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Storrs receives new innovation hub

By James Onofrio
On November 9, 2012

  • UConn sophomore running back Lyle McCombs runs down the field past a University at Buffalo defender during last weekend’s football game. KEVIN SCHELLER/The Daily Campus

A new public-private partnership called "Connecticut's Innovation Ecosystem" will have one of its four hubs in Storrs. The program, created by the 2011 Jobs Bill, seeks to help startups and small businesses get the knowledge and resources they need to be successful. It will receive about $5 million in funding in its first year, although it is designed to run on private investor funds in the future.
The Storrs hub, known as the Eastern Connecticut Innovation Corridor, "brings the strengths and investment in the University of Connecticut ecosystem together with private-sector entrepreneurs," according to a press release from Hub Manager Chris Levesque. The program will provide a network for small business owners to take advantage of the resources available through the university.
 In addition to the Storrs campus, the UConn Health Center and UConn Tech Park provide considerable opportunities for partnerships with small businesses. Proponents also believe Connecticut's relationship to the investment industry will help the program get the financial resources it needs.
"Connecticut enjoys a strong venture capital community and is in a great position to attract more investors. There is certainly no shortage of talent in this state given the number of quality universities, Fortune 500 companies and leading financial institutions that are headquartered here," said Tim Shannon, M.D., of Canaan Partners, a venture capital firm in Westport.
A press release from the Department of Economic and Community Development said the program would help make Connecticut a leader in the "innovation economy." The hubs "will provide a set of financial, technical, professional, and mentoring resources to participants, as well as collaborative workspace."
The Eastern Connecticut Innovation Corridor, or ECIC, will begin with three main programs: Accelerator, Marketplace and Clubhouse. They provide help in attracting funding, collaboration with other businesses, and commercialization. The hub is temporarily housed in the Gordon W. Tasker Building.

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