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Innovation Ecosystem

By Tim Coates

It always takes time for what we know to become what we do. This is true in many areas, but particularly economic development. Recent research from the Kauffman Foundation, an economic think tank, found that job growth comes not from small business, as is often believed. It comes from new companies and is especially pronounced in fast growing companies under two years of age.

For the past three years the Connecticut Technology Council been looking at what this means for Connecticut. From the Council’s Competitiveness Agenda project, it was found that the state has not kept up with our neighbors in terms of how well we help new company formation and growth. That effort, along with the work of many like-minded colleagues, has supported the state in launching an exciting new initiative called the Innovation Ecosystem (IE). Led by Connecticut Innovations and the Department of Economic and Community Development, the Innovation Ecosystem’s goal is to significantly increase the quality and quantity of support for new, fast growing companies in the state.

Given that cities like New York and Boston work because of density, critical mass and rich networks of relationships among diverse people, the IE helps our suburban state act more like a city. Programs are developed and seeded at local “Innovation Hubs” which concentrate activity. At the state level, system management ensures that programs are linked, reinforcing, and everyone stays focused on the goal of supporting the companies with the highest potential.

CTC formed a partnership with the Connecticut Economic Resource Center (CERC) and was successfully selected as the IE’s System Manager. We’re responsible for keeping everyone on the bus and keeping the bus travelling in the right direction. The work has already begun. Over the past several weeks we’ve been working with leading organizations from across the state to launch a dynamic system that can diagnose and quickly respond to the needs of the state’s most promising new companies. There’s still a lot of work to do before an official ribbon cutting. But in a state like CT, where home rule is often the default approach, efforts thus far have already proven that more is possible when we work together. It’s a project that could become a national model for technology based economic development.”

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