Connecticut’s $5 Million Entry to Spur Tech Sector

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Connecticut promotes entrepreneurial Innovation Ecosystems, for StartUps and Stage 2 Companies with 10-99 Employees

Suddenly, Connecticut is attempting to encourage the development of the ecosystems to hopefully enable entrepreneurship to thrive in the State.  We have a Connecticut chapter of StartUpAmericaPartnership, there are entrepreneurial mentoring activities that occur at UCONN Storrs and Yale, and in Stamford, an Innovation Center is hoping to sign a lease in the next 30 days and a Stamford StartUp weekend is planned for March 30.  Now comes this news last Friday that the State will be promoting entrepreneurial Innovation Ecosystems, if it can find a suitable private partners.

The State is choosing to call this public-private partnership the Connecticut “Innovation Ecosystem”, and in tandem, Connecticut Innovations (“CI”) issued two requests for qualifications (“RFQs”) for entities to assist with two initiatives.

To access the RFQs, click here or go to

According to CI, the Innovation Ecosystem is designed to address two goals of the State: 1) To be a globally competitive location for the most likely-to-succeed first-time and serial entrepreneurs as they start and grow emerging technology companies in Connecticut; 2) To assist a small group of Stage 2 companies (10 to 99 employees) to grow significantly in the State.  These lofty goals will mean the State must provide the comprehensive strategy and system that attracts, assists and retains entrepreneurs and companies.

The RFQ “For Statewide System-Focused Responses” requests qualifications of entities to undertake statewide elements of the Innovation Ecosystem, including day-to-day management and coordination of the Innovation Ecosystem; development and management of venture competitions, mentor networks, and talent matching services; and monitoring Innovation Ecosystem performance.

The RFQ “For Innovation Hub-Focused Responses” requests qualifications of entities to undertake development and management of local hubs of entrepreneurial activity, or “Innovation Hubs,” in Connecticut. Innovation Hub elements for which CI seeks qualifications include hub management and multiple approaches to enveloping promising ventures in mentorship, training, connections, commercialization assistance and a community of entrepreneurial peers. CI is the state’s quasi-public authority responsible for technology-based economic development,

According to CI, a good way to make the case for an Innovation Hub is that the region from which the applicant is applying has a history of entrepreneurship and is likely to be a major contributor to the state’s goals of high-performance company creation. According to us, based on the ecosystem already developing,  the region that is likely to be in the forefront is New Haven.

Eligible respondents include private, public, or non-profit entities, or consortia of such entities, and in some cases, individuals. These entities and individuals must be able to demonstrate the capacity to provide assistance to entrepreneurs and early-stage companies.

The deadlines for submission of qualifications under these two RFQs are: February 23 for the Statewide System-focused RFQ and March 1 for the Innovation Hub-focused RFQ.

CI anticipates that the request for proposals (RFP) for the statewide system-focused elements of the Innovation Ecosystem will be issued on or about March 2 and that the first of two RFPs in 2012 for the Innovation Hub-focused elements will be issued later this spring.

The Innovation Ecosystem will be supported with the State’s $4.8 million in the first year from the $250 million of new State funding projected over the next five years.

The stated purpose of the Innovation Ecosystem is to ” help scalable young companies start and grow in Connecticut, improving the pipeline of potential investments for local investors, including CI.”

“We want Connecticut’s entrepreneurship support system to function like an ecosystem—a dynamic, vibrant business environment where young ventures can grow and succeed,” said Catherine Smith, chair of CI and commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD).

The DECD Office of Innovation will oversee the competitive Innovation Ecosystem contract process on behalf of CI.

Let’s see what kind of hubbub arises from the proposed launch of these hubs.  In future blogs, we will discuss what are the elements that are in place to encourage entrepreneurial ecosystems, such as the ones that are flourishing in Boulder, CO, Cambridge, MA, and (don’t even discuss it), Silicon Valley.


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