A Letter to Virginia's Innovation, Research, and Entrepreneurial Communities Regarding CIT's COVID-19 Response From Ed Albrigo, President and CEO, Center for Innovative Technology
As the global and national COVID-19 situation evolves, it is vital to communicate that the health and safety of everyone is our number one priority. Our thoughts are with those who have been most affected by this crisis. There will be significant economic effects on all businesses; the innovation, research, and entrepreneurial communities in Virginia are no exception. The nature of these effects will evolve over the coming weeks and months. However, I remain confident that the continuity of innovation efforts happening now will be critical to weathering the storm and will speed the eventual long-term recovery in the Commonwealth. With that said, I would like to make it clear that CIT is open for business.
Our priorities are to keep our families, staff, stakeholders, and communities safe as well as continue to operate all of our programs, especially those providing critical funding to innovators and entrepreneurs. Our team is executing a robust plan to ensure that "business as usual" can continue while abiding by the safety measures outlined by Governor Northam's Administration. Like you, we remain vigilant in monitoring this evolving situation as it unfolds and will continue to adjust our actions as necessary.
We are taking the following actions to continue our programs safely, maximize the productivity of our team to carry out CIT's mission and provide vital funding and support for innovation, entrepreneurship, and economic growth across the Commonwealth:
Social Distancing and Telework CIT has implemented a mandatory social distancing and telework policy until further notice. The CIT team is a highly distributed and mobile workforce. We are well equipped to operate virtually for an extended period. We are avoiding in-person meetings and following the Governor's travel ban for the near future. Most of the events on our calendar have been postponed, including the TomTom Festival and AUVSI Xponential, among others. We are committed to participating in these events once the organizations finalize new dates.
Program Continuity All of our programs continue to operate as usual, albeit through virtual means. I want to share information on individual programs at this time.
CIT GAP Funds - Our CIT GAP Funds investment team will continue to work through its current pipeline toward new deal closure while responding to the needs of the 150+ company CIT GAP Funds portfolio. CIT GAP Funds will leverage its extensive statewide network, large and growing portfolio, distributed team, and video conferencing technologies to aid in the discovery and evaluation of new prospects while minimizing face-to-face interactions.
CIT CRCF Program - Our CRCF team continues to stay on track with their proposal evaluation activities via electronic means. We remain on schedule to announce the FY2020 CRCF awards in June.
Virginia Unmanned Systems Center @ CIT - Virginia Unmanned Systems Center @ CIT - The Center's team continues its mission to serve as a unified voice and central source for information and assistance related to the unmanned systems industry in Virginia. All our various meetings included a significant virtual participation component, given the widely dispersed geographic nature of our industry. Participation in future meetings will be 100% virtual for the foreseeable future. CIT and our partners remain committed to our Virginia showcase pavilion at AUVSI Xponential. The event has been rescheduled to August 2020.
Smart Communities and Broadband - If there were ever a critical use case to show the value of robust broadband infrastructure and citizen/workforce smart connectivity, this is it! Our teams in these areas are leading by example. Our work with communities in these programs is transitioning to virtual meetings. We are also looking at ways through which to implement the innovations in WIFI service that can be deployed rapidly for rural virtual education purposes.
SBIR/STTR Federal Funding Programs - While our in-person sessions are postponed, we offer a comprehensive set of online webinar series. Please go to cit.org for links to these resources. Also, we are working with the appropriate organizations to reschedule the March 24 SBIR/STTR Project Management event and the April 14 SBIR Road Show. We will provide new information as it is available.
Business Support Resources - Much of our stakeholder community are startups and small businesses. We are gathering information about Commonwealth and federal resources to support businesses through these extraordinary times. We will be sharing information via social media and other electronic sources with all of you regarding access to the various programs.
VIPA Transition We recognize the importance of startups and local ecosystems as a critical engine to grow innovation and job creation. Keeping entrepreneurship, innovation, and commercialization efforts alive in Virginia will be crucial for our eventual economic and job recovery. We are working closely with Deputy Secretary Demeria on the transition to the new Virginia Innovation Partnership Authority (VIPA). We expect a seamless transition that allows for enhanced support in FY 2021 for Virginia's amazing innovation, research, and entrepreneurial communities.
In conclusion, thank you for your support in keeping each other safe during these unprecedented times. We will continue to keep the innovation machine running in Virginia. Innovation is more critical now than ever. All of us are stepping up to support our families and our communities at this time. Our team is also stepping up to continue uninterrupted support for the needs of our stakeholders. Please check our website, cit.org, social media outlets, and continue to be on the lookout for additional communications from our team in the next coming days and weeks.
Ed Albrigo, CEO & President Center for Innovative Technology
The CIT team has been sorting through volumes of information on programs and potential funding sources available during this crisis. We have created a resource guide targeted primarily to the needs of Virginia’s high-growth startup community, but should be helpful to Virginia companies in general.