Former Police Chief Mike Schirling appointed as BTV Ignite New Executive Director

September 23, 2015

September 22, 2015

Contact:               Michael Schirling


                               mike [at] btvignite [dot] com

BTV Ignite Takes Next Steps to Spur Economic Development 
Burlington Institutions to Finance and Govern Initiative; 

Michael Schirling Appointed Executive Director; 2015 BTV Ignite Conference Scheduled

Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger and other Burlington institutional leaders today announced a series of steps to strengthen the two-year-old BTV Ignite initiative which is dedicated to aligning Burlington’s powerful gigabit infrastructure as a tool, test bed, and accelerator for economic, educational, and community benefit. These next steps include:

  • Formation of a new 501(c)(3) and board of directors for BTV Ignite with funding committed by Burlington organizations;
  • The board’s selection and hire of Michael Schirling as BTV Ignite Executive Director; and
  • The announcement of the first BTV Ignite Conference to take place in October 2015.

“When we announced BTV Ignite two years ago, we had interest and involvement from just about every sector of Burlington in this tech initiative to support entrepreneurial spirit and accelerate economic and community growth,” said Mayor Weinberger. “Today’s announcement gives us the structure, experienced leadership, and technical expertise to strengthen this important effort.”

Funding and Governance
A new, independent 501(c)(3) named BTV Ignite is being created to lead this effort. The members of the new BTV Ignite board of directors hold positions in various community organizations and institutions, each of which has agreed to fund the BTV Ignite initiative for the next year – with an option for an additional, second year – at a level of $25,000 per year ($200,000 total confirmed for the first year). Those organizations and BTV Ignite directors are:  

  • Stephen Barraclough, Interim General Manager, Burlington Telecom
  • Dan Harvey, Director of Operations, Office of the UVM Vice President for Research, University of Vermont
  • Neale Lunderville, General Manager, Burlington Electric Department
  • Charles Miceli, Vice President, Network Chief Supply Chain Officer, University of Vermont Health Network
  • Peter Owens, Community & Economic Development Office Director, City of Burlington
  • Jonathan Rajewski, Associate Professor, Division of Information Technology & Sciences, Champlain College
  • Tom Torti, President, Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce
  • Bluewater and Dorman & Fawcett (not appointing a director)

"The University of Vermont can both benefit from and contribute to the culture of innovation and entrepreneurship growing rapidly in the region," said Dan Harvey, BTV Ignite board member and Director of Operations in the Office of the Vice President for Research at UVM. "We appreciate the opportunity to work with Mayor Weinberger and the other founding partners of BTV Ignite as we build the infrastructure and nurture the environment of science and technology that the National Science Foundation envisioned when they established US Ignite."

Executive Director
Today, BTV Ignite’s newly-created board of directors announced next steps in the process to create a local high-tech ecosystem and tech-economy, leveraging next-generation bandwidth and applications and building Burlington’s tech talent for the continued advancement of community, educational, and economic goals.The board has announced that following a search, Michael Schirling, Burlington’s recently retired Police Chief, has been appointed as BTV Ignite’s first Executive Director. 

“I am excited to work from the solid foundation established by US Ignite, the BTV Ignite advisory board, and working groups,” said Schirling. “With the support of the core funders and board of directors, and in partnership with so many who are working to make Burlington’s tech future vibrant, we will work to write new chapters for education, economy, and our community using technology as the instrument.”

2015 BTV Ignite Conference
BTV Ignite will hold a conference on October 29, 2015 that will include leaders from Burlington anchor institutions, City government, employers, US Ignite’s Executive Director, Bill Wallace, and leaders of City-wide tech initiatives from Kansas City and Chattanooga. This conference will include a public meeting during which Wallace will discuss the mission and purpose of US Ignite and will explain why US Ignite sees Burlington’s membership as a good partnership. Representatives from Chattanooga and Kansas City, two cities that have fiber optic networks similar to Burlington, will discuss how they have organized within their communities to take advantage of their fiber optic infrastructures. Per City Council resolution on September 21, 2015, this meeting will play a public education role in informing the Burlington community about experiences in other cities that will guide the criteria for final resolution of Burlington Telecom.

Today’s announcements come on the heels of news last week that Burlingtonwould benefit from a US Ignite National Science Foundation (NSF) grant as one of 15 cities in the US to receive a “quicker, smarter Internet” as a result of the City’s fiber optic infrastructure. Each of the US Ignite communities benefiting from the NSF grant will receive access to an ultra-fast network with computing and storage capabilities that will support highly interactive and visually immersive experiences not possible on today’s commercial Internet. This is the beginning of an effort to create a critical mass of interconnected smart gigabit cities nationwide, with next generation Internet capabilities and sustainable technology ecosystems. 

BTV Ignite is the Burlington, VT arm of the US Ignite initiative. Originally announced in October 2013, BTV Ignite’s mission is to facilitate collaborative efforts between public, private, educational, non-profit, and entrepreneurial partners to grow and attract tech-centric talent, leveraging Burlington’s City-wide gigabit Internet infrastructure and 21st century application development to create the conditions for sustainable tech-centric economic growth. As Mayor Weinberger has previously described, BTV Ignite will operate in several areas including, but not limited to:

  • Enhancing the existing technology infrastructure in the community;
  • Developing “Gig Initiatives” to provide gigabit connectivity to Burlington students and community facilities;
  • Supporting a calendar of local events focused on energizing and supporting the tech community;
  • Encouraging the creation of and supporting existing spaces that generate innovation and collaboration, such as makers/co-working and research and development spaces within the City;
  • Developing talent through training, education, and mentoring; and
  • Assisting in efforts to recruit new business, new tech workers, and attracting tech startups and entrepreneurs.

US Ignite is a non-profit organization, launched in 2012 with inspiration from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Both see it as a 21st century competitive necessity for the United States to take advantage of next-generation technologies. It operates today within the NSF with a staff team supported by corporate, foundation, and community partners. US Ignite’s mission is to foster the creation of 60 next-generation Internet applications – from a network of 200 communities, like Burlington – that will provide transformative public benefit in six sectors of the economy: healthcare, education, public safety, energy, transportation, and advanced manufacturing.

To participate in BTV Ignite discussions or initiatives, please contact Michael Schirling at mike [at] btvignite [dot] org.