Innovation & Technology

Technology and research enable innovation and are used within every industry to grow profits and remain competitive. Technology and research also allow for the creation of new businesses that can generate wealth and contribute to Virginia’s economic performance. Virginia is well-positioned to advance innovation, technology, and entrepreneurship to support economic growth and job creation. 

The Commonwealth is a global technology center with a strong and diverse technology industry and is home to one of the most robust and well-educated supply of technology workers in the nation. To enable innovation, Virginia possesses unique assets such as an impressive distribution of federal laboratories and targeted research and development capabilities at its higher education institutions. Virginia can leverage and enhance its value proposition for innovation, technology, and entrepreneurship with a strategy that encourages business investment through location and expansion decisions, and new high-growth company formation. 

The recommendations here focus on making Virginia a global leader in research, technology, and innovation throughout the Commonwealth.

  • Build on the Commonwealth’s strength in the high-growth, technology sector through a dual- focus on attracting technology-based economic development and growing the technology industry organically through nurturing start-ups, entrepreneurs, and commercialization efforts
  • Increase federally and privately funded research at Virginia’s higher education institutions and expand the activities of research universities as hubs for entrepreneurship and new business startups  
  • Leverage the power of state collaboration, consistency, and coordination through the Virginia Innovation Partnership Authority (VIPA) and the Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation (VIPC)
  • Promote technology-based economic development by building, attracting, and retaining innovation and high-technology jobs and businesses in Virginia
  • Ensure promotion and marketing of Virginia’s statewide innovation economy and support and coordinate regional marketing efforts to align local and statewide objectives
  • Expand targeted incentives and tax policies that drive research, innovation, and new company formation, and ensure the statewide technology ecosystem is promoted and well resourced
  • Close the support gap and improve access to capital through pre-seed and seed-stage investments, coordination of private investor networks, and enhanced deal syndication
  • Promote culture of entrepreneurship through education, public policies, and a robust network of support
  • Encourage programs that provide business counseling and entrepreneurial training to the minority community such as recent efforts at Virginia State University through GO Virginia funding and Hampton University’s Business Incubator utilizing a US Department of Education grant

  • Increase industry competitiveness by supporting the application of technology to improve productivity and efficiency
  • Attract and provide additional private and public funding to enhance and expand the scientific and technological research and commercialization at federal research institutions and facilities, as well as the Commonwealth’s higher education institutions
    • Maintain cybersecurity, data analytics, unmanned systems, biotechnology, and life sciences as key areas of focus
    • Coordinate higher education, workforce development, quality of life and place, and attraction investments like Virginia Tech’s Innovation Campus in National Landing
    • Target opportunities in rural areas and small metros to help build business centers of excellence for technology and innovation clusters
  • Ensure Virginia’s business and legal climate allow for innovation
    • Advance “regulatory sandbox” approaches that allow for emerging technologies and concepts to be tested and piloted, such as the moratorium on local regulation for unmanned aerial systems and autonomous vehicles
    • Boost competitiveness in advanced manufacturing, robotics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence
    • Remove barriers to entry for the adoption of “gig economy” business models
    • Improve access to capital for early-stage technology companies, especially minority-owned businesses that have historically had more difficulty in securing funding

  • Build the Commonwealth’s capability to find and grow ideas for commercialization
  • Attract and provide additional private and public funding to support and enhance innovation-led entrepreneurship ecosystems and coordination of existing activities and programs
  • Encourage the Commonwealth to continue to measure and incentivize the commercialization of intellectual property from higher education institutions and support federal facilities’ IP transfer initiatives
  • Support applied research initiatives that target agriculture and forestry in our land grant universities and support the Virginia Cooperative Extension system as a means to help disseminate information
  • Utilize models such as the ones developed by the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CCAM) and the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Logistics Systems that foster industry-driven and higher education institution-supported research in key industry sectors

  • Collaborate with Virginia’s leading businesses and educators to develop a best-in-class model that streamlines entry into the technology workforce 
    • Provide additional support in workforce training to small-to-medium size companies by facilitating connections with Virginia’s educational institutions
  • Identify and develop skills that are critical to the high demand technology sectors and support strategic outreach initiatives
  • Focus on increasing access to technology sector careers for all Virginians through improved work-based learning opportunities
  • Develop technology and innovation career pathways that increase awareness of STEM and other in-demand technology-related careers in K-12 schools and post-secondary education and workforce development programs
  • Promote the scaling of models like CodeVA to engage K-12 students in technology skill building and technology-based careers and apprenticeship programs like MAXX Potential to facilitate technology upskilling and transitions into the workforce for individuals from all backgrounds
  • Provide leadership on the design and implementation of the USDOL H-1B One Workforce Grant Program to strengthen assistance for up-skilling and training Virginia’s workforce for critical jobs in technology (LEAD4IT) 
    • Virginia is piloting the LEAD4IT program, a national initiative to expand apprenticeships, internships, and on the job training opportunities in cyber and technology career fields
  • Streamline and improve the federal security clearance process to improve employers’ access to qualified and cleared employees for government contracts
  • Address barriers to entry that delay individuals from starting work in technology-based in-demand careers through strategies that target increased equality of opportunity and diversity in the technology sector