Let’s Help Connecticut Innovations Secure Bond Funds

The Governor has proposed $25 million in new funds for CI and the legislature included $10 million specifically for early stage funding. Please keep in mind that when I took this position in 2003, a board member and chairman of the Software Cluster, Les Trachtman, came to our first meeting with the position that we should fight for a $250 million increase in funding for CI. Anything less, the four or five time over successful technology business creator said, will not capture anyone’s attention that Connecticut is serious. Still, there has been a change in attitude at all levels of government. The Governor’s strong desire to move the state to the top in terms of relative job creation makes me hope that a major re-investment in CI that starts this year with small pieces will grow in the next few years.

To get there we must ask you to again take pen to paper, or fingers to keyboards, and write our leaders to remind them of the necessity of passing the bonding bill. Not just for the library roof in your home town, but for CI’s early stage dollars.

Innovation Pipeline Accelerator is Running The launch of the Department of Economic and Community Development supported Innovation Pipeline Accelerator which combines the existing Edwards Angel Palmer and Dodge LLP FastTrack program is underway with serial entrepreneur Liddy Karter at the helm.

Thanks to her tie-in with various angel funds around the state and the country (she helped form the Golden Seeds fund, a national women’s investment pool), she is uniquely positioned to help firms with both business services support and connecting them to one of our FastTrack mentors. Since money is still seen as the mother’s milk of early stage success (despite data that the management team, idea and plan are pretty important, too) she is also able too tell an entrepreneur very quickly what kind of value and interest an angel group is likely to see in them.

The Innovation Pipeline Accelerator is adding several new companies a week and we see this continuing for the foreseeable future. Since one of the key values the CTC adds through this program is the ability to make strategic introductions of firms that can help each other to create a viable service or product, the size of our network is critical to adding value. This is true even of firms that are barely behind the conceptual level.

So please contact us if you’d like to get involved at www.ct.org. By the fall we hope to have our Innovation Pipeline Accelerator’s companion database and directory up and functioning so all of the pertinent information about the state’s highest potential start-up firms will be available on line. 

In the meantime we are offering a range of services for start-ups including a review of business plans and other items such as monthly topical “webinars”. We hope to build an entire online inventory of classes for start-ups this year as well.

Maybe Practice Does Make Perfect One of the areas receiving attention is being placed by the Governor and various task forces around the state is keeping Connecticut at the top in terms of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills. We have a very well educated population over 40 in the state. But our schools are no longer top of the heap, at least by some subjective standards. According to Newsweek, not one Connecticut high school made their list of America’s top 100 schools. How is this possible? Maybe there is something wrong in their formula or perhaps we don’t share certain data and never got into the mix. Don’t we think that families around the country or even the world are looking at these charts as they plot where to move or immigrate to? So, silly as these kinds of lists can be, it is hard to hold ourselves up as the education state when Texas, Florida (for goodness sake) and North Carolina are all over the list. With our head start of wealth and strong local control you have to wonder what people are thinking about us when they see these lists.

A very interesting article appeared in the “Freakonomics” column of The New York Times last week about the relationship of practice to talent in determining success. I won’t go into the whole idea, but once you read it you can see a pathway to getting back to the top. Why don’t we adopt some of the ideas of Mike Werle, the Chairman of the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering (CASE). He has been pointing out the benefits of Science clubs and councils in each town or region, much like arts councils. If we can establish a place where kids can “practice” their STEM skills repeatedly after school, who knows, we may end up with more “talented” technology prepared students.

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