Connecticut start-ups awarded $5 million

Connecticut’s “Innovation Ecosystem,” a program launched last year by Gov. Dannel Malloy to invest in emerging Connecticut businesses, is awarding $5 million to start-ups in an effort to support entrepreneurship in the state.

The funds will come from the $626 million jobs bill approved by the state legislature in 2011. The money will be divided between more than 20 individuals and organizations. Six of these start-ups are based in New Haven, according to the Connecticut Innovations website. The award amounts range from $20,000 to $300,000, which will be distributed by Connecticut Innovations, a state program designed to support Connecticut entrepreneurship.

“As the [innovation] ecosystem continues to evolve, we would like to offer entrepreneurs a broader range of resources tailored to their needs. These resources will help them grow and scale their businesses by providing them with access to talent, industry expertise, services co-working spaces and a growing, vibrant entrepreneurial community,” Claire Leonardi, CEO of Connecticut Innovations, said in a press release.

Those seeking funding, including start-ups as well as the companies that support them, applied in July of this year, said Lauren Carmody, executive in residence at Connecticut Innovations. She added that companies were asked to propose a project and request a sum of money appropriate for that proposal.

Two New Haven companies that will receive funding are The Grid and Whiteboard. The Grid, which works to connect start-ups and entrepreneurs with useful contacts and resources, acts as a center for innovation in New Haven, said Derek Koch.

The Grid will use its funds to provide new services to start-up companies, such as working with advisors, providing mentoring, and connecting start-ups with resources in the city and state, said Koch. The Whiteboard, on the other hand, would use new resources to improve its platform and make technological improvements in order to better engage its entrepreneurial clients.

Some of the programs will eventually stop needing government funding, once they become self-sustaining in terms of revenue, Koch said. One such program is A100, a computer science experiential education program based in New Haven.

“Some of the programs are not long-term programs,” Koch said. “Some are more about … contributing to the ecosystem in the short-term to get it to a certain level.”

Koch said that supporting entrepreneurs helps Connecticut retain talent and foster economic vitality.

The New Haven companies selected to receive funding in the first round are The Grove Studios, Independent Software, The Grid, SeeClickFix, The Grove Collaborative and University of New Haven iDevices.

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