So Many Reasons to Get Excited About Tech in 2022 (And a Look Back at RBTC in 2021)

Erin Burcham

We live in a world where almost everything is touched by technology.

Now more than ever, the Roanoke – Blacksburg Technology Council is here to help you, your company, and your teams navigate this constantly evolving landscape. We’ve got a lot in store for you this year and invite you to join the community of innovative entrepreneurs, experienced business leaders, and robust young professionals forging ahead in this space.

Whether you are new to RBTC, or have been around for a while, I would like to recap 2021 and share notes on where we are going in 2022. 

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 part of Verge, a collaborative alliance of technology organizations designed to grow our region’s innovation economy. Valleys Innovation Council (VIC) and Regional Accelerator and Mentoring Program (RAMP) are also part of the alliance.

Collectively, these organizations work with partners across the region to help strengthen our technology and innovation sectors, develop a talent pipeline for businesses, support entrepreneurial development, and market this region as a prime location for technology and innovation.

Members are at the core of this foundation, as the catalysts for supporting events and programming to serving as mentors to emerging leaders. RBTC is where our community comes together to share ideas, promote innovation, and spread the message of our region beyond its geographical constraints.

New Year, New Goals and Initiatives

This region is uniquely positioned to be at the center of biotechnology in the months, years, and decades ahead.

Emerging partnerships, such as the one announced last month to build wet and dry lab spaces at the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center extend beyond the VTCRC campus and include partners such as the City of Roanoke, Carilion Clinic, and the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC. This announcement is just a taste of what our region is destined for.

RBTC is working with that coalition to help create affordable infrastructure to support startups and innovation companies at every level. RBTC members have the opportunity to collaboratively support technology and innovation startups born through these projects to elevate our ecosystem.

That’s the big picture moving forward. It’s a lofty goal, but we already have the foundation in place to get us there.

We are also planning some amazing programming this year for people in every aspect of technology. Here’s a preview:

  • TechNite, a celebration of everything tech, will highlight the changemakers in our industry.
  • WoTech, which supports and connects women working in technology, hosts a monthly coffee chat, quarterly socials, and quarterly lunch and learns.
  • Programs and events that have been more limited due to COVID will be back as well, with Tech and Toast, Tech on Tap, and the popular Biz Dev, Agile, and Cyber Security meetups will get back on a regular schedule.
  • We’re planning to launch a new website to make it easier for you to connect with RBTC and other members.
  • We’re expanding our team and plan to add an associate director this year.
Looking Back at 2021

We couldn’t do all of these things, and start making plans for the future, without the support of every RBTC member. Thank you for making me feel welcome as the new RBTC Executive Director in 2021.

Our successes included bringing back TechNite after a COVID hiatus. It was a celebration of resiliency and accomplishments in innovation throughout our vibrant tech community and an honor to host Michael Rihani, a former TechNite Entrepreneur of the Year winner, to share his passions and accomplishments with our community.

Game Changer Week was another big win for the technology community. The weeklong event at the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center was packed with members sharing their experiences as well as learning from other industry leaders.

We launched the ELITE grant program, Virginia’s first work-based learning grant for mentored software developers. The Experiential Learning In Tech Employment (ELITE) grant connects top student engineers with local technology employers. The ELITE Grant is a two-year program funded by GO Virginia and facilitated by the RBTC; it will equip the region’s businesses with the funding and tech talent to complete mission-critical tech projects.  

RBTC, VIC, and RAMP formalized and celebrated a strategic alliance – revealing the Verge brand identity, website, and a shared vision for regional advancement.

The RBTC is building a community that is a catalyst for innovation, inspiration, success, and leadership within the Roanoke-Blacksburg region. This is just the beginning. Join us.

Erin BurchamPresident of Verge and Executive Director of Roanoke – Blacksburg Technology Council

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