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Turning Innovation Into Enterprise


Growing Innovation in the Mountain State: Featuring Intuit President & CEO Brad Smith

April 6, 2016 - 04/06/2016
9:30 am - 12 noon
BridgeValley's Advanced Technology Center
1201 Science Park Drive
South Charleston, WV 25303

Audio clips of each presentation are available at the end of this post!

Brad Smith, Kenova native and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of global software company Intuit, highlighted the growing high tech economy in West Virginia and encouraged a crowd of more than 100 West Virginia business, education and political leaders to embrace change, without losing what makes the state great, at the “Growing Innovation in the Mountain State” policy forum on April 6, 2016.

“We all have a remarkable opportunity to bring new jobs to West Virginia by fostering further development of technology and innovation-based businesses across the state,” said Brad Smith. “We have the entrepreneurial talent, we have the educational institutions ready to help train, and we are ready to work together to quickly realize this success.”

Smith said, “I see unlimited potential for this state to rise to the next chapter of great, without losing who we are in the process. But to do that, there are three areas that will require change: education, infrastructure and entrepreneurship.”


Anne Barth, Executive Director of TechConnect West Virginia and organizer of the event, said, “West Virginia’s high tech economy covers a multitude of different industries and professions, with opportunities in advanced energy, chemical research and development, biotechnology,  biometrics and software development, among other sectors.  With the support of state leaders and national experts I am confident that we can grow the innovation economy in West Virginia and create new jobs.”

In addition to a keynote presentation from Brad Smith, the event featured welcome remarks from Senate President Bill Cole and closing remarks from Keith Burdette, Cabinet Secretary of West Virginia Department of Commerce. To discuss the policies further, the event included two panels.

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Entitled, “Education matters: How to identify and foster young entrepreneurial talent in West Virginia,” the morning’s first panel featured Jim Clifton, CEO, Gallup, discussing the company’s extensive research on how to identify entrepreneurial traits at a young age. Joyce McConnell, Provost at West Virginia University, discussed WVU’s role as a land-grant institution in both educating students and working for the betterment of the state’s economy as a whole. Tom Heywood, Managing Partner at Bowles Rice LLP in Charleston, moderated the forum.

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The second panel discussion, entitled, “Putting the next generation to work: Partnerships that lead to more hiring and investments,” featured Dr. Jerome Gilbert, President, Marshall University; Joe Maxwell, Managing Partner, FinTech Growth Fund, Cultivation Capital; and, Dr. Wael Zatar, Professor, College of Information Technology and Engineering, Marshall University. The panel was moderated by Dr. John Maher, Chairman of the Board, TechConnect West Virginia and Vice President for Research at Marshall University.

President Gilbert highlighted Marshall University’s commitment to innovation and discussed the role of higher education in preparing the workforce for knowledge economy jobs. Dr. Zatar outlined the mission of Marshall’s Information Technology & Engineering College and their focus on preparing graduates for 21st century jobs. Joe Maxwell, who is a Huntington native, explained his work experience in the financial technology industry and how the skills and workers needed in that sector can and should come from West Virginia.

The event was hosted by TechConnect West Virginia at the BridgeValley Community & Technical College’s Advanced Technology Center in the West Virginia Regional Technology Park in South Charleston.


Listen to clips from the event:

Brad Smith speaks about growing West Virginia’s innovation economy, which will require change in three areas: education, broadband infrastructure and entrepreneurship.

Jim Clifton, CEO of Gallup; Joyce McConnell, WVU Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs; Tom Heywood, Managing Partner, Bowles Rice LLP.

Jim Clifton describes Gallup’s extensive research on how to identify entrepreneurial traits at a young age and why this is important to U.S. economic growth.

Provost McConnell discusses WVU’s emphasis on entrepreneurship, and its role as a land-grant institution in both educating students and working for the betterment of the state’s economy as a whole.

Dr. Jerome Gilbert, Marshall University President; Joe Maxwell, Managing Partner of Cultivation Capital; Dr. Wael Zatar, Marshall University; Dr. John Maher, Marshall University and Chairman of TechConnect West Virginia.

Senate President Bill Cole talks about the need for economic diversification, upgraded broadband connectivity in West Virginia, and STEM education.

Brad Smith shares closing remarks and notes that people want to have a mission; unstructured time creates opportunities; and a great work environment fosters innovation.

See more about this event:

Charleston Gazette-Mail

West Virginia Public Broadcasting

West Virginia MetroNews