Overview of the Economy


Within the region innovation and creative spaces have endured. Foundry 66 in Norwich is close to capacity and SPARK Makerspace was able persist through the pandemic. The Eastern Connecticut Chamber of Commerce is developing an under-utilized property in New London to be called Innovation Place when complete.

Technology-based economic development remains an important strategy for the region. CTNext, a subsidiary of Connecticut Innovations, Connecticut’s strategic venture capital arm and the leading source of financing and ongoing support for Connecticut’s innovative, growing companies, develops programs and funding to help technology and innovation-based startups and early-stage businesses grow in Connecticut while also managing initiatives to expand and strengthen the ecosystem that supports new business development across the state. CTNext is currently revising the way 

in which it facilitates innovation within the state, aligns projects with appropriate resources, and helps identify potential funding sources.

State resources are shifting with CTNext’s new leadership and yet-released new model. seCTer is working to deepen relationships in the region with innovation-focused organizations so that the entrepreneurial ecosystem has the appropriate resources and components to thrive.

Other developments around innovation in the region are presented in Table 9.

Table 9. Innovations In and Affecting SECT

Spark Makerspace is a community workshop and learning center. For a small monthly membership fee, it provides access to tools, equipment and work space for a wide variety of making activities, including art, woodworking, electronics and more. It was founded in 2015 by a group of artists, techies and entrepreneurs looking to support creativity by providing urban dwellers with resources they did not have at home. With support from CTNext, the City of New London, and some very generous individuals, Spark opened its first community workshop space at 86 Golden Street in New London in June 2016. In 2017 Spark relocated to State Street where it grew from 30 to 130 active members. To accommodate growth and embrace momentum, Spark and friends bought a historic 9,400 sf commercial building on Union Street in New London which it renovated throughout 2021 (Spark Makerspace | New London, CT).

Foundry 66 is a co-work space located in Norwich that allows small businesses to rent workspace while being part of a greater community. It offers space for larger meetings and events to support small emerging businesses (Home – Foundry 66).

Innovation Center’s mission is to provide an innovative environment where professionals can convene and work and underserved community members can receive career-enhancing training. The project expands emerging economic opportunities and builds resilience in one of Eastern Connecticut’s most economically distressed urban centers. The Center will also facilitate economic recovery in response to high regional unemployment and business closures due to the pandemic (Chamber of Commerce of Eastern CT officially owns Innovation Hub (chamberect.com)).

Connecticut Innovations administers the Angel Investor Tax Credit Program, which allows investors an opportunity to receive a tax credit by investing in a qualified Connecticut business. An investment of $25,000 to $2,000,000 qualifies the investor for a 25 percent credit on state income tax provided the investment is in a Qualified Connecticut Business (QCB) (Angel Investor Tax Credit – CTNext : CTNext).

BioCT Innovation Commons at UConn Avery Point is an incubator dedicated to talent retention, job creation and building high value sustainable businesses. The Commons provides commercial-grade laboratories, offices and co-working and meeting spaces for proof-of-concept experiments, start-ups and growing companies. The Commons is a catalyst for innovation and entrepreneurship to build out a diverse understory of new companies critical to Connecticut’s future (The CURE Innovation Commons in SE CT (bioctcommons.org)).

The mission of UConn Technology Commercialization Services is to expedite and facilitate the transformation of UConn discoveries into products and services that benefit patients, industry and society. Its goals are to bring together UConn researchers and the business community in order to significantly enhance the commercial and societal impact of UConn’s research; identify and help move inventions by UConn faculty, staff and students towards the market through licensing or new company formation; secure patent protection for new technologies; and generate support for ongoing applied/translational research projects including industry partnerships. Over 750 patents have been granted based on UConn innovations, and $463 million was raised by UConn incubator companies in FY2020 (Home | Technology Commercialization Services (uconn.edu)).

Technology for Connecticut, Inc., or TechConn, is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to help retain and create jobs in Connecticut. This is accomplished by accelerating the commercialization of emerging technologies, focusing on regional technology clusters, and providing access to capital in the earliest pre-seed stages of development (seed funding, TechConn Home).

AdvanceCT is a business driven nonprofit that works to engage, retain and recruit businesses to Connecticut. AdvanceCT collaborates with the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) and its partners to implement high impact, equitable economic development. The AdvanceCT team advocates for and promotes Connecticut as a location for companies to compete and grow (AdvanceCT).