Perspectives

The State of Innovation in the Commonwealth

Now is the time to consolidate authority for tech-based economic development in the Commonwealth. Article includes resources to comment on critical proposed legislation...

Dear Members and Future Members:

Earlier this year, Governor Northam’s office correctly identified a need to support the entire life cycle of innovation, from translational research, to entrepreneurship, to pre-seed and seed stage funding, to acceleration, growth and commercialization. For the past 8 months, the Secretary of Commerce and Trade has deployed a collaborative, consistent, and consolidated approach to identify the Commonwealth’s entrepreneurial strengths, including the talents and resources that make the Commonwealth a unique place to grow new innovation-based businesses.

Hundreds of stakeholders were engaged in this process, including myself as Executive Director of both CBIC and the Charlottesville Angel Network. As an actively engaged ecosystem builder for our community for more than two decades, CBIC twice hosted Robby Demeria, Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade for Technology, in Charlottesville for Town Hall meetings to facilitate input from its members and the greater community.  

All of this collaborative work has culminated in the proposed Virginia Innovation Partnership Authority (working title), a hybrid of best practices from across the nation and Virginia’s unique assets. 

CBIC’s board of directors recently passed a resolution in support of this proposed legislation. CBIC Vice Chairman, Craig Honick, also Chair of CBIC’s Advocacy and Government Affairs Committee, explained, “CBIC believes that a vibrant technology and innovation-based entrepreneurial ecosystem is fundamental to the Commonwealth’s future competitive economic growth and success. We support this legislation that consolidates, restructures, and transitions programs related to commercialization and venture-backed, research-driven entrepreneurship. We encourage the formation of a new authority that ensures an environment that vigorously promotes technology, entrepreneurship, and innovation. We look forward to working with forward-looking policies and investments strong public-private partnerships within a framework of regulatory restraint.”

CBIC’s Chairman of the Board, Adrian Felts, added, “In support of the imperative to grow Virginia’s competitiveness and expand our digital ecosystem, CBIC supports legislation to increase statewide support for startup activity through consolidating research, commercialization, and entrepreneurial ecosystem initiatives under one authority.”

This structural legislation drafted was informed by an immensely transparent, inclusive, strategic, and thoughtful approach. You can read all about the process and review the proposed legislation in their recently released VIRGINIA INNOVATION REPORT: Recommendations for 2020 General Assembly Session.

If you want to provide your input into this draft legislation, it is not too late.  Mr. Demeria is hosting several more town halls in other regions of the Commonwealth. Further, if you want to add your endorsement of this effort, you can complete this form to pledge your support and stand with your peers, CBIC, and Virginia founders also in favor of this new partnership.

We hope that you will join us at our holiday party on Tuesday, December 10th to celebrate our region’s successes and share your thoughts with us over a festive beverage. Are you registered?

Tracey Greene

CBIC Executive Director

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Insights Gained From CBIC’s Tech Night Takeover Re: The For-Profit “Social Impact” Company

On Wednesday October 17, 2018, the Charlottesville Business Innovation Council (“CBIC”), along with co-host Presidential Precinct, held the Tech Night Takeover (“TNT”) series event titled: “Social Good Means Good Business”.

For those unfamiliar, CBIC holds periodic TNT events throughout the year covering emerging and pressing issues affecting its member base, including various issues concerning investment, founders, IT, software, biotechnology, life sciences and more.  New CBIC board member, PJ Harris, moderated the subject TNT, styled as a fireside chat with subject matter experts in the for-profit “social impact” space.  The experts consisted of (i) Aneesh Dhawan, Founder and CEO at PurPics, (ii) Beth Johnson, Program Director at Blue Morning, (iii) Peter McFarren, President & CEO at Global eHealth Solutions LLC and (iv) Brynne Potter, CEO & Co-Founder at Maternity Neighborhood

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Integrating a Social Mission with Your Business Model

Addressing our most pressing issues is often associated with the work of nonprofits. Yet the philanthropic sector is so small, even the most effective programs in the world wouldn’t solve our global challenges across sectors such as food, water, health, and education. More and more, we’re seeing how business can serve as a tool for achieving social and environmental objectives. A common myth in the business world is that integrating a social or environmental mission is a burden on the bottom line. On the contrary, aligning mission and model presents significant market opportunities for both new businesses and established enterprises alike.

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A New Year's Message

Charlottesville's Tech and Entrepreneurial Scene Over The Past 20 Years...

CBIC just celebrated its 20th year. Let's take a look at what's been happening in the Charlottesville entrepreneurial scene since then. To start, numerous startup companies have launched, many have successfully raised critical seed and follow-on funding, some have been acquired, and most are on their way to great success. 

In 2016, the National Venture Capital Association ranked Charlottesville #1 in Venture Capital Funding Growth. It reported that between 2010 and 2015, venture funding in Charlottesville jumped from $250,000 to $27.7 million invested in local companies.

In newer news, critical early-stage funding also increased for local startups. The Charlottesville Angel Network, established in 2015, now has a portfolio of 28 companies with 60% being local. Through CAN alone, 8 new deals closed representing $1.4MM in 2017, and, CAN has invested nearly $4.3MM total. 

Established companies have also flourished providing jobs, recruiting talent to our region, and spreading economic diversity. But it's not just about the companies already here. Our region has grown in its attractiveness too. It boasts better startup and high-tech business infrastructure, including high-speed Internet options previously not available, more affordable wet lab space, and accessible collaborative and co-working spaces. 

Our University and non-profits offer stellar entrepreneurial and other training and professional development, which facilitates better access to angel investment capital, tech talent, trained interns, and mentors. 

Read about how Charlottesville is emerging as a mini-tech powerhouse here, and check out why entrepreneurs continue to choose Charlottesville as their home here

Further, the community has rallied around consistent, recurring meet-ups and networking opportunities such as CBIC Tech on Taps, our co-hosted Charlottesville Entrepreneurs and Espresso events, Cville Women in Tech gatherings, and so much more. Want to learn about our region's myriad resources? Click here.

Our community has pulled together to improve our collective ecosystem. Our best and brightest consistently speak out regarding crucial issues, including our faults. We use various CBIC Tech Night Takeover events sponsored by S&P Global and collaborative Tom Tom Festival happenings as platforms for voicing our concerns, disseminating crucial information to elected officials, and sharing ideas.

It's working. How? You. That's how. And people like you:  

  • CBIC members breathe life into the innovations that fuel tomorrow.
  • Sponsors contribute to events that make this town one of the best in the country. 
  • Collaborators, partners, and volunteers perform crucial tasks and carry the water. 
  • Leaders sculpt our landscape and cultivate our next generation of innovators.

For this, we applaud and thank you.

As we ring in this new year, CBIC is alight with the excitement of things to come. Take a look around at your colleagues, mentors, and friends, and recognize how important our actions are in shaping the world around us. Realize that it is our sense of community, rather than any one particular focus, that makes us who we are. Let's stand together and celebrate the inclusivity, diversity, and strength that make Charlottesville so great.

Thank you, all, for your contributions and may this be our best year yet!

Tracey

Tracey Greene, CBIC Executive Director

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High School Hackathons Spark Interest in Tech

The Hour of Code is a movement that began in 2013 with the ambitious goal of getting 10 million students coding for an hour during Computer Science Education Week in December. To date over 145 million students have participated in the Hour of Code. Many schools throughout our community have joined in the Hour of Code, setting aside an hour in their school day to give all their students an opportunity to get hands-on with coding.

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The Question is in the Answer

Question: How many Art Directors does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
Answer: Does it have to be a lightbulb?

It’s a joke of course, but it's worth asking the question for the simple fact that you might come up with a different answer had you never asked. One of my favorite things I learned in architecture school is that once you ask the right question, you're well on your way to finding the answer.

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