The Valleys Innovation Council grew out of a simple idea: Why couldn’t the region do more with our assets together to build an innovation-driven economy? After all, we have world-class research institutions and businesses, a population of college graduates seeking employment, and a base of startup businesses that continue to grow and thrive.
We began working in 2016 to create and generate regional support for an organizational structure that would bring focus to the regional innovation economy and strengthen the region through mobilizing resources, advocating for changes, and tracking progress towards identified goals.
In January 2018, the Roanoke-Blacksburg Innovation Network, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. relaunched as Valleys Innovation Council (VIC) with a robust board of regional leaders drawn from successful entrepreneurs, higher education, and other regional leaders in the finance and legal fields.
In July 2020, we announced a strategic alliance with the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council (RBTC) and the Regional Accelerator and Mentoring Program (RAMP).
Learn more about Valleys Innovation Council in our Frequently Asked Questions.
The Valleys Innovation Council supports the region by connecting, communicating, and collaborating with stakeholders to grow and strengthen our innovation economy.
From benchtop to market, the research commercialization process requires ecosystem support and resources at each stage of the pipeline for new startups to form and scale: financial capital, talent, and mentors. VIC supports regional programs and is working to develop the regional capital ecosystem.
Tracking the Innovation Economy
VIC is working with local, regional, and state-level stakeholders to evaluate the state of the regional innovation economy and supporting ecosystem and begin benchmarking the region with peer regions around the state and nationally.
Projects & Activities
- 2018-2019–Led the Capital Ecosystem Development Project, including a Capital Landscape Study and Angel Investing Education Seminars resulting in the formation of a new angel investing group, Common Wealth Angels
- 2019–Supported the Regional Entrepreneurship Summit and Star Tank event
- 2019–Created interactive Valleys Innovation Dashboard to report on data relevant to the regional innovation economy
- 2019-2020–Conducted survey of regional IT and software development talent needs in the New River and Roanoke Valleys and released survey report for participating employers
- 2020–Released 2019 Innovation Ecosystem in Review Report
- 2020-2021–Coordinating the Regional Entrepreneurship Initiative for Region 2, funded by GO Virginia (page forthcoming)
- Ongoing research on capital ecosystem and innovation economy
- Facilitating 3 regional entrepreneurial ecosystem coalitions (New River Valley, Roanoke Valley-Alleghany, and Greater Lynchburg) and 1 cross-regional steering group
- Surveying entrepreneurial support organizations across Region 2 on greatest opportunities and needs
- Supporting Access to Capital Committee to continue to drive programming and focus on capital needs in the region
- Grantwriting work to mobilize state and federal resources to support the Regional Accelerator and Mentorship Program and other entrepreneurship efforts in the region
Board of Directors
Eddie Amos, TORC Robotics
Amy Ankrum, Qualtrax
Henry Bass, Automation Creations, Inc.
Kevin Bloomfield, Bloomfield Partners, LLC
Harvey Brookins, Roanoke Market at National Bank
Erin Burcham, Verge President
John Capps, Central Virginia Community College
David Catalano, Ozmo
Kathy Claytor, Corvesta
Nick Conte, Carilion Clinic
Steve Critchfield, Mova Technologies, LLC
Katherin Elam, Junior Achievement of Southwest Virginia
Russ Ellis, Commonwealth Growth Group
Greg Feldmann, Skyline Capital Strategies
Ken Ferris, Brookewood Management Advisors, & Co-Chair, Verge Executive Committee
William Fralin, Medical Facilities of America
Michael Friedlander, Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at Virginia Tech-Carlion, Virginia Tech
Cheryl Giggetts, Innovate Lynchburg
Pat Huber, New River Community College
Victor Iannello, Radiant Physics
Angela Joyner, Radford University
Doug Juanarena, Retired Serial Entrepreneur
Ed Lawhorn, Retired, Atlantic Union, & Treasurer, Verge Executive Committee
Jeff Merritt, Cox Business
Marty Muscatello, Retired, FoxGuard Solutions, & Co-Chair, Verge Executive Committee
Patrick Patterson, FoxGuard Solutions
John Rainone, Dabney S. Lancaster Community College
Robert Sandel, Virginia Western Community College
Jeff Smith, Voltage Leadership
Brian Soller, Luna Innovations
Bob Stolle, Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation (VIPC)
Daniel Summerlin, Woods Rogers Vandeventer Black, & Secretary, Verge Executive Committee
Marjorie Tenzer, Retired, IBM
Clark Worthy, Gentry Locke
Verge Vice President of Programs
Operations and Grants Manager