“We are excited to announce the launch of a new innovation studio and programming for early-stage biotech companies. With support from the Commonwealth of Virginia and the City of Roanoke, we are positioning the region to be a hub for life science companies to grow and thrive here.” –  Erin Burcham, president of Verge and executive director of RBTC.

Roanoke, Virginia (March 22, 2023) – Verge Virginia is very pleased to announce Jess Edwards as the Director of Innovation Studio for the new biotechnology incubator in Roanoke.

With robust experience in entrepreneurial ecosystem building, Edwards was previously the Principal of the Dan River Region Entrepreneur Ecosystem in Southern Virginia, where her work focused on implementing rural entrepreneurship and innovation primarily focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion with a hyper local lens.

Prior to working in Virginia, Edwards held the position of director of outreach and engagement for the Alaska Ocean Cluster Initiative, where her work focused on cultivating strategic partnerships, developing innovative programming and creating a statewide leadership summit, all in an effort to accelerate Alaska’s ocean (blue) economy development. Additionally, Jess Edwards held positions to build and launch innovative coworking spaces for TRYP by Wyndham Dubai and Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Inc.

A graduate of the State University of New York at Buffalo, Edwards holds a bachelor’s degree in political science. She is a WNY BETA finalist for “Best Buffalo Community Tech Contribution of the Year,” a recipient of “Buffalo 30 Under 30” award, and a “10 Extraordinary Minds Award in Sales, Marketing & Revenue Optimization” HSMAI Middle East awardee. She has served as a panelist or guest speaker at events all over the world, including the Nigeria Social Media Summit, the Dubai Lynx – International Festival of Creativity and MaRS Toronto.

Jess’s work focuses on strategically implementing innovative concepts to advance entrepreneurial ecosystems.

To learn more about the Roanoke biotechnology incubator project visit – https://www.roanokeva.gov/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=1922