CTNEXT: The Startup View From Storrs, CT

On October 25th, Governor Malloy launched the state’s innovation ecosystem, called CTNext.  As the Whiteboard becomes the official blog of CTNext, startup leaders from the “Hubs” that make up CTNext will share their thoughts and insight on local startup activity and all things entrepreneurial.  This month, we share an update Danny Briere, one of the leaders of the “ECIC” (Eastern Connecticut Innovation Corridor).  Be sure to check in regularly to follow the stories of what’s happening at a Hub near you. 

Connecticut’s CTNext – the Innovation Ecosystem – is off and running, and all four major hubs are taking different paths to success, based on their respective assets and goals.  In Storrs, the headquarters for the Eastern Connecticut Innovation Corridor (ECIC), we have just wrapped up our contracting with the State of Connecticut for programming that will effect the entire northeastern quadrant of the state.

There are two initial areas of focus for the ECIC – recognizing that it takes some time to spin up focus on the entire eastern CT territory:

  1. The 195 Corridor from I-84 through to Willimantic, covering Tolland and its current entrepreneurial curator Nerac, Storrs/Mansfield and UConn, and Eastern Connecticut State University in Willimantic.  While the ECIC Hub is currently working with startups who have opted into the ECIC from as far away as Middletown and Torrington, the initial focus has been on cataloguing those startups within the UConn, ECSU, and local ecosystems around the two universities.
  2. The economic region in Southeastern Connecticut, predominantly Avery Point (where UConn has existing incubation facilities), Groton, and New London.  Particular focus is on trying to exploit the powerful biosciences resources in the region from Pfizer, as well as the native startup assets in the area.

The ECIC will open its temporary offices within the Tasker Building on the UConn campus at Storrs, located near the North Garage, sometime around the beginning of the new year.  Other facilities on campus will support the Innovation Ecosystem, and will be structured for various uses.   In August 2013, a new entrepreneurship living/learning community will house 40 students intent on building their own startups.  The exact residential location for that is currently being finalized.


So what can you expect from the ECIC in the early months?  We are already meeting and advising startups while tapping our existing and trained mentor network in the region.  We will host the next Startup Weekend event in CT at Storrs on the weekend of January 25-27 at the UConn campus – in fact, registration is available now- just click here.  We will be shortly announcing a series of events and programs that will offer insights on education, teambuilding, concept generation, and other acceleration cornerstones. Each event will take place within the region and will offer community members a chance to learn and network within the hub.

The ECIC is building a long-term sustainable plan for startup support in the region.  This is going to be a long haul for everyone, and we’re not expecting to reinvent the area’s startup ecosystem overnight.  However, there are some very hot startups in the area, and we’re focused on doing what we can to help them tackle manageable goals.  Essentially, we are balancing the near term necessities with the long term milestones.

Check out our initial site here for more info about our present activities.

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