Agenda – Full Details

Note: This version of the agenda contains all currently available details on session titles, descriptions and speakers. For the condensed version, click here.



Amplify your conference experience by participating in a workshop or roundtable on the first afternoon. Each meeting is designed to maximize conversation and provide useful takeaways. Start and end times vary by topic.

— 12:45 – 4:00 PM Tour of the Providence Innovation Economy

Join your colleagues, the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation and Fourth Economy for a special tour of innovation sites around Providence. The bus tour will hit some of the city’s most dynamic sites for innovation, including planned stops at: The Social Enterprise Greenhouse, Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC) at the Wexford Innovation Center, and RISD. (Meet at the registration desk.) *Tour is sponsored by Fourth Economy

Tour Guides:

— 1:00 – 4:00 PM Becoming Effective Network Leaders | Room 557

Successful entrepreneurs and innovation program leaders possess key charismatic qualities of being driven toward achieving a particular goal and of being able to recognize and draw in the talents of others to share and realize that vision. But forging meaningful collaboration across initiatives, disciplines, and communities requires different skills than those required for running your organization day to day. Successful system or community-wide change makers must tap additional, and sometimes opposing, sets of personality traits, motivations, and communication skills to develop effective network leadership in their regional economies.

In a guaranteed fun and highly interactive session, participants will learn about these skills and, in collaborative groups, will test and train our ownnetwork leadership abilities with the shared commitment toward achieving greater impact and positive change for our communities.


— 1:00 – 3:30 PM Optimizing Universities’ Economic Impacts | Room 556 A

All professionals involved, or interested, in the role universities play in regional economies are encouraged to attend this roundtable on optimizing economic impacts. We will hear about a recent study on best practices for these activities, hold an open discussion about universities’ efforts, and have time for one-on-one meetings with NSF program staff. By the end of the roundtable, you will have new, concrete ideas for effectively integrating your local university into the regional economy. *Roundtable sponsored by NSF



If you are new to the conference, or recently joined SSTI as a member, our Welcome Reception is designed just for you to introduce you to others in the innovation community. Mingle with some of our long-time attendees, members and board representatives to learn more about how to maximize your conference experience and build the connections to grow your region. Light refreshments will be served. *Reception sponsored by Innovation Policyworks

6:00-7:30 PM | OPENING RECEPTION |South Street Landing | 350 Eddy Street

Located in the heart of the historic Jewelry District of downtown Providence, the South Street Landing is a key element in the transformation of a former manufacturing hub into a thriving new development. The 266,000 square foot building features Brown University and the Nursing Education Center and serves as the site of the opening reception. Meet up with former acquaintances and make new friends over light refreshments and drinks as we kick off the conference from the Providence River waterfront. * Reception hosted by Rhode Island Commerce Corporation with beverages provided by the Greater Providence Chamber and the Rhode Island Brewers Guild.

7:30 PM | STATE AND SUSTAINING DINNER (by invitation only)

7:30 PM | YOUNG PROFESSIONALS MEET-UP (meet at entrance of South Street Landing)

SEPT. 10

6:45 AM | FUN RUN | Meet at Convention Center

8:00 AM | BREAKFAST | Ballroom A


— Gov. Gina Raimondo to Welcome SSTI Annual Conference Attendees
SSTI and conference host Rhode Island Commerce Corporation are pleased to announce Gov. Gina Raimondo is scheduled to deliver welcoming remarks during the opening plenary session and officially kick off SSTI’s Annual Conference in Providence on September 10!

Following the Gov. Raimondo’s remarks, we welcome Alastair Fitzpayne and Barnaby Evans as we consider more facets of the innovation economy. Alastair works as Executive Director of the Future of Work Initiative at the Aspen Institute, a nonpartisan effort to identify concrete ways to address the challenges American workers and businesses face due to the changing nature of work in the 21st century. 

Barnaby is the Executive Artistic Director of WaterFire Providence. Originally trained as a scientist focusing on environment and ecology, Evans creates original art works and design solutions involving major urban interventions. Evans is also deeply involved in environmental issues, climate resiliency strategies and solutions and interventions related to sea level rise.

10:45 AM | NETWORKING BREAK | Ballroom A


— Portfolio Approach to Capital | Room 556 A

Grants. Debt. Seed and Equity. Working Capital. Facility financing. If your regional innovation system doesn’t offer affordable, customizable options to support the full spectrum of financing needs confronting innovative entrepreneurs, then you’re most likely leaving opportunity for sustaining growth behind — or its leaving you! This session will offer an inside examination of how to compile the critical necessary financial tools into a single structure for successful venture development and for attracting the private capital market into your region.


— Strengthening Economic Sectors through Systems Level Change | Room 556 B

Very few sectors or aspects of society have been spared the transformational restructuring underway in today’s economy. Policy responses that are trying to wait out these waves of change, or are doubling down on existing programs because they worked in the past, are doomed to leave our regions less in control of their future prosperity.

A different approach is underway in the state of Vermont – one that takes a proactive, relationship-based, system-level change approach to create jobs, address market barriers, and expand opportunity in our rural communities. The progress so far in two specific economic sectors is effectively redefining interactions throughout value and supply chains, rewriting rules for industry culture and regional collaboration, and delivering meaningful results for the state’s businesses, communities and residents. The approaches underway in Vermont have applicability and replicability throughout rural America. 


— Interactive Tools to Promote Innovation | Ballroom A

In today’s data-rich environment, how can you ensure you have the right information to effectively communicate with your stakeholders, partners, investors, and customers? Whether your aim is to connect clients with resources, promote the broader value of new technologies, or provide focused economic analysis, finding and conveying the right data can be cumbersome and resource intensive. This session will demonstrate interactive tools from several sources to help practitioners and researchers better serve their audiences.


Latest in Federal Innovation Policy | Room 555 B

The 116th Congress is considering multiple, significant innovation policies that could affect Regional Innovation Strategies, SBA entrepreneurial support, SBIR/STTR, tech transfer, federal labs, and more. Learn the latest updates on key programs and how SSTI’s Innovation Advocacy Council has helped keep regional innovation economies in the foreground of policy discussions—and how you can add your voice.


— What’s new with SBIR? | Room 555 A

SBIR is changing! Join us to hear how agencies across government are working to improve the SBIR/STTR program, and particularly changes to make the application process easier and faster. NSF will offer a deeper dive into their SBIR program and share details on their new proposal pitch process. *Session sponsored by NSF


12:00 PM | LUNCH & KEYNOTE SPEAKER | Ballroom A

Keynote speaker: Thomas Brostrøm, President, Ørsted North America; CEO, Ørsted U.S. Offshore Wind

Thomas Brostrøm oversees North American operations for Ørsted – the global leader in offshore wind – which encompasses a diverse portfolio of offshore wind projects along the U.S. East Coast. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the American Wind Energy Association – the national trade organization for the U.S. wind industry. In 2016, Rhode Island became home to the first offshore wind farm in the nation and continues to lead in clean energy initiatives.


— Debt: The Other Startup Capital | Room 555 B

Innovation organizations focus almost exclusively on equity finance, and not without reason. New businesses have little collateral, uncertain revenue and plenty of risk. However, debt can alleviate scaling pressures and help achieve better outcomes for the right startups. During this session, we will talk about debt structures that may fit your businesses and organization.



— Putting the “RI” in Regional Innovation Economies | Room 557

Rhode Island has built a thriving innovation economy around core industries of life sciences, information technology, various maritime sectors, and a talented population with a worldwide reputation for design. During this session, conference host Rhode Island Commerce Corporation will be joined by several of their key partners to discuss what has made the Ocean State unique and what lies in store for the future. 



— Unlocking Equitable, Inclusive Innovation Entrepreneurship | Room 556 B

In this session we’re going beyond the talk about more inclusion in entrepreneurship and focus on what’s actually occurring to provide support for entrepreneurs from varied backgrounds. We’ll take a look at some exciting examples focused on investment funds for women and support for underrepresented entrepreneurs; the lessons learned and overcoming the barriers to action.



— Using Research Data to Enhance University-Industry Collaborations | Room 556 A

Strategic data sets contained in robust research information management systems can help university leadership proactively administer a diverse and increasingly complex university research enterprise. Additionally, they can be used as key tools for developing research strategies by identifying institutional research strengths to make investments and foster external collaborations.

During this workshop, case studies will be presented that provide specific examples how data can be used to develop strategies through the use of objective data. As an information analytics company, Elsevier has been investing in the development of systems that can help bring efficiency at an enterprise scale. This interactive workshop will provide learnings from across the country and the world; allow for brainstorming with participants on practical steps and expectations; and sharing examples of where it has worked well and learnings from prior experiences.




— Managing an Investment Network | Room 557

Co-investors are key to helping your companies scale, but they aren’t always easy to cultivate. Some venture development organizations choose to manage angel networks to help with the pre-, co-, and post-financings of portfolio companies. We will talk as a group about experiences with investor networks, including who leads due diligence, when to charge what fees, protecting company information, and more.



— Broadening Workforce Efforts to Build Economic Gains | Room 556 A

While technology has benefitted many through its use, capabilities and promise of improved production and profits, it has also left many behind as the changing workplace demands higher skills and greater adaptability. Join this discussion to learn about programs that have worked to close the skills gap and learn how to revitalize your regional workforce in a more inclusive manner, from building the future workforce to retraining an existing workforce.



— Innovation in Traditional Industries | Room 556 B

The popular perception of our field is that it’s all about creating and growing technology companies, but since its creation decades ago, tech-based economic development has also emphasized deploying new technology and encouraging innovation in traditional industries. This includes industries that are tied to rural areas and may have an emphasis on natural resources. We’ll investigate some of the approaches being taken and how their work can influence what you’re doing for your region.



— Connecting Academic Departments with Industry Partners | Room 555 A

The goal of this session is to encourage universities and workforce-related organizations to think strategically about connecting academic departments (particularly engineering) with industry partners to produce wins for students and the companies. There are interesting design-focused learning experiences at Brown and other universities, and we are interested in successful uses of the IUSE program that are relevant to this topic. *Session sponsored by NSF




7:00 PM | DINE-AROUNDS (sign up at Registration Desk)

SEPT. 11

8:00 AM | BREAKFAST | Ballroom A


— Social Entrepreneurship: Good Businesses, Great Economies | Room 556 B

A growing number of entrepreneurs want their startups to do more than make investors rich — and just in time given the growing slate of social and environmental issues arising across the country. Entrepreneurial support organizations need to bring additional tools and a modified mindset to nurture these impactful companies toward scaling. In this session we will explore paths to success used by two social enterprise leaders making great impacts in their communities.



— Revitalizing Former Industrial Cities | Room 556 A

Cities whose economies enjoyed manufacturing growth engines in decades past were left reeling when factories closed and jobs left due to changing economic and technological forces. Today, some of these cities have been able to reimagine their industrial base and find new opportunities for growth. In this session, we’ll explore approaches that are being used to build on the past and current strengths of these cities to tie them to the innovation economy and also consider how to creatively reuse former industrial sites for innovation purposes.


— Successful Support for First-time SBIR Applicants | Room 557

Writing any federal grant proposal is daunting, and with a roughly one-in-six average success rate for SBIR/STTR, it is no surprise that many innovators look for support. What are the most effective approaches to support applicants? During this discussion, we’ll cover topics like Phase 0, FAST, service providers and other topics related to how to bring more SBIR/STTR awards to your region. *Session sponsored by NSF





— Clean Energy, Water Tech and Green Innovation | Room 556 B

The constant barrage of evidence that the pace of the change brought on by the climate crisis can be terrifying — paralyzing for many. Increasingly though, large corporations, many states and other nations are taking significant steps to mitigate additional contributions to the causes and to adapt to the challenges already underway. Science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship have leading roles to play. Is your organization helping your researchers, your companies, and your community to seize the opportunities before us? In this session, we’ll explore established and new paths for full engagement in the next economy.


— Developing Innovation Hubs in Smaller Cities and Towns | Room 555 B

Cultivating an innovation economy is hard work as it is, but these challenges can be even greater for suburbs, smaller cities and rural areas. From strengthening STEM education, to building a community of local inventors and entrepreneurs, to tapping into overlooked innovation assets, in this session you will learn from practitioners working outside of the nation’s major technology centers about their efforts to develop hubs that encourage innovation, support entrepreneurship, and help boost community vitality.



— Innovation and the Next Generation of Local Manufacturing | Room 556 A

Research has shown that more than 130,000 manufacturing firms across the country are owned by baby boomers, but the vast majority of these businesses lack a plan for succession. Representing approximately 2.7 million workers and recording more than $690 billion in sales, these businesses and the places they support are facing an uncertain future as owners consider retirement. This is especially true for smaller communities and those reliant on manufacturing industries. In this session, we will learn from experts across the country about this looming threat, their proactive responses, and strategies to implement in your own community to ease the transition.



— Power Roundtable: Helping Innovative Companies to Build Your Regional Economy | Room 557

SBIR is an excellent program but is rarely the only resource available to innovative companies in the most vibrant regional economies. This session will feature mini-discussions on a variety of ways that state, local, university and federal partners support innovators, including matching awards, customer discovery, mentorship and more. Join us and participate in the conversations that are most relevant to you. *Session sponsored by NSF



No SSTI conference would be complete without our annual presentation of trends in regional innovation economies. Covering topics from workforce participation and capital formation to new state programs and federal policy, this talk addresses a wide range of important issues for the field. Be prepared to leave the conference with your head full of new angles, challenges, and opportunities to consider for your work.