Joel Bennett signs his email with a quote that affirms the message he is trying to deliver across the Triad.

“The best way to anticipate the future is to design it.” – Bucky Fuller

Some of the spadework that Bennett, an innovation consultant and startup acceleration expert, is doing along with former CED President Monica Doss and others delivers a payoff of sort today.

A host of promising, emerging new startups are pitching for prizes and publicity at the Smart Gigabit Communities Reverse Pitch event in the Triad. Bennett is a driving force behind the event. which is backed by IBM, RIoT [Regional Internet of Things], the North Carolina Next Generation Network, and others has also put together a new investment club focused on startups. Bennett talked with WRAL TechWire about New Ventures Accelerator and the SGC event.

“This is a very exciting time for those of us dedicated to the growth of the NC innovation economy,” Bennett tells The Skinny. “We are in the early stages of these programs, meaning that the impact of these programs is measured somewhere between five and seven years, and from that perspective the New Ventures investment club is building a portfolio of early startup companies and providing the post accelerator resources for their secondary funding success.”

Bennett also is backing the Smart Gigabit Communities initiative.

“The SGC program is focused on a different aspect of technological advancement for our State,” he says. And Bennett believes SGC technologies are important. “Assuring NC’s place in the future U.S.” will come in part thre high-speed networks, such as NCGN. And on the horizon is looming 5G wireless broadband.

“The global economy is predicated on the further investment in next generation of high speed fiber optic infrastructure and the continued testing, and deployment of 5G wireless systems,” Bennett says.

Startups involved are “seeking better use of high-speed, fiber-based Internet service as part of technical assistance,” Bennett adds. “This being made available for selected finalists to assist with questions related to development of applications in a high-speed network infrastructure.

“This could include best practices for optimizing performance and enhancing network and data security. Depth of expertise will be greatest for open source platforms such as Linux based servers, open flow software defined networks, and cloud based servers including local GENI [open source cloud] computing. Support will be available as part of scheduled workshops.”

US Ignite, which is funded by the National Science Foundation,NCNGN, North State, IBM and NC RIoT are all involved in the pitch program, through which competing companies have received advice, mentoring – and had to do a lot of homework. Dennis Newman, the NCNGN program manager at Duke, is the SGC representative for North Carolina and is working with Bennett for the pitch contest.

North State, a telecommunications and related services provider, is helping underwrite the costs of the SGC event. North State also provided matching funds with US Ignite to make the competition possible.

“North State has played a vital role in helping us move the ball downfield,” Bennett explains “hey recognized early on that entrepreneurship and software development are key to innovation and progress.”

Learn more about the reverse pitch program at: