RICHMOND, Va., Jan. 8, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — JMI and Virginia State University (VSU) launch the 2nd annual Big Dipper Innovation Summit – From Insight to Impact: Innovation for All – Thursday and Friday, January 11 and 12, at VSU’s Multi-Purpose Center, located at 20809 2nd Avenue, Petersburg, VA, 23803. For full details, and to register and purchase tickets, visit www.bigdippersummit.com.

The Big Dipper is a multifaceted experience encompassing moderated panel discussions, live entertainment, networking, and more. It’s designed to spotlight the foremost thought leaders in tech, sustainability, entrepreneurship, music, and culture, offering fresh perspectives on innovation in tech, funding, business, health, culture, and community development. This summit serves as a destination for creators, entrepreneurs, big dreamers, big thinkers, makers, and curators who seek conversations about innovation, new ideas, and the next frontier across major industries and emerging markets.

“Building on last year’s inaugural event focused on personal success, the content for this year’s summit really focuses on providing the blueprints for greater impact. We’ll explore what entrepreneurs and innovators in their respective sectors need to know to achieve lasting, transformative success, not just personally, but in their businesses, organizations, and communities, and for the world,” said James Warren, Vice President of Brand Strategy for JMI, and Founder/CEO of Share More Stories.

Among this year’s dozens of distinguished guests are:

  • Dr. Nashlie H. Sephus, one of the foremost thought leaders around Artificial Intelligence (AI) who will share her extraordinary entrepreneurial journey and the insights, challenges and innovations that have shaped her path to success

  • Jewel Burks Solomon, Head of Google for Startups in the US, one of the youngest and most notable innovators in tech today, who will take a deep dive into the intersection of innovation and funding strategies in a discussion about emerging tech opportunities

  • Bakari Sellers – NY Times best-selling Author, Civil Rights Activist, Attorney, Entrepreneur, Legislator, and overall prolific voice of the culture – who returns this year to unravel the intricacies of navigating social spaces, amplifying your voice, and weaving the common threads of success alongside award-winning journalist, filmmaker, and media executive, Natasha Alford

Big Dipper’s guests also feature a host of innovators in the capital funding space. Given that for many Black entrepreneurs it is financial and social capital where inequities are most prevalent, convening innovators like these at VSU – an HBCU that is slated to host a Presidential Debate in 2024 – brings national attention to the institution and its role in fostering innovation and inclusivity, emphasizes the importance of inclusivity and representation in the entrepreneurial and funding spaces, provides an opportunity to connect entrepreneurs with investors who are committed to supporting businesses that may have faced systemic barriers, and can open doors to opportunities that may have been historically less successful. This visibility for VSU also helps challenge stereotypes and reinforces that HBCUs are vital contributors to the nation’s intellectual and economic landscape.

A full list of guests and the schedule for this year’s summit are available on the Big Dipper website.

“The backdrop of the Big Dipper experience is inspiring self-actualization. It’s about taking ownership of the journey and finding the answers for how to unlock our intellectual and economic potential. And we do this by embracing the notion of self-determination and self-empowerment as a pathway to broader economic prosperity for everyone,” said Brelan Hillman Lead Content Coordinator for Big Dipper and Senior Project Manager at JMI. “The businesses these entrepreneurs and innovators want to build aren’t only going to help their communities. When they’re successful, they’ll help the whole world – which is really the history of Black entrepreneurship.”

Big Dipper opens Thursday, January 11th with Coffee and Conversation Spiritual Kickoff, and is followed by panel discussion that address Education Crossroads, Social Innovation, Blueprints for Visionary Leadership, Cultural Capital, Entrepreneurial Journeys, and Symbolism in Architecture and Design. Programming on Friday, January 12th features sessions on Community Renewal Strategies, Navigating Economic Intersections, Artful Business, Healthcare Horizons, and Emerging Tech Opportunities. The full schedule is available on the Big Dipper website.

About VSU

VSU is the nation’s first state supported HBCU to offer both a college program and a normal program, thereby opening doors for transformative experiences, opportunities, and access to a diverse population of lifelong learners in an inclusive environment for more than 130 years. www.vsu.edu.

About JMI

JMI is a brand strategy and consulting firm focused on community engagement. They serve as a bridge, building dialogue and trust to forge meaningful, lasting relationships between their clients and communities. www.wearejmi.com.

Contact: Frances Burruss | [email protected] 

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