Regional Entrepreneurship & Innovation (REI)

RISE Collaborative – Southern Virginia’s Regional Investment in Startups and Entrepreneurs

Starting, building, or growing a business doesn’t have to be a journey that is taken alone. RISE Collaborative centers the entrepreneur in a supportive ecosystem, where they can connect and grow with other innovators on their own journeys to success. Entrepreneurs are connected with resources for training, networking, and capital access in an environment that welcomes founders of all experience levels.

Entrepreneurship Training Pipeline

Community Entrepreneurship 

The community entrepreneurship training will include CO.STARTERS Get Started Workshops and Core Program cohorts. It will also include training on digital skills for business through the Longwood SBDC as well as support for applying to participate in the ICAP program through the Virginia SBDC. 

Learn more about community entrepreneurship

Youth Entrepreneurship

The youth entrepreneurship program will help students K-12 learn the entrepreneurial mindset and explore entrepreneurship as a possible career pathway. This program will include an annual event, out-of-school and afterschool learning opportunities, and in-school integration of entrepreneurship learning standards into existing curriculum. 

Learn more about youth

Collegiate Entrepreneurship

Within GO Virginia Region 3, there are three four-year institutions of higher education: Averett University, Hampden-Sydney College, and Longwood University. All three institutions are currently developing curriculums for undergraduate and graduate students. The SOVA Innovation Hub is facilitating a monthly convening among the three institutions.

Learn more about collegiate entrepreneurship

Access to Capital 

Access to capital and debt lending become important ways for starters to launch, grow, and scale their businesses. If you’re looking to invest in entrepreneurs in Southern Virginia, join our digital ecosystem on StartupSpace.

Regional Scorecard

There are a variety of entrepreneurship development initiatives in progress across GO Virginia Region 3. The Regional Entrepreneurship & Innovation Scorecard is a tool to measure the collective success and overall effectiveness of initiatives over the long-term. 

Regional Centers of Innovation

GO Virginia Region 3 spans 15 localities. The SOVA Innovation Hub is facilitating collaboration among partners across the region to leverage our collective assets, fill gaps, and create more access to entrepreneurship resources for current and future business owners in Southern Virginia.  

In the northern end of GO Virginia Region 3, Longwood University and Hampden-Sydney College are collaborating to develop an innovation center in Farmville, which will provide a destination for students and community members. 

In the eastern part of GO Virginia Region 3, the SOVA Innovation Hub is collaborating with the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center, Southside Virginia Community College, and other partners to strengthen the entrepreneurship ecosystem. 

In the western end of Region 3, Patrick Henry Community College operates the Dalton IDEA Center in Uptown Martinsville, and partners with the Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce and the Patrick County Chamber of Commerce to offer bootcamp style entrepreneurship training. Virginia Tech Reynolds-Homestead offers AIR Patrick County.  The Dan River Region Entrepreneur Ecosystem serves Danville, Pittsylvania County, and Caswell County, NC. 

Founding and Supporting Partners


In 2019, MBC received a grant partnership with Longwood University’s Office of Community and Economic Development (OCED) to develop a regional entrepreneurship and innovation (REI) investment strategy for GO Virginia Region 3, which includes 15 localities in Southern Virginia. The resulting strategy, which was driven by community engagement and best practices, offered a series of recommendations to grow Southern Virginia’s entrepreneurial and innovation economy. The strategy was officially adopted by the GO Virginia Region 3 Council in October 2020. The strategy document can be viewed here.

While this grant was ongoing, MBC, through a partnership with Microsoft TechSpark, created the SOVA Innovation Hub to focus on enhancing digital skills and entrepreneurship development in Southern Virginia.

In November 2020, MBC again partnered with Longwood’s OCED, this time through the SOVA Innovation Hub, to apply for another grant, to begin implementation of the strategy. In March 2021, the GO Virginia State Board approved the implementation grant submitted by the SOVA Innovation Hub in partnership with the Longwood OCED. Partners providing additional in-kind and cash match include MBC, the Longwood SBDC, and Hampden-Sydney College.

The two-year implementation project will run from April 2021 through March 2023 and includes a three-part mission consisting of creating training pipelines, increasing capital access, and the convening of Southern Virginia’s entrepreneurial ecosystem to create an innovation economy.