RALEIGH – Innovate Raleigh’s new executive director Bridget Harrington is soliciting ideas and perspectives on the role the organization can play to drive innovative cultural and entrepreneurial development in the city.

Innovate Raleigh

She’s opened a line of communication by inviting Raleigh residents to send ideas, stories, and perspectives to the organization by email at hello@innovateraleigh.com.

Listening to citizens is a critical component of meeting the mission of the organization, says Harrington, which is “to act as a catalyst, connector and convener of innovative enterprises and thinkers in Raleigh and the Triangle.”

Ultimately, the organization hopes to spur entrepreneurial growth to make the Triangle one of the top five centers for innovation and entrepreneurship in the country.

Harrington joins Innovate Raleigh after two years at KPMG. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and moved to New York City, where she co-founded Syndicate Media Group, which she later sold. After the sale, she moved to San Francisco to direct the growth of an intrapreneurial venture, The Bold Italic, at Gannett, which the company would later spin off and sell.

At the time, Harrington and her husband, Dan Parham, co-founder of Neighborland, began to search for a new community. When they visited Raleigh, they were blown away by the palpable excitement in the community and on the streets, said Harrington.

“Raleigh seemed to really check all of our boxes,” said Harrington, “And when we got here, the community exceeded our expectations.”

Ready for the challenge

As they settled in to the community, they worked to plug in to the entrepreneurial community. When the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce announced the partnership with Innovate Raleigh in August, they also announced their intention to hire an executive director.

Harrington was ready for the challenge. “I wanted to be a part of the cultural and economic development in this city that we’re now calling home,” said Harrington. Leading Innovate Raleigh seemed to be a natural fit. Harrington started on Dec. 19 and began investing her time in conducting a listening tour with those in the entrepreneurial community.

The listening tour is a vital part of understanding the role that the organization must play in Raleigh and the Triangle, said Harrington. “Where is the right space for Innovate Raleigh, and where can we shine?”

Harrington will work closely with the organization’s board of directors as well as the board of advisers, both of which have granted her the latitude to make important strategic decisions to advance the mission and vision of the organization.

There are other projects that will launch in 2018, said Harrington, some of which emerged as a priority at and after the 2017 Innovate Raleigh Summit on November 9, 2017, its sixth annual event. Those projects will come, however, much of her time in the early part of 2018 will be spent meeting with Raleigh’s entrepreneurial stakeholders and interacting with residents during her listening tour.