Virginia.