The Regional Innovation Acceleration Network (RIAN) is a project of SSTI funded by the U.S. Economic Development Administration to establish and support a virtual nationwide community of nonprofit Venture Development Organizations (VDOs). A VDO is a business-driven, public or nonprofit organization that promotes regional growth by providing a flexible portfolio of services, including: assisting in the creation of high-growth companies; providing expert business assistance to those companies; facilitating or making direct financial investments; and, speeding the commercialization of technology.
RIAN is built on twelve guiding principles about the appropriate public role to encourage regional growth and the need for VDOs. RIAN draws on the lessons learned from the various approaches in place to support regional innovation (see diagram below).
The RIAN project is working to:
- define and establish the concept of a VDO as a practical, efficient and successful means of supporting regional innovation and economic development (this includes showcasing the economic impact of successful VDO activities across the country);
- support the community of existing and emerging VDOs around the country by providing the means for peer-to-peer sharing of information and best/common practices and helping to identify funding opportunities for VDOs; and
- provide tools to help regions approach the creation of their own VDO.