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RAMP welcomes new administrative coordinator 1024 702 RAMP - Regional Accelerator

RAMP welcomes new administrative coordinator

To enhance support and programming for Southwest Virginia’s technology and biotech entrepreneurs, RAMP is pleased to welcome Jessica Dunn as our new administrative coordinator.

A native of Roanoke, Dunn earned a media studies degree from Radford University in 2008, and since 2015 worked as assistant property manager for Coordinated Services Management, Inc., which manages more than 20 senior living communities.

“We needed to bolster our staff to better serve our region’s burgeoning technology sector,” said RAMP director Lisa Garcia. “Jessica’s administrative talents and organizational expertise will allow us to provide even more services and programs to technology startups.”

Formed in 2016 by a partnership between Roanoke City, Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council and Virginia Western Community College, RAMP coordinated one cohort per year from 2017 to 2020 that offered an intensive 12-week program for tech companies poised to accelerate. In 2020, the alliance received a $982,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to expand to two cohorts per year.

RAMP, or the Regional Accelerator and Mentoring Program, recently closed applications to its Fall 2022 Cohort and will announce by the end of August the companies that have been accepted. To date, RAMP has accelerated 35 companies that collectively employ more than 600 people and sell products and services to all 50 U.S. states and internationally. 

In addition to its cohorts, RAMP also hosts a monthly Pitch & Polish that allows entrepreneurs the opportunity to pitch business or fundraising plans in an informal setting to a team of expert mentors who provide immediate feedback. RAMP also provides up to three years of additional support for cohort alumni.

RAMP is an affiliate of Verge, a collaborative strategic alliance that includes the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council established to grow the region’s innovation economy.

Meet RAMP director Lisa Garcia – Fall Cohort Applications now open 900 507 RAMP - Regional Accelerator

Meet RAMP director Lisa Garcia – Fall Cohort Applications now open

Meet RAMP’s new director — and Verge VP of Entrepreneurial Development — Lisa Garcia as she invites aspiring technology and biotech entrepreneurs to apply to our Fall Cohort.

Verge Welcomes New Vice President of Entrepreneurial Development and Director of RAMP 1024 791 RAMP - Regional Accelerator

Verge Welcomes New Vice President of Entrepreneurial Development and Director of RAMP

Verge, the parent organization of RAMP and RBTC, is thrilled to announce the hiring of a new Vice President of Entrepreneurial Development and Director of RAMP.

Lisa Garcia is expanding her role with RAMP, beginning July 1, bringing a wealth of educational and entrepreneurial knowledge to the Regional Accelerator and Mentoring Program. She’s a familiar face to the organization, which just celebrated its fifth anniversary in the region.

“She knows what it takes to help companies begin to commercialize technology and propel their ideas forward,” said Erin Burcham, President of Verge and Executive Director of the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council. “We can’t wait to see what the next phase of RAMP looks like with Lisa leading the charge.”

RAMP is a 12-week regional business accelerator for STEM startups located in Roanoke, VA.  A non-profit, RAMP’s mission is to propel high-potential startups in the Roanoke-Blacksburg region to expand and create jobs in the STEM-H fields. RAMP is an affiliate of Verge, a collaborative strategic alliance established to grow the region’s innovation economy.

“Lisa has been deeply involved on the entrepreneur programming side of RAMP since our first cohort,” said Verge board member Kevin Bloomfield. “Lisa’s passion for entrepreneurs is obvious. She brings a deep understanding of the I-Corps and Lean Launch programs, she has important connections throughout our region, including Virginia Tech, and she has long-coached many start-up founders. The future of RAMP is bright, and we are excited to have Lisa lead us to even greater heights.”

Garcia is an educator, business and executive coach, and passionate technology advocate. She has served as the instructor for the National Science Foundation’s I-Corps program, where the mission is to commercialize technology developed inside universities. She is also an Instructor at Virginia Tech, where she works to empower the university’s entrepreneurial ecosystem in its role as a partner of the Mid-Atlantic I-Corps Hubs program.

Additionally, she serves as an adjunct instructor in the Pamplin College of Business, teaching members of the Innovate LLC, where she also serves as a board member. She has also taught in the Mechanical Engineering Department of the College of Engineering for students focused on product development, leadership and research focus, and ideation.

Focused on the fuzzy front end of innovation and business and sometimes professional development, Garcia has worked with the founders of startups and small and medium-sized enterprises to expand client companies’ social and financial capital, business development, and business intelligence.

Current RAMP Director Mary Miller is set to retire at the end of June.

ABOUT VERGE

Verge is a collaborative strategic alliance established to grow the region’s innovation economy, technology and life sciences sectors, and the supporting professional communities. It aligns the strengths and programming efforts of the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council (RBTC) and the Regional Accelerator and Mentoring Program (RAMP). Verge serves GO Virginia Region 2 and works to form collaborations with government, business, academia, and other organizations to advance the region and grow a thriving innovation economy.

DEMO DAY is June 16 1024 575 RAMP - Regional Accelerator

DEMO DAY is June 16

Please join us June 16, 5:00-8:00 pm, for DEMO DAY when the two companies in our Spring 2022 Health & Life Sciences Cohort pitch their business ideas! We are thrilled to bring back a few RAMP Alumni who will also be sharing their exciting updates with us!

The event will be followed by a reception where you will have the opportunity to speak with each company.

RAMP alumnus awarded NIH Grant 800 597 RAMP - Regional Accelerator

RAMP alumnus awarded NIH Grant

Congratulations to RAMP alumnus Dr. Robert Gourdie who has received a prestigious National Institute of Health NHLBI R35 Outstanding Investigator grant award!

The grant will provide up to seven years of continuous support and up to $700,000 a year for Dr. Gourdie and his lab at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC. From this lab, Dr. Gourdie and Spencer Marsh spun out Tiny Cargo, which extracts exosomes from milk to serve as drug-delivery devices for people with heart disease. Tiny Cargo participated in RAMP’s Health & Life Sciences Cohort in Spring 2021.

The intent of the R35 program is to free up NHLBI-funded scientists to pursue their research interests without being encumbered with continuous grant writing and narrow project-based goals, Gourdie writes.

“I feel very fortunate to receive this award. I wish to offer my thanks to my wife and family, my lab, my colleagues at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at Virginia Tech Carilion, my scientific collaborators and NHBLI program staff for their support and help. I also wish to express my profound gratitude to U.S. taxpayers for their support of the NIH and its important mission to improve the health and well being of Americans.”