In Raleigh over the course of this past year, innovation has become so much more than a buzzword. It’s become a defining principle helping guide our civic, private sector and city leaders as we all grow into a modern, thriving urban hub. While the underpinnings of this innovation culture have been established over the years, 2012 was a year of significant developments in this space. As we head into 2013, I thought it would be good to take stock of where we are and to highlight some of the people, organizations and events that are helping shape the culture and future of our city.
I do want to make a special mention before I dive into the highlights. Raleigh City Councilor Mary-Ann Baldwin has been one of the biggest leaders and advocates of all things innovation, and was involved in many, if not all of the events highlighted below. She has been an innovation champion for the city and for the Triangle region itself, so in our mind, she deserves a special recognition for her efforts in 2012!
Innovate Raleigh is a community, a group of like minded folks that came together out of the need for a catalyst to bring different initiatives and people together in the Triangle. It all started with the Innovation Summit, what I like to call the spark for a lot of the things that happened throughout the year. In it, 175 participants from different areas of the community (government, academia, private sector) got together to tackle the big picture, what it would take to move Raleigh forward in this space. This summit brought about an action plan that was followed throughout the year and which has strengthened our standing as an innovation hub nationally. You can peruse through the Innovate Raleigh final report here too, published by one of the really innovative companies in Raleigh, New Kind. Innovate Raleigh was put together by this group of people.
Innovation Meetups and the #InnovateRal online community
One of the main actions to come out of the Innovation Summit was the creation of the Innovate Raleigh meetups, which in turn helped create the #InnovateRal community on Twitter. The need to bring together the brains, the leaders and the wallets of this new economy gave way to a series of networking events throughout the year. We attended some of these and blogged about one of them here at Downtown-Raleigh.com (July meetup at Captrust tower in North Hills). The meetups were very successful at bringing different parts of the entrepreneurial community together, one of the main challenges this group faces throughout the Triangle.
CityCamp Raleigh and TriangleWiki
CityCampRaleigh is a close knit community of like minded folks that brought the CityCamp movement to the Triangle in 2011. Spearheaded by open source champion Jason Hibbets and Raleigh City Councilor Bonner Gaylord, the group is always on the hunt for ways to bring technology and innovation to help city government. This year’s event was a success, with the winning team being the RGreenway App, a mobile application that puts relevant information at the hands of those using Raleigh’s greenways.
One of the initiatives that grew from one of the core members of this group this year is called TriangleWiki. Created by localWiki.org and brought to Raleigh by community organizer and technologist Reid Serozi, TriangleWiki is
a free, openly-editable, community-centric website for local history, media, opinions, interesting characters and everything else about the Triangle Region
- TriangleWiki website
It’s quickly becoming a great source of hyper-local information, being used not only by people but by other applications and websites, moderated by members of the local community.
As we wrote back in August, HUB Raleigh opened its doors in September. It’s the latest venture for Triangle startup rockstars Brooks Bell and Christopher Gergen, a co-working entrepreneurial hub in downtown Raleigh that is poised to attract and help spark startups in the area, and to connect them with a worldwide organization of similar communities.
Raleigh names Entrepreneur and Innovation Manager
Finally, one of the big news of the year was the appointment of our good friend Derrick Minor as the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Manager for the Office of Economic Development in the City of Raleigh. Derrick was a key member of the Downtown Raleigh Alliance team, helping to attract businesses to the downtown Raleigh community. He’s one of the city’s true connectors, helping bring together people and resources and has acted as a catalyst in driving new startups and entrepreneurs to get acquainted with the downtown community. We can’t think of a better person suited for this role in the city, and look forward to seeing Derrick apply his networking skills for the benefit of not only downtown, but the entire city in 2013.
These are only some of the highlights of what was a great year for the entrepreneurial community in Raleigh. There are many other significant people and events that took place throughout the year, and we look forward to many more events and success stories in 2013. Onward, Raleigh!