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Virginia Unmanned Systems Industry Leaders Hold Annual Stakeholder Meeting to Discuss Opportunities and Economic Impact

Virginia UxS Stakeholders gather in Richmond to discuss opportunities for growth and economic impact.

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VIPC report forecasts $16 billion Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) industry across the Commonwealth

AAM is poised to boost Virginia’s economy while creating thousands of high-paying jobs for a workforce that is increasingly becoming more technology focused.”
— Bob Stolle, CEO and President of VIPC

RICHMOND , VIRGINIA, UNITED STATES, February 2, 2023 / -- Corporate executives, entrepreneurs, educators and government officials from throughout Virginia met last Wednesday at the annual Commonwealth of Virginia Unmanned Systems (UxS) Stakeholder Meeting in Richmond. The event, hosted by the Virginia Unmanned Systems Center at the Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation (VIPC), included remarks by state officials, updates by industry representatives, and findings from a report on the beneficial economic impact that advance air mobility (AAM) technology will provide to Virginia during the next several years.

According to the Virginia's Advanced Air Mobility (AAM)Future report, commissioned by VIPC and conducted by NEXA Advisors of McLean, Virginia, AAM will transform Virginia’s transportation system while generating $16 billion in new business activity during the next 23 years. The advanced aircraft technology, also known as air taxis, will create more than 17,000 new full-time aerospace industry and other jobs in the Commonwealth during that time. The report forecasts an estimated 7.7 million passengers per year, or over 21,000 passengers per day, traveling via AAM vehicles by 2045.

“AAM is poised to boost Virginia’s economy while creating thousands of high-paying jobs for a workforce that is increasingly becoming more technology-focused as we expand Virginia’s leadership in the aerospace and drone industry to include multi-dimensional mobility that will attract manufacturers and investment from around the country,” said, Bob Stolle, CEO and President of VIPC.

Also featured at the Stakeholder meeting was an introduction to the Public Safety Innovation Center (PSIC) at VIPC. PSIC Director Chris Sadler and subject matter expert D.J. Smith discussed recent initiatives that included the testing of unmanned systems to enhance security and emergency response at the Port of Virginia and the surrounding region in Hampton Roads. PSIC is also testing a system that monitors the airspace for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) or drones, which may be operating illegally or posing a threat to critical infrastructure such as airports, and government facilities.

“Drones offer significant emergency responder advantages at a low cost,” Sadler said. “Emergency response use of drones will become standard in the next few years, and anyone not using them may be considered negligent.”

Tracy Tynan, the director of the Unmanned Systems Center at VIPC, said the annual Stakeholder Meeting provides an opportunity for members of the UxS community to share information and educate Virginia lawmakers about the significant economic and societal impact the technology is providing.

“There are representatives from every part of Virginia at the meeting, which demonstrates the large presence and noticeable impact the industry is making throughout the commonwealth,” Tynan said. “Virginia is already one of the top states in unmanned systems thanks to an innovative business community, highly skilled workforce, and well-regarded education system, which will continue to lead this transformation of the aerospace industry.”

The annual meeting, followed by the VABA Aerospace Day Legislative Reception, was held at Main Street Station. Gov. Youngkin, Lt. Gov. Earle-Sears, and leaders from the General Assembly delivered remarks on the importance of the industry to Virginia’s economy. They also flew drones in the inside flight operations demonstration area and toured other exhibits describing new aerospace technology.

During the reception, a Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Charles Werner, the retired Fire Chief of Charlottesville and Director and Founder of Droneresponders. Chief Werner was recognized for his longstanding dedication to educating, supporting, and advocating the use of unmanned systems to increase protection in communities and the safety of first responders.

About Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation (VIPC)
VIPC: Connecting innovators with opportunities As the nonprofit operations arm of the Virginia Innovation Partnership Authority (VIPA), VIPC is the commercialization and seed stage economic development driver in the Commonwealth that leads funding, infrastructure, and policy initiatives to support Virginia's innovators, entrepreneurs, startups, and market development strategies. VIPC collaborates with local, regional, state, and federal partners to support the expansion and diversification of Virginia’s economy.

Programs include: Virginia Venture Partners (VVP) | VVP Fund of Funds (SSBCI) | Virginia Founders Fund (VFF) |Commonwealth Commercialization Fund (CCF) | Petersburg Founders Fund (PFF) | Smart Communities | Unmanned Systems | Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) | Public Safety Innovation |Entrepreneurial Ecosystems | Regional Innovation Fund (RIF) | Federal Funding Assistance Program (FFAP) for SBIR & STTR | University Partnerships | Startup Company Mentoring & Engagement. For more information, please visit

Angela Costello, Vice President of Communications
Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation (VIPC)