Technology continues to evolve, making some jobs obsolete and demanding new knowledge and skills from the workforce. Automation and machine learning are now predicted to render drivers, bankers, accountants, paralegals, translators, even newspaper reporters and air traffic controllers—some 47 percent of the current U.S. job market—vulnerable to extinction within 10 years. Today, for every 5 million unemployed people in the job market, there are 6 million unfilled jobs. There is growing demand for occupations such as health care workers, data analysts, software developers, and cybersecurity specialists. Whether you’re filling a position or launching a business of your own, Mason is helping Virginians position themselves for success. And as the region’s largest tech talent producer and one of its primary economic drivers, Mason will continue to evolve to meet workforce and economic demands.
Mason does its entrepreneurship work through its administration of several federal, state, regional, and local programs: Small Business Development Center (SBDC), Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), the Women’s Business Center (WBC), the Innovation Commercialization Assistance Program (ICAP), Business Finance Center and Mason Enterprise Center incubators in the City of Fairfax, Fauquier County, Springfield, and coming soon in 2022 in Arlington and Prince William Counties, in partnership with state and federal agencies, accelerators, universities and community colleges, and economic development organizations.
High-growth ventures offer an important component of an economic recovery through capital impact, high-wage job creation, and national competitiveness. Research shows that almost 50 percent of new jobs in the United States were created by high-growth ventures, and another 20 percent were created by early-stage startups. Thanks to the Commonwealth of Virginia and a GO Virginia grant, Mason’s Innovation Commercialization Assistance Program (ICAP) is able to expand its work training researchers on lean start-up methods to offering a stable network of mentors to all tech companies across Virginia, doubling capacity to assist technology- and innovation-driven startups across Virginia through 1:1 mentorship from experienced entrepreneurs. ICAP sits under the Mason Enterprise umbrella of programs and resources that support startups. More than 600 early-stage tech companies across the state have accessed ICAP services and went on to generate $40 million in new capital.
A NEW LOCATION FOR COLLABORATION
Mason has established the new College of Engineering and Computing, which is now home to the reorganized Volgenau School of Engineering and Virginia’s first School of Computing. Recognizing the need for technological skills across all disciplines, Mason added the School of Computing to create a location for interdisciplinary collaboration in research and education, and to provide a wide array of computing and related courses for students from all academic backgrounds. The school will eventually include multidisciplinary programs designed in collaboration with industry experts to meet workforce demands.
SHOWCASING TECH’S BEST AND BRIGHTEST STARTUPS
In 2021, Mason partnered with local and state economic development organizations, innovative corporations, and a small army of judges and mentors for Accelerate 2022, a venture capital conference designed to fuel innovation-based business growth by showcasing the best and brightest new tech startups to potential investors. The inaugural conference offered two days of investor presentations from the region’s top tech startups, investor panels, and keynote speakers. Accelerate 2023 is scheduled for November 2–3, 2022.
PROMOTING THE VIRGINIA LIFE SCIENCES ECOSYSTEM
Northern Virginia is a regional hub for Virginia Bio-Connect, a statewide initiative for life sciences and biotechnology work. Mason and the Prince William County Department of Economic Development will lead the Northern Virginia BioHub, one of five clusters that exist throughout the commonwealth. The project, which is directed by the Virginia Biotechnology Association and supported by a two-year, $3.2 million initiative funded by a GO Virginia statewide competitive matching grant, is a collaboration designed to build support for early-stage bio health companies by increasing resources, connectivity, and awareness of the commonwealth’s early-stage science industry.
WELCOME TO THE NEIGHBORHOOD
Amazon’s HQ2 announcement established Northern Virginia as one of the nation’s leading tech hubs, with proximity to D.C.’s policymakers and to universities that can deliver a steady supply of digital innovation research and tech talent. While other organizations and institutions work on establishing their position locally, Mason continues to build on a foundation established long ago. We are the region’s largest tech talent producer. No other university in the state prepares more students in tech-related fields than Mason, and the number promises to grow: By 2024, Mason projects it will have more than 10,000 undergraduates and 5,000 graduate students enrolled in computing-related degree programs. We are primary drivers for Virginia’s economic growth. In the past year, Mason assisted more than 10,000 small businesses, providing them with more than 27,000 hours of 1:1 counseling. More than 18,000 entrepreneurs and small business owners attended 863 Mason-hosted events. The result is an estimated economic impact to the Commonwealth of Virginia of more than $2 billion.
DIGITAL CREDENTIAL PROVIDES NEW SKILLS
Digital technology is remaking industries, our economy, and how people work. It is integrated into everything we do. As most jobs now require some level of digital technology proficiency, students who graduate with skills in areas such as data analysis, data visualization, and security are more competitive in the job market. The Digital Technology Credential is designed for students in any major looking to acquire the digital technology skills that employers in the metropolitan areas of Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Richmond need. Developed with Capital CoLAB, the Greater Washington Partnership’s tech-focused initiative, the credential equips students across disciplines with the entry-level digital technology skills that employers need most.