School:Virginia Tech

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About Virginia Tech

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, commonly known as Virginia Tech, was established in 1872 in Blacksburg, VA. Virginia Tech is a public, land-grant university built around the campus motto, Ut Prosim, "That I May Serve." The campus mascot is the HokieBird who easily blends into the sea of maroon and orange provided by 33,000 Hokies, in 250 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.  The university fulfills its land-grant mission of learning, discovery, and engagement, transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia. VT is ranked 44th in university research in the United States. As of September, 2020 it has been recognized as the 13th best Engineering school in the United States.

Promoting student innovation and entrepreneurship

Virginia Tech’s growing innovation ecosystem includes some instances of collaboration between institutes and departments at the university to promote innovation and forward-thinking collaboration among students. One example is the partnership between the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology and the Pamplin College of BusinessThis partnership seeks to leverage the resources ICAT is awarded as one of the research institutes at Virginia Tech (most specifically grants and well-outfitted workspaces), and pair them with undergraduate students (often coming out of the college of business, though ICAT is explicitly an interdisciplinary body) who are motivated to pursue research. In our work on the landscape canvas, we also discovered many instances of the practice and promotion of innovative thought processes in the classroom. Specifically, classes such as Leadership for Managers and Entrepreneurs and the Creative Technologies major have their students engage in excellent experiential learning experiences. However, we would say that these courses are not functioning inside of a larger initiative to teach innovation at tech, rather existing as siloed experiences at the moment. One truly holistic initiative by the university was announced in 2016 In 2016, the university laid out plans for the formation of a Creativity and Innovation District. This will guide future thinking at the administrative level, repurpose assets, and create physical spaces to leverage creative and entrepreneurial activities and spark interdisciplinary innovation.

Here at Virginia Tech, the practice and promotion of entrepreneurship is on the rise. In parts of the university, such as the College of Business and specifically the recently founded APEX center for Entrepreneurship, there is strong evidence for this. APEX hosts many events and workshops, such as the New Venture Builder workshops, which seek to connect students across disciplines to work on startups and ideas. For the 2019-2020 fiscal year, Apex has identified that there were more than 90 active startup companies founded by VirginiaTech students. However, on the other side of the spectrum, there are departments at the university that have not integrated a positive I&E culture. Classes that teach entrepreneurship are typically exclusive to business majors unless professor permission is given. Clubs such as the Entrepreneurship Club and the Innovate Living Learning community are open to anyone and everyone, but the majority of advertising and promotion for the clubs are done to business students.

In summary, there are plenty of opportunities for I&E at Virginia Tech, but not many Virginia Tech students are aware of them. There is no unified ideology that I&E is beneficial to all fields. Some departments agree, and some disagree. Part of our goal is to unify the faculty and students under the idea that multidisciplinary I&E is beneficial to the growth of the school.

Encouraging faculty innovation and entrepreneurship

Virginia Tech encourages innovation and entrepreneurship for faculty members in several ways. The Apex Systems Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship works closely with the Virginia Tech faculty to help encourage entrepreneurship and innovation campus wide.  The Catalyst Program helps faculty members (as well as also students and  alumni) to launch new startups or accelerate existing ventures. Virginia Tech also established a technology commercialization training program for faculty members and hosts a special outreach program, including attendance at industry market conferences, in areas ripe for increasing Virginia Tech inventions, through the Virginia Tech Intellectual Properties, Inc. (VTIP).  Regarding funding opportunities, the Office of Sponsored Programs provides a comprehensive array of support services for faculty as they pursue and manage external funding projects in innovation and entrepreneurship. Aiming to enable faculty members to respond quickly to market needs requiring technical expertise, Virginia Tech developed the Technical Assistance Program (TAP), a consulting activity intended to strengthen university and faculty relationships with external organizations.

Actively supporting the university technology transfer function

The Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center advances the technology transfer mission through a program called VT KnowledgeWorks that helps create companies based on VT-developed technology licensed by Virginia Tech Intellectual Properties, Inc. (VTIP). This institution is in charge of commercialize VT Inventions, including technology evaluation, protection, licensing and monitor licensees for success. The tech transfer process at VIIP includes identifying new technologies, protecting technologies through patents and copyrights, forming development and commercialization strategies (such as marketing and licensing to existing private sector companies or creating new start-up companies based on the technology). VT KnowledgeWorks provides business formation and growth support services, engaging an extensive network of consultants, mentors, early-stage investors, and professional service providers to help emerging and expanding enterprises maximize opportunities and minimize risks.

Facilitating University-Industry Collaboration

Virginia Tech’s efforts to solve society’s problems, improve quality of life, and keep the United States globally competitive require the speedy transfer of ideas from the laboratory to the marketplace (VT Research and Innovation). Working with business and industry is an essential characteristic of the Virginia Tech culture, and it is in the DNA of the university’s students and its 2,500 teaching and research faculty members, many of whom work to patent discoveries, start companies, and provide practical knowledge to the world.

Blacksburg is home to the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center (CRC), home to nearly 200 research, technology, and support companies employing over 3,000 employees. The CRC works closely with the university to advance the research, educational, and technology transfer missions of Virginia Tech. The CRC facilitates relationships between companies and the university to advance research. The CRC also connects companies with faculty and student projects to be conducted at the research park. They also facilitate a number of programs (intellectual property support, physical research space, research-related employment for students, faculty, and surrounding area, supports Strategic Services and university outreach initiatives) as an intermediary between the university and the surrounding community.

Virginia Tech also maintains a presence in Northern Virginia and participates in numerous collaborations between the university and all levels (organizational, local, state, and federal) of government. This 2020 Virginia Tech opened Innovation Campus, located in the Alexandria portion of National Landing near Potomac Yard, about two miles from Amazon's new location in Arlington. One program is the DC I-Corps, sponsored by the National Science Foundation. The program is a partnership between the University of Maryland, George Washington University, Johns Hopkins University, and Virginia Tech. DC I-Corps connects technology entrepreneurs with participants, and helps participants build business models for their technology innovations in a collaborative environment with successful entrepreneurs as the instructors.

The Apex Systems Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is a partnership between the university’s Pamplin College of Business and Apex Systems. Apex Systems is an IT staffing and services company founded by four Virginia Tech alumni who have committed $5 million to advancing student entrepreneurial empowerment. The CIE includes a wide variety of activities to involve all students, regardless of major program. These include Entrepreneur Club, the Innovate Living Learning Community, and many funding sources for students to engage in innovation & entrepreneurship.

Engaging with regional and local development efforts

At Virginia Tech, community engagement is crucial to us. We have an Office of Economic Development that focuses on just that. We partner with business and communities with on-campus and local resources. One of the main studies that has garnered much interest was studying and analyzing the impact of the prominent Virginia Tech football team plays on the local economy. Our university football team helps provide 300 local jobs and $69 million to the community. Our school is passionate about efforts to improve the area we live in and are striving to discover more ways to do so.

Related Links

Virginia Tech Student Priorities

Supporting Experiential Learning at Virginia Tech:

Fall 2022 Candidates 

Cameron Savage

Lane Robertson

Shiva Ghasemi

Fall 2020 Candidates 

Pierina Galvez

Sai Gurrapu

Grace Hutchinson

Blake Warner

Fall 2019 Candidates 

Alisha Bajaj

Will Makowski

Isabela Nunez Nova

Michael Rauco

Fall 2018

Connor Mulligan

Shafe Ahmed

TJ Cosby

Sydney Miller

Fall 2017

Jarrodd Davis

Danielle Jeffers

Najla Mouchrek

Sunny Murthy

(Source: several VT websites)