Here at Knowledge Green, we have met countless entrepreneurs making New Haven a hub of innovation. Locals have come forward, taken a chance and experienced success by following their passion.
This movement gained legs last month as Mayor Toni Harp announced New Haven would receive a $50,000 grant from CTNext Innovation Places. The program was co-sponsored by Sen. Martin Looney, D-New Haven, and funded by Senate Bill One.
Other elected officials and leaders from technology companies in New Haven joined Harp and Looney.
The funds will be used to hire national leaders in building entrepreneurial hubs, giving the city the data and other resources necessary to support this undertaking. CTNext officials said the city must now begin applying for implementation grants to further the project.
The Elm City, Harp says, will also team with private and educational groups, the Yale School of Management and Gateway Community College to administer the grant.
“We want new companies, new ideas and budding entrepreneurs to gather in New Haven and interact,” Harp said. “This funding will help New Haven provide a more fertile ground for those interactions. New Haven already has a list of top shelf technology companies with global impact. Grey Wall [software], SeeClickFix and Digital Surgeons are among the few that instantly come to mind, and we’re eager for that list to grow.”
New Haven is one of 12 communities to receive part of $4.9 million distributed per year for five years. Other recipients include Bridgeport, Danbury, Waterbury, New Britain, Hartford, Thames River, Norwalk and Stamford, Looney said.
He said the grant would support innovative businesses that have a plan to grow.
“We’re finding that it’s not older, established businesses and it’s not necessarily small businesses that create the most jobs, but that a larger number are created by young businesses that have a need to expand and a capacity to do that with help,” Looney said. “Of all the 169 towns in the state, New Haven boasts the greatest numbers of entrepreneurs and startup companies today.”
Matt Nemerson, the city’s economic development administrator, agreed that New Haven has the best opportunity in Connecticut to become an “innovative place” because of recent trends supporting technology.
The grant must regularly change its scope, Nemerson said, as funds should be used to support IT, accelerators and incubators as needed. New Haven’s tech scene can have a global reach, he said, adding local innovators can thrive outside Yale University.
“As we go forward, we look forward to this team getting the next round of grants, which we hope will be in the millions of dollars, and that we create more maker spaces [and] more coworking spaces with branding opportunities that challenge New York and Boston,” he said.
“Shanghai, Moscow and San Diego, if you’re looking for a place in the northeast, this is [it].”
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