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WILMINGTON – Vance Kershner, the founder, president and CEO of leading health care information systems company LabWare and a serial entrepreneur and venture capitalist, has been named the 2023 Pete du Pont Freedom Award honoree.
[caption id="attachment_230423" align="alignleft" width="280"] Vance Kershner | PHOTO COURTESY OF PDFF[/caption]
The award is given annually by the Pete du Pont Freedom Foundation (PDFF) to an individual or organization that has championed a successful idea that has led to economic growth or brought innovation to the private sector. While it has attracted national names in the past, recent honorees have been more local, including Charlie Horn, Carol Ammon, Mike Castle and leaders at the former MBNA.A Philadelphia-area native who came to Delaware for college and stayed to work at DuPont, Kershner struck out on his own in 1987 to found LabWare, which produces software to streamline workflow and automate and track laboratory processes. Today, the Wilmington-based global company has hundreds of employees in 25 offices across six continents.Kershner is also a general partner of the Delaware-based seed and early-stage venture capital firm Leading Edge Ventures, which has invested in at least one local company, College Ave Student Loans in Wilmington.As an entrepreneur, Kershner remains a co-owner of Buckley's Tavern in Centreville and Goober’s Diner in Wilmington, which he helped design as a retro, prefab diner. Overseas, he owns a 15,000-acre game farm in South Africa and is a partner in Scrub Island, a resort project in the British Virgin Islands.Kershner also gives back, serving on the board of governors of Multiplying Good, which recognizes, inspires, and activates volunteerism and public service in communities, workplaces, and schools across America. He also serves as chair on the Advisory Council for the University of Delaware’s College of Engineering, which recognized him in 2015 with a Distinguished Career Award.“Vance Kershner is a risk-taker and change maker,” Thère du Pont, chair of the PDFF, said in a statement announcing the selection. "Like my father, Vance believes in championing bold ideas, giving back to the state, and building entrepreneurial ecosystems that are truly impactful. We are thrilled to honor Vance with the Pete du Pont Freedom Award this year."Named after the late former Gov. Pete du Pont, who ushered in a wave of economic revitalization, fiscal restraint and bipartisan cooperation in the state in the 1980s, the award is deemed a celebration of the entrepreneurial spirit. The award will be formally presented to Kershner during a ceremony at the Hotel du Pont on Sept. 26. Tickets areon sale now. “It’s an honor to receive such a prestigious award and be recognized with such an accomplished group of former honorees,” Kershner said in a statement. “LabWare, and me personally, have tried to be supportive and promote the development of new ideas and talented entrepreneurs, whether with students or in the workforce and provide assistance to help overcome some of the challenges they face. Governor duPont changed the business climate in Delaware, using legislation to create new industries and one of the most business-friendly states in the Country. I only hope LabWare, myself, and my children live up to the examples that have been established before us.”