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The greatest minds, innovators, and thought leaders in the regional technology ecosystem are coming together for Game Changer Week in September.

The series of events – Sept. 5-8 in Roanoke and Blacksburg – celebrates innovation and is designed as a place where big ideas and technology can collide. The event will feature a series of community-sourced talks in areas such as biotechnology, clean energy, artificial intelligence and cyber security, and autonomous technology, plus tracks for Women In Technology, startups, and wellness.

“Our vision is to provide an annual, week-long opportunity for the region to highlight and celebrate the progress toward our technologies solving world industry challenges,” said Brett Malone, President and CEO of the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center. “Our goal is to provide connection, stoke curiosity, and celebrate all the disruptors that are right here in our region.”

New this year is a pitch competition designed exclusively for higher education students who aspire to create a significant impact through innovative ideas. The competition encourages and celebrates entrepreneurial thinking, providing students a unique opportunity to gain exposure, receive valuable feedback, and possibly secure funding for their ventures. 

There’s something for every other career stage as well. The event is designed to help connect generations of game changers including panels and guest speakers that have founded well-known companies; access to capital programs for entrepreneurs in various growth phases; and all the people contributing to make our region competitive in the world-wide tech ecosystem. 

The community-owned event is now in its third year, and Game Changer Week events are free to attend, although registration is required. 

Day-by-day highlights include:


  • Access to Capital Series for Tech Entrepreneurs. Gain unprecedented access to elite advice from people who know. The online virtual video series will cover different types pf funding options for startups and include advice from some of the region’s top-notch investors and fund managers. (Virtual, 11 a.m.)
  • Matters of the Mindset: Learn how your mindset impacts success. We’ll explore the different mindsets business owners and leader may experience, then we’ll learn how to embrace a game changer mindset that will propel you and your company forward. (COgro in Blacksburg, 3 p.m.)
  • COgro Labs Ribbon Cutting with Montgomery County Chamber: Come see the new labs for yourself. COgro LABS provides affordable wet and dry lab space in the region that is vital to supporting the innovation ecosystem and shows that the region is here to support entrepreneurial growth across sectors. (COgro Labs, Blacksburg, 4 p.m.)


  • Coworking Day at Starr Hill: Need a place to work, connect, or destress? Join in on the fun having a private co-working day at a Starr Hill Brewery. Enjoy free Wi-Fi, coffee, snacks, and lunch while you spend the day working in Roanoke. Beer available for purchase. (Starr Hill, Roanoke, beginning at 9 a.m.)
  • Innovative Problem Identification and Problem-Solving Session: Have you ever heard the saying that if you had 60 minutes to solve a problem you should spend 59 of them identifying what the problem is? Do you sometimes waste time in problem solving mode to realize that the true problem wasn’t what you were solving? This session will focus on actionable tools and proven techniques to identify core problems and solution focused decision-making. Join entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, aspiring problem solvers and students for an interactive session sure to brighten your day! (Starr Hill, Roanoke, 10:30 a.m.)
  • What’s the BIG deal about BIO? featuring Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JLABS and Virginia Bio: Fans of the monthly Beer & Biotech series won’t want to miss this! Our global partner, Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JLABS @ Washington, DC, will team up with local partners. (Twisted Track Brewing in Roanoke, 5 p.m.)
  • Entrepalooza: Entrepreneurship Festival: Join students from all disciplines, alumni and community members for a celebration of the entrepreneurship ecosystem. There will be plenty of food, swag, networking, and a rapid fire pitch contest with prizes. (Apex Center in Blacksburg, 5 p.m.)


  • Exploring the Future of Clean Energy Across the New River and Roanoke Valleys: Join the Dominion Energy Innovation Center’s SPARK NRV event during Game Changer Week for an insightful industry panel discussion that delves into the pivotal role of clean energy in transforming the landscape of the New River and Roanoke Valleys. This session will spotlight the deployment of cutting-edge energy systems such as hydrogen, carbon capture and nuclear technologies, aimed at spearheading decarbonization across vital regional sectors. (COgro, Blacksburg, 9 a.m.)
  • Founders & Funders Lunch + Pitch Plus Clinic Powered by RAMP: The PitchPlus Clinic is designed for later-stage, post-acceleration startups and other early-stage companies seeking knowledge about the venture capital markets, the venture capital fundraising process and the transaction closing process from term sheets through due diligence to closing. Attendees will have the opportunity to hear from Greg Feldmann, Skyline Capital; Alex Euler, Virginia Venture Partners; and Fourd Kemper, Woods Rogers Vandeventer Black. (Concept Room, Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, Blacksburg, noon)
  • Block Party: The biggest networking event since TechNite, don’t miss your chance to mix and mingle with the innovative companies and entrepreneurs at the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center. (Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, 4 p.m.)


  • Final Student Pitches: Student teams will present their ideas to a panel of judges as they compete for more than $16,000 in prizes. (Lyric Theatre in Blacksburg, 9 a.m.)

“What’s special about Game Changer Week is the opportunity to learn about technologies that are being developed right here, and engage with the people who are creating them,” said Erin Burcham, President of Verge and Executive Director of the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council. “It doesn’t matter if you’ve been doing this your whole life or are a student looking to make an impact, the future of innovation in this region is here.”

Game Changer Week events will be at multiple locations throughout the region. We encourage you to register, download the app, and plan to move back and forth between Roanoke and Blacksburg for different experiences. Even better, share the event with your team, and encourage their participation as well.

Game Changer Week is free to attend and designed for everyone from college students to CEOs and everyone in-between. Join us for networking events, engage with thought leaders in action, and leave with real-world connections and new knowledge to be inspired.

Game Changer Week is a collaborative effort organized by technology leaders from across Virginia, including the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council, VIPC, Tech Center Research Park, Virginia Bio, Fralin Biomedical Research Institute, Dominion Energy Innovation Center, and other organizations.

Register for Game Changer Week:

As originally published by RBTC