Governor Glenn Youngkin Appoints Additional Board Members to the Virginia Biotechnology Research Partnership Authority (dba Activation Capital)


Two New Appointees Bring Deep Tech, Investment, and Public Policy Expertise to Bolster Authority’s Next Phase of Growth as It Builds a Thriving Innovation Ecosystem

RICHMOND, Va., July 25, 2023 – Activation Capital, an innovation ecosystem development organization, today announced Governor Glenn Youngkin’s appointment of Garrison Coward and Donna Edmonds to the board of the Virginia Biotechnology Research Partnership Authority (dba Activation Capital). As a political subdivision of the Commonwealth, the Authority Board manages the assets of Activation Capital and collaborates with its leadership to grow the regional innovation economy. The new appointments will help accelerate the organization’s strategies to strengthen the innovation ecosystem, grow the number of tech ventures scaling in the region, and pursue an expansion of the 30-year-old Bio+Tech Park in downtown Richmond, Virginia.

“Activation Capital is proud to welcome Garrison Coward and Donna Edmonds to the Authority Board as we work together to drive transformational innovation and revitalization in the Central Virginia region,” said Chandra Briggman, President and CEO of Activation Capital. “We have ambitious plans to grow a thriving ecosystem that drives our regional economy through innovation space-making, increasing entrepreneurship, and creating an environment for STEM talent development and recruitment. We look forward to Garrison and Donna’s impact as we attract innovators to our region to build and grow deep tech companies.”

Garrison R. Coward is Governor Youngkin’s Sr. Advisor for External Affairs. He was recently Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Prior to his role with the Commonwealth of Virginia, he served as the Managing Director at Merger Partners, Inc. He was previously the Chief Operating Officer of BizCents, a local data analytics firm. Coward has also served as Political Director and Deputy Director of Minority Engagement for the Republican Party of Virginia and later as a political advisor and campaign manager to Congressman Rob Wittman. He is the Executive Director of the Conservative Professionals Network.

Joining Coward on the Virginia Biotechnology Research Partnership Authority Board, Donna Edmonds will bring over 30 years of healthcare experience to the Authority Board. Edmonds began her career as a critical care nurse and migrated to operating and senior management in hospitals, physician group practices, and then diagnostic industry positions. As a serial entrepreneur, she held executive-level, CEO, and group-level leadership positions in large, multi-national public healthcare corporations. Edmonds has extensive experience raising capital for and funding startups that change clinical practice. She has served for over a decade on the VA BioTech Research Park and VCU University boards and has worked tirelessly to establish a life sciences community and ecosystem.

Edmonds is currently the CEO of BRAINBox Solutions, a multi-modality approach that aids clinicians with a diagnosis of mTBI and provides information regarding the likelihood of symptoms post-injury. Before BRAINBox Solutions, she spent eight years with Baxter in senior executive positions in business development, sales, and marketing of clinical products to improve care and reduce healthcare costs. She also served in senior management roles for ten diagnostic companies providing key leadership in two company exits. She is a recognized leader in cardiovascular diagnostics, changing clinical practice in this space. Edmonds also formed Virginia Life Sciences Investments, Inc. and led Series A investment in ImmunArray, the original home of a broad portfolio of biomarkers for neurological disease diagnosis and monitoring.

“Garrison Coward and Donna Edmonds will be tremendous assets to the authority board. Each brings a wealth of expertise to help advance our strategic priorities,” said Authority Board Chair and VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D.

The appointment of new board members for Activation Capital coincides with rapid growth for the innovation ecosystem development organization. Activation Capital recently announced plans to develop the 102,000-square-foot Innovation Center in the Bio+Tech Park in Richmond, Virginia. Additionally, Activation Capital has received $15M in funding from the Commonwealth of Virginia to accelerate the development of Central Virginia’s life sciences sector and a series of signature initiatives. Activation Capital also received a recent award of $1.5M in the federal Omnibus budget to support life sciences commercialization and business formation, $52.9M in funding to scale up an advanced pharmaceutical manufacturing and R&D cluster through the Build Back Better Regional Challenge, and a $450K GO Virginia Region 4 grant to design a regional entrepreneurship strategy.

About Activation Capital

Activation Capital is a leading innovation ecosystem development organization providing social, knowledge, and financial capital to clusters, entrepreneur support organizations, and entrepreneurs – accelerating their progress through development and maturation. Activation Capital, an independent authority of the Commonwealth of Virginia, is on a mission to grow life sciences and other advanced technology innovation by promoting scientific research, commercialization, and ecosystem development that attracts and creates 21st-century jobs and companies. It operates the 34-acre Virginia Bio+Tech Park – Central Virginia’s hub of life sciences and technology innovations. It oversees the Cluster Accelerator for Advanced Pharmaceutical R&D and Manufacturing and supports developing and expanding the region’s start-up ecosystem. For more information, visit



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