BTV Ignite

Organizing and Accelerating the Energy of Burlington's Technology Ecosystem

Below you'll  find brief overviews of our current projects and initiatives.  There are many opportunities to get involved in discussions, planning groups, or even as a  volunteer taking on some of the work if you'd like!  For more information or to participate, contact us.

Watch the coverage of our BTV Ignite Annual Stakeholders meeting from October 20, 2016.

 

MARKETING AND BRANDING THE GREATER BURLINGTON AREA & INNOVATION WEEK 2016

While there is a robust innovative and tech-focused eco-system throughout our area, many of the exciting ideas, people, businesses, and projects are under the radar and often below the surface of our local consciousness and our efforts to market and brand our area.  There is a thriving ecosystem of technology, entrepreneurialism, and a long-standing history of innovation woven through Burlington and through Vermont.  One of our most important endeavors is highlighting this thriving ecosystem of opportunity.  Current projects include:

  • Innovation Week - October 14-22, 2016 - “Illuminating the Vibrant Energy of the Burlington-area Innovation & Technology Ecosystem.”  Bringing residents, business, and visitors of all ages together to showcase the vibrant greater-Burlington ecosystem of innovation and technology, INNOVATION WEEK attendees will have an opportunity to experience a wide array of cutting edge education, research, businesses products, prototyping, coding, jobs, and more.  From small companies building products using rapid prototyping to large and small innovators in food, brewing, coding and software, and advanced manufacturing - this engaging week of events, beginning with the HackVT competition and culminating in TechJam has something for everyone who loves what Burlington and Vermont is and what it can be.  A more formal announcement of Innovation Week will occur in the Spring of 2016.

  • Ecosystem Infographic - Mapping the wide array of people, institutions, businesses, and assets that make up our tech ecosystem through the design of an interactive infographic.

  • Digital storytelling - In partnership with the Young Writer’s Project and others, this initiative seeks to tell the stories of people, ideas, businesses, projects, and products that are emblematic of the innovation and tech sectors in the Burlington area.

  • BTV Ignite video - Launched in April of 2016, this four minute segment highlights just a few of components of the current ecosystem and begins to imagine the possibilities for the future.

  • Connector Series - Host a regularly scheduled event, meeting, symposium, etc. bringing together technical and non-technical players in areas such as Arts, Culture, and Music; Health, Education; Energy; Public Safety, Advanced Manufacturing to cross pollinate ideas, explore problems that need to be solved, discuss innovative technology being developed locally, discuss options to collaborate on projects, apps, and initiatives, and to find creative was to leverage our evolving ecosystem and gigabit infrastructure.

 

US IGNITE / NATIONAL PARTNERSHIPS & THE SMART GIGABIT COMMUNITIES INITIATIVE

US Ignite is fostering the development of next-generation application and digital experiences that will transform how we receive everything from weather reports to healthcare, to how we use the library, guide transportation in our cities and more.

US Ignite helps maintain US global leadership in innovation by leveraging the combined resources and capabilities of industry, government, and academia.  To bring these apps to life, developers leverage the unique capabilities of next-generation networks, including:

  • 100 Mbps+ and low latency, permitting for example, multiple bi-directional streams of uncompressed video.

  • Software-defined networks (e.g.,OpenFlow), promising dramatically-improved control over network routing and optimization.

  • Networks with capabilities such as virtual network “slices” matched to application requirements and distributed programmable resources throughout the network.

  • Integrated wireless networks to facilitate, for example, sensor networks and continuous remote monitoring.

  • Applications built to be open, shared, and extendable.

The current signature project for US Ignite and partner cities is called Smart Gigabit Communities.  There are several components to this project including deploying “Digital Town Squares” that connect gigabit infrastructures locally; deployment of GENI infrastructure to allow 15+ Ignite cities to connect their Digital Town Squares with high speed, low latency, secure connections; and development of applications to be used both locally and across the cities.  These applications can be demonstration projects, educational endeavors, applications that are commercialized or planned to be commercialized, or even existing applications that there is an advantage to connect.  There are even funding streams to connect researchers and/or developers with viable ideas to resources to carry their concepts forward.

The “Digital Town Square” component of the GENI project is immediately tangible.  This portion of the project will allow us to create connections using our fiber infrastructure (including Internet 2 connections to libraries and other institutions) that will allow “edge” computing, ultra-low latency, and secure connections between institutions including the City, UVM, Champlain College, UVM Medical Center and Health Network, the Library, and others.  That opens a large realm of possibilities to collaboration, data sharing, education, and other applications.

On the application front, applications are now in development and there is room for more projects, applications, and ideas for development now and in the future.  We are limited only by imagination. 

 

TRAINING & PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT, TECH HIRE, CODE CAMPS, AND THE LIKE

Ensuring that our workforce has access to contemporary training and opportunities for professional growth to further their careers, allow for career changes to embrace our tech and innovation economy, and to ensure that employers have access to the vast array of local talent are key components of a vibrant ecosystem.

In March of 2016 Burlington was designated a TechHire City.  The TechHire initiative is the among the cornerstones of this effort.  More information is available here.

Additionally, we are working with local colleges, employers, organizations, and training providers (including Girl Develop It, Young Hack, Vermont Works for Women, the Lake Champlain Chamber of Commerce, and others) to deliver and/or promote a wide range of education and training opportunities including but not limited to technical majors, certificate programs, and code camps / tech training

In the months to come, we anticipate more training and engagement opportunities will emerge as partnerships with US Ignite and other Ignite communities take shape. 

 

STEM EDUCATION INITIATIVE

In partnership with a consortium of partners including colleges and universities, hospitals and medical school, K-12 schools, tech education training organizations, youth centers, and others this initiative endeavors to bind together students, STEM educators, tech workers, and businesses to share experiences and build a robust continuum of experiential learning opportunities for students of all ages.

Goals include:

  • Expand capacity & opportunity in STEM locally

  • Deliver STEM education and STEM experiential learning as early as possible (as early as K-2)

  • Develop a pipeline for students to be placed in community-based experiential learning opportunities

  • Develop a STEM network of educators, colleges, medical and professional community, business community and entrepreneurs, and others to teach, guest lecture, and host experiential learning opportunities

  • Cultivate problem solving and relational skills in addition to tech skills

  • Ensure a focus on youth are not currently focused on STEM & technology and

  • Teach base skills to a broad audience

  • Link to existing STEM programs locally and throughout the US Ignite communities

Some of the ideas for program delivery:

  • STEM Speaker Series - deliver to: schools, public events, for entrepreneurs, etc

  • Tech mentorship

  • Hour of code week in schools

  • STEM outreach to underserved populations, youth centers, etc.

  • Coordination of placements, speakers, tech talent, internships, job shadows, etc.

  • “Tech Rounds” for students of all ages

    • Tours of tech businesses, research labs, factories and companies for exposure - even for undergrads who have not been exposed to these experiences

  • Summer and Afterschool Code Camps for youth with special emphasis on local youth centers

  • Efficiently coordinate student interest with colleges, universities, businesses/companies, volunteering time (would also help feed the employment pipeline)

    • Develop a comprehensive job shadow and internship placement system for educators to facilitate the placement of students

  • Encourage youth to take ownership of learning opportunities

    • Connecting youth with mentors who are teens, teens with college-aged mentors, and college learners with professionals in mentorship settings to create a continuum and support system

  • Develop “virtual high school classes”

  • Locate funding for equipment for schools & youth centers

  • “STEM Resource Academy” - specialization in elementary, middle, high school

  • Explore a “Med mentors” program at UVM run by medical students

  • Find creative ways to tie the new UVM STEAM building to community & schools

 

“PLACE & SPACE” - EXPLORATION OF AN INNOVATION DISTRICT HUB

Throughout the United States Innovation Districts are emerging drivers of the knowledge based and tech-centric economy.  They represent new ventures among “economy shaping, place-making and social networking” features of compact urban environments. They are places where companies and organizations tend to cluster and form dynamic relationships with startups, businesses, incubators and accelerators.  Examples include the Edney Building in Chattanooga, TN and the Roxbury Innovation Center in Boston, MA though there are  many others.

Beginning in September 2015, when “BTV Ignite 2.0” was publicly launched, a series of hundreds of conversations regarding Burlington’s emerging technology eco-system have occurred.  There were several common themes that emerged from discussions with individuals, non-profits, small and medium sized businesses, and organizations that help to foster innovation and tech-centric growth in the greater-Burlington area.  Among these themes was a consistent desire for “place and space.”  Some articulated this desire for place and space without specificity, while others described in detail what it could mean for the next steps in the evolution of Burlington’s economy.

There are several institutions anchoring Burlington’s landscape including City Government, the University of Vermont, the UVM Medical Center and Health Network, and Champlain College. Additionally, there is a vibrant makerspace (Generator) and startup spaces (VCET, Karma Birdhouse) and an emerging innovation and arts corridor on Pine Street.  A central hub of innovation that binds these institutions to that corridor, the entrepreneurial community, the downtown, and the waterfront is an exciting prospect.

Just a few of the ideas for an Innovation Hub include:

Public/Event/Gathering, Venue, and Collision Spaces such as:

  • Multi-use performance and learning space(s).

  • Exhibit/demonstrations of the work or technology of building occupants and partners. An every changing showcase that is engaging, interactive and informative.

  • Coffee-shop, casual space

Rooftop innovations such as:

  • Rooftop gardens (possibly farming for cafe(s) located on site)

  • Sustainable ecosystem architecture

  • Event space(s)

  • Performance space(s)

  • Outdoor sensor stations

  • Outdoor demonstration space

  • Solar panels/power demonstration lab

Accelerator & Business Support Space:

  • Spaces designed to augment and compliment, not replace or compete with, existing business incubator and coworking spaces

  • “Second stage” business accelerator space rentals for businesses in growth phases beyond initial startup/co-working space needs

  • Space for business support endeavors such as:

    • Marketing

    • Banking & finance

    • Project management

    • Venture Capital and other start-up supports

    • Programmatic, educational, coaching, and training supports

    • and others

  • Accelerator spaces similar to “TechStars” programs in larger cities

  • International business space for Quebec partnership development

Copyright BTV Ignite - 2016.