The Activation Council, as an anchor for the knowledge-based innovation and entrepreneurial community, provides the leadership and vision for the Richmond regional innovation ecosystem with a willingness to invent, take and manage risks, and share credit for success.
Over several months, members of the Activation Council steering and community engagement teams listened to and engaged with dozens of key players in the innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem. Based on this feedback, the team has developed an overview of key gaps the Activation Council believes can and should be filled with specific strategies and tactics.
Richmond’s regional entrepreneurial culture is not as well-known or celebrated as other comparable cities. This leads to less ecosystem support, fewer successful entrepreneurs and less support for existing entrepreneurs. It also creates a void in attracting and retaining talent in emerging industries.
Strategy – Elevate the region: Using national best practices (e.g. Austin, TX – SXSW, Charlottesville – TomTom festival, Pittsburgh – Thrival), develop and launch an annual Richmond region entrepreneurial festival – ideally tied to established regional celebration(s) (e.g. Folk Festival, Techtober, Venture Forum RVA Companies to Watch, Film Festival).
The Richmond region needs a way to coordinate and make accessible a living resource guide focused on the needs of entrepreneurs and related individuals/organizations to engage in the ecosystem.
Strategy – Create, administer and maintain a platform for a resource guide with both online access and supported front door access (for entrepreneurs and related individuals/organizations that prefer in-person interaction v. web resources) from one or more entities.
Richmond needs more acceleration programming to assist local entrepreneurs, attract entrepreneurs from other places, and raise the region’s profile and reputation as an emerging entrepreneur center.
Strategy – Challenge Lighthouse Labs to expand its capabilities and provide financial support (via a challenge grant) to enable growth. Support VCU Venture Lab.
Because of our population size, the Richmond region/MSA is often not included in various rankings from organizations across the nation. We need to change the conversation about how we stack up against the “top 40” who are ranked.
Strategy – Build upon metrics report from Activation Council – including engagement of outside resources based on national best practices.
Creating an environment for start-ups and scale-ups to succeed is in the interest of all – including major innovative companies and the public sector to diversify and grow the regional economy.
Strategy – Activate our thought leaders to identify and increase awareness of current policy in support of activity – and future opportunities for regional partners to share in this strategy.
Engage and activate corporate innovation leaders, managers, and intrapreneurs to share: i) best practices, ii) innovation platforms, processes, tools, iii) leadership development and training methods, iv) cultural transformation strategies, and v) innovation ecosystem engagement and partnership models (including but not limited to use of/need for incubators, accelerators, and labs).
Strategy – Identify & map corporate innovation & intrepranuership efforts in the Richmond Region. Launch a corporate innovation & intrapreneurship round table to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and foster synergies amongst innovative businesses. Initiate a TEDxRVA or TEDxRVA Salon on corporate innovation & intrapreneurship to educate broader community on innovation approaches to existing businesses.
Chandra Briggman, President & CEO, Activation Capital
Michael Rao, Ph.D., Chair – President, VCU
Jen Finn, Vice Chair, Strategic Advisor and Angel Investor
The Honorable Caren Merrick, Secretary of Commerce & Trade, Commonwealth of Virginia
The Hon. Levar Stoney, Mayor, City of Richmond
Karen Booth Adams, CEO, Hot Technology Holdings
Brian Anderson, CEO, ChamberRVA
John Budesky, Hanover County Administrator
Joe Casey, Ph.D., Chesterfield County Administrator
Elizabeth Creamer, Vice President of Workforce Development & Credential Attainment, Community College Workforce Alliance
Robert Klein, Managing Director Engineering, Altria Client Services
Paul Nolde, Executive Director, Lighthouse Labs
Erin Powell, VP of Sales, Blue Ocean Brain
P. Srirama Rao, Ph.D., Vice President of Research and Innovation, VCU
Lisa Sims, CEO, Venture Richmond
John Vithoulkas, Henrico County Manager
Garret Westlake, Ph.D., Executive Director, VCU DaVinci Center
Richard Winstch, Executive Director, Startup Virginia