Feb. 24, 2017

UVA Darden School of Business and Social Entrepreneurship at UVA Partner with Tom Tom Founders Festival

The University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, Social Entrepreneurship at the University of Virginia (SE@UVA) and the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy today joined in announcing their partnership with the Tom Tom Founders Festival’s Hometown Summit. The festival’s newest offering, the 13–15 April summit will explore the future of American innovation through the lens of small cities.

“Due to their scale and agility, small cities are uniquely positioned to function as innovation labs for the new economy,” said Erika Herz, director of research and thought leadership at Darden’s Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. “Darden is committed to supporting entrepreneurship and bold ideas, and we will be studying the drivers and consequences of innovation as part of our work on this project. We look forward to working with our Social Entrepreneurship at UVA colleagues as well as the organizers of the Hometown Summit to advance the nation’s understanding and implementation of innovation in small cities.”

With over 100 speakers and 60 workshops, panels and activities, the Hometown Summit will welcome an audience of public officials, investors, foundation directors and civically engaged entrepreneurs, alongside their counterparts in media, policy, government and philanthropy. Speakers include:

● Mayor Andy Berke of Chattanooga, Tennessee, hailed for his leadership in establishing the first Innovation District in a mid-sized city, which has since catalyzed growth and brought $700 million in investment to the city’s downtown.

● Laura Weidman Powers, co-founder and CEO of CODE2040, former senior advisor to the U.S. Chief Technology Officer and a pioneer in creating pathways to success for Black and Latino engineering talent in the innovation economy.

● Jason Schupbach, director of design and creative placemaking Programs, National Endowment for the Arts, overseeing grantmaking for initiatives such as the Mayors’ Institute on City Design and Our Town.

● Liz Ogbu, faculty, Stanford d.school and University of California-Berkeley, and expert on sustainable design and spatial innovation in challenged urban environments globally.

“There is a lot of discussion about how policymakers can support entrepreneurship through smarter policy,” said SE@UVA Director Christine Mahoney. “It is also important for policymakers to learn entrepreneurial ways of thinking and problem solving that founders use on a daily basis. The Virginia Policy Entrepreneur’s Retreat, a component of the Hometown Summit focusing on the Commonwealth, will create an opportunity for innovative policymakers from across the state to work together to move the needle on improving our cities.”

Festival of Innovation
The Hometown Summit marks a significant addition to the rapidly expanding Charlottesville-based Tom Tom Founders Festival, a weeklong celebration of the power of innovation, entrepreneurship and community. This year’s festival will take place 10–16 April, with the Hometown Summit taking place 13–15 April.

“It’s time to talk about small cities,” said Tom Tom Founders Festival Director Paul Beyer. “More than 93 million Americans live in metropolitan areas of between 100,000 and a million residents. For millions more people in surrounding rural areas, small cities are critical economic and resource centers. Our hope is that the innovative ideas and solutions discussed at the Hometown Summit will help to ensure that America’s small cities are prepared to adapt and thrive in today’s rapidly changing innovation economy.”

UVA Partners Will Offer World-Class Academic Resources
In addition to leading plenary and workshop sessions at the Hometown Summit, the Darden School of Business will develop an “Innovation Playbook” for small cities that captures lessons learned from U.S. cities across the nation. A number of research-based outputs will be developed over the year as part of a larger Darden research initiative to better understand the sources and effects of innovation and entrepreneurship in U.S. cities. The findings will inform policies and best-practices as leaders re-envision their cities to thrive in the new economy.

The Virginia Policy Entrepreneur’s Retreat, hosted by SE@UVA and the Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, will be a bootcamp for leading change with entrepreneurial thought and action. The goal of the retreat is to provide 50 Virginia mayors, city managers, county executives and economic development directors with the tools, strategies and confidence to launch new policy products. The program is co-chaired by Jim Cheng (MBA ’87), former Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade and founding partner of the CAV Angels Network, and John Kluge, founder of the Alight Fund and visiting fellow with SE@UVA.

Tickets and Agenda
Tickets for the Hometown Summit are on sale and start at $250. For a full agenda, travel details, speaker list and registration information, please visit the 2017 Hometown Summit website.
Complimentary media passes are available to members of the press, and to freelance writers and reporters with letters of assignment. Applications will be reviewed via the 2017 Tom Tom Founders Festival Press Registration.
The Batten Institute at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business and the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy were both established by gifts of the late Frank Batten Sr., a UVA alumnus, media pioneer, visionary and founder of The Weather Channel.