High-Tech Equals the High Life

From the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center eNewsletter, 10/29/08

Roanoke and Blacksburg Region Growing Firms, Creating Jobs

High-tech companies and high quality of life getting noticed

The fastest-growing e-mail specialist in the country.  One of the state’s leading biotech companies.  A firm with patents for computer-controlled floor advertising.  Another developing nanomedicine rototypes.

Silicon Valley?  Not even close.  Austin?  Try again.  Research Triangle?  Nope.

These companies – and hundreds of high-tech innovators like them – are forming and flourishing in the Roanoke and Blacksburg region.

Lured by a low cost of living, short commutes and proximity to Virginia Tech, recent college graduates, first time entrepreneurs and even seasoned professionals are flocking to the region.

The area is frequently recognized as a great place to raise a family and for its outstanding quality of life. Recently CNNMoney.com and Forbes.com named the region as a top place nationally for entrepreneurs and small businesses.

The Roanoke and New River Valleys are home to hundreds of companies involved in technology, including software engineering, bio-informatics, autonomous navigation, water purification, materials science, aerospace, telecommunications, new media, optics, information technology and more.

With 200 employees, Meridium, Inc. is a multi-national company with its headquarters in Roanoke and an office in the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center. Its “asset performance management” software helps companies maintain and optimize production, predict and prevent production breakdowns and improve profitability and reliability.

Novozymes Biologicals, Inc., named the Biotech Company of the Year in 2003 by the Virginia Biotechnology Association, has core competencies in developing, manufacturing, and applying live microbial products and is the market leader in several areas of environmental microbiology.

Optical Cable Corp. (NASDAQ:OCCF) in Roanoke designs and manufacturers tight-buffered fiber optic cable systems for use in harsh indoor/outdoor environments, such as mining, oil and gas, military and broadcast industries. OCC is the cable of choice for applications demanding the highest signal integrity and bandwidth for maximum security.

One of the region’s shining stars is Luna Innovations Incorporated (NASDAQ:LUNA) with offices in Roanoke and Blacksburg. Applying proprietary sensing and instrumentation and pharmaceutical technologies, Luna develops and manufactures new-generation products for the healthcare, telecommunications, energy and defense markets. Its products are used to measure, monitor, protect and improve critical processes.

Meanwhile, Mailtrust ranks #217 on the Inc. magazine list of fastest-growing companies in America and has been growing by more than 100 percent for each of the last five years. Mailtrust hosts nearly one million e-mail accounts for businesses throughout the world and was recently acquired by Rackspace, the world’s leader in Internet hosting. Since the merger, Mailtrust has created more than 70 high paying local jobs.

Other companies see the region’s skilled labor market to establish a footprint. One example is the Salem-based office of JDSU, a Fortune 500 company that provides communications test and measurement solutions and optical products for telecommunications service providers, cable operators and network equipment manufacturers.

Behind every great company is someone who believes. Founded by billionaire and Radford native R.J. Kirk, Third Security is an independent, local venture capital firm. Three of its top-10 investments are in the region, including life sciences company Intrexon, which launched a human clinical study related to melanoma; Synchrony, which develops advanced magnetic bearing technology for commercial and military applications; and LevelVision, which patented digital advertising on floor mats and other line-of-sight locations.

Learn more about other technology companies and employment opportunities in the NewVa region by visiting The NewVa Corridor Technology Council, NCTC.


  1. That was information-rich and was posted on the Virginia Bioscience Blog, too:


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