ecosystem gaps + strategies
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).
coordination of resources
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.
accelerate business formation
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.
metrics of innovation
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 intrepreneurs 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 & intreprenuership efforts in the Richmond Region. Launch a corporate innovation & intrepreneurship round table to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and foster synergies amongst innovative businesses. Initiate a TEDxRVA or TEDxRVA Salon on corporate innovation & intrepreneurship to educate broader community on innovation approaches to existing businesses.