Support Our Innovation Economy on Giving Tuesday

You can empower innovators, entrepreneurs, and startups in the Roanoke-Blacksburg region this Giving Tuesday on Nov. 28.  

Your gift provides resources and programming for startups and ultimately supports the growth of our innovation economy. As little as $25 can help a business get the support and resources it needs to thrive!

Learn more about RAMP, as featured in Buzz4Good.

RAMP, the Regional Accelerator and Mentoring Program, champions startup companies in the growing technology and health and life sciences sectors through a 12-week cohort program and other resources and mentoring. These opportunities are free or low-cost to the entrepreneurs, meaning RAMP relies on grant funding and the generosity of private donors to offer them.

These programs work — both for the entrepreneurs and the Roanoke-Blacksburg region. Since 2017, RAMP has accelerated 48 companies that have gone on to raise more than $28 million dollars in working capital while supporting jobs in the region.

Your support matters. On Giving Tuesday, choose to support the future of the Roanoke-Blacksburg’s innovation ecosystem with a gift to the Verge alliance, which includes RAMP and the Regional Accelerator & Mentoring Program.

#GivingTuesday, which is the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, is an annual celebration in support of nonprofits around the world. In 2022, more than $3.1 billion was generated in support of nonprofits worldwide; we’d be honored if you would consider a gift to support the innovation ecosystem this year. Thank you!

ELITE Grant Grows Tech Talent for the Region

In the past three years, 62 students at 17 different companies completed internships thanks to $94,000 in funding from GO Virginia. The effort was facilitated by the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council as part of the ELITE (Experiential Learning in Technology Employment) Grant.

Employers in Pulaski, Lynchburg, Roanoke, Blacksburg, and other communities built their talent pipelines while strengthening the regional technology ecosystem thanks to funding that supported intern employment. The grant also included a partnership with Exelaration, a software development company with a nationally recognized internship program, who supported the connection and mentor oversight of 19 interns to multiple employers.   

“The ELITE Grant enabled more regional businesses to be competitive when working with regional technology students,” said Erin Burcham, President of Verge and Executive Director of RBTC. “After graduating from the region’s world-class universities, those joining the workforce often leave the area in search of nationally known employers. By introducing talented students to local companies and allowing them to foster a connection to the community, they are more likely to remain in the area upon graduation. That’s a win for the students and the local economy.”

The ELITE Grant, which concluded at the end of September, underscores the importance of solving the region’s technology challenges both in the near- and long-term. It is especially critical when addressing the local technology deficit companies face. In addition to offering wage support, the grant supported training and professional development activities to further students’ career readiness.

“Getting to know a plethora of knowledgeable individuals in the field has given me a leg up on my road to success,” said Jimmy Ortiz, an intern at Cloudfit Software. “The projects they put us on give us real-world experience, which gives us a giant boost in our careers. I would love to work for CloudFit someday, not only because of the experiences but because the environment here has been exquisite.”

intern working with employer

ELITE supported creating hubs of innovation and activity around talent development and retention. Hundreds of students benefited from activities that were a result of collaboration from higher education institutions, employers, economic development organizations, and RBTC including:

  • Onboard ROA from Get2KnowNoke, a summer professional development program for student interns, young professionals, and remote workers to learn more about the Roanoke area while furthering career-related skills and possibilities.
  • Onward NRV Experience, a summer employer internship program to help students grow professionally while experiencing the benefits of living and working in the New River Valley. Grant funding supported 21 interns in this program.
  • Student Pitch Competition with nearly 200 students showcasing innovative ideas to create positive change with mentorship and judging provided by industry leaders. Sponsors contributed $16,000 in prize money to support aspiring entrepreneurs.
  • Generative AI increased students’ knowledge on the topic and connected them with an employer in the region that is leveraging this technology to serve its customers.
  • Biotech Takeover allowed students and young professionals to engage with biotech leaders through various presentations and networking to learn about exciting opportunities occurring here in the region.
  • Innovative Problem Identification and Solving connected students, entrepreneurs and other professionals to learn about tools and techniques for successfully identifying core problems and enhancing solution-focused decision making.
  • Multiple professional development events, educational workshops, and networking opportunities were offered in collaboration with Virginia Tech, Radford University, Virginia Western Community College, New River Community College, Sweet Briar College, and Roanoke College.

“The innovation occurring in this region is remarkable,” said stated Jason Clayton, RBTC Tech Talent Strategist. “Outstanding institutions of higher learning, a culture of regional partners collaborating to support technology and biotechnology efforts, a plethora of thought leaders, and a priority of attracting and retaining quality talent are strengths of Region 2.

“Support for meeting technology talent gaps in the region, like what was afforded by GO Virginia’s ELITE Grant, play a tremendous role in further leveraging the assets we have to reach talent goals and strengthen the innovation economy.”

Learn more and get access to the new “Guide for Professionally Managed Talent Development Experiences,” made possible by the ELITE Grant. Explore, engage, network, learn, and contribute to the excitement occurring in the regional technology ecosystem by attending an upcoming event.

Regional Partners Collaborate to Launch Advancing Oncology InnoVAtion QuickFire Challenge

Johnson & Johnson Innovation, in collaboration with Carilion Clinic Innovation, Verge Alliance, City of Roanoke, and Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, is proud to launch the Advancing Oncology InnoVAtion QuickFire Challenge. Innovators from around the globe are invited to submit potential solutions aiming to transform patient outcomes in oncology in adult populations with potential applications in pediatric oncology.

Virginia is home to a growing community of more than 300 life science companies, nurtured by resources from the state and expertise from its many universities and research institutions. In 2022 alone, Virginia’s Higher Education Institutions collectively earned $382M in grant funding across 898 NIH awards.

Leveraging this innovation ecosystem, the Roanoke-Blacksburg region in Virginia is well-positioned to drive significant therapeutic advances for healthcare’s greatest challenges, including within oncology. Cancer was the second leading cause of death among adults in Virginia, claiming the lives of over 15,000 Virginians in 2020. In 2023, it is estimated that there will be 47,000 new cancer diagnoses in the state. 

At Johnson & Johnson Innovation, it’s our goal to find innovative technologies that aim to deliver new approaches to detect, intercept, and treat diseases like cancer. Through this QuickFire Challenge, we are igniting innovation to transform patient outcomes in oncology not only for patients in Virginia but around the world. 

The innovator(s) with the best potential solution can receive grant funding from a total pool of $300,000*, VTCRC residency for one year, which includes one lab bench and workstation, access to the global Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JLABS (JLABS) network, and mentorship from experts across The Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies (Johnson & Johnson).** 

*Awardees must have a business footprint within the Roanoke-Blacksburg region of Virginia before receiving a monetary award and remain in the region for two years following receipt of the award 

**Subject to the execution of the necessary documentation and (award) agreements 

Apply at by August 11, 2023.  

The QuickFire Challenges are managed by Johnson & Johnson Innovation, with the goal to help address today’s greatest health care challenges. 

TechNite 2023: Region’s Biggest Night in Tech Honors This Year’s Best from Innovation Ecosystem

Kim Snyder (KariVis), Eddie Amos, Angela Pope Dickerson (Bullish & Blacks In Technology SWVA), Shierod Russell (Intuitive Surgical), Chad Burchett (Trova Commercial Vehicles), Dr. Jessica Gilbertie (Qentoros), Dean Thomas (CytoRecovery), (Martin Angst (Rendyr, Inc.), Geoff Boyer (Craig County Public Schools), Dr. Amy White (Virginia Western Community College)

The most vibrant and entertaining celebration of the year for tech and biotech returned to Blacksburg this year attracting hundreds of statewide and regional leaders. Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council’s TechNite 2023 was held Thursday at the German Club Manor, celebrating the many breakthroughs and technologists who are driving innovation in the regional tech-based economy.

Among the highlights of the evening was the induction of Eddie Amos into the RBTC Hall of Fame.

TechNite, presented by Woods Rogers Vandeventer Black Attorneys at Law, is an annual celebration for the best in innovation in Virginia’s Region 2.

“The energy at TechNite reflects the energy our innovators and entrepreneurs pour into their work every day. It’s a privilege to bring together our best and brightest from around the region and celebrate the accomplishments that are changing the world right from the Roanoke and New River Valleys,” said Erin Burcham, President of Verge and Executive Director of RBTC.

Virginia Region 2, which includes the Roanoke and New River Valleys and Lynchburg, continues to grow at an exciting pace, noted the evening’s MC Hal Irvin, PhD. Irvin is the Associate Vice President for Health Sciences and Technology Outreach at Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at Virginia Tech Carilion where he facilitates partnerships between companies and researchers.

“The tech and biotech research and innovation coming out of this region is world-class. The way we work together here – our spirit of collaboration – greatly benefits our start-up companies and those looking to relocate. With the advent of additional research space, the Roanoke-Blacksburg innovation ecosystem is poised for substantial growth,” Irvin said.

The following entrepreneurs and companies were honored at the awards ceremony. 

Named to the RBTC Hall of Fame, Amos is the former Chief Transformation Officer at TORC, a pioneering autonomous vehicle company based in Blacksburg, VA where he brought over 35 years of tech industry leadership experience.  

Amos spent his career in tech including 10 years as a Partner at Microsoft. He also served as a general Manager of Visual Studio, and Vice President of Software and Developer Evangelism at Juniper before helping grow start-up Meridium into a sector leader in asset performance Management. Amos served as Chief Technology Officer at GE Digital and, after the acquisition of Meridium, led the successful integration of both teams. He was later made a Corporate Officer at GE and named Sr. Vice President of Digital Engineering. He was honored for the tremendous leadership and vision he provided the Roanoke-Blacksburg community throughout his impressive career.

New this year is the Hart of the Entrepreneur Impact Award, created to honor the memory of local trailblazing entrepreneur Bonz Hart. Bonz was a loyal champion of RBTC and served in various leadership roles, including the first technology entrepreneur president. RBTC collaborated with Bonz’s loved ones to create an endowment that will continue Bonz Hart’s tremendous spirit and contribution to the Roanoke-Blacksburg technology community. The Hart of the Entrepreneur Impact Award will be given annually to an outstanding entrepreneur in the region.

This year’s recipient is Rendyr, Inc. Founded and led by Virginia Tech alum Martin Angst, the Blacksburg-based desktop robotics startup is developing a first-of-its-kind portable laser cutter that dramatically improves access to rapid prototyping and digital fabrication.

Additional award winners include: 

  • Dr. Amy White, STEM-H Educator Award which recognizes an educator in the Roanoke-Blacksburg region that promotes math, science, and/or use of technology in creative ways to transfer knowledge and help develop future technology leaders. Amy White is Virginia Western Community College’s Dean for the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics department. White began at VWCC as a biology professor in 2003, and her passion for educating led her to her role as STEM dean. White focuses on educating and mentoring those who are interested in STEM careers, as well as creating equal opportunities for all students wishing to make an impact on the healthcare system.
  • Geoff Boyer, K-12 STEM-H Educator Award, which recognizes a K-12 educator in the Roanoke–Blacksburg region that promotes math, science, and/or use of technology in creative ways to transfer knowledge and help develop future technology leaders. Craig County educator Geoff Boyer has dedicated 20 years to teaching math and computer science at Craig County High School. His students design and build portable gaming machines and learn to code using Arduino IDE. A master teacher with Mobile CSP, he travels around the country during the summers to train other teachers, empowering them to impact more students through STEM. In addition to teaching, Geoff also owns his own 3D printing business.
  • Qentoros, Rising Star Award, which recognizes an early-stage technology company. This award emphasizes the importance of small firms to our region’s technology economy. Qentoros harnesses the power of platelets to treat orthopedic injuries in horses. Their unique product called BIO-PLY combines powerful pain relief with restorative properties that heal formerly terminal injuries. Qentoros is led by Founder and Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Jessica Gilbertie. Dr. Gilbertie is a veterinary translational scientist and holds a BS and MS from Virginia Tech and a DVM from Iowa State University, and PhD and postdoc from North Carolina State University.
  • Chad Burchett, Innovator Award, which recognizes an individual, a team, or organization that has blazed new trails in the areas of research and innovation. Chat Burchett boasts an international career in the commercial vehicle industry via the Volvo Group and Trova Commercial vehicles Inc. He currently serves as Trova Commercial Vehicle’s Chief Technology Officer and is working to significantly accelerate the development and industrialization of zero tailpipe emissions in commercial vehicles. Mr. Burchett is a Virginia Tech trained mechanical engineer with 6 granted patents and 11 patents pending.
  • Angela Pope Dickerson, Regional Leadership Award, which recognizes a member who succeeds in the workplace, but also leads by example by contributing significantly to the RBTC community. Angela Pope Dickerson is a manager at Bullish, a Blacksburg-based blockchain company. Over the past year she has tirelessly donated her time and energy to spearhead the founding of a local chapter of Blacks In Technology for Southwest Virginia (BIT SWVA). The global organization, BIT, is dedicated to increasing the representation and participation of Black people in the technology industry.
  • Alex Hyler, Entrepreneur Award, recognizes a leader exemplifying what it means to be a risk-taker in technology. Dr. Alex Hyler serves as the Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer for CytoRecovery, a dynamic startup working to commercialize new cell separation and recovery technologies and advance understanding of disease initiation, progression and treatment. Dr. Hyler earned her PhD in biomedical engineering from the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences. During her time at VT, she earned a Fullbright and was named the Outstanding Graduate Student of the Year for her work in scholarship and community outreach.
  • KlariVis, Leading Small Tech Company, recognizes a Roanoke or New River Valley company committed to advancing the region’s technology community and demonstrating excellence in people, programs, and projects within its industry. Roanoke based KlariVis is an enterprise dashboard and analytics tool designed by bankers for bankers to provide critical, actionable insights to empower strategic decision making. Founded by CPA Kim Snyder, KlariVis provides advanced report capabilities, offering a unique, holistic view of the entire organization in easy to digest, multidimensional views.
  • Intuitive Surgical, Leading Large Tech Company recognizes a company committed to advancing the region’s technology community and demonstrating excellence in people, programs, and projects within its industry. Intuitive Surgical is an international corporation with a strong presence in Blacksburg, VA that develops robotic-assisted surgical systems to advance minimally invasive care. Their Blacksburg, VA location has a deep manufacturing presence, where everyone from quality assurance engineers to assembly team members to supply chain managers work together to get Intuitive’s products to the world. 
  • Dr. Rafael Davalos & Elizabeth McClanahan, Ruby Award, which recognizes an outstanding member who has proven to be a brilliant and valuable asset to the Roanoke-Blacksburg region. This year, two winners will take home the prize.
    • Rafael V. Davalos is an Endowed Professor of Biomedical Engineering in the Virginia Tech – Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences. He also holds Adjunct Appointments in Mechanical Engineering, the Wake Forest Comprehensive Cancer Center, and at the Wake Forest Institute of Regenerative Medicine. He serves on the editorial board for the ASME Journal of Medical Devices and IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering. Davalos was also the lead inventor at CytoRecovery and was instrumental in producing revolutionary marker-free cell sorting technology.
    • A Justice on the Supreme Court of Virginia until 2011, Elizabeth McClanahan is now the CEO of the Virginia Tech Foundation. She also teaches Legal, Financing, and Ethical Issues for Entrepreneurs at Virginia Tech. She has served as Chair of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia; Williamson Fellow at William and Mary College of Law; Street Memorial Distinguished Visitor in Real Estate Law at Appalachian School of Law; and the El Paso Natural Gas Law Fellow at the University of Colorado School of Law. In addition to Elizabeth’s published opinions for the Court of Appeals of Virginia and the Supreme Court of Virginia, she was a nationally recognized expert in coalbed methane development, having published and/or presented almost 40 papers on coalbed methane, mineral title rights, and regulatory issues.

Thanks to all the sponsors and companies that helped make the 2023 event a success: Woods Rogers Vandeventer Black Attorneys at Law, Carilion Clinic, Virginia Tech Foundation, City of Roanoke, Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation, Botetourt County, Cox Business, P1 Technologies, Roanoke County, TechLab, Inc, MemberOne Federal Credit Union, Montgomery County, Pulaski County, and CSC Leasing.

RBTC, part of the Verge Alliance, exists to promote the growth of the Roanoke-Blacksburg technology community with a vision for the region to be globally recognized for its innovation, entrepreneurship, and talent assets. The Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council is a member-driven association working to promote the growth of the regional technology community, supporting a strong tech-based economy. The organization is the essential business resource for technology entrepreneurs and companies seeking to achieve greater success with members that range from emerging technology firms to the largest employers in the region. Learn more at 

Now Hiring: Tech Talent Strategist

Verge, part of the RAMP and RBTC collaborative alliance, is poised to grow significantly with multiple grant proposals and funding requests in the pipeline. The key to our success is largely dependent on the stellar ability of our program administration, development, and management teams.

We’re currently searching for Technology Talent Strategist to join our passionate team. The RBTC is looking for a dynamic team member to help strategize and build programming for attracting and retaining STEM talent for the region’s technology and biotechnology employers in the Roanoke-Blacksburg Region. This position calls for a collaborator who is equally savvy with creating new connections with academic institutions, employers, public and private sector partners, students, and other stakeholders and working closely to support existing regional partners including workforce, economic development and more. This position will require flexibility and adaptability to the region’s challenges and funding opportunities. While there is some foundation for the program, the candidate will be building upon the program and will need to be a creative yet strategic thinker, and a self-motivator who won’t shy away from constructing plans and setting goals.

Essential Functions:

  • Work with RBTC Director to engage with current members and recruit new tech council members, while working to understand each companies’ talent needs.
  • Engage with relevant stakeholders, such as academic institutions, employers, business associations, economic development offices, and work-force preparation entities to identify and implement opportunities for enhanced collaboration and information sharing regarding STEM talent assets and needs.
  • Determine benchmarks for assessing success of the talent attraction and retention plan and establish data collection processes to monitor progress towards clearly articulated measurable goals.
  • Maintain connections with academic departments in the larger region’s colleges and universities that have programs in demand among regional employers, focusing on STEM careers and students.
  • Collaborate with and work alongside key regional stakeholders to complement the regional talent efforts through The Roanoke Regional Partnership, economic development, workforce development, and others.
  • Share data findings of technology talent needs in the region to influence specialized geo-targeted campaigns, while utilizing cohesive branding from the Verge alliance to creatively influence and drive campaigns.
  • Identify and utilize marketing channels that reach audiences such as boomerang talent, college students, remote workers, and others.
  • Work with STEM partners on developing a cohesive talent attraction, talent retention, and talent development strategy to strengthen the regional economy.
  • Provide public and private employers, partners in local government and workforce development informational tools and resources towards the goals of talent attraction and retention.
  • Serve as a part of the regional business resource team involving partners in economic development at the local, state, and regional levels as well as partners in workforce development.
  • Identify and engage young professionals who have chosen Roanoke to build a STEM talent ambassador network.
  • Shift focus and efforts as STEM talent assets, needs, and funding change.
  • Work with regional stakeholders to host talent-focused activations in market and attend regional and statewide events to promote the region’s innovation opportunities.


  • Bachelor’s Degree or related experience with talent management and attraction.
  • Strong project management skills leading/convening projects with stakeholders.
  • Current knowledge of workforce strategies including talent attraction and retention.
  • Current knowledge of economic development and business retention and expansion practices.
  • In-depth problem solving and creative ability including technology expertise.
  • Ability to analyze data and communicate its impact on the local/regional economy.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
  • Ability to think out of the box while forecasting for future, talent mining.
  • Ability to summarize problems and to think creatively regarding potential solutions.
  • Ability to be flexible and adaptable in a non-profit environment.
  • Ability to run multiple projects simultaneously.
  • Thrives in a collaborative environment.
  • Understanding of the mission and goals of the Verge alliance.

About RBTC:
The RBTC is a member-driven association working to promote the growth of the Roanoke-Blacksburg technology community. We are the essential business resource for technology entrepreneurs and companies seeking to achieve greater success. Our membership ranges from emerging technology firms to the largest employers in the region. The RBTC is building a community that is a catalyst for innovation, inspiration, success, and leadership within the Roanoke-Blacksburg region. The RBTC works hard at building community for the region’s technology sector through meaningful relationships. We are unifying the region through intentional programing and focus on developing a regional innovation ecosystem. The RBTC operates at the highest levels of integrity, and we are honest, transparent, confidential, and supportive. We are dynamic and bring energy and excitement to everything we do. As thought leaders, we are never content with the status quo and are always looking towards the future. The RBTC strives to always add value in the greater work of building a strong region. We believe our future is a bright one and that our region can be recognized globally for its innovation, entrepreneurship, and talent assets and consistently rank as one of the leading technology hubs in the nation.

APPLY NOW: Email Jackie Lackey, Verge VP

Fralin, Friedlander Nationally Recognized for Biomedical Research Advocacy

Heywood Fralin, philanthropist, and Michael Friedlander, PhD, founding Executive Director of Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC (FBRI) and Vice President for Health Sciences and Technology at Virginia Tech, are being recognized by Research!America for their leadership in medical and health research.

Fralin and Friedlander collaborated to establish FBRI, recruit world-class biomedically-focused research teams, and build partnership with leading institutions to expand research opportunities and investment across the state.

Heywood Fralin, is a lifelong resident of Roanoke, Virginia and visionary philanthropist. He has served on numerous boards including the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech Board of Visitors, Virginia Business Council, and the Virginia State Council of Higher Education. Currently, Fralin serves as Vice Chair on the Board of the Taubman Museum of Art and serves on the Virginia Western Community College Foundation Board of Directors among other leadership positions. He passionately supports and advocates for the advancement of the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at Virginia Tech Carilion.

Dr. Michael J. Friedlander, leads a dynamic network that connects and enhances health science-related work across Virginia Tech. His work strengthens partnerships with Carilion Clinic and promotes collaboration between Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute, the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, the Faculty of Health Sciences, and other colleges and research institutes. It also connects the biomedical hub in the Roanoke-Blacksburg region to the greater Washington, D.C., metro area, which is expected to provide resources in computation as well as data, electronic health record, and social science analytics.

Together, they are being honored with the Gordon and Llura Gund Leadership Award which honors individuals who have made a significant contribution to increasing the level of advocacy for medical, public health or other health-related research in their communities or on a state or national level.

“Mr. Fralin and Dr. Friedlander have led the way in developing a biotechnology hub in the Roanoke-Blacksburg region. Our innovation ecosystem owes so much to their vison and leadership. They have certainly earned this recognition and RBTC warmly congratulates them on this well-deserved award,” said Erin Burcham, President of Verge and RBTC Executive Director.

Research!America is a non-profit medical and health research advocacy alliance organized to achieve funding, advocate for policies, inform the public, and promote engagement with medical and health research. The 2023 Advocacy Awards will take place March 15 at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, DC.

Regional Partners Collaborate to Create Biotechnology Incubator in Roanoke

ROANOKE, Va. — The City of Roanoke, in partnership with Carilion Clinic, Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, Verge, Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC, and Virginia Western Community College, today announce a collaboration to build a biotechnology incubator in Roanoke.

The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development approved the release of $15.7 million in funds awarded to the City of Roanoke to create 40,000 square feet of shared lab space. The project is a collaboration like no other for this region with partners that will build, manage, and develop programming in a building in the Roanoke Innovation Corridor.

“Roanoke is building a strong case for companies to look at this region and say, ‘This is a place where I want to be,’” said Marc Nelson, City of Roanoke Director of Economic Development. “We are excited that so many partners were able to come together to make this project a reality in a relatively short period of time.”

“We are thankful that state, local governments, and private partners share the same vision to build the next step in our trajectory,” said Brett Malone, president & CEO of the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center. “Heavy investments between multiple partners have led to a tipping point for biotech in this region. This is a model that can scale across the Commonwealth to support the growth of Virginia’s biotech industry.”

The collaborative effort looks like this:

  • The City of Roanoke will facilitate and manage the project and funds awarded through the state budget and contribute an additional $1.9 million match through American Rescue Plan Act funds.
  • Labs will be constructed in a building currently owned by Carilion Clinic at 1030 S. Jefferson Street in Roanoke.
  • Carilion Clinic Innovation, Fralin Biomedical Research Institute innovators, and other regional startup companies will have the opportunity to advance their research and commercialize their companies in Roanoke.
  • The Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center will manage the facility’s planning, development and operations.
  • Verge will launch an innovation studio and new programming to support our region’s early-stage biotech and digital health start-ups. Under the Verge alliance, the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council will launch new talent programs to attract and retain technology and biotech talent, and RAMP will work closely with the start-ups for acceleration.
  • Virginia Western Community College will expand its degree and certificate programs to cultivate and support the workforce needs of the growing biotechnology sector. VWCC also will provide professional development to K12 partners to enhance biotechnology education.
  • Virginia Tech will continue to contribute to the growth of the biotechnology cluster with innovative faculty research and startup companies emerging from the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC  and as an educator of physician thought leaders with biomedical research emphasis at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine.

The collaborative effort brings together cross-jurisdictional, public and private partners to propel growth in the rapidly expanding biotechnology cluster.

“The shared lab space will attract existing and start-up businesses in the life sciences, biotechnology and healthcare sectors,” said Carilion President and CEO Nancy Howell Agee. “But the space is one small step. Most importantly, the building will be an innovative gathering place for our region’s greatest minds to collaborate with those who have promising new ideas about exciting and challenging projects.”

“This will be a magnet to attract biotechnology companies including those that spin out from the research institute,” said Michael Friedlander, Virginia Tech vice president for health sciences and technology and executive director of the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC. “These companies want to interact with R1 research universities such as Virginia Tech and health systems such as Carilion Clinic. Wet lab space is in short supply in Virginia, so this will also address an important requirement of biotech companies in the Commonwealth and well beyond our region.”

“The forward thinking that’s happening here to link education at all levels to start-ups and business commercialization with the infrastructure to do it is pretty outstanding,” said Amy White, Dean of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics at Virginia Western Community College. “This project is a model of how to ensure that we are growing a comprehensive plan for talent and business development that keeps people and jobs in this region.”

An innovation studio and expanded acceleration programming will be designed to incorporate wrap-around services for companies to help them grow with more agility within the space of this facility. Verge, RAMP and the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council will create and host these programs.  More than a building, this space will be designed as a connector for the biotech community with multiple resources in one place and a location central to Carilion, Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC, the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, and Virginia Western Community College.

The incubator is the next step to provide a home for companies commercializing research throughout the region.

“This space is a way to help incubate local research talent and start-ups as well as attract life sciences professionals and companies from outside the region,” said Erin Burcham, president of Verge and executive director of RBTC. “We are excited to announce the launch of a new innovation studio and programming for early-stage biotech companies. With support from the Commonwealth of Virginia and the City of Roanoke, we are positioning the region to be a hub for life science companies to grow and thrive here.”

The project builds on a GO Virginia-funded project that identified the need for lab space, access to industry experts and mentoring in the biotechnology sector. Additional GO Virginia funds funded the construction of a pilot labs facility in Blacksburg. The mission is to create a deeper network of life science-specific investment capital.

“We started with a life sciences feasibility study that led into an infrastructure project to meet demand from biotechnology companies and support the commercialization of our region’s research,” Malone said. “This facility, as well as the labs in Blacksburg, provide the necessary capacity and access to collaborations with companies such as Johnson & Johnson Innovation for researchers here.”

The project is expected to generate 250 jobs in the first five years after opening. Construction is slated to start in 2023, with the labs expected to open in late 2024.

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City of Roanoke Economic Development Office acts as a liaison to forge partnerships between business and government and foster stable economic growth in the jurisdiction while providing continuous improvements to the quality of life for its citizens.   Implementing innovative workforce and business retention, expansion and recruitment practices while promoting strategic asset developments city-wide ensures our community and economy remain diverse and vibrant.

Carilion Clinic is a not-for-profit healthcare organization serving more than one million people in Virginia’s Blue Ridge and Southwest Virginia regions. Headquartered in Roanoke, Carilion’s comprehensive hospital network, primary and specialty physician practices, and other complementary services deliver high-quality, patient-centered care close to home. Carilion’s enduring commitment to the health of our communities has advanced over the last decade but remains grounded in providing care to patients regardless of their ability to pay. Beginning with the transformation to the clinic model of a physician-led, integrated healthcare system, Carilion has developed robust academic partnerships with the creation of the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC, and Radford University Carilion’s school for allied health sciences. Carilion advances care through education and research elements and continues to rely on the generous support of donors to advance its mission to improve the health of the communities we serve. Learn more at, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.

Virginia Tech is dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), and pushes the boundaries of knowledge by taking a hands-on, transdisciplinary approach to preparing scholars to be leaders and problem-solvers. Since its founding as a land-grant college in 1872, Virginia Tech has grown to an enrollment of more than 35,000 and is the state’s leading research institution, conducting more than $590 million in research annually. In Roanoke, the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC and the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine are a part of the VTC Health Sciences and Technology campus. In Northern Virginia, the university is developing a 1 million-square-foot Innovation Campus that will become a global center of talent production and technology excellence. The main campus is in Blacksburg, Virginia, while the university’s international presence is anchored by the Steger Center for International Scholarship in Riva San Vitale, Switzerland.

Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center (VTCRC) has a mission to create a space with purpose where innovators have access to unparalleled resources, partnerships, and opportunities for growth. Born out of a need to translate Virginia Tech research to commercial potential, the VTCRC was established in Blacksburg in 1985. Since then, it has been home to over 750 premier organizations with a common goal to disrupt industries. Today, with operations across Virginia, the research park continues to be a destination for growth and a space with purpose. The VTCRC is a for-profit, wholly owned, private subsidiary of the Virginia Tech Foundation, and is, therefore, not a state entity. Learn more at

Verge is a strategic coalition of organizations that lead and drive public and private collaboration on innovative projects in the Roanoke-Blacksburg region of Virginia that expand to the state level and beyond. The Verge alliance, including the Regional Accelerator & Mentoring Program (RAMP) and Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council (RBTC), provides programming, coaching, talent attraction/development, and connectivity to elevate the greater technology and biotechnology sectors in Region 2. Learn more at,, and

Virginia Western Community College is a forward-thinking community college inspiring individual, community and economic transformation. It provides quality educational opportunities that empower students for success and strengthen communities. The College provides credit academic programs and non-credit workforce training along with distance learning online and dual enrollment courses in area high schools. To learn more, visit

RAMP Cohort Applications Now Open

No matter where you find yourself in the startup pipeline, if you are building a technology-based business with high-growth potential, RAMP wants to connect you to our regional resources.  

If you’ve taken steps to form your company and have two or more founders with a minimum viable product, you may want to consider applying to join a RAMP-in-Residence cohort.

Applications are open now through Aug. 14.

Accepted companies can expect to be engaged in the program two full days a week for the duration of a 12-week program.


Every member of a RAMP cohort has access to a program that includes:

  • 1:1 expert mentoring as well as access to content mentors covering the world of business knowledge
  • Free office space with hi-speed internet access
  • Access to angel and VC investors through Demo Day presentations
  • $20,000 in equity-free funding
  • Free membership in the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council for 2 years
  • Free membership to GAN for the lifetime of your company
  • Free membership to the Shenandoah Club for 3 years
  • Three additional years of ongoing support through Exit RAMP

Learn more about RAMP.

RAMP and RBTC are part of Verge, a collaborative strategic alliance established to grow the region’s innovation economy.

RBTC Year in Review: Technology News and Highlights

It’s hard to believe that 2022 is already coming to a close. Thank you for helping us grow the technology community this year and celebrate the great work that is coming out of the Roanoke and New River valleys.

This year, the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council expanded its team and service offerings to members and the greater tech community and hosted an amazing TechNite celebration, including inducting a new RBTC Hall of Famer.

Here’s a look back at some of the key highlights of 2022:

  • RBTC expands team with Taylor Spellman as associate director, and hires Katie Conner as technology talent strategist.
  • A new networking and event series, Beer & Biotech, launched in the spring. The ecosystem-building series brought together investors, physicians, academics, inventors, startups, and state and regional leaders who are influential in the biotechnology industry. It will continue in 2023.
  • RAMP brought on a new director, Lisa Garcia, and welcomed another cohort with five startups.
  • More than 400 people came together to celebrate TechNite in May, highlighting some of the great innovations happening in the region and welcoming Victor Iannello into the RBTC Hall of Fame.

There’s a lot more in store in 2023 as well from the Verge alliance. Verge is a strategic coalition of organizations that lead and drive public and private collaboration on innovative projects in the Roanoke-Blacksburg region of Virginia that expand to the state level and beyond. The Verge alliance, including the Regional Accelerator & Mentoring Program (RAMP) and Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council (RBTC), provides programming, coaching, talent attraction/development, and connectivity to elevate the greater technology and biotechnology sectors in Region 2.

Help Us Build a Regional Internship Ecosystem (Survey)

A solid academic foundation is crucial, but new grads become professional powerhouses as they do hands-on work.  Internships are often the first professional experiences workers have. These relationships are designed to be mutually beneficial: students gain real-world experience while companies fill important gaps and gain fresh perspectives. 

One of the challenges both students and businesses face is making the right connections. Students can find it hard to know exactly what opportunities are available, while businesses remain in the dark about the tremendous talent available to them.

At RBTC, we’re in the business of making connections. Matching regional companies with top-notch talent is one of our missions, and we’re rolling out an initiative that will do just that.

Building a Regional Internship Ecosystem

RBTC is taking the guesswork out of internships by surveying all intern programs within our membership. The data we collect will allow us to match talent more effectively with need. To build our opportunity map, we’ve created a short survey for companies to report their existing internship programs and get the word out about their available opportunities.

The initiative is spearheaded by RBTC Technology Talent Strategist, Katie Conner: “The survey will allow member companies to gain more visibility for their existing internship programs through strengthened awareness by the top talent coming out of our region’s post-secondary institutions.”

Creating Valuable Connections

The survey pulls triple-duty. First, it will help remove the advertising burden from companies by serving as a prime resource for talent acquisition. Second, students will benefit from having a comprehensive inventory of available opportunities. Lastly, the regional ecosystem will grow now and into the future as we nurture and retain new local talent.

“There are so many opportunities in the region, and they are growing by the day,” Conner said. “The data from this survey is going to strengthen our innovation ecosystem by giving us a robust sense of firsthand experiences that support professional and personal growth and will allow us to capitalize on and retain talent through enhanced strategies.” 

Take the Survey Today

Get the word out about opportunities at your company and connect with bright new talent. The survey is brief — it takes only about 3 minutes to complete. Your contribution is an important part of building valuable connections in the Roanoke-Blacksburg technology community.