BTV Ignite

Organizing and Accelerating the Energy of Burlington's Technology Ecosystem

BTV Ignite exists to facilitate collaborative efforts between public, private, educational, non-profit, and entrepreneurial partners to grow and attract tech-centric talent and leverage gigabit Internet and 21st Century application development to drive economic growth.

Playbook Summary

Build the next generation Internet, and they will come, but not without encouragement and a willingness to be surprised. In the 1970s, many doubted there were uses for even 50-kilobit-per-second Internet. But soon application explorers came up with remote login, file transfer, and email. Pioneers have since found new worlds in telephony, television, publishing, commerce and social interactivity. Today, while investing in gigabit generations of Internet, we are again sending out our application explorers.” –  Bob Metcalfe (inventor of Ethernet), at the White House launch of U.S. Ignite in June 2012

BTV Ignite Vision

  • Burlington, Vermont and surrounding communities become a thriving tech ecosystem, attracting start-ups and entrepreneurs from within the community and local educational institutions, and from outside, as well as supporting and benefiting established tech-centric businesses.
  • This tech ecosystem will be civic and community minded, with businesses, entrepreneurs, and institutions collaborating and competing to solve local challenges in close partnership with city and community leaders.
  • Burlington will be known for its strength in application development, taking full advantage of its gigabit infrastructure and bringing new technological advancements to the area and the rest of the country.
  • Burlington’s education system will embed technology to enhance all levels of learning, with gigabit access available to all students, helping to bridge the digital divide and providing relevant understanding and skill sets to power a growing regional tech economy for years to come.

Community Strengths

  • Speed: BTV Ignite leverages Burlington’s existing infrastructure able to provide symmetric connection speeds 100 times faster than the national average.
  • Capability: Burlington has a density of anchor research and education institutions, healthcare providers, and tech-driven businesses, as well as gigabit-wired public schools and libraries, and network capable of gigabit speeds to homes and businesses throughout much of the City.
  • Spirit: Burlington’s citizens have an intense entrepreneurial mindset.  BTV Ignite will focus this creative energy toward developing the next generation of uses for the Internet, at a time when technological advancement is rapidly reshaping most aspects of our lives on an unprecedented scale.
  • Civic Responsibility: Burlington is committed to providing opportunities for both economic and community growth, recognizing that success depends upon creating an environment that fosters opportunity.


  • Burlington “Generator” Maker Space opened – March 2014.
  • Champlain College Additive Manufacturing and MakerLab opened in September 2014, and its Emergent Media Center expanded.
  • During October, FairPoint, UVM, the Vermont Technology Council and the VT Center for Emerging Technologies (VCET) launched VCET@BTV at the Fairpoint Technology Hub in downtown Burlington, a co-working space offering startups flexible, ultra-low cost meeting and office space, a gig of bandwidth, and mentoring and professional networking opportunities.
  • The Civic Cloud Collaborative received Knight Foundation funding to develop a prototype of the Burlington Civic Cloud, which is now operational.
  • Burlington High School technologist developed prototype of an Open High School project for uploading projects to the cloud in a standardized format and was invited to attend MozFest, Mozilla’s annual event to help define the future of an open web.
  • Code for BTV (the Burlington Brigade of Code for America) and others have held dozens ofevents designed to involve entrepreneurs in development of new, next-generation applications, including CodeAcross BTV, the National Day of Civic Hacking, Food Systems Hackathon, and the Champlain Mini Maker Faire
  • BTextended gig fiber capabilities to all public libraries, schools,  and maker spaces in Burlington.
  • BT worked closely with UVM (VT EPSCoR), gateway for and provider of Internet2 statewide, to ensure that Internet2 connectivity is also deployed to the Library, K-12 public schools, Champlain College, Generator, Civic Cloud, Center for Campus Security and Young Writers Project.
  • Began partnering with other US Ignite cities to plan for deployment of inter-city gig connectivity and GENI rack cloud infrastructure, and to share new applications, including:
  • Kansas City on Software Lending Library (KC, Burlington, and Chattanooga’s joint Software Lending Library submission has advanced to the final round of this year’s Knight News Challenge);
  • Chattanooga on direct Gig connectivity between its Library and Fletcher Free, “Library of the Future” projects and cyber-security-as-a-service;
  • Cleveland on edu-gaming via ECHO-supported Lakecraft educational platform;
  • Potential public safety and healthcare applications with Redwing MN.
  • Planning largely completed for the introduction of a gig wireless network in the downtown core, beginning with Church St. Project led by the Church Street Marketplace and Route 802, with support from CEDO and powered by BT’s fiber network.
  • Burlington named one of Top Ten Most-Promising Tech Hubs to Watch in 2014.

Short-term Goals

  1. Building economic development capacity
    • Hire a dedicated full-time BTV Ignite resource to complete and continually update the BTV Ignite Playbook and coordinate the initiative (including a people/resource structure at the delivery/implementation level and Board/oversight level).
    • Develop annual event structure with support from private sector to encourage tech entrepreneurs to locate and grow in Burlington and take advantage of gigabit infrastructure (e.g., business plan competition).
    • Develop annual event structure to create new businesses that bring innovative thinking to solve civic problems (e.g., civic hacking competition).
    • Specifically support tech businesses through existing CDBG activities.
    • Determine adequacy of existing investment vehicles to support the development of co-working, accelerator, and research and development spaces that take advantage of the gigabit infrastructure.
    • Support the growth in systems of capital (angels, seed funds, early stage funds) that move companies toward venture-ready status.
    • Determine further actions Burlington needs to take to ensure its competitiveness and attractiveness as an emerging regional technology center, including benchmarking Burlington against other emerging and established regional technology centers.
  2. Supporting community initiatives
    • Support the Civic Cloud initiative, a public cloud computing resource for innovative community organizers, nonprofits and civic hackers. Building on Burlington’s fiber-optic gigabit network, the Civic Cloud will be a digital commons for public, non-commercial Internet applications and creative works.
    • Implement, through the Fletcher Free Library, Generator and Code for BTV, a Software Lending Library to create a platform for library patrons to remotely access private and open source software hosted by the library.
    • Support Code for BTV (a Code for America Brigade) activities and ongoing efforts to leverage social production as a means to facilitate a more participatory democracy at the local level.
    • Support Burlington in becoming a Code for America fellowship city, which includes an 11-month program where a team of developers, researchers and designers work alongside city staff to solve local government problems.
    • Implement a comprehensive expanded calendar of events for the tech community.
    • Support the implementationof free, secure high-speed wireless internet in the downtown core, starting with Church Street.
  3. Investment in applications already under development:
    • Support developing cyber-security applications, potentially revolutionizing the way data are monitored, collected, and analyzed during cybersecurity/digital forensic investigations, including examples like Champlain College’s Cyber-Security-As-a-Service.
    • Support the Edu-gaming sector to develop applications using the processing power of the gig network to create virtual worlds that increase public awareness of open data, geospatial data, and the scale and function of important community assets (e.g., Lake Champlain watershed and the ECHO-supported Lakecraft educational platform.)
    • Determine other core capabilities within Burlington’s academic, healthcare and research anchor institutions, working with them to determine future application development opportunities and partners
  4. Ongoing essential infrastructure activities
    • Begin the program to replace BT’s end of life Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON) equipment with current generation gigabit to the premise equipment.
    • Provide ongoing support for Code for BTV and other public awareness/public good initiatives, including the Civic Cloud and gig connectivity for Hackathons.
    • Continue to work to provide gig connectivity to other Burlington community and not-for-profit locations such as the Echo Aquarium and Science Center and local government offices, including Internet2 working with UVM (VT EPSCoR).
  5. Market BTV Ignite and Burlington through traditional and tech channels
    • Develop and implement 6-month, 12-month, and 24-month marketing plans that include:
      • Collateral that articulates BTV Ignite’s goals and opportunities
      • Support and publicity for tech-centered events, both new and existing
      • Purposeful engagement of media outlets in publicizing BTV Ignite
      • The case for Burlington’s attractiveness for entrepreneurs, start-ups and established tech-centric businesses
      • Positioning Burlington’s tech attributes and credentials at the heart of CEDO’s, the BBA’s and the Chamber of Commerce’s collateral and outward-facing messagingto commercial interests highlighting individual tech centric business success stories, small and large.

Other Goals

Invest in Core Capabilities, potentially including:

  • Support creation of Additive Manufacturing applications to enable “anywhere, anytime” 3D manufacture with low-latency, accelerate the transfer of 3D capabilities into actual parts production infrastructure, and reduce the barriers of access to 3D design expertise by small parts suppliers and final-demand customers in distant locations.
  • Support Complex Systems applications based on sophisticated mathematical modeling techniques to analyze real-world challenges, from developing next-generation information technology for a national smart grid to mapping the global influence of social media (initiated and invested in over the past five years as one of the University of Vermont’s three spires of excellence).
  • Support Food Systems applications based on the critical role of local, regional, national and global food systems as they affect soil and water quality, human health and nutrition, global economics, packaging and transportation interests, and overall food and energy security (initiated and invested in over the past five years as one of the University of Vermont’s three spires of excellence).
  • Support Neuroscience, Behavior, and Health applications focused on understanding the development and fundamental basis of human behaviors that are linked to health and disease — a research challenge that spans fields from molecular studies to human psychology (initiated and invested in over the past five years as one of the University of Vermont’s three spires of excellence).

Support education

  • Identify general and IT skill gaps by grade level, both existing and projected.
    • Better prepare students of all ages for opportunities in the tech sector, particularly through applications and learning environments that take advantage of the gig fiber network (e.g., coding through Codecademy).
    • Ensure every student in Burlington has access to the gigabit network.
    • Identify a cohort of early adopters (teachers and students.)
    • Explore individual learning trials with Amazon Web Services, McGraw Hill, and Internet2.
    • Establish connections with other Chittenden County schools and STEM classrooms in other US Ignite cities.
    • Explore partnership with CCV (e.g., concurrent enrollment, online course.)
      • Work with Champlain, UVM, UVM Medical Center, tech employers, and CCV to provide interim solutions to existing and forecasted skill gaps to enable tech economy to prosper.

Essential Infrastructure

  • Continue to look for opportunities to deploy infrastructure for public benefit,  focused on enabling wider access and bridging the digital divide.
  • Maintain focus on the ubiquitous deployment of gig capability throughout Burlington to facilitate widespread public and private access to high bandwidth.
  • Change the paradigm – align Burlington nationally with characteristics of other US Ignite Gigabit communities, eliminating the barriers to widespread adoption of high bandwidth, and establishing the city as a true player in the new, high- bandwidth world of Gigabit Fiber, similar to Kansas City, Chattanooga and others.
  • Investigate the economic feasibility of extending Burlington’s gigabit network into neighboring communities.

Copyright BTV Ignite - 2016.