Innovators at the Raleigh Innovation Summit are enthusiastic about celebrating the past 20 months of success, and cautious about how to proceed.

The last year and a half has been “really exciting,” said Jason Widen, managing director of HQRaleigh, “like drinking out of a firehouse.”

Entrepreneurship and innovation initiatives in the Triangle continue to emerge, expand, and grow. The community has absorbed initiatives like the American Underground, HQRaleigh, LAUNCH-Chapel Hill, and many others.

And there are new projects on the horizon.

“We’re actually moving down to the warehouse district to a space about four times our current size,” said Widen, “it’s a really good time to be a part of this entrepreneurial scene.”

“NC State has been on the leading edge of this entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said Christopher Gergen, founder of Bull City Forward, while introducing Terri Lomax, vice chancellor for research, innovation, and economic development at NC State University, which has recently launched Springboard.

Springboard, a new project from NC State, puts together all of the units that interact with external industries as well as a few entrepreneurial support organizations. It’s in a new innovation neighborhood at NC State, said Lomax, “which is going to be an entrepreneurship living and learning village.”

It’s one way to bridge the university-to-entrepreneur gap. Widen, in his spare time, has put together a real estate deal that provides a gap-year experience to university entrepreneurs seeking to pursue their innovation dreams.

“We’ve started an intentional living community for young entrepreneurs called the ThinkHouse,” said Widen. The project, in partnership with Brooks Bell and Jesse Lipson, two Triangle entrepreneurs, is “a launch pad or springboard for young graduates that have entrepreneurial ambitions.”

“Ultimately, we’d like to scale this worldwide,” said Widen, with the goal of 50 ThinkHouses in 50 cities in 5 years. “Look forward to seeing a ThinkHouse near you.”

But the Raleigh innovators recognize that the Triangle is the important national and international brand, and that spurring innovation across both RTP metro-service areas is vital to the overall success of the Innovate Raleigh mission – to establish the Triangle as one of the top five innovation economies in the nation.

“One of the major eye-opening experiences I’ve had,” said Adam Klein, “was a trip to the middle east in April.” Klein, who went to present the Smoffice, which won the best unconventional project at the 2013 International Chamber of Commerce World Federation Competition, said that people from around the globe recognized the international brand of the Triangle.

“I think that’s great,” said Klein, “and we’ve got great opportunity” to continue to build the ecosystem.

“I don’t think we’re doing a great job telling our story,” said Dwight Bassett, economic development officer for the town of Chapel Hill, “we as a region need to start offering once-a-quarter communication that tells the story.”

“The corporate world, the established business community world, is finally recognizing the gritty entrepreneurial cultures,” said Widen, “and a lot of organizations are getting involved, but it needs to be more intentional.”

“I think the next stage of this whole thing is to be more nuanced about the relationships that we’re creating with companies,” said Widen.

Engaging the corporate world is the number one priority, said Widen, and understanding the ecosystem and building support for those industries that don’t currently receive some support.

“One of the things we need to be thoughtful is how we move companies through the ecosystem here,” said Klein. “It’s not going to be until we have a company that explodes on a national scale,” said Klein, that people in Berlin, or Prague, or Austin, will recognize the area’s true potential.