Innovation and Entrepreneurship Organizations
Regional Accelerator (RAMP)
Founded in 2017, RAMP is a public/private business accelerator serving high-growth startups in the STHEM-H fields. Each year, RAMP evaluates and accepts a new cohort of entrepreneurs that are matched with local mentors, receive formal business training from Virginia Western Community College and are introduced to potential investors from around Southwest Virginia.
The Advancement Foundation (TAF) and HIVE Business Incubator
The Advancement Foundation is a nonprofit organization that provides infrastructure, support, and business assistance resources to create an effective local entrepreneurial ecosystem.
TAF numerous initiatives and accomplishments include, but are not limited to:
• The Gauntlet business program and competition, now in its 5th year has trained and supported over 300 entrepreneurs
• Created and managed The Hive Business Incubation Center
• Community Investment Fund which has awarded over $600,000 in small business grants, and in-kind awards and loan funds
• Secured over $300,000 in grants and sponsorships
• Provided over 200 AmeriCorps member resources for community development
• Purchased and rehabilitation of mixed use properties
• Established, trained, and engaged mentor network of over 250 community leaders
Gauntlet Business Program and Competition: Is widely considered to be Virginia’s largest and most successful business program and competition open to interested entrepreneurs of all ages and skill sets. This year, a two-track curriculum will incorporate necessary training tools for both Main Street and high-growth businesses. Entrepreneurs participate in weekly business training sessions, meet and network with successful entrepreneurs, fellow GAUNTLET participants and mentors to develop business strategies.
Innovation Mill: Innovation Mill is designed for high growth start up industries, as well as the continued growth of early stage businesses. The Innovation Mill will combine the visibility of The Gauntlet, the support of community leaders as mentors, the research knowledge of higher education, and the experience of industry experts. Companies will work alongside undergraduate students, fellow entrepreneurs, and their own Business Innovation and Development (BID) team to innovate, pivot, and expand their company.
Valleys Innovation Council (VIC)
The Valleys innovation Council serves both the Roanoke and New River Valleys to provide an environment where innovation businesses can launch and thrive. The VIC supports the regions’ growing innovation economy with leadership from higher education, finance and legal fields as well as successful entrepreneurs. Their areas of focus are research commercialization support and tracking/benchmarking the local ecosystem.
Roanoke Blacksburg Technology Council (RBTC)
RBTC is a member-driven association working to promote the growth of the Roanoke-Blacksburg technology community. The RBTC provide workshops and networking events for technology and innovation driven entrepreneurs and companies. Membership ranges from emerging technology firms to the largest employers in the region, to individuals and businesses with an interest in supporting technology in the region. RBTC is a founding member of RAMP.
Regional Entrepreneurship Coalition (REC)
Members of this group include innovation and entrepreneurial organizations from throughout the Roanoke Region. The initial purpose of the group was to benchmark the role that each organization has in entrepreneurship and innovation efforts and to align the pursuit of grants from a regional perspective. Economic Development Departments from the Roanoke Region began participating in meeting in the fall of 2018.
This year the group worked with VIC to produce the Star Tank and Entrepreneurship Summit.
Virginia Western Community College Entrepreneurial Mindset: Gig Economy Program
Series of free workshops for individuals who are participating in, or want to participate in the “Gig Economy”. The gig economy is a free market system in which temporary positions are common and organizations contract with independent workers for short-term engagements. VWCC is a founding member of RAMP.
Institute for Entrepreneurial Learning (IEL) at Hollins University
Fosters creative and innovative thinking and provides students and businesses with the resources needed to develop an entrepreneurial outlook across all disciplines, including the social sciences, business, humanities, fine arts, and STEM.
Roanoke College Center for Leadership and Entrepreneurial Innovation (CLEI)
The CLEI “inspires innovation through education” and assists students with discovering their vocational passions and interests. The CLEI provides them with the educational tools needed to turn their ideas into viable innovations and businesses.