Hartford/East Hartford Awarded Funding in Connecticut’s ‘Innovation Places’ Program

Trinity College among Partners Leading Project to Create Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

Hartford, Connecticut, June 13, 2017 – Trinity College is a key partner in the Hartford/East Hartford Innovation Places Planning Team that has been selected to receive a share of $30 million in state funding to spark economic development and investment in innovation. The team will receive up to $2 million in implementation grant funds in fiscal year 2018, the first of up to five years of renewable funding through the state-funded program administered by Connecticut Innovations.

This award will enable the team to begin implementing its vision for making Hartford and East Hartford a hub for innovation, entrepreneurship, and business growth, which includes developing the area around Trinity College and Hartford Hospital as a thriving live/learn/work destination through investments in placemaking and incentives to attract retail and hospitality to the area.

The selection of the Hartford/East Hartford Initiative, announced last week by the Board of Directors of CTNext, concludes an eight-month planning process that began last summer and included a site visit and presentation to an expert panel of judges from the business and entrepreneurial community.

“With a strong presence in the insurance, health care and aerospace, and advanced manufacturing industries, Hartford/East Hartford is already one of the state’s – and the region’s – strongest economic center points,” said Glendowlyn Thames, executive director of CTNext.  “As a designated Innovation Place, we are excited to see the impressive leadership team bring together its existing resources and assets, many of which have been underutilized to this point, and take the Hartford/East Hartford communities to the next level.”

Trinity College President Joanne Berger-Sweeney said, “Our participation in this initiative is a recognition of the potential that exists here at Trinity and in our neighborhood as we partner with Hartford HealthCare to initiate research, training, and innovation in the medical technology and health care services fields. Trinity and Hartford HealthCare’s providers, especially Hartford Hospital and Institute of Living, have long-standing partnerships, and Innovation Places will build upon those existing relationships to increase engagement between our institutions and our faculty, staff, and students.”

Included among the Hartford/East Hartford initiative projects will be the development of a medical technology innovation zone in the area around Trinity and Hartford Hospital. The “MedTech” district would include the establishment of a Biomedical Innovation Institute to fast-track minimum viable product (MVP) development and commercialization and the creation of a Digital Health Technology Program to attract and support companies specializing in health care analytics, biomedical informatics, and the emerging field of telehealth, population health assessment, and biometric device integration. The initiative also will focus on the development of a hub for medical technology companies by incentivizing new or expanding companies to locate in the “MedTech” district and workforce development through partnerships and programs across the education continuum (high school, community college, and four-year institutions) to fuel the pipeline of skilled workers and entrepreneurs.

The insurance and aerospace industries are also a focus of the plan. A summary of the Hartford/East Hartford Initiative proposal and application is available on the CTNext website.

The Hartford/East Hartford Innovation Places Planning Team includes leaders from the following organizations: Trinity College, The University of Connecticut, Goodwin College, the University of Hartford, MetroHartford Alliance, Hartford HealthCare, Travelers, The Hartford, Phoenix, Hanover Group, CIGNA, XL Catlin, Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology,  Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, City of Hartford, Town of East Hartford, reSET, Connecticut Small Business Development Center, Upward Hartford, MakerspaceCT, and several entrepreneurs.

Each of these community stakeholders will play a role in the execution of the group’s strategy and in making Hartford and East Hartford visible centers of entrepreneurship and innovation.

"It has been remarkable for me to watch our community come together in service of creating the right conditions for entrepreneurs and innovators to thrive and attract top talent to our community,” said Michelle Cote, managing director of the Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at UConn. “We have received commitments and investments from both Hartford and East Hartford, as well as the community’s anchor companies, educational institutions, and civic organizations. The strength of our strategy comes from cooperation, coordination, and collaboration in pursuit of a shared goal.”

Senator John Fonfara (D-Hartford), who was instrumental in designing a comprehensive law to help Connecticut embrace the innovation economy, joined other leaders in applauding the decision by CTNext to invest in the Hartford area. According to a press release from Fonfara’s office, “Innovation Places are concentrated areas where entrepreneurs and innovators have easy access to tech talent, support organizations, and research institutions. These dense areas are intended to be highly walkable, transit-connected, and mixed-use in zoning to facilitate interactions among entrepreneurs and innovators across different organizations and to be conducive to the creation of start-up companies. This environment is intended to be attractive not only for entrepreneurs to work in but also to live in and for recreation, to help the community retain the most in-demand workers.”

Innovation Places is a CTNext-run program created to help the state’s communities become centers for entrepreneurship and innovation, magnets for talent, and launching points for growth-stage companies.  The program will distribute $6.9 million in fiscal year 2018 to selected Innovation Places communities to support implementation of their strategic plans. Hartford/East Hartford is one of four communities selected from among 12 applicants and seven finalists to receive implementation grants; other communities designated as Innovation Places Implementation Grant awardees are New Haven, New London/Groton, and Stamford.

Trinity also has helped to lead the development of a statewide master plan to foster opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship, with Berger-Sweeney co-chairing with Mark E. Ojakian, president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system (CSCU), the working group of public and independent institutions of higher education that developed the plan to support innovation and entrepreneurship within Connecticut’s 38 public and private colleges and universities.