Radford hosts Higher-Ed Entrepreneur Forum


Jonathan Whitt, Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council, talks with particpants at the start of the  Higher-Ed Entrepreneur Forum Roanoke-Blacksburg Innovation Network in Heth Hall.

Representatives from the region's local universities, community colleges and businesses gathered on the Radford University campus for the first Higher-Ed Entrepreneur Forum on Oct. 30.

The forum, organized by the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council (RBTC), was an opportunity for the academic and business worlds to discover how each could better serve students and the region.

"Entrepreneurship is one of the most important ways to grow the economy," said Jonathan Whitt, president and CEO of RBTC. "In this region, the local colleges and universities are integral to the development of young entrepreneurs."

The forum took the form of a roundtable discussion where attendees discussed issues such as the importance of entrepreneurship, the difference between entrepreneurs and startups, how to engage college students and how to connect their businesses with others outside of their campus.

"We've gathered here together to find out what local schools and businesses are doing with student entrepreneurs," Whitt said. "This is the first meeting, but we hope for teamwork and collaboration into the future."

Joining Whitt at the forum, held in Heth Hall, were members of the RU community, including Vice President for Information Technology Danny Kemp and Vice President of Academic Affairs Sam Minner.

Kemp welcomed his RU colleagues and those joining the forum from schools, such as Virginia Tech, Hollins University, Liberty University, Roanoke College, New River Valley Community College and Virginia Western Community College.

RU was proud to host the first forum and to work with neighbor institutions on behalf of student entrepreneurs, Kemp said.

College of Business and Economics Dean George Low and College of Science and Technology Dean Orion Rogers also attended the event, hoping to gain insight on how they can serve their enterprising students.

"Sometimes we can do things together that would be more effective than doing on our own," Low said.

"Partnerships and synergies in our programs will help us consider which innovations we can and should use," Rogers said, in agreement with his fellow dean.

Nov 4, 2014