The Tom Tom Founders Festival held a Youth Summit at the Paramount Theater Thursday to support and highlight local student innovation.
The summit featured student-led presentations and several student entrepreneurial competitions. Wes Bellamy, vice-mayor of Charlottesville, gave the keynote address, and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed a bill to protect the rights of student innovators.
The bill — House Bill 1230 — will clarify university intellectual property rights by specifying the conditions under which universities and colleges own intellectual property and when students own intellectual property.
The purpose of the bill is to encourage business ventures in Virginia by cultivating innovative environments at places of higher education, McAuliffe said.
“Hopefully this will help us impart in our students the ability to bounce back when you fail, the desire to take action,” McAuliffe said. “It’s about the entrepreneurial mindset. My hope is in all the work we do together, that’s something we can spread throughout the Commonwealth.”
Before McAuliffe signed the bill, Bellamy delivered a speech highlighting the importance of young problem solving and pursuing difficult goals, even against the odds.
“My definition of courage is having the ability to do something that frightens others,” Bellamy said. “In order for you to make a difference you must be courageous in whatever way that means to you.”
Bellamy encouraged students to become involved in their communities and with their peers as soon as possible, and to continue to cultivate innovative ideas with others.
“It is up to you to determine that what they are saying is a lie. You have to have the courage to say ‘That is a lie — it may not be able to happen right now, today, but believe me this will happen,’” Bellamy said.
Bellamy ended his speech by promoting the active interaction of government officials and young entrepreneurs in education, stating it is important for elected officials to be actively involved in bettering education, and promoting innovation and entrepreneurship among young students.
At the following bill signing, McAuliffe similarly encouraged the students present to take risks while young and pursue their business ideas wholeheartedly.
“Don’t be afraid to take chances — sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t, but the key is what you do the next day,” McAuliffe said.
Maurice Jones, state secretary of commerce and trade, Del. Steve Landes (R-Albemarle) and Del. Charniele Herring (D-Alexandria) were present at the signing.
McAuliffe emphasized his hope that Virginia will become a cyber-capital of the nation, with legislation such as HB 1230 acting as stepping stones to this goal by encouraging students to embrace business ideas by clarifying the rights to their intellectual property.
Herring echoed McAuliffe’s sentiments, highlighting the role of young students and entrepreneurs in economic growth and stability.
“To ensure that Virginia has a bright future and to make sure the new Virginia economy is working, we are making you a part of the process,” Herring said to the students congregated for the summit. “[How] glorious to be here, steps away from Mr. Jefferson's University. This bill will protect your interests — when you’re in your University, and your dorm room.”