The Virginia law firm of Wood Rogers PLC will donate $50,000 to the Virginia Western Community College Educational Foundation in support of the new RAMP technology business accelerator opening in downtown Roanoke. Under a five year agreement, Woods Rogers will contribute $10,000 per year to RAMP beginning in 2017 and concluding in 2021.
The Educational Foundation is a nonprofit organization associated with Virginia Western Community College, which will provide business education programming at RAMP, located in the old Gill Memorial Hospital building at 709 S. Jefferson Street in downtown Roanoke.
“The Educational Foundation is proud to support the RAMP initiative and its mission to create jobs in Roanoke,” said Dr. Angela M. Garcia Falconetti, Executive Director of the Educational Foundation and Vice President of Institutional Advancement at Virginia Western Community College. “RAMP provides an example of the direct role that institutions of higher education can play in economic development.”
RAMP’s mission is to propel high-potential startups to expand and create jobs in the STEM-H (Science,
Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Health) fields. Other partners in the initiative include the City of Roanoke, which won a state grant to complete renovations on the historical Gill Memorial site; and the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council, which will recruit RAMP participants and provide them mentorship and networking opportunities.
“It is an honor to be part of RAMP from Day One,” said Dan Summerlin, President of Woods Rogers. “We firmly believe that entrepreneurs and start-up companies are a vital part of the economic future of Roanoke and of Virginia as well. Woods Rogers and its Emerging Growth practice group are committed to helping this initiative succeed. We look forward to being an active contributor of counsel and ideas to RAMP’s participants.”
RAMP, which stands for Regional Acceleration and Mentoring Program, is accepting applicants for its first participant teams through March 15. Learn more at www.ramprb.tech. The program is expected to start in June 2017.
RAMP participants will benefit from a mentoring program, networking opportunities, business education and access to capital. The inaugural program includes an intensive “boot camp” that culminates in a $5,000 prize for the accelerator company offering the best jobs-creation strategy.
The program’s model, based on best practices garnered from existing successful business accelerators, will initially focus on accelerating three to five technology- or life science-focused companies in the first cohort. Companies accepted into RAMP will work closely with multiple mentors to focus on building, testing, improving, validating product-market fit, and launching their product for the market.
To be considered for RAMP, applicants must:
- Agree to locate their company, rent-free, inside the accelerator for a six-month residency;
- Have a minimum viable product, preferably with sales traction;
- Work full time on their startup during the program;
- Have a product or service employing workers in the STEM-H field, with scalability potential;
- Be willing to consider operating their company in the Roanoke-Blacksburg region after graduation.