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December 6, 2 019
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Virginia Innovation Report & Feedback Session
Invitation to Collaborate - Byrd School of Business (Shenandoah University)
Open to the Public - FIRST LEGO League State Competition (12/7-12/8)
Launch Harrisonburg | 9-Week Program for Aspiring Entrepreneurs (app. deadline 1/13)
Tech Bytes Tech Talks: Artificial Intelligence (12/4)
The Ethics of Technology Series: World Without Mind (1/30)
Welcome Back Level II Member: Lord Fairfax Community College
Welcome Back Level I Member: Augusta County - Economic Development
Welcome Back Level I Member: Bridgewater College
Welcome Back Student Level Member: Jay Brown
Shenandoah Valley Open Tech Jobs
Rocktown Tech Slack Channel Link
Virginia Innovation Report & Feedback Session

In Nicky's welcome on Thursday morning at the pre-session legislative breakfast, she mentioned the Virginia Innovation Report, published in Nov, which is the result of Undersecretary for Technology's feedback-gathering with stakeholders across the state. In the report, he proposes to support the entire life cycle of innovation, from translational research to entrepreneurship, to pre-seed and seed-stage funding, to acceleration, growth, and commercialization, ... enhancing Virginia 's tech-based econ. development. The mechanism? An authority that will focus narrowly on helping Virginia grow new technology-based businesses and conduct research. The authority also would touch on marketing and improving access to capital.

The Virginia Department of Commerce and Trade released the report on its website []

We've scheduled a conversation with Undersecretary Demeria for 12/13, 1 pm, via Zoom. Anyone interested in participating, send us a message at and we'll share the Zoom info.

Report intro:
It was well documented in TEConomy's January 2018 report, Research-Asset Assessment Study, that Virginia is behind peer states and the country in the commercialization of research, technology innovation, and overall high-growth tech-enabled entrepreneurial success. Some of the critical findings from TEConomy were Virginia's limited funding for de-risking university technologies, the conflicts universities face between "revenue maximization" and "value creation", lagging in formal venture capital funding at seed and early-stage, and lack of scale of coordinated regional innovation efforts to name a few.

For the past two decades in Virginia, there has not been a single entity, but many agencies and various programs working to fill the above-stated need. Of those agencies, the two with the most significant impact are the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Investment Authority (IEIA), created in 2009, and the Virginia Research Investment Committee (VRIC), created in 2016. Both work to de-risk university technologies, but insignificant funding levels yield limited returns compared to other states. Only the IEIA addresses seed and early-stage funding, however it has been subject to significant budget reductions over the last decade. Neither entity in statute is responsible for coordinating and supporting regional innovation economies. In both cases, it is the structure of the statute and the appropriation level that most hinder their progress and success. The time for structural legislation of a new, consolidated Authority for innovation and new tech-based economic development is now! []

Invitation to Collaborate -  Byrd School of Business
(Shenandoah University)

Below you will find a message from Christine Custis, assistant professor at the Harry F. Byrd, Jr. School of Business (, regarding possible partnerships. Please take a moment to read through her request: 

"Greetings from Shenandoah University in Winchester, Virginia!

I'm a professor in the Harry F. Byrd, Jr. School of Business focusing on information systems and technology and I'm reaching out to build partnerships with organizations in our community that are working in areas that align with the mission and vision of the school.

AI Institute
I'll be spending time this Fall preparing a grant proposal for the  National Artificial Intelligence (AI) Research Institutes which is a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation.   This is an exciting opportunity for the Byrd School of Business to get funding to set up an Artificial Intelligence Institute to bolster education and technical skills in the entire Shenandoah Valley! 

Partner Engagement
As a part of this new institute, we want to form partnerships and to engage with you on special projects such as:
  • financial support we can offer to your cause
  • workforce development to retrain your employees
  • STEM training for area youth
  • internship opportunities for college students
  • training and education for Veterans
  • tech talks and speaker series for area business
  • collaboration with area schools in their quest to provide AI education  
  • other needs that your organization may have

STEP 1:  Join an Information Session
Please make plans to join an information session about the forthcoming institute and how it can support and align with your organizational strategy and goals.  Take a moment to fill in the  Doodle Poll and mark every time that would work for you to participate.  We'll choose the date(s) that work best and set up a call.  Feel free to  invite others whom you believe would benefit from the information.

STEP 2:  Write a Letter of Collaboration
After participating in the call and getting answers to any questions you may have, we would love for you to write a short paragraph expressing your interest to  collaborate with The Byrd School of Business Artificial Intelligence Institute.  This brief letter of  collaboration will simply state that "If the proposal submitted by The Shenandoah University Byrd School of Business for resources to support an AI Institute is selected for funding by the NSF, it is my intent to  collaborate".

Thanks in advance for your consideration and please reach out with questions and requests."

Open to the  Public!
FIRST LEGO League (FLL) State Competition (12/7-12/8)

Come join us at the very busy FIRST LEGO League (FLL) state tournament. Excitement, robotics, and LEGOS! Most importantly, come support the students who have worked hard and see what they've accomplished! 
2019 Challenge: CITY SHAPER
What if you could build a better world? Where would you begin?
More than ever, we must come together to innovate and solve problems. In FIRSTĀ®, you are part of a thriving community brimming with inspiration, creativity, and hope for a stronger, more sustainable future-one that's built better together. You have the power to help the cities, towns, and places you call home reach new heights. With the support of the FIRST community, this is your opportunity to lead our future forward-and up.

FIRST LEGO League challenges kids to think like scientists and engineers. During the CITY SHAPER season, teams will choose and solve a real-world problem in the Innovation Project. They will also build, test, and program an autonomous robot using LEGO MINDSTORMS technology to solve a set of missions in the Robot Game. Throughout their experience, teams will operate under the FIRST signature set of Core Values, celebrating discovery, teamwork, and Gracious Professionalism.

For more information about FLL, visit

Launch Harrisonburg | 9-Week Program for Aspiring Entrepreneurs  (app. deadline 1/13)
The City of  Harrisonburg Economic Development Department is ready to help aspiring and seasoned entrepreneurs launch their new ideas into the stratosphere. All they need now is you!

LAUNCH HARRISONBURG - Powered by  CO.STARTERS will work with aspiring entrepreneurs across the city to develop and fine-tune their ideas, critically examining their goals and helping plan next steps through real-time feedback from experienced colleagues in the community. The nine-week bootcamp is an action-driven, collaborative process with a small and supportive group of like-minded people that will help class members identify their assumptions about why and how their businesses will work and then talk to customers in order to validate their ideas.

LAUNCH HARRISONBURG is based on the CO.STARTERS model, a nationally-based program that has been proven to jump-start entrepreneurial ideas and provide a foundation for success. The cohort will be facilitated by two dynamic, local entrepreneurs: Andy Vanhook, co-founder of Appeal Production, and Tisha McCoy-Ntiamoah, founder of PrePOPsterous. The cohort will also feature guest speakers providing guidance on marketing, accounting, incorporating and more.
"We are excited about the prospect of working closely with aspiring entrepreneurs to equip them with the insights, relationships and tools needed to turn business ideas into action and turn a passion into a sustainable and thriving business," Harrisonburg Economic Development Director Brian Shull said. "We're looking for people with an idea for a unique local business who has a dream of starting something special that we can help bring to fruition."

The deadline to apply to be a member of the first LAUNCH HARRISONBURG cohort is January 13, 2020. The cost is $195 for residents and businesses located in Harrisonburg, and $275 for non-residents and businesses. To assist interested participants, we do offer a payment plan. The first cohort launches on February 4, 2020.

Find more information about the program at, or call 540-432-7701 to speak with a Harrisonburg Economic Development team member.

Tech Bytes Tech Talks: Artificial Intelligence (1/22)

January 22, 2019 | 6:00 pm

Lord Fairfax Community College is hosting monthly technology discussion with technology professionals from around that nation. The public is invited, but registration is required. Most talks will occur at the Middletown Campus, but they will be distancing the presentation to their Fauquier Campus also. 

Upcoming talk: 

January 22, 2020, 6:00pm - Gary McGraw, Berryville Institute of Machine Learning


Future sessions:
  • February 19, 2020, 6:00pm - Kay Connelly, Infomatics, Indiana University, Bloomington
  • March 11, 2020, 1:00pm - Richard Danzig, Retired Secretary of the Navy
  • April 8 2020, 6:00pm - Heather Wilson, Analytics, L Brands
Talks are scheduled for one hour and Q&A, except for the 11/16 session which is a two hour presentation.

The Ethics of Technology Series: World Without Mind  (1/30)
January 30, 2020 | 5:00 pm
Stackhouse Theater, Lexington

Welcome Back Level II Member!
Lord Fairfax Community College

Lord Fairfax Community College (LFCC) is a comprehensive, multi-campus public institution of higher education. Through its four locations - the Fauquier and Middletown Campuses and the Luray-Page County and Vint Hill Centers - the College serves eight localities in the Shenandoah Valley and Piedmont regions. The localities are the counties of Clarke, Fauquier, Frederick, Page, Rappahannock, Shenandoah and Warren and the city of Winchester. LFCC offers more than 75 associate degree and certificate programs in a wide variety of disciplines, in addition to providing access to bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs offered on site by a four-year institution. LFCC also serves the business community by offering workforce preparation programs for employees and employers. LFCC serves more than 7,600 unduplicated credit students and more than 10,450 individuals in professional development and business and industry courses annually.

Welcome Back Level I Member!
Augusta County - Economic Development

Augusta County strives to provide a diverse and vibrant economy that offers a broad range of job opportunities in manufacturing, services, tourism and agriculture while supporting the delivery of high quality government services to its citizens. We endeavor to maximize economic opportunities for the area in a cost-effective manner and to provide the necessary resources to support the growth of existing and prospective businesses. Another goal is to create an environment that encourages, values and supports entrepreneurship. We strive to provide a level of awareness amongst students and young adults of the availability of local career and economic opportunities.

Welcome Back Level I Member!
Bridgewater College

Bridgewater College is an independent, private liberal arts college founded in 1880. It was the first private coeducational college in Virginia. Located only two hours southwest of the Washington, D.C. metro area in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, Bridgewater has a total enrollment of 1,800 students and offers bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degrees in more than 60 majors and minors, along with several master's degree programs, pre-professional programs such as medicine and law, and teacher licensure.

The student experience at Bridgewater is shaped and defined by connections-between students faculty, alumni, and community members-and with new ideas and the wider world. Bridgewater's commitment to building connections for life allows students more opportunities to flourish than they might have elsewhere-more opportunities to participate in sports, theatre, music, clubs and organizations; to exercise leadership; and to develop and achieve their potential as they are mentored by the teacher-scholars that make up the faculty.

With 80 clubs and organizations, everyone has an opportunity to be involved on campus, and almost a third of the student body participates in intercollegiate athletics at the NCAA Division III level.
Bridgewater College students are prepared to live and work in community with others, to thrive as educated citizens and ethical, selfless leaders, and to be active participants in a global society, with respect for the dignity and worth of every person.

Welcome Back Student Level Member!
Jay Brown

Jay currently works as a Cybersecurity Analyst for a consulting firm located in Fairfax, VA. He works remotely from the BRCC office in downtown Waynesboro, VA. They assess Department of Defense subcontractors for cybersecurity compliance.

  • Generate Impact, Harrisonburg (Director of Business Development)
  • Harrisonburg-Rockingham Emergency Communications Center (Technology Manager)
  • Virginia Eagle Distributing, Verona (Digital Sales Administrator)
  • Sproutly, New Market (UX Designer)
  • Vision Technology Group, Harrisonburg (Tier III Network Engineer)
  • Budget Referee, Harrisonburg (Full Stack Developer with front end web development focus)
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