Repost: CTNext Wants Your Ideas
Yesterday, CTNext released this Request for Proposal (RFP), calling for ideas to help shape the Innovation Ecosystem. As the RFP is intended to benefit Connecticut entrepreneurs, we’re reposting it in full on The Whiteboard.
Do you have thoughts or suggestions on important issues that the ecosystem should address? We’d love to hear them, and invite you to express them as a comment on this post.
Connecticut is full of unique, beautiful places where energetic people are making an impact. The state was ranked the best place to live in the U.S. in 2013, due to the incredible concentration of extremely talented people who live here and its top-notch healthcare and education. Its long history of innovation, from constitutional government to the submarine, and from the helicopter to modern innovators like ESPN and Priceline, has put Connecticut at the forefront of nearly every technological and social innovation of the last three hundred years. In 2013 Fast Company Magazine ranked Connecticut third highest in growth in entrepreneurial activity in recent years. Our entrepreneurial scene is burgeoning.
What can we do to grow this entrepreneurial renaissance? How do we help Connecticut’s population of inventors, entrepreneurs, technologists, mentors and investors become a tighter community?
Connecticut is growing a public-private collaboration to accelerate the growth of the local entrepreneurial community with up to a total of $5,000,000 available for the upcoming year. This request for proposals is open to individuals, large and small companies, non-profits and consortia with creative projects to develop the infrastructure and community to support entrepreneurs.
In the last year the effort helped fund eleven entities and engaged dozens more to grow local networks of support for entrepreneurs and to connect those networks statewide. Excitement and activity in the entrepreneurial community has reached new heights.
- In the past 8 months alone, over 5000 people attended more than 150 entrepreneurial community events
- Several new co-working spaces started or expanded
- The A100 program trained 21 recent computer science students in front-end web development and is finding them jobs in local startups
- 500 ventures self-identified and were connected to resources
- The Innovation Voucher program provided 32 micro-grants to companies for R&D and prototyping
- 26 teams went through the new Lean Launch Ventures and reSET accelerator programs
If you have entrepreneurial infrastructure and community-building ideas, as well as the experience and commitment to make your ideas happen, we want to hear from you.
Connecticut is working to foster entrepreneurship because a culture of innovation supports the development of solutions to today’s toughest challenges and leads to job growth, talent attraction, investment in cities, and higher quality of life for residents. Many other locations are successfully investing in entrepreneurial infrastructure- and community-building efforts, some of which include: MassChallenge, Communitech, StartGarden, and JumpStart to name a few.
This state is rich with innovative individuals, researchers, inventors, entrepreneurs, companies, investors and organizations to support them. We are looking to add to this talented population of innovators and to become a world-class entrepreneurial community. The goal is a community in which people know each other and the unique talents they each bring to bear. It is a place talented people are drawn to and in which they are quickly introduced and connected to the people with deep industry experience who can help their idea or company grow. It is a network of people working together to help entrepreneurs identify profitable business models and to help existing companies become more profitable each year. Working as a community we can make Connecticut one of the top regions on earth to hatch a brilliant idea, find a talented team and grow a company to change the world.
Schedule (all in 2013)
|Request for Proposals Release||July 24|
|Applicant Registration||Rolling, preferred by July 31|
|Proposals due||August 28|
|Notification to Successful Applicants||September 11|
|Signed Contracts||September 30|
Register Your Idea
To enable applicants more easily to build partnerships, please register your idea.
While not required, we encourage you to register your idea by July 31, 2013 if you intend to apply for this request for proposals. The site asks for basic information about applicant(s) and their ideas and allows each prospective applicant to see who else is applying, to enable greater collaboration.
A Selection Committee will review submissions, may choose to interview applicants, and will then make choices and notify all applicants in September, 2013.
The Selection Committee is searching for ideas that to improve the likelihood that entrepreneurs will grow companies, jobs and revenues in Connecticut. The Committee is most interested in ideas that address one or more of the following priorities. We would like proposals that:
- Create a more robust community of entrepreneurs in which we share advice and mentorship, and celebrate one another’s success
- Create pathways for entrepreneurs through which events, ideas, technology, industry expertise, services, skill development, talent and capital are easy to find
- Help innovative companies grow faster
- Improve entrepreneur connections with universities; economic development organizations and other private and public resources
- Engage Connecticut’s larger innovative corporations with the entrepreneurial community
- Help Connecticut increase the volume of success stories it can celebrate and share
The Selection Committee is particularly interested in the following factors:
- How well the proposal identifies a market need and shows how it can be addressed
- How well the proposal articulates defined objectives, benefits and outcomes to address the priorities in this request for proposals
- The experience and past performance of organizations and people involved, with specific examples of past success
- How well the applicant and ideas will enhance the impact of other organizations and applicants working to strengthen Connecticut’s innovation community
- Priority will be on projects led by entrepreneurs or endorsed by them, including commitment of time or money and/or demonstrated critical mass of entrepreneur participants
- The degree to which a project is additive, or to which it speeds up or enhances efforts planned or underway. Except for projects already funded through this effort and situations in which funding will enable meaningful scale-up or acceleration, the focus is on new initiatives
- The amount of matching support committed to the proposed activities—financial contributions, particularly from private and Federal sources, are preferred over in-kind support
- The time the project will require state subsidy—projects that demonstrate high prospects for completion or self-sustainability over a reasonable period of time are preferred
Ambitions are high. Funds are limited. We hope to fund many Partners, so grants will necessarily be smaller than desired. Please think lean and seek matching funds from other interested parties.
Projects may be of any length from 3 months to 3 years. Propose the time-frame that best fits the project.
Eligible grantees include individuals, for-profit companies, non-profit organizations and consortia.
By responding to this request for proposals, you agree to abide by the contract and State Certification, Affidavits and Affirmations to eliminate any delays associated with contract negotiations.
Partners funded through this effort are expected to work with the other Partners to support each other’s impact and success and to participate in the shared resources being built to enable greater collaboration and connectivity within Connecticut’s entrepreneurial community. For example:
- There are regular meetings and online conversations to help Partners learn from each other’s successes and failures and to identify the best ways to support entrepreneurs.
- There are shared marketing resources to enable each Partner to increase their reach and to allow the collective media impact to be greater than the sum of its parts.
- There is a Contact Relationship Management system to manage, record and share data on interactions and referrals between Partners, entrepreneurs, companies, mentors and other participants working to help grow companies. This will allow Partners to track entrepreneurs over time to improve all Partners’ understanding of what interventions help companies grow, and to create more feedback for all Partners to improve their customer service for entrepreneurs.
Applications are due by 5pm, August 28th.