By Kira M. Newman
Stamford, Connecticut, is nicknamed “The City That Works,” and the Stamford Innovation Center is trying to prove it.
The Stamford Innovation Center is an incubator that claims to have Connecticut’s largest coworking space. In addition to coworking, it offers classes, mentoring, and events and hosts Startup Weekend Stamford and the Lean Launch Ventures accelerator.
The 16,000-square-foot space is located inside Stamford’s Old Town Hall, a historic building that housed the city mayors until around 1960. The building was refurbished nearly a decade ago, and the government decided to offer it to the Innovation Center to help drive job growth in the area.
It’s one of four nodes of the Connecticut Innovation Ecosystem, a statewide program with “innovation hubs” in Hartford, New Haven, and Eastern Connecticut. A partnership between Connecticut Innovations (a quasi-public arm of the state) and the Department of Economic and Community Development, the initiative hopes to kickstart startups and early-stage companies.
In Connecticut, startups can apply for $10,000 grants to help with services like legal, accounting, and marketing. They can also access resources and events via CT Next, a network of statewide entrepreneurial organizations. And Connecticut Innovations is investing in startup companies.
For founder and managing partner Barry Schwimmer, the Connecticut Innovation Center represents urban renewal – giving new life to the old, both literally (as in the town hall) and figuratively. Connecticut has a long history of manufacturing, but a new wave of digital businesses can help revitalize the state.
“Connecticut and Stamford have a real history and real tradition of hard work and being good, productive Yankees,” says Schwimmer.
That’s the ethos of the incubator and – if it lives up to Stamford’s motto – it will work.