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Building Innovation Hubs

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Krista Covey
VelocityTX / Texas Research Technology Foundation, Vice President, Economic Development & U.S.A. Innovation Programs

Krista is the Vice President of Economic Development & U.S.A. Innovation Programs for VelocityTX, an international center of innovation in San Antonio, Texas. VelocityTX, at its core is a hub where entrepreneurs can access the resources they need – capital, mentors, executives, scientists, deal flow, specialized manufacturing, etc. She works with individuals and businesses in the ideation phase through commercialization and beyond. Krista specifically developed and oversees the business innovation programs including: Velocity360 Ideation, Velocity Human Health Accelertor, Velocity Incubator, Velocity Growth for second-stage companies, VTXmPACT Mentorship, and VelocityTX Research and Technology Commercialization.

Previously, Krista worked in a traditional Economic Development role and started the SMARTstart Business Incubator program serving Florida’s, Tampa Bay entrepreneurs as a “bottom-up approach” to economic sustainability.  SMARTstart more than doubled in size and expanded to two locations within a year. She also managed a micro-loan fund for early-stage and small businesses that could not access traditional sources of capital. She also coordinated an Entrepreneur Assistance network, providing free help for small businesses. She managed the Economic Gardening program for established high-growth businesses and facilitated Founder/CEO roundtables.

She is a Certified Program Director with the Economic Gardening Institute and GrowFL serving second-stage entrepreneurs. In contrast to traditional business assistance, economic gardening focuses on strategic growth challenges, such as developing new markets, refining business models and gaining access to competitive intelligence. Economic gardening specialists help CEOs identify which issues are hindering their growth and then leverage sophisticated tools to deliver insights and information for immediate implementation.

Before embarking on her Economic Development career, she had over ten years of commercial finance experience working in corporate lending and managed an extensive lending portfolio. In addition, she has also grown her own successful finance business with a profitable exit. Krista holds a B.S. in Business Marketing from Southeastern University and her Masters in Business Administration from Saint Leo University.

Krista is a Certified Incubator Manager with the International Business Innovation Association (InBIA) and is a proud member of the InBIA Board of Directors, currently Chairing the Audit Committee and 2nd Vice Chair. She is also a member of the Start-up Champions Network serving on the Membership Committee. She is also an Ambassador for the Co.Starters community, fueling vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystems.

She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce and Chairs the Economic Development Committee.  She was the Tampa Bay Times’ “Top 20 who made the Tampa Bay economy better in 2014.”

Born in Chicago, Illinois, Krista grew up in sunny, central Florida. She currently resides and loves living in San Antonio, Texas with her husband and two beautiful daughters.

Krista is passionate about family, start-ups, good food, building things, wild adventures, and traveling to (and serving in) developing countries.

Paul Riser
TechTown Detroit, Director of Detroit Urban Solutions

Paul Riser, Jr. serves as the inaugural Director of Detroit Urban Solutions at TechTown Detroit. This role entails leading a technology innovation

consortium dedicated to advancing the growth of Detroit’s technology ecosystem and supporting the development of solutions to challenges that face Detroit and other urban areas. The core areas of focus are mobility, digital health, civic and smart city technologies. Prior to taking on the role as Director of Detroit Urban Solutions, Paul was the Managing Director of Technology-Based Entrepreneurship at TechTown Detroit where he guided the design, execution and management of the nonprofit’s technology programming for early stage companies. This included support for tech startups in the form of business acceleration, proof of concept, university and health care system commercialization and incubation services.

Riser is an entrepreneur, chief technologist, information officer and systems engineer with more than 20 years of professional experience working with start-up firms to global enterprises in the areas of IT systems administration, systems architecture, technology integration, technical pre-sales support and medical device development.

Prior to joining TechTown, Riser served as chief technology and information officer for Innovative Health Technologies, a Detroit biotech startup developing health care solutions in the form of regenerative, biomimetic medical devices. Riser is also the CEO of the Riser Group, a Northville-based IT and business development consulting firm.

In addition, Riser is a founding member of the MedHealth Innovation Cluster and Board Member of the New Detroit Coalition, Motown Museum, LIFT (Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow), Together.health Steering Committee Member, Cranbrook Institute of Science, International Business Innovation Association (InBIA), Gener8tor Accelerator (Madison, WI), WEtech Alliance (Windsor, Ontario) and the National Advisory Board for University of Michigan’s Fast Forward Medical Innovations (FFMI).

Joyce Deuley
Geekdom, Program Manager, Pre-accelerator

Joyce has nearly a decade’s worth of experience as a technology analyst and consultant. She translates emerging and current global market trends in order to help people, cities, and business sustainably harness innovation. Most recently, Joyce has worked on innovation programs for Geekdom coworking, including the CivTechSA program in partnership with the City of San Antonio and the Geekdom Pre-accelerator.

Chelsea Collier
Digi.City, Co-Founder

Chelsea Collier fosters collaboration between the public and private sectors to solve civic challenges, leveraging her experience in tech, policy, social impact, civic engagement and entrepreneurship. Chelsea is the Founder of Digi.City, Editor-At-Large for Smart City Connect, Senior Advisor for Texans for Economic Progress, and Co-Founder of Impact Hub Austin, one of 84 community spaces around the world committed to social and civic good. She provides consulting services through her firm, Intercambio Group. Chelsea is a Zhi-Xing Eisenhower Fellow (2016) and is a contributor to Inc.com where she writes about innovation and smart cities.


As millions of people around the globe move to urban areas every year, it has become imperative for cities to systematically develop sustainable practices. How can cities leverage human power and technology to meet the United Nations development goal of making every city “inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable.”