Articles

Stamford, New Haven Among Connecticut 'Innovation Places' Grant Winners

Groups will use the money to attract startups and supporting companies to their area.

by Alexander Soule and Robert Koch, The Hour, Norwalk, Conn. / June 8, 2017

(TNS) -- CTNext selected Stamford as one of four Connecticut regions to receive funding under the Innovation Places competition to spur entrepreneurship, with Danbury and Norwalk having been among the finalists.

Also winning grants were groups in New Haven, Hartford and New London.

CTNext has authorized $30 million in total funding under the Innovation Places program, with the winners to receive up to $6.9 million in the 2018 fiscal year with the possibility for follow-on grants. Groups will use the money to attract startups and supporting companies, with grant winners expected to augment the funding with additional money from private and public sources.

Stamford’s winning entry was pulled together by a consortium that included the city, the Stamford Partnership, the Business Council of Fairfield County, the Downtown Special Services District, Ferguson Library and several corporations and developers. The city recently evicted the Stamford Innovation Center from its Old Town Hall downtown home over nonpayment of rent, but has drawn multiple new co-working spaces in the past few years to serve as entrepreneurial hubs.

CTNext’s executive director is slated to speak in Stamford on Thursday at an entrepreneurial investment conference sponsored by CVG at the Workpoint co-working facility at Shippan Landing, with the event starting at 4:30 p.m. Startups scheduled to showcase their business plans at the event include Amrita Health Foods, Elidah, Game Fee Now, GuestForce, Interventional Systems, MicronView, NOMI Beauty and Operation Able Inclusion.

It is a show of force that Danbury and Norwalk were unable to convince CTNext they could match, with the Stamford coalition including two major Norwalk companies in broadband giant Frontier Communications and Datto, among the fastest-growth companies in the United States offering data backup and security services to smaller businesses. The Stamford Innovation Center’s founding team Barry Schwimmer and Peter Propp contributed to Norwalk’s efforts, with an eye on creating a nonprofit startup accelerator in Norwalk.

CTNext is holding out the possibility of also-ran applicants winning funding in future rounds, according to Elizabeth Stocker, director of economic development for the city of Norwalk.

“They have offered to debrief us and to provide us with some feedback on things that made the other four communities stand out above what our projects didn’t include,” Stocker told Hearst Connecticut Media. “We, of course, are disappointed in the decision. However, I did speak with at least one team member from Stamford, so we’ll be talking more perhaps about how Norwalk can collaborate with Stamford just to help expand the reach for entrepreneurs.”

©2017 The Hour (Norwalk, Conn.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.