NRV Companies Receive $300,000 to Fund Research & Development

NRV Companies Receive $300,000 to Fund Research & Development

Montgomery County, VA – Four Blacksburg companies were recently awarded incentive grants through the Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund (CRCF) to fund research in unmanned systems, life sciences, and clean energy. Governor Ralph Northam announced in Junethat the businesses were among 26 across the Commonwealth to receive the awards. According to the governor’s press release, “The [CRCF] accelerates innovation and economic growth in Virginia by advancing solutions to important state, national, and international challenges through technology research, development, and commercialization.”


Read more about the grant winners from Blacksburg below:

Commercialization Program
Cowden Technologies, LLC | Mr. Mickey Cowden
A Smart Docking Station for Drones, $75,000, Unmanned Systems, Blacksburg

Eksdyne Inc. | Mr. Joshua Eckstein
A Magnetohydrodynamic Actuator System for Robotics, $74,915, Unmanned Systems, Blacksburg

Techulon Inc. | Dr. Nrusingh Mohapatra
PPNA-Based Antimicrobial Therapeutics Against Multi-Drug-Resistant Pseudomonas and Acinetobacter, $75,000, Life Sciences, Blacksburg

Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Matching Funds Programs
Li Industries, Inc. | Mr. Nolan Schmidt
Effective Materials Separation for Low-Cost Lithium Ion Battery Direct Recycling, $75,000, Clean Energy, Blacksburg


Read the governor’s full press release here.

Read more about the Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund here.

###

Virginia’s New River Valley: Virginia’s New River Valley is an eclectic mix of interconnected small towns that each offer their own unique vibe and appeal. The region provides an abundance of cultural and social offerings due to the presence of three world-class universities, while retaining the charm and benefits of small town living. The NRV is home to a diverse and innovative business community with companies that range from high-tech startups to foreign-based corporations to specialty agribusiness. These organizations benefit from the collaborative spirit of our region and a loyal, highly-skilled, and educated workforce. The scenic beauty of the region also fosters a deep connection to nature, which is deepened by access to outdoor recreation and the preservation of our natural environment. It’s clear why Virginia’s New River Valley is “A Natural Fit.”

Onward NRV: Onward NRV is a public/private, regional economic development organization whose mission is to attract and retain world class jobs, investment, and talent in Virginia’s New River Valley. It’s also a movement where leaders from business, government, and higher education work together to promote the economic vitality of the region.

Blacksburg Ranked Among Top 100 Small Cities/Towns in US

Blacksburg Ranked Among Top 100 Small Cities/Towns in US

Montgomery County, VA – BestCities.org recently ranked Blacksburg among the top 100 small cities/towns in the United States on their 2020 list of America’s Best Small Cities. Resonance Consultancy created the report by ranking cities/towns based on the following six categories: place, product, people, prosperity, programming, and promotion.

Blacksburg ranked 86th overall and 18th under the place category. The report defined place as, “The perceived quality of a city’s natural and built environment, including the sub-categories of Weather, Safety, Neighborhoods & Landmarks, and Outdoors.”

Here is what BestCities.org had to say about Blacksburg:

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (aka Virginia Tech) calls Blacksburg home, its roots reaching back to 1872 when it opened as Virginia’s white land-grant institution. Some 34,000 students attend annually, with the institution planning for an aggressive expansion: an additional 7 million gross square feet in facilities over the next three decades. Located in the Blue Ridge Highlands of Montgomery County, the city ranked #12 for Universities, helping it land a #50 spot for Product overall. In addition to having the youthful, lively feel of a college town, Blacksburg’s appeal stems from its sense of safety. Blacksburg Police Department has aid agreements in place with Virginia Tech Police Department and the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, yielding one the lowest crime rates in the country (#2). The local police will have shiny new headquarters come 2021; The city is putting $25.5-million toward the new 35,000 square foot department as part of a $100-million development downtown that will see close to 100 new townhomes go up.

Blacksburg is one of the many communities that make up Virginia’s New River Valley. The NRV is a great place to live, work, and do business. Learn more about our region at www.theNRV.org.

###

Virginia’s New River Valley: Virginia’s New River Valley is an eclectic mix of interconnected small towns that each offer their own unique vibe and appeal. The region provides an abundance of cultural and social offerings due to the presence of three world-class universities, while retaining the charm and benefits of small town living. The NRV is home to a diverse and innovative business community with companies that range from high-tech startups to foreign-based corporations to specialty agribusiness. These organizations benefit from the collaborative spirit of our region and a loyal, highly-skilled, and educated workforce. The scenic beauty of the region also fosters a deep connection to nature, which is deepened by access to outdoor recreation and the preservation of our natural environment. It’s clear why Virginia’s New River Valley is “A Natural Fit.”

Onward NRV: Onward NRV is a public/private, regional economic development organization whose mission is to attract and retain world class jobs, investment, and talent in Virginia’s New River Valley. It’s also a movement where leaders from business, government, and higher education work together to promote the economic vitality of the region.

NRV Communities Receive $775,000 in Appalachian Regional Commission Grants

NRV Communities Recommended to Receive $775,000 in Appalachian Regional Commission Grants

Montgomery County, VA – Governor Ralph Northam announced this week that two projects in Virginia’s New River Valley will be among those recommended to receive funding from Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) grants to help stimulate economic development. Close to $775,000 in grants will be awarded to the local projects which will enhance the quality of life for residents in Virginia’s New River Valley. The ARC will finalize approval of these awards later in 2020.

Here is more detailed information from the press release about both of the projects:

Downtown Christiansburg Community Gathering Space
$275,000 ARC Award
Town of Christiansburg

The Christiansburg Community Gathering Space will create a welcoming farmers market and multipurpose cultural anchor space in downtown Christiansburg that will act as a catalyst for future economic growth and vibrancy, and serve the need for both programmed and spontaneous outdoor public space use.


YMCA at Virginia Tech – Y Cares Childcare Center
$499,985.50 ARC Award
Town of Blacksburg

The YMCA at Virginia Tech’s Y Cares Children Center is designed to create approximately 20 to 25 new full-time jobs in the region and provide training and mentor opportunities to individuals entering the workforce.

Read the full press release, including information on the other 15 projects, here.

###

Virginia’s New River Valley: Virginia’s New River Valley is an eclectic mix of interconnected small towns that each offer their own unique vibe and appeal. The region provides an abundance of cultural and social offerings due to the presence of three world-class universities, while retaining the charm and benefits of small town living. The NRV is home to a diverse and innovative business community with companies that range from high-tech startups to foreign-based corporations to specialty agribusiness. These organizations benefit from the collaborative spirit of our region and a loyal, highly-skilled, and educated workforce. The scenic beauty of the region also fosters a deep connection to nature, which is deepened by access to outdoor recreation and the preservation of our natural environment. It’s clear why Virginia’s New River Valley is “A Natural Fit.”

Onward NRV: Onward NRV is a public/private, regional economic development organization whose mission is to attract and retain world class jobs, investment, and talent in Virginia’s New River Valley. It’s also a movement where leaders from business, government, and higher education work together to promote the economic vitality of the region.

Drones to Deliver Library Books

Drones to Deliver Library Books to Kids in Christiansburg via Wing Partnership

Montgomery County, VA – A recent article by The Washington Post describes a new pilot program between Wing, a drone delivery service, and Montgomery County Public Schools. The company has partnered with the school system to use drones to deliver library books to students in the Christiansburg area this summer. The deliveries will begin the week of June 8, 2020.

The idea was hatched by Blacksburg Middle School librarian Kelly Passek. Here is what she had to say about the new program in the article:


“I think kids are going to be just thrilled to learn that they are going to be the first in the world to receive a library book by drone.”

Wing started drone delivery of food, beverages, medications, and packages to select Christiansburg customers in October 2019. Virginia’s New River Valley is an expanding market for the unmanned systems industry, including drones. Learn more about the growth of this industry in our region here.

Read the entire article from The Washington Post here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/06/10/wing-library-book-drone-delivery/

See a video from Wing about the project here:
https://medium.com/wing-aviation/wing-delivers-library-books-to-students-in-virginia-b2cd0ad86551

###

Virginia’s New River Valley: Virginia’s New River Valley is an eclectic mix of interconnected small towns that each offer their own unique vibe and appeal. The region provides an abundance of cultural and social offerings due to the presence of three world-class universities, while retaining the charm and benefits of small town living. The NRV is home to a diverse and innovative business community with companies that range from high-tech startups to foreign-based corporations to specialty agribusiness. These organizations benefit from the collaborative spirit of our region and a loyal, highly-skilled, and educated workforce. The scenic beauty of the region also fosters a deep connection to nature, which is deepened by access to outdoor recreation and the preservation of our natural environment. It’s clear why Virginia’s New River Valley is “A Natural Fit.”

Onward NRV: Onward NRV is a public/private, regional economic development organization whose mission is to attract and retain world class jobs, investment, and talent in Virginia’s New River Valley. It’s also a movement where leaders from business, government, and higher education work together to promote the economic vitality of the region.

Job Board Launched on Virginia's New River Valley Website

Job Board Launched on Virginia’s New River Valley Website

New River Valley, VA – Many employers in Virginia’s New River Valley are hiring amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Onward NRV, a public/private, regional economic development organization, launched an online Job Board in March 2020 to help connect employees looking for work with employers that have job openings.

The job board can be found on the Virginia’s New River Valley website. It features a section for job listings from featured employers in the region.

Job seekers can also use the job board to search for new career opportunities in specific industries. Listings are available in eight different job categories:

  • Technology
  • Manufacturing
  • Healthcare
  • Accounting and Finance
  • Construction and Architecture
  • Education
  • Human Resources
  • Marketing and Sales
  • In addition to searching by industry, potential employees can also search and filter through all jobs available in Virginia’s New River Valley. Over 100 available jobs have been posted to the job board within the last two weeks. All sections of the job board are powered by Indeed, the #1 job site in the world.

    Onward NRV’s mission is to attract and retain world class jobs, investment and talent in Virginia’s New River Valley. Onward promotes economic vitality in the region through supporting the growth of four targeted industries: Information Technology, Advanced Manufacturing, Food Processing & Agribusiness, and Unmanned Systems. The job board is one way the organization is working to connect employees with employers in these targeted industries. Learn more about Onward NRV here.

    Click here to browse the job board and learn more about career opportunities currently available in Virginia’s New River Valley.

    ###

    Virginia’s New River Valley: Virginia’s New River Valley is an eclectic mix of interconnected small towns that each offer their own unique vibe and appeal. The region provides an abundance of cultural and social offerings due to the presence of three world-class universities, while retaining the charm and benefits of small town living. The NRV is home to a diverse and innovative business community with companies that range from high-tech startups to foreign-based corporations to specialty agribusiness. These organizations benefit from the collaborative spirit of our region and a loyal, highly-skilled, and educated workforce. The scenic beauty of the region also fosters a deep connection to nature, which is deepened by access to outdoor recreation and the preservation of our natural environment. It’s clear why Virginia’s New River Valley is “A Natural Fit.”

    Onward NRV: Onward NRV is a public/private, regional economic development organization whose mission is to attract and retain world class jobs, investment, and talent in Virginia’s New River Valley. It’s also a movement where leaders from business, government, and higher education work together to promote the economic vitality of the region.

    Torc Robotics Headquarters

    Torc Robotics Plans to Grow Company 50% by End of 2020

    Press Release from Torc Robotics Blacksburg, VA– Torc Robotics, a leader in self-driving vehicle systems, continues its strong recruiting efforts even under social distancing and safer-at-home orders. Torc has steadily added new employees since January and plans to increase the company size by more than 50 percent before year end. Torc’s recruiting process has changed to accommodate personal safety during the pandemic. “We are very fortunate that most of us can work from home – and our team has been using this time to scale up our virtual testing and future fleet infrastructure,” said Michael Fleming, Torc’s CEO. “Over the past 10 years, we’ve built our culture on winning teams and find that Torc’rs are great at solving problems – including bringing on new team members during a pandemic,” he said. Adaptations for full-time hiring have included video panel interviews and additional relocation assistance for full-time employees. Until the Torc offices reopen, new hires are working from home and being onboarded remotely. A new cohort of team members started this week, and all are quickly learning the ropes, according to Fleming. Torc is hiring across multiple software engineering areas, including infrastructure and tools, web development, Linux, and cloud technology. Torc also remains committed to summer internships and co-op positions, which have been transformed to remote work opportunities for summer 2020. Students in these positions are fully embedded into technical teams and interact with Torc’rs across the company via coffee chats, lunch & learns, and other collaboration opportunities. The company’s continued growth supports Torc’s automated truck development in partnership with Daimler Trucks North America, the market leader in trucking. “Over the next several years, we will continue to hire aggressively,” said Fleming. “Commercializing automated trucks on public roads is complex and we will need additional talent to get us there,” he said. “This is a marathon, not a sprint and our team is committed to the long-term.” To accommodate its growing team, Torc is completing a new headquarters expansion later this year, which will add nearly 16,000 square feet and is designing additional future expansion projects. Torc develops Level 4 self-driving technology, which does not require human intervention, but operates within specific areas or use cases, such as locations, or types of roads. Torc partners with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and mobility companies to integrate the technology on their vehicle platforms. In 2019, Torc joined the Daimler Trucks family to partner on commercializing self-driving truck technology. “At Torc, our mission is to save lives through self-driving technology,” Fleming said. “The fastest path to commercialized is through OEMs and the strongest business case is in trucking.” To learn more about employment opportunities at Torc Robotics, visit their Careers page. About Torc Robotics: Torc Robotics, headquartered in Blacksburg, Virginia, is a member of the Daimler Trucks family. Torc offers a complete self-driving vehicle software and integration solution and is currently focusing on commercializing self-driving trucks. Torc has more than 10 years of experience in automating heavy equipment for safety-critical applications.
    ###
    Virginia’s New River Valley: Virginia’s New River Valley is an eclectic mix of interconnected small towns that each offer their own unique vibe and appeal. The region provides an abundance of cultural and social offerings due to the presence of three world-class universities, while retaining the charm and benefits of small town living. The NRV is home to a diverse and innovative business community with companies that range from high-tech startups to foreign-based corporations to specialty agribusiness. These organizations benefit from the collaborative spirit of our region and a loyal, highly-skilled, and educated workforce. The scenic beauty of the region also fosters a deep connection to nature, which is deepened by access to outdoor recreation and the preservation of our natural environment. It’s clear why Virginia’s New River Valley is “A Natural Fit.” Onward NRV: Onward NRV is a public/private, regional economic development organization whose mission is to attract and retain world class jobs, investment, and talent in Virginia’s New River Valley. It’s also a movement where leaders from business, government, and higher education work together to promote the economic vitality of the region.

    Harmonia Recognized as One of Virginia’s “Fantastic 50”

    Montgomery County, VA – The Virginia Chamber of Commerce recognized Harmonia Holdings Group on it 2020 Fantastic 50 list, a ranking of the 50 fastest-growing companies in Virginia. It was the only company from Virginia’s New River Valley to make the list.

    Harmonia Holdings Group was born in 2006 at Virginia Tech’s Corporate Research Center in Blacksburg to bring innovation and change to the federal IT sector. It believes that with federal budgets shrinking, there was a huge opportunity to bring more efficiency to government through innovative technology solutions. From the start, Harmonia focused on two simple foundational ideas, recruit top talent to the team and provide world-class benefits and an environment to succeed, as well as develop innovative solutions for the government.

    To be eligible for the Fantastic 50 list, a company must be privately held with headquarters in Virginia, show revenues between $200,000 and $200 million, and demonstrate positive revenue growth and positive net income in its most recent fiscal year over the previous year. Companies are judged on four-year revenue history.

    Harmonia Holding Group is one of over 80 technology companies located in the New River Valley. Collectively, the sector employs over 1,1600 professionals that are helping define and advance cutting-edge technologies of tomorrow in blockchain, unmanned systems, cybersecurity, software, and digital creative.

    To learn more more about Harmonia Holdings Group, including current job openings, visit: www.harmonia.com

    Virginia Tech a top 10 college with alumni who will jump-start your career

    Montgomery County, VA – The Princeton Review compiled a list of the 25 colleges with the best alumni networks in the country, featured in the book “Colleges That Pay You Back: 2016 Edition,” published in February, based on students’ ratings of how visible and active alumni are on their campuses.

    Virginia Tech, whose main campus is located in Blacksburg, ranked No. 10 on the list, ahead of some marque colleges such as Stanford (No. 24), Cornell (No. 22), Ohio State (No. 15), and the University Virginia (No. 11).

    Here is what the Princeton Review had to say about the Hokies:

    Once a Hokie, always a Hokie. And through Virginia Tech’s Hokies4Hire program, students and alumni can apply for jobs, internships, and co-ops. Current students can even land on-campus interviews from the program. Post-grad, VT’s alumni association keeps Hokies in the loop through LinkedIn groups, webinars with career experts, and networking opportunities with fellow alums.

    More and more Hokies are jump starting their career in Virginia’s New River Valley. Alumni are realizing that Blacksburg is more than a great place to go to college and are sticking around the NRV post graduation. The region offers meaningful career opportunities paired with a small town charm, urban amenities, and plenty of opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors.

    Plugging into the New River Valley Chapter of the Virginia Tech Alumni Association. is a great way for Hokies to jump-start their career in the NRV.  

    Sky-high deliveries benefit NRV small businesses, consumers during pandemic

    From Virginia Tech — Written by Jenny Kincaid Boone

    Montgomery County, VA – Like most restaurant owners across the nation in the past month, Luke and Cassie Brugh have had to think fast to keep their business afloat. They turned their Christiansburg coffee shop into a curbside-only business, with the bulk of their orders coming through an app, to comply with government orders to limit customer contact because of COVID-19.

    But in navigating the challenges of this shuffle, the Brughs have discovered a silver lining. Brugh Coffee is selling double the cans of its cold brew java — by drone. That’s compared with cold brew sales through its new curbside business.

    These air deliveries are made possible by Wing, a drone delivery enterprise and offshoot of Google’s parent company Alphabet that has seen a dramatic increase in its business since the pandemic began.

    Wing recently added Brugh Coffee and other Christiansburg restaurants — Mockingbird Cafe and Gran Rodeo — to its food delivery options.

    From March to early April, Wing saw a 350 percent jump in the number of people signing up for its services across its four sites in three continents. They are in Christiansburg, Virginia; Helsinki Finland; and two cities in Australia, Canberra and Logan City, said spokesman Jacob Demmitt.

    Similarly, in a two-week period in early April, the company had 1,000 deliveries globally, a “dramatic increase” from the typical two-week business model, he said.

    In October 2019, Wing launched the commercial drone delivery service in Christiansburg with the Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership (MAAP). MAAP is a test site for unmanned aircraft systems designated by the Federal Aviation Administration.

    Through the partnership, Wing also offers drone delivery from Walgreens, FedEx, and Sugar Magnolia, a Blacksburg gift and candy shop, in addition to the newly added businesses. Customers order items via Wing’s app, and the products are delivered quickly, sometimes in as little as three to five minutes to a designated area near the consumer’s home. Hovering in the air, the drone extends the package to the ground, where it lands softly.

    “It became clear early on [in the pandemic] that delivery services were becoming more and more important,” said Demmitt, noting that Wing began its partnerships with Brugh Coffee and Mockingbird Cafe at the start of COVID-19. “It came at a time when it was getting harder and harder for them to reach customers.”

    Brugh Coffee sells bags of coffee and cold brew for Wing drone delivery, but it hopes to add hot coffee drinks in the future, Luke Brugh said.

    “This was kind of ideal for us as small business owners,” he said. “It’s been good to have that extra income.”

    In addition to adding new businesses, Wing has changed its product catalog for Walgreens to match customers’ pandemic needs. For example, the service added grocery staples, including baby food, pasta, and snacks, along with children’s toys and games. Toilet paper and sidewalk chalk, in particular, have been big sellers, Demmitt said.

    “It’s a small relief, but we wanted to do whatever we could to help,” he said.

    As the success of Wing’s drone delivery grows, particularly during the pandemic, MAAP plans to share information and lessons learned with the FAA and other government entities, said Mark Blanks, director of MAAP.

    “It is a unique situation, but at the same time, it really does showcase why this is such a good technology and opportunity to benefit people,” he said. “This is the first place in the country that this is happening, which means everybody’s watching.”

    Rommelyn and Zach Coffren and their four-year-old son, Noah, began ordering from Wing last fall. The drone service is just as important now that the couple, both Virginia Tech alumni and university employees, are working from their Christiansburg home, caring for their son, and following social distancing guidelines.

    Recently, the family watched a movie together in their backyard, and they ordered Walgreens snacks by drone. Also, this month, the Coffrens ordered lunch from Gran Rodeo, one of their favorite restaurants. It arrived via three separate drone deliveries due to weight restrictions.

    The Coffrens, who were interviewed for a recent NBC Nightly News segment about drone delivery, watched as each drone hovered over their backyard, lowering street tacos, beans and rice, a burrito, and arroz con pollo to the ground, one at a time. The family also is fielding inquiries from their friends about how to use the Wing app.

    “The drone deliveries have been a nice distraction” from COVID-19, said Rommelyn Coffren. “It’s a way for us to still feel connected to the community to locations that we would patronize anyway.”

     

    Blacksburg High School Ranked 30th in VA by U.S. News

    Montgomery County, VA – U.S. News just came out with their 2020 Best High Schools Ranking by state and a NRV high school made the top 50! Among 386 public high schools in the Commonwealth of Virginia, Blacksburg High School ranked 30th. The ranking is based off of graduation rate, college readiness and enrollment. After taking this into consideration, U.S. News compiles a list of the top 100.

    Here is the summary from U.S. News:

    Blacksburg High is ranked 30th within Virginia. Students have the opportunity to take Advanced Placement® coursework and exams. The AP® participation rate at Blacksburg High is 51%. The total minority enrollment is 21%, and 15% of students are economically disadvantaged. Blacksburg High is 1 of 4 high schools in the Montgomery Co Public Schools.

    Of more than 24,000 public high schools in the U.S., Blacksburg High School ranked No. 1,328. The means that Blacksburg ranks among the top 10% of high schools in the country.