VIPC leader to step down
CEO Bob Stolle has been with state tech innovation arm for 13 years
Virginia Innovation Partnership Corp. President and CEO Robert “Bob” Stolle will step down from his role in September after 13 years with the not-for-profit state corporation and its predecessor.
Stolle became CEO of VIPC’s predecessor, the Center for Innovative Technology, in 2020. Before that, he was the economic development organization’s senior vice president for operations. Joseph Benevento, Virginia’s deputy secretary of commerce and trade, will become VIPC’s interim CEO in September, and Stolle will stay on as an adviser during the transition through at least the end of October.
“I think that VIPC is at a really good position now to transition to new leadership. We’ve been through such a period of change over the last three years,” including rebranding in 2021, getting a new board and gaining funding and programs, Stolle said. He’s also proud of the organization’s role in increasing early-stage investments in Virginia-based startups and in helping universities recruit researchers for commercialization programs by assisting them with lab and equipment costs.
“But as I look at it, I recognize that … they need leadership that can look into the next decade, and I wouldn’t be here for 10 more years,” he added, “and I think the organization would greatly benefit from somebody coming in and bringing that vision.”
Stolle, who served as state secretary of commerce and trade under Gov. George Allen, doesn’t plan to retire but does not have his next step lined up, he said.
Looking forward, Stolle said he thinks “the first thing we need to do is make sure that we continue to have that exploratory role, that we’re looking for: ‘What are the new industries? What are the new opportunities?’”
As an example, VIPC identified unmanned aerial systems as an emerging industry sector that had opportunities for Virginia to take advantage of, Stolle said, and the corporation is exploring the potential for growth in new technologies like quantum computing.
“It’s all about workforce,” he said. “Companies will come in if we’ve got the workers, and so we want to make sure that we continue to grow the skill sets — and right now, that’s information technology and cybersecurity and others — that will help to attract the attention of the nation to Virginia for continued leadership in the workforce.”
VIPC is a not-for-profit corporation created in 1985 by the General Assembly as an economic development organization for the technology sector. VIPC provides strategic commercialization and funding support to Virginia-based tech startups.