Charles “Chuck” Duva, M.D., and his wife, Elizabeth “Beth” Duva, Ph.D., longtime community leaders in Volusia County, Florida, have made a generous half-million-dollar gift to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. The gift will kick-start an ambitious $5 million Embry-Riddle fundraising initiative to elevate the school’s Launch Your Venture competition.
As lead benefactors, the Duvas will help transform Launch Your Venture into the world’s top aviation and aerospace competition for entrepreneurs. The annual contest supports startups with game-changing ideas to advance the aviation, aerospace and engineering industries. Since 2017, the Launch Your Venture competition has rewarded aspiring entrepreneurs ready to scale up promising, disruptive new technologies. Past winners of the competition have included, as examples, Embry-Riddle Research Park tenant Reamonn Soto, founder and CEO of Sensatek Propulsion Technologies, and Mike Geldart, CEO of GRD Biomechanics.
“This gift marries our passion for Embry-Riddle as well as the broader community that we love,” said Dr. Chuck Duva, who serves on the university’s Board of Trustees. “Beth and I hope that our contribution to this new endowment fund at Embry-Riddle will stimulate additional entrepreneurship and help companies start, grow and stay in our area.”
Embry-Riddle President P. Barry Butler commended the couple’s gift. “We are deeply grateful to Chuck and Beth for their tremendous generosity in supporting excellence in education and innovation,” Dr. Butler said. “The Launch Your Venture competition recently expanded to serve entrepreneurs throughout the State of Florida, and it has already created high-paying jobs. Now, with the Duvas’ support, we can elevate the program even further to promote economic development and strengthen Volusia County’s reputation as a great place to launch tech startups.”
In 2012, the Duvas established the first-ever aerospace engineering fellowship to support doctoral students at Embry-Riddle. “We’re strong supporters of education and we really want to see our local community thrive,” Dr. Duva said at the time.
The Duvas have previously emphasized that “you can’t have too much education.” Dr. Chuck Duva is past president and chief executive officer of DuvaSawko. Currently, he is a board member of a new enterprise formed in 2021 called Ventra Health, after acquiring two additional healthcare revenue-cycle management companies, which also provide practice-management, headquartered in Ormond Beach, Florida. After completing his bachelor’s degree in biology, he earned a Doctor of Medicine degree, and he further holds a graduate degree in medical management. Dr. Beth Duva, a registered nurse, holds a Ph.D. in holistic nutrition as well as bachelor’s degrees in special education and sociology and a master’s degree in teaching.
In 2016, DuvaSawko became a Nexus Partner, later replaced by Duva Enterprises, with Embry-Riddle’s John Mica Engineering and Aerospace Innovation Complex (MicaPlex), the cornerstone facility of the university’s Research Park.