Virginia’s Regional Energy Innovation Centers Initiative: Lessons Learned from Innovation Centers Across the U.S.
Brown, A. S., & Winfield, D. L. (2009, June). Virginia's Regional Energy Innovation Centers Initiative: Lessons Learned from Innovation Centers Across the U.S.. Presented at IASP World Conference on Science and Technology Parks (2009), RTP, NC.
Expectations are high for regions to increase innovation capacity and strengthen research and development to compete in a global economy. The “new economy” favors locations with abundant knowledge resources rather than the industrial resources of old. Driving innovation-led economic expansion has been investment in knowledge resources, particularly R&D.
In 2008, Virginia sought to address the economic distress in southern/southwest Virginia by creating Regional Energy Innovation Centers. The largely rural region had seen a decline in the economic impact of tobacco production and significant employment losses from the decline and off-shoring of manufacturing jobs—in textiles and manufactured wood products.
We benchmarked the significant investments other states have made in signature research centers and centers of excellence to stimulate innovation-led economic development. Typically, these centers are seeded through state funding and based on a public-private partnership. This paper summarizes key attributes of successful innovation centers and discusses recommendations developed for Virginia.