CTNext grant to jump-start ‘innovation places’


State Senator Mae Flexer speaks during a press conference about open source textbooks at the UConn Bookstore on September 6, 2016. Flexer led the passage of an innovation economy law this year, which includes the creation of “Innovation Places.” (Tyler Benton/The Daily Campus)

The Northeastern Innovation Hub has been awarded a $50,000 grant from the CTNext Program to initiate the development of northeastern Connecticut’s “Innovation Places.”

CTNext is an innovation program in Connecticut that helps startup companies and entrepreneurs find resources, guidance and connections in order to facilitate greater growth and success according to the program’s website.

Under this new economic development plan, “Innovation Places” are areas in which entrepreneurs and innovators have access to tech talent, support organizations and research institutions, according to a press release from the program.

The “Innovation Places” are intended to be highly accessible, to expedite interactions among entrepreneurs and innovators across different organizations and to be helpful to the creation of startup companies.

In order to help the community retain the most in-demand workers, the environment is designed to be attractive for entrepreneurs to not only work in, but also live in.

State Senator Mae Flexer led the passage of the innovation economy law this year, which includes the creation of “Innovation Places,” according to the release.

“We will be putting some of Connecticut’s brightest young minds in touch with experienced businesspeople, and giving them an environment where they can put their ideas into practice. New, growing small and medium sized businesses create jobs and economic activity at a far faster rate than larger companies,” Sen. Flexer said. “That is the kind of growth we need in Connecticut, and we’re going to make sure it happens right here in northeastern Connecticut.”

The $50,000 grant, which was the maximum amount offered, will be used in the development of a strategic planning process to identify local conditions and build a master plan that identifies the resources and assets in each community (like hospitals, universities, research firms or manufacturers) to create exciting business opportunities.

“This grant is a significant first step toward implementing a plan that will combine the expertise of northeastern Connecticut’s entrepreneur community, the close proximity of UConn, Eastern and QVCC and communities that are eager to innovate,” Sen. Flexer said. “Over the past several months I have convened local officials, educators, business owners and entrepreneurs to design a plan to capitalize on the economic potential in our region.”

The program was designed to be publicly supported, and privately led.

“This is another positive step toward increasing economic development opportunities in northeastern Connecticut. This collaborative effort…will bring together our business community, schools, colleges and entrepreneurs to create the Northeast Innovation Hub which will infuse new vitality in our area’s economy,” said state Representative Christine Rosati-Randall (D-Killingly). “When we work together, we can get things done.”

Olivia Pesce is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at olivia.pesce@uconn.edu.

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