More than 250 innovators, entrepreneurs, and engaged citizens from the City of Oaks are gathered at the Raleigh Convention Center today for the second annual Innovate Raleigh Summit.

“A fist fight almost broke out about the Raleigh brand,” said Mary Ann Baldwin, Raleigh city council member, recalling the first annual gathering of Innovate Raleigh in January of 2012, “but the one thing that was clear is that we walked away with a very clear goal – to make our region one of the top five centers of innovation in the country.”

“We are making strides toward that goal,” said Baldwin. Today’s gathering, nearly 20 months later, is designed to generate three to four actionable ideas that can be implemented to reach the group’s overall goal of propelling the Raleigh and Triangle area into the top five innovation economies in the country.

Opening keynote speaker Chris Harder, the former director of the economic analysis for the North Carolina Department of Commerce and current business and industry division manager at the Portland Development Commission, celebrated Raleigh’s current accomplishments and spoke about lessons that the two cities may be able to learn from one another.

“We are convinced that the soul of entrepreneurship is not limited to the private sector,” said Harder, and that cities that want to attract innovation must seek to engage its citizens. It’s a term that Harder calls “civic innovation,” and describes Portland’s efforts as “the catalyst that helped put Portland on the map.”

Innovate Raleigh is a collaborative project that exists to catalyze innovation efforts in the region, involving North Carolina State University, Wake Tech Community College, Wake County Economic Development, Raleigh Economic Development and the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, to name a few.

What will Raleigh’s catalyst be? The afternoon sessions will give participants the opportunity to engage directly with their peers and generate ideas that will be brought back to the main group.

Stay tuned to WRALTechWire for updates on the latest from the 2013 Raleigh Innovation Summit.