An Update on the brand new Virginia Innovation Partnership Authority

A little over a year ago, a process began in Virginia to imagine how to best support innovation, research, and entrepreneurship. Over the summer of 2019, the Governor and the Secretary of Commerce & Trade engaged with stakeholders across Virginia from a wide variety of perspectives to create a comprehensive report. The report laid out the need to consolidate, restructure, and transition current programs and articulates legislative recommendations related to commercialization and venture-backed, research-driven entrepreneurship. This report served as the basis for HB 1017 and SB 576 which ultimately passed both chambers nearly unanimous on the last day of the regular session.

We spoke with RVA’s own Bob Stolle about the transition, which he has helped lead. “We are genuinely excited about the future for innovation and entrepreneurship in Virginia,” said Stolle. “The VIPA is an opportunity to take a fresh look at this critical sector of our economy and to refine existing programs and design new programs that ensure Virginia maintains a leadership role in the key technology sectors that will define the future of our nation.”

On July 1, 2020 the Virginia Innovation Partnership Authority (VIPA) officially launched. There is built-in overlap with the existing organizations (primarily with the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Investment Authority and Virginia Research Investment Committee) to ensure a seamless transition for programs and resources to Virginia's entrepreneurial community. The Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) began transition planning last fall and established a physical CIT presence in Richmond at Gather's Arts District facility. This space also serves as the temporary Richmond headquarters for VIPA.

The VIPA includes a consolidation of the IEIA and VRIC, and we hope to see appointments to the new board sometime in July. The new Authority includes four divisions; Investment, Commercialization, Entrepreneurial Ecosystems, and Strategic Initiatives - with CIT as the managing non-profit. The Investment Division is built on the CIT GAP funds and covers both direct and indirect investment. The Commercialization Division has both the CRCF and the VRIF as it's foundation for grant funding of private sector and university-based commercialization and proof of concept funding. VIPA's Strategic Initiatives Division includes several centers of excellence including CIT's Unmanned System Center, Smart Communities and others.

The Entrepreneurial Ecosystems Division at VIPA is brand new, and is designed to support regionally-based ecosystems and initiatives including accelerators, funds, lean startup training, information platforms, and other infrastructure programs designed to grow innovation and startups in every region of the Commonwealth. The Division will work very closely with GO-Virginia and other state and federal programs to assist regional ecosystems, and is already working on a grant to EDA that would provide financial support to regional ecosystems.

RVATech was proud to play a role in the development of both the initial study report and in advocating for the legislation, and we look forward to seeing this new authority support our innovation ecosystem in the Commonwealth.