Virginia Tech has been selected as one of three finalists for a federal Economic Development Administration Excellence in Technology-led Economic Development Award for its Corporate Research Center (CRC).

Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development David Sampson telephoned Vice Provost for Outreach and International Affairs John E. Dooley to notify him of the achievement. The winner of this year's award was Georgia Tech's Advanced Technology Development Center.

"The university is honored to achieve this level of recognition for its efforts," Dooley said. "The staff and the team of faculty, university leaders, and area leaders who serve on the CRC's board deserve a great deal of credit for keeping the success of individual businesses in mind."

The CRC's distinguishing feature is its exceptionally low annual business failure rate of 3 percent compared to a national average business failure rate of 85 percent. CRC leaders ascribe this to the comprehensive business consulting services offered to tenants by the university. This success story is helping transform Blacksburg, Montgomery County, and the New River Valley region of Virginia from a manufacturing to a knowledge-based economy.

In creating the CRC, Virginia Tech leveraged 120 acres of farmland, a $600,000 U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Assistance grant, and visionary thinking into a business park that employs 1,700 people and has $65 million in assets. Annual sales of university-licensed technologies total $25 million. The CRC holds the promise of continued expansion due to Virginia Tech faculty invention disclosures, which increased from 80 in 1994 to 137 in 2003.

"Since the CRC opened its first building in 1989, the effort has grown exponentially," said Joe Meredith, president of CRC. "This honor is great recognition for the university. But there would be no program without the outstanding entrepreneurs who are creating the companies of the future here."

Virginia Tech's CRC, adjacent to the Blacksburg campus, was planned to represent a concerted, well-thought-out effort on the part of the university to drive economic development by involving the university's intellectual and financial resources.

Specific strategies for the CRC include: development of an attractive campus designed to work with, rather than against, the great natural beauty of the New River Valley in which it is located; establishment of a hub for creating, attracting, and nurturing businesses based on technologies developed and licensed by Virginia Tech faculty, staff, and students; access to ample venture capital; improvement of comprehensive business consulting and other necessary services for startups and other tenants, including access to faculty expertise, to help ensure their success; and development of a growth plan based on careful assessment of economic trends and actual needs.

Founded in 1872 as a land-grant college, Virginia Tech has grown to become the largest university in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Today, Virginia Tech's eight colleges are dedicated to putting knowledge to work through teaching, research, and outreach activities and to fulfilling its vision to be among the top 30 research universities in the nation. At its 2,600-acre main campus located in Blacksburg and other campus centers in Northern Virginia, Southwest Virginia, Hampton Roads, Richmond, and Roanoke, Virginia Tech enrolls more than 28,000 full- and part-time undergraduate and graduate students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries in 180 academic degree programs.

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