Elevate Your Brand with RBTC in 2024

Are you ready to take your brand to new heights in 2024? The Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council is here to help you achieve just that! As a powerhouse dedicated to growing the tech-based economy in our region, RBTC is your partner in success, whether you’re a small tech startup or a major corporation. We’re on a mission to connect, grow, and lead through innovation, and we want you to be a part of it.

Here’s how RBTC can help you elevate your brand and seize incredible opportunities in 2024:

Elevate Your Brand

Are you looking to gain direct access to hundreds of innovators who are shaping the region’s tech community? RBTC membership offers you a platform to have your voice heard in various RBTC experiences and events. Plus, you can get noticed through event sponsorships, ensuring that your brand stands out in the tech ecosystem. Connect with us and elevate your brand’s visibility by checking out our partnership opportunities.

Engage Your Leaders

RBTC offers cutting-edge programming, social events, peer-to-peer forums, and technical panels designed to help your company culture thrive. Engage with industry leaders, share insights, and foster connections that will drive your business forward. Explore our upcoming events and be a part of the vibrant RBTC community.

Brag a Little!

TechNite, the region’s biggest night in tech, is your opportunity to shine. Showcase your company to a prestigious audience of 400+ influential innovators by becoming a sponsor or nominating the region’s best in 2024. It’s your time to brag about your accomplishments and get the recognition you deserve.

Shape the Future

RBTC is committed to supporting a collective effort to connect technology talent with regional companies. Whether you’re seeking top talent or looking for your next career move, our talent and jobs platform is here to help you shape the future of tech in our region.

RBTC’s New Membership Portal

We’ve taken a big step to enhance your RBTC experience with the launch of our new, user-friendly membership portal. This portal reimagines the user experience and boosts ecosystem connectivity through a member directory. Now, you can automate renewals and partnerships with just a click, 24/7. Explore the new portal and discover a more streamlined way to connect with RBTC.

2024 is your year to connect, grow, and lead with RBTC. Join us on this exciting journey, and together, we’ll ignite opportunities that will propel your business to new heights.

Incubator vs. Accelerator: What’s the Difference?

The innovation ecosystem is on fire in the Roanoke-Blacksburg region. With all the big ideas coming out of the area, it’s likely that you’ve heard the terms “incubator” and “accelerator” being thrown around in conversation. However, you may be wondering – what exactly is the difference between the two?

These types of programs do share similarities and both exist in the startup space. You’d be forgiven if you weren’t exactly sure what distinguishes one from the other. Luckily, their differences are pretty easy to spot, so let’s dive into what an incubator and an accelerator are and which might be right for you.

What is an Incubator?

All businesses start with an idea. The journey from idea to market is a long and complex one and founders can’t do it alone. Incubators are growth programs designed to support entrepreneurs in the very beginning stages of their journey—before they even have a product.

The main goal of an incubator is to turn a high-potential idea into an actual product or service. They help entrepreneurs flesh out a business plan, establish a network, and develop a minimally viable product (MVP). 

It’s rare for an incubator to invest capital funding at this stage, but they do provide other highly valuable resources to help a fledgling business get off the ground. Entrepreneurs in an incubator program will benefit from things like expert legal and business mentorship, access to co-working space to conduct business or research, a collaborative innovation community and opportunities to connect with future funders.  

Most companies spend at least a year participating in an incubator. If you’re an entrepreneur with a big idea, but still need help developing a business plan and product, then an incubator is the right choice for you. 

What is an Accelerator?

If an incubator is the first rung on the startup growth ladder, the accelerator is the next. Accelerators are growth programs designed for existing companies who have developed business models and a vetted MVP. Like incubators, accelerators also provide dedicated work facilities, legal services, and communities. Unlike incubators, accelerators come with investment funding. 

This funding, sometimes called seed funding or venture capital, supports an entrepreneur’s efforts to scale their business. Businesses receive funds in the form of grants or in exchange for a small percentage of equity in their business. 

Accelerators (as the name implies) typically have a shorter timeline than incubators and companies generally spend 3-6 months participating in the program. If your startup already has a solid business plan and product, but needs help scaling to the next level, then consider applying to an accelerator.

Regional Innovation Resources

How to Get Connected in the Regional Innovation Ecosystem

Incubators and accelerators are both powerful resources for turning big ideas into world-changing technology and products. At RBTC, we’re in the business of cultivating the region’s next generation innovation. 

We regularly host events that serve as a catalyst for innovation, inspiration, success, and leadership. Take RAMP’s Pitch & Polish events for example. Participants get valuable opportunities to pitch their business ideas to a team of regional mentors. The mentors then help them polish their presentation, provide feedback on their business model, and connect them with the resources they need to grow! 

Interested in growing your network and your next big idea? Check out our upcoming startup focused events and to get started. 

Advancing Oncology InnoVAtion QuickFire Challenge Open to Roanoke-Blacksburg Companies

The DC QuickFire Challenge previously helped The Tiny Cargo Company accelerate their business and connected them with national mentors and resources. Current challenge is open to oncology innovators and includes grant funding, a one-year VTCRC residency with a lab bench, and access to the global Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JLABS network. 

Do you have an idea that could transform patient outcomes in oncology? Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JLABS, in collaboration with Carilion Clinic Innovation, Verge Alliance (with support from City of Roanoke), and Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center recently launched the Advancing Oncology InnoVAtion QuickFire Challenge; applications are open now until August 11.

The innovator(s) with the best potential solution can receive grant funding from a total pool of $300,000, Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center 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).

This QuickFire Challenge hopes to build on the promise of previous challenge awardees who have also originated from the Roanoke region. In 2021, The Tiny Cargo Company was awarded the Washington, DC Health Innovation QuickFire Challenge, receiving grant funding and one year of residency at JLABS @ Washington, DC. Founded by Dr. Rob Gourdie and currently led by Dr. Spencer Marsh, The Tiny Cargo Company developed a novel drug delivery system based on non-immunogenic bovine milk-derived exosomes for protected oral or IV based delivery of potent therapeutics.

About Tiny Cargo: Tackling Acute Radiation Syndrome

The Tiny Cargo Company seeks to solve a dire and unmet need – a systemic treatment for exposure to high-dose ionizing radiation resulting in Acute Radiation Syndrome. There is currently no treatment for exposure to high doses (>6 Gy) of ionizing radiation that can occur as a result of radio-nuclear attack or accident. 

Tiny Cargo’s orally administered therapeutic, XoLacta, consists of milk exosomes loaded with a potent radioprotective peptide. Their technology makes oral administration possible as the exosomes Tiny Cargo has developed are capable of bypassing the gut-blood barrier in moments, and also of bypassing other critical barriers such as the blood-brain barrier. 

Their technology has achieved proof-of-concept for in vivo efficacy; they are continuing to validate the effectiveness of their therapy in ongoing studies. They’re currently developing large-scale production systems and methods for storage at ambient temperatures to increase the usability and availability of their groundbreaking XoLacta product. 

Perhaps most exciting, Tiny Cargo is seeking to adapt their exosomal technology to deliver therapies for a wide range of diseases including ischemic heart disease, gastrointestinal radiation disease, glioblastoma multiforme and neurological pathologies. 

From Local to National: Tiny Cargo’s Startup Journey

The Tiny Cargo Company began its startup journey in earnest in 2020, when Dr. Spencer Marsh (Chief Scientific Officer) joined the company and applied for incubation in RAMP. During this time, the company expanded operations to build out the business plan, marketing plan, corporate structure, and identify its optimal use case. The Tiny Cargo team was mentored by world-class experts in business development including Mike Abbott and Lisa Garcia, NSF ICORPS trained mentors. 

After graduating from RAMP, Tiny Cargo was selected as an awardee of the Washington, DC Health Innovation QuickFire Challenge, earning $50,000 in grant funding, one year of residency at JLABS @ Washington, DC, and expert mentorship. 

The team honed their investment pitches and identified appropriate experts to bring on board as consultants and advisors, had the opportunity to pitch to experts from the FDA and other government organizations, enabling advanced networking and outreach, and successfully received a National Science Foundation award.

“Without support from RAMP and incubation within JLABS, we assuredly would not have been successful in being awarded our first SBIR grant. Only one year later, we are now on pace to be awarded a $2M Phase II SBIR grant in the next 6 months; a true testament to the value of the local ecosystem,” Marsh said. 

Addressing Challenges: How RAMP and JLABS Impacted the Tiny Cargo Trajectory

As a scientist, the list of challenges in creating a startup can be long but with the right support, it’s not insurmountable. The research and technology are a critical first steps, but only one portion of creating a business.

“With no background in business development, market research, customer discovery, or even basic knowledge of how to build a business, we had a lot to learn- the only background we had was in developing and conducting world-class research,” Marsh said.  

With the support of the local RAMP incubator and subsequently the JLABS @ Washington, DC and BLUE KNIGHTÔprograms, Tiny Cargo was able to find its footing and establish itself as a major player on the international level. The team surrounded themselves with experts from the business world and found it invaluable to their growth. It facilitated their growth, helped mitigate challenges and allowed for quick solutions to major issues.  

“The support from other business leaders, RAMP mentors, and the JLABS team through the QuickFire Challenge has been a critical element of The Tiny Cargo Company’s growth. Their example shows that the Roanoke-Blacksburg region has the people and network to support biotech and tech startups, thanks to mentors who have been there,” said Verge President, Erin Burcham.

Joining the Innovation Ecosystem: How to Get Involved

“As I tell every entrepreneur in the region, the best thing you can possibly do for yourself as you’re starting out is to join RAMP. The RAMP program is the perfect resource for any biotechnology company. 

“From there, I would highly recommend joining the Johnson & Johnson Innovation  JLABS  program; Sally Allain, Head of JLABS @ Washington, DC is an invaluable resource, along with the expert mentors provided through Johnson & Johnson,” Marsh said.

The QuickFire Challenge is open to innovators from around the globe aiming to transform patient outcomes in oncology in adult populations with potential applications in pediatric oncology. 

“Roanoke is fast becoming a hub for biotechnology and life sciences,” said Marc Nelson, Director of Economic Development for the City of Roanoke. “The strong partnerships we’ve fostered globally will present invaluable opportunities to businesses from across a range of sectors for years to come. The City of Roanoke is proud of our investment in such an innovative and exciting partnership.”

“These types of efforts are exciting opportunities for our clinician scientists at Carilion. Collaborations with strong local partners and notable international ones will support the growth of the biotechnology sector in Roanoke and Blacksburg, ultimately improving access to high-quality care in our region,” said Don Halliwill, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for Carilion. “In the near future, Carilion will expand oncology care through a new, world-class Cancer Center, and this challenge serves to improve both the physical health and the economic health of our community.” 

The deadline to apply for the Advancing Oncology InnoVAtion QuickFire Challenge is August 11, 2023. Find more information about the program along and apply online on the Johnson & Johnson website

Jason Clayton Joins RBTC as Technology Talent Strategist

Jason Clayton recently joined the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council as Technology Talent Strategist. 

Jason brings over 20 years of experience in talent and leadership development expertise to the Roanoke-Blacksburg innovation ecosystem. 

“We couldn’t be more excited to bring Jason on board,” said RBTC Executive Director Erin Burcham. “He’s a dynamic team member who is eager to collaborate and support our members with identifying and attracting top-notch talent.”

“I’m inspired by RBTC’s work and the innovation that’s coming out of this region. Some of my most fulfilling efforts have been collaborating with others on various GO Virginia projects related to talent, so I can’t wait to contribute to nurturing growth in the region through these and a myriad of other collaborative efforts,” Jason said.

Jason plans to use his higher education experience in career and talent development to work with various collaborative partners. His goals include attracting and retaining tech and biotech talent for the region to bolster the impressive innovation happening here. 

Prior to joining RBTC, Jason helped develop internship and work-based learning initiatives at multiple universities throughout the Southeast and upper Midwest, spanning both private and public institutions. A first-generation college graduate, Jason holds degrees from Eastern Michigan University and Clemson University. 

When not leveraging his skills on behalf of his passion to help people flourish and achieve their goals, Jason enjoys spending time with his family and exploring the outdoors and the arts scene in the New River Valley.

Burcham Named to List of Top 37 ‘Wonder Women’ by Virginia Business

Verge President, Erin Burcham, was recently named one of Virginia Business’s top 37 “Wonder Women” of 2023. According to Virginia Business, the “third annual cohort of awardees was chosen by our editors from a competitive field, with more than 320 nominations submitted this year. To qualify, nominees must be based in Virginia and hold C-suite or equivalent positions at their organizations. Deciding this year’s list, Virginia Business’ editorial staff considered factors such as overall professional accomplishments, civic engagement, mentoring and breaking glass ceilings.”

Check out why Virginia Business chose Burcham as a 2023 Wonder Woman here, or read the full article to see the list of all 37 Wonder Women of 2023.

Member Spotlight: DISH Network

The RBTC Membership ranges from solo tech entrepreneurs to the region’s largest companies. Our members are constantly inspiring us with their drive and creativity. We love it when we get to sit down with them to hear about their forward-thinking cultures and projects. 

We recently touched base with employees at RBTC member DISH in Christiansburg, VA to talk about what it’s like to work for a national company with a large local presence. DISH began as a communications technology startup in the 1980s and expanded to a household name. It pioneers not only the flagship DISH brand, but also serves at the parent company for well-known brands like Sling and Boost Mobile. 

Empowering Employees 

DISH firmly believes that their greatest asset is their people, which is why they pour energy and resources into cultivating an inclusive environment and fostering the development and promotion of all. DISH has long had a reputation for having a supportive, inclusive culture and being a great place to work. The Christiansburg location is no exception!

Anna Dantzler

Anna Dantzler, Data Analyst, has been with DISH Christiansburg for 19 years. She started as a customer service representative before moving through the ranks to her current position. 

“What has really stood out to me has been how DISH invests in its people,” she says. With the help of DISH’s tuition reimbursement program, she’s earned an associate degree and is on track to finish a bachelor’s of business administration management this spring. As part of her degree, she recently took a class on the best practices for training and development. 

 “I could clearly remember DISH demonstrating each best practice,” she said. “Currently, I’m taking an internal leadership class DISH offers salaried employees to help prepare me for future roles because my management recognizes my potential for growth.” 

Culture of Collaboration

DISH places a strong emphasis on cooperation, teamwork, and the ability to see eye-to-eye. It’s clear that the culture of collaboration is strong at DISH. They believe that some of the best ideas come from hallway conversations, happy hours, and celebrations, so they go out of their way to host events that bring teams together. 

Mary Duncan

Data Analyst Mary Duncan started with DISH Christiansburg just under a year ago. She was brought on board to curate and analyze data using SQL and Tableau. Her favorite thing about working for DISH is, “100% the people. We have a ton of knowledge on our team both in skill sets and company operations. Teammates are always enthusiastic to share information and teach. The leadership team is encouraging and supportive. Everyone on the team wants their coworkers to succeed and they’re always willing to provide tools to help me get where I need to go. The experience has been wonderful and I’m grateful to be a part of this organization!

Leaders in Innovation

DISH sets itself apart by prioritizing innovation. For 40 years, they’ve been guided by character-driven, user-focused principles that keep them nimble and on the leading edge of developing technologies. 

Todd Jackson

Longtime employee Todd Jackson has spent 22 years at the Christiansburg DISH location and currently serves in business operations and data analytics. He loves the opportunities to challenge himself and learn new things. “Now that DISH has entered into the Wireless industry, there is tons of data to explore and NEW questions to answer.” He’s proud to work at DISH because they’ve “always been innovative and disruptive in the industry. We’re taking on a new challenge by entering wireless and I’m excited to see us excel once again in a new industry.”

Business Operations Manager Bryan Newton cites his coworkers and technology as his favorite aspects of the job. In his 21 years with the company he has, “been lucky enough to work with a great group of people. The technology is also great. DISH had one of the first DVR’s available for Pay TV and is now in the middle of building the country’s first greenfield 5G network. It’s exciting to be part of it!” 

Access to Opportunity

Whether they’ve been there ten months or two decades, one thing all the employees agree on is that DISH Christiansburg is an amazing place to work. “There are TONS of opportunities at DISH and our Christiansburg location,” Todd Jackson said. “It’s thought of as a call center but that’s not the case. Christiansburg is a corporate office that has opportunities including (but not limited to!) data analytics, software engineering, IT, program managers, customer journey analysts, product owners, and product stability.”  

“Absolutely apply [to work here]!,” Mary Duncan said. “I really can’t speak highly enough about the culture.” 

The corporate offices at DISH Christiansburg offer a fantastic culture of collaboration and opportunities to work on the cutting edge of communication technology. If you’re looking to break into the Roanoke-Blacksburg innovation ecosystem, DISH Christiansburg is a great place to consider. Visit their website for information about DISH and their available opportunities at their corporate offices in Christiansburg.

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 http://jji.jnj/VA 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 rbtc.tech. 

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

RBTC’s First Annual Women’s Leadership Retreat, “Boxlore,” Empowers and Energizes

Over the weekend, the RBTC hosted their first ever overnight leadership retreat, “Boxlore,” for women in technology. To say it was a major success is an understatement! Over 60 women attended the leadership training retreat to participate in an invigorating mix of professional, personal, and team development at the beautiful Preserve at Crooked Run. Together, women learned to dismantle beliefs that limit true potential and gathered major takeaways on how to become “unboxed” in personal and professional life. 

“This inaugural event for the RBTC’s WoTech group was an incredible experience,” said RBTC Associate Director, Taylor Spellman. “Without the support of our member companies Bank of BotetourtBotetourt CountyLumos, and event partner Innovate Lynchburg this experience would not have been possible.”

The BoxLore program featured storytellers and keynote speakers including WoTech leader Wendi Pannell of Pannell Consulting and Cathie Brown of Innovate Lynchburg

Workshops were facilitated by KickStart Specialists a leadership development and coaching firm owned by Kate Foster and Bob Riley. Kate also served as the event’s keynote speaker. After spending over 20 years advancing through the ranks in corporate America, Kate left her successful career to follow her passion and open a business with the objective of helping people along their path. Her inspiring keynote address explored her belief that life limitations are mostly in our head and if we can change our thinking, we truly can change our world.

“Attending BoxLore was a good opportunity to spend time with other women in business and technology, and to get to know my own colleagues on a more personal level,” said Amy Bayse NorthWinds Technology’s Vice President of Sales and Professional Services.

Hazel Gaines, Project Manager, Security & Risk at NorthWinds Technologies added, “Attending BoxLore was phenomenal! Learning, growing, and relaxing together in an amazing environment was so refreshing. I hope to return again and again.” 

RBTC plans to continue empowering women in tech through their ongoing series WoTech and future leadership events. RBTC Executive Director Erin Burcham commented, “WoTech looks forward to working with partners in the Roanoke and New River Valleys to continue hosting an annual professional retreat each year to further connect the region’s leaders to programming, mentoring and leadership opportunities.”

WoTech includes monthly and quarterly events such as Morning Jolt, Lunch and Learn, and Power Hour.