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Exploring Roles of Accelerators, Foundations for Regional Growth

March 20, 2013

Two important and timely topics for regional innovation strategies will be the topics explored through a series of hour-long webinars SSTI will be offering in April: 1) improving the partnership between regional innovation programs and the nation's foundation community; and 2) the role the private/nonprofit accelerator model plays in tech-based economic development. Participation in these and selected other SSTI webinars to be announced in the coming weeks will be free thanks to generous funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration for the Regional Innovation Acceleration Network (RIAN). Four to add to your calendar today include:

  • Riding the Rapids: Publicly Backed Accelerators in a Fast Flowing Market - 2:00 pm EDT on April 4. As the number of accelerators launched in the past two years approaches 200 by SSTI's count, so too has the number of communities, universities, foundations and states putting money into local versions of the model. When does it make good policy sense? Dominated by private accelerators with an array of different and competing goals, how is the field changing for publicly backed accelerators? What does success look like for the public's investment? This conversation with two leaders from the well-established, publicly backed accelerators, AlphaLab and Betaspring, will explore their insights and advice for navigating survival as leaders in the hottest trend in tech entrepreneurship support.
  • Foundation Involvement in TBED: Motivations, Mechanisms, and Missed Opportunities - 2:00 PM ET on April 15. SSTI has identified nearly 700 different grants, loans and investments that the foundation community made over the past decade to advance the goals of stronger regions through TBED. The annual total soon may rival federal investment in regional innovation. But money is not the most important role foundations can play in your regional growth strategy. We will use this session to represent the results of SSTI's research, highlight specific examples from across the country, and lead a discussion of the promise and perils to forge stronger partnerships with foundations.
  • Foundations as Investment Partners, Part I: Understanding the Opportunity - 2:00 PM ET on April 23. Foundations are required each year to distribute only 5% of their assets to external organizations. The other 95% is used to grow the pot for future charitable work — that is where smart TBED can help meet mutual goals. The angel, seed and other investment activities of Venture Development Organizations can and should play larger roles in helping foundation endowments meet their return targets while also expanding their impact. Presented in partnership with the Mission Investors Exchange, this critical session will provide a fundamental grounding for understanding the financial vehicles, language, and expectations foundations have to support TBED. Anyone interested in securing mission-related and/or program-related investing should attend.
  • Foundations as Investment Partners, Part II: The Oregon Case Study - 2:00 PM ET on April 26. Proof is, as they say, in the pudding. SSTI is excited to offer in this second investment-focused session an intimate examination of one thriving collaboration that may serve as motivation and a model for others. The Oregon Community Foundation, with over $1 billion in assets, is one of the largest in the country. It recently made a second investment into the Oregon Angel Fund, one of the busiest sources of early stage capital in the state. Leaders from both organizations will join us to explore how they got to where they are today — strong partners committed to growing startups in Oregon. We strongly encourage you to participate in both parts of this investment webinar in the company of your local community foundation.

Attendance to each RIAN webinar is free, but advanced registration is required. Sign up is available at http://regionalinnovation.org/events.cfm.

regions, accelerators, ssti