Throughout my career I’ve had the tremendous opportunity to promote all things Virginia. The many times I have visited Charlottesville – there’s always a feeling about the community, you’ve really got it going on. Through increased collaboration, the environment for innovation and entrepreneurship in Charlottesville will only intensify the ability to compete.
In the recent book “The Metropolitan Revolution,” and the conversation many enjoyed with Bruce Katz of the Brookings Institute during his visit to Richmond last year, it is said there are three things to help ignite a metropolitan revolution: create a network where everyone moves in the same lanes together; celebrate and champion the distinctive feature for the region; and figure out the game changer.
The strong assets of the innovation ecosystem in Charlottesville make the revolution and rise of the region, in particular in the life sciences sector, an increased probability. The university, as an economic and innovation driver; human capital; financial capital; research and development – dependent and independent of the university; spark events and community amenities – create the collaborative circle of success. This is evident in so many ways - the Innovator Awards of the CBIC, TomTom Founders Festival, the UVA iLab, Open Grounds Idea Mixers, UVA Innovation, Virginia Film Festival – just to name a few. A recent survey conducted by professors from UVA Darden School of Business and Stanford University reports nearly a third of 221,000 living UVA alumni have been involved with business startups – either as founders, investors or early employees – including 675 startups in the Charlottesville area. As Virginia Business describes it in their February 2015 focus on UVA as an economic engine – this is a “whopping impact.”
New spaces in Charlottesville will also help support this activity – allowing for creative collisions to occur - but the density of the shared experiences will create the success. We had an engaging conversation during the November Tech Night Takeover on this subject of space. The discussion was meaningful and impressive - with a lot of passion for the support of the innovation and entrepreneurial community to increase activity driving more space.
This is similar to the discussion going on in Richmond and innovative communities across the Commonwealth and the country. There are many similarities to the Richmond and Charlottesville communities – more than just great basketball – a research university, a good quality of life, strong human capital and the amenities in the community to keep and attract talent. However, each needs to be authentic to its character and strengths to really take it to the next level. The more we find opportunities to collaborate in our regions – and even with like regions, the stronger the fabric of the innovation ecosystem will be to support increased activity.
Like I said, Charlottesville, you’ve really got it going on. Keep mixing it up, keep collaborating and keep innovating. The opportunity is yours.
About Carrie Roth:
Carrie Roth is President and CEO of the Virginia Biotechnology Research Park in Richmond, Virginia. She previously served as Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade for the Commonwealth and is a former founder. When not creating more opportunities for innovation and collaboration – she can be found running the roads of Richmond training for her next race.