The Roanoke-Blacksburg Innovation Network (RBIN) is a 501c3 non-profit organization and integrated partner of the RBTC. The RBIN is dedicated to accomplishing the recommendations of the Innovation Blueprint, a roadmap to build the innovation economy within the Roanoke and New River Valleys. The region shares an array of innovation assets and resources, yet is often marketed and managed as two separate valleys. The work of the Innovation Network is meant to capture the combined opportunities, connect the partners, and accelerate the economic potential to create high impact jobs and businesses in the region. We believe this region to be a place where:
- Local residents can effectively start and grow technology ventures
- Leading educational institutions and key businesses are close partners in commercializing technologies and fostering a strong workforce
- Talented people from around the world want to live, work, and play
- Community leaders understand that our future prosperity depends on fostering a culture of innovation in all parts of the region
Using an ecosystem approach, the Innovation Blueprint outlines both tactical actions (what pieces of the innovation ecosystem must be built or expanded) and network activities (how the pieces work together to create something greater than the sum of the parts). This approach creates a hub and node model where otherwise silo programs are connected and ensuring that a shared set of goals can be effectively pursued. The work of the Innovation Network is about maximizing economic opportunity for our residents and companies by building an entrepreneurial and innovative culture for high impact industries in the Roanoke and New River Valleys. This work plan targets areas that have been shown to create the greatest number of jobs and economic opportunities with the least amount of resources: innovation-based sectors, startups within those sectors, talent development and recruitment, and companies pursuing equity capital. Vision To be nationally recognized as a place where innovation and entrepreneurship thrive, high-impact companies grow, and quality of talent is second to none. Mission To develop an innovation ecosystem in the Roanoke and New River Valleys. Strategic Initiatives The Innovation Blueprint documents the region’s assets and recommends a systematic way to enhance the innovation ecosystem that fills gaps and maximizes opportunities for existing resources. These recommendations fall into four key strategies that we call the “Core Four” and map to the committee structure of the RBTC.
- Entrepreneurial Development Goal: Increase the number and success of high-impact startups and innovation companies in the region through educational, advisory and mentoring services, enhanced access to capital, and new environments for entrepreneurial activity. High-impact companies represent the less than 5% of companies that create the majority of all jobs.
- Talent Development & Recruitment Goal: Provide a coordinated approach to talent recruitment and enhance connections between industry and education with a focus on developing a future innovation and entrepreneurial workforce with STEM-H (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, and Healthcare) skill sets. Develop a pool of ambassadors who connect talent prospects to the interests and assets of the region.
- Industry-Education Partnerships Goal: Enhance opportunities by connecting industry and institutions of higher education through a coordinated approach, making it easier for entrepreneurs to utilize the higher education assets available in the region and to commercialize new ideas. Create opportunities for students to engage in real-world entrepreneurial experiences.
- Marketing & Awareness Goal: Market the region’s innovation and entrepreneurial assets and opportunities in order to create awareness of the region as a place where innovation-focused enterprises can succeed and thrive. Develop high-profile content that supports the region’s various marketing efforts.
The RBIN would like to thank the following organizations for their generous contributions to our work: