From the President: Building Vibrant Community

3 minute read

Often when I speak about Wake Forest Innovation Quarter, I refer to it as a community. That is more than just a nice buzzword meant to conjure images of people milling about, engaged in various activities.

Community is actually at the very heart of what we are creating here.

You see, in the old days, innovation happened in relatively obscure settings. We all know the stories of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates who created what would one day become massive technology companies out of their very garages. For decades, the technology industry was a closed-door enterprise—the thought being that you had to keep everyone out so they wouldn’t discover the breakthrough you were working on. It was all about protecting and dividing to conquer.

But today, innovation is almost exclusively a social enterprise. Things no longer happen in silos. Companies are formed and almost immediately begin interacting with other companies and organizations to advance their ideas or products to the next stage of development.

Building vibrant community is central to our mission at the Innovation Quarter, and that starts with all of us.

Eric Tomlinson

I see this directly in my complementary role at Wake Forest Innovations, one of the tenants of Innovation Quarter, where our mission statement is “Improving health through collaborative innovation.” We aim to work with industry at all stages of development, not just when we happen to have a technology ready to license because it has advanced to the intellectual property stage.

Innovation has become collaborative and necessarily so. That is why the Innovation Quarter is structured the way it is. Rather than having one building dedicated to one institution, you now see a national advertising firm in MullenLowe just upstairs from Forsyth Technical Community College and just downstairs from the Physician Assistant Program of the Wake Forest School of Medicine.

Very soon, undergraduate students will move in right next door to medical students. The interactions we are creating are intentional and very powerful.

Building vibrant community is central to our mission at the Innovation Quarter, and that starts with all of us. That’s why I’d like to invite you personally to our upcoming Innovation Quarter Town Hall on November 17 at Wake Forest Biotech Place. Please save the date on your calendar and look for more information soon via email and social media.

This will be a wonderful time for interaction and collaboration and an opportunity to ask questions about the community we are building here during the Q&A session I will be leading.

Come with your colleagues and your friends, especially those who have never experienced the Innovation Quarter before. Come to learn more and to teach us more. But please do come be a part of our Town Hall event where we will interact as a community.

Register to attend the Innovation Quarter Town Hall on Thursday, November 17.

By Eric Tomlinson, President, Wake Forest Innovation Quarter