The City of Roanoke has been selected by the National League of Cities (NLC) "City Innovation Ecosystem Program" as one of 47 cities to participate in local partnerships to expand America’s innovation economy. Over the past year, NLC, with support from Schmidt Futures, has worked with city leaders, universities, the business community, and the social sector to design innovative partnerships that harness the power of science, technology and entrepreneurship to build stronger, more equitable local economies.
Roanoke, in partnership with Carilion Clinic, Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute, Valleys Innovation Council, and others has committed to a coordinated marketing and investment strategy to support the Roanoke Innovation Corridor that serves as a regional center for research and technology-based startups. This work will leverage investments in the area around health sciences to create an organized innovation district to support research commercialization and entrepreneurship, which will lead to improved access to capital for early-stage companies.
“The public, private, civic, university partnership that is spearheading Roanoke’s Innovation Corridor is exactly the type of coordinated effort needed to translate university strengths into a hotbed for startups,” says Scott Andes of NLC. “It’s a fantastic model that other cities can learn a lot from.”
The investments come at a critical time when there is a growing need for resources to create startups and train the next generation of science and engineering talent in communities across America.
“The City is very excited to participate in the City Innovation Ecosystem Program,” said Roanoke City Manager Bob Cowell. “This honor is evidence the work being done by the City of Roanoke and our partners is transforming our region’s economy from traditional manufacturing to life sciences and education.”
The city and its partners will craft a common brand, strategy, and fully integrated website that will serve as a unifying platform for the various partners in marketing the Corridor to citizens, businesses, entrepreneurs, and other stakeholders, with a projected launch of this platform in early 2019.
In addition to the work being done to directly develop the Corridor, the Valleys Innovation Council and other entities are creating and aligning early-stage funding sources to provide the crucial financial assistance early stage companies need to be successful. Coordinated efforts include the organization of an angel investing group, as well as a series of seminars/workshops to educate prospective angel members on the value of a formal structure and to offer guidance on forming their own angel groups. These efforts kicked off in October and will continue through 2019.
For more information, please contact Marc Nelson in the city’s Economic Development Department at (540) 853-2717 or [email protected].