Can Connecticut keep venture capital close to home?
CTC CEO Bruce Carlson and other friends of CTC chatted with Sujata Srinivasan at Crain’s Connecticut on Innovation Places, investing in homegrown startups, and more. Can CT keep venture capital close to home? We already are through investment and support statewide for startups, scaleups, and entrepreneurs. Read an excerpt below!
Connecticut ranks fourth nationally for bioscience patents per capita, according to the 2017 edition of the Connecticut Economic Review by the Connecticut Economic Resource Center, Inc. and Eversource. Yet, per the 2017 Kauffman Index Startup Activity State Report, Connecticut was ranked only 18th, among the smallest 25 states, with Nevada leading the pack in start-up activity, followed by Oklahoma, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. Among the larger states, California was ranked first, followed by Texas, Florida, Arizona, Colorado and New York.
“What is it that’s happening at other places with a stronger culture for startups?” asked Bruce Carlson, president and CEO of the Connecticut Technology Council. “It’s networks. Connecticut did not have that, so the governor [Dannel Malloy] created funding for the Connecticut Innovation Ecosystem, which matured into CTNext. Now we have a significant amount of incubation and acceleration spaces in Connecticut.”
Malloy in 2012 launched the public-private partnership to accelerate startup activity and innovation. The initiative was funded by the bipartisan 2011 Jobs Bill with four locations chosen as hubs to provide financial, technological, mentorship, and collaborative work spaces in Hartford, New Haven, Stamford and Storrs.
The roots of that program grew into CTNext (related content: Linking Connecticut’s Companies with the Right Talent from CTNext), which is spurring startup and innovation districts across Connecticut through its Innovation Places program. Public Act 16-3, which was passed in June 2016, allocated $67.5 million to CTNext with $30 million earmarked for the Innovation Places program, under which cities, towns and communities across the state developed proposals this summer, competing for funding to transform their regions into innovation hubs. CTNext selected seven finalists, and following a series of public pitches and walking tours in each location, four were designated as “Innovation Places.” The winners—Stamford, New Haven, Hartford and East Hartford, and the New London/Groton area—were awarded a total of $6.9 million. Over a five-year period, CTNext expects to distribute a total of $30 million.