Virginia Governor Commends Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Created by UVA’s I.Lab

By Dave Hendrick

The continued growth of the Virginia economy depends in part on the state’s ability to foster an environment in which entrepreneurs can launch new businesses and grow, Governor Terry McAuliffe told a cross-section of the venture community on 15 October.

According to McAuliffe, continued uncertainty around once reliable sources of jobs and income sources like defense means a new generation of businesses will need to step in to fill an expected void.

Speaking at a “TechTober” roundtable discussion held at the i.Lab, which is operated by the University of Virginia Darden School of Business Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, McAuliffe said he came to solicit advice as to how Virginia could “take it to the next level” and become the “most competitive state in America.”

With a group composed of local entrepreneurs, state officials and leaders from across UVA, the governor heard many suggestions for encouraging such growth regionally and statewide, with participants encouraging the development of larger “anchor” businesses to solidify an entrepreneurial ecosystem, the need for an ombudsman to help business owners wade through a thicket of business regulations and the development of the sort of cultural amenities that attract would-be entrepreneurs.

Sean Carr, executive director of the Batten Institute, noted the potential benefits of greater collaboration among the disparate incubator spaces and entrepreneurial resources in the state, suggesting some sort of “Commonwealth innovation network” could help lift all boats.

Darden is a natural spot to tout the importance of entrepreneurship, as the school views the development of entrepreneurial, global and responsible leaders as its core mission, and is widely credited with offering one of the world’s best entrepreneurship programs among graduate business schools.

Launched by the Batten Institute in 2010, the i.Lab was designed as a dedicated collaborative space for entrepreneurship and venture creation at UVA.

The i.Lab’s offerings include business coaching courses and startup space for students, faculty and the community.

McAuliffe, for his part, has spoken often about his own entrepreneurial background, and has made supporting entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial environments a priority of his administration.

The governor has also made a tradition of declaring October to be “Techtober” as a statewide celebration of Virginia’s high-tech sector.

W.L. Lyons Brown III (MBA ’87), whose name adorns the i.Lab, touted the effects of the incubator space, describing the collaborative spirit that quickly took hold once students, faculty and community members were brought into a space dedicated toward entrepreneurial ventures.

“The magic almost happens on its own once there’s a place and a catalyst and dynamic for thinking about it,” Brown said.

About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business delivers the world’s best business education experience to prepare entrepreneurial, global and responsible leaders through its MBA, Ph.D., MSBA and Executive Education programs. Darden’s top-ranked faculty is renowned for teaching excellence and advances practical business knowledge through research. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.


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Darden School of Business
University of Virginia