The next president and CEO of Virginia Tech’s Corporate Research Center is a triple Hokie with 20 years of executive experience in growing engineering, biotech, and software business.

In some ways, though, Brett Malone’s most direct qualification came when he founded and grew a software firm in the warm confines of the Corporate Research Center.

Malone ’90, M.S. ’91, Ph.D. ’96 learned firsthand what it was like to build a company in Virginia Tech’s Blacksburg-based research park, led then by longtime CRC President and CEO Joe Meredith. As co-founder of Phoenix Integration, a firm that creates software for engineering, Malone helped build a notable company that is still part of the CRC and serving the aerospace industry. 

“Joe was an incredibly helpful mentor for me as I was getting my first company started,” Malone said. “He made connections that allowed me to be successful with my first start-up. I’ve taken that initial experience, gone on the road, and built other companies and helped firms in biotech, robotics, engineering, and software. Now, I want to help our companies the way Joe helped me. That to me defines what service looks like.”

Although Malone has led multiple companies based around the country since graduating from Virginia Tech, he’s always retained his connection with the New River Valley through a house he built in 2005 on the New River in Giles County. Now he’s returning in a professional capacity, as leader of the Corporate Research Center.

“I started my career in the park,” Malone said. “I’m really looking forward to coming back. It’s very much full circle for me.”

Malone will succeed Meredith ’69, Ph.D. ’97, who retired in February after a groundbreaking, 27-year run as president and CEO of the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center.

“I’m delighted to turn the reins of the CRC over to Brett,” Meredith said. “We share aerospace degrees, entrepreneurial spirits, and a passion for Tech as alumni. His experience creating a software company and more recently working with biotech companies will help him contribute to the creation and growth of CRC’s next generation of companies.”

The Virginia Tech Foundation appointed Malone after a national search.

“Brett has a broad background working successfully with early stage companies and with related funding sources,” said Ray Smoot ’69, former chief executive officer of the Virginia Tech Foundation, who chaired the search committee. “He is respected in the regional entrepreneurship community, and has engaging ideas on how to best position the CRC to continue its positive impact on the region going forward.”

“We are excited about Brett taking on this important position and believe his experiences as an entrepreneur and leader in the start-up space will build upon the success of the CRC,” said John Dooley, CEO of the Virginia Tech Foundation. “Brett has run a company in the CRC, and has been an active leader in the regional innovation community. Throughout the search process, Brett proudly espoused his credentials as a Hokie and affirmed his commitment to Virginia Tech’s values. The tenant companies at the VT CRC will be the beneficiaries of his service and leadership.”

Malone brings to the Corporate Research Center two decades of experience leading companies in multiple industries.

“My biggest strength is that I’ve always worked with early-stage technology companies and driven commercial partnerships,” Malone said. “I did a career in engineering and software, then moved over and built a career in a completely different field in biotech.”

That expertise across multiple fields dovetails Virginia Tech’s focus on developing intersectional, multidisciplinary teams to tackle complicated, multidimensional problems. Malone’s experience in a variety of locales across the United States fits the university’s growing footprint in Virginia, with parks modeled after the Corporate Research Center emerging at the Tech Center in Newport News and the Innovation Campus at National Landing in Alexandria.

“I am confident Brett’s experiences and expertise will be invaluable as we strategically forge new partnerships through the Innovation Campus in Alexandria and at Tech Center in Newport News,” Dooley said. “The possibilities of cross pollination of ideas and opportunities for both the university and the private sector at these three campuses are endless. I’m confident Brett will lead us to realize these possibilities.”

Malone’s longstanding ties to the New River Valley make sense for his leadership of the Blacksburg-anchored Corporate Research Center during an exciting time that’s seeing new buildings take root. And although he’s interested in growing Virginia Tech’s global presence, he also wants to attract more talent and investment to southwestern Virginia.

‘We have to have a global presence, but at the same time, we can facilitate more access to talent, access to money, and access to new ways of working for our Blacksburg companies,” Malone said. “There’s some really interesting technology that’s spinning out of the Innovation Campus, and we want to participate in that. The mixed-use concept Tech Center in Newport News also gives us the opportunity to look at what it means to be more integrated into the community. I see these as opportunities to explore new models for the park in Blacksburg, too.”

Malone begins his job at the Corporate Research Center on July 1.