Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Photo of Senator Gerratana with young entrepreneur.

In 2016 Senate Democrats led passage of new legislation focusing on innovation & entrepreneurship—a new direction in economic development for the state of Connecticut.

To date, the state’s post-recession economic efforts have focused on supporting existing companies and attracting outside firms to relocate here. Through CTNext, we are reallocating existing state resources to focus also on supporting new, homegrown, innovative Connecticut startup companies.

This marks a return to Connecticut’s innovative roots—when Connecticut inventions like the submarine, the helicopter and the hamburger launched entire new industries. This is how Connecticut originally built our tremendous wealth, and it is how we will now create opportunities for our young people and our future.

This new legislation builds upon the work being done at Connecticut Innovations by taking its pilot program for an innovation ecosystem, CTNext, to the next level by:

  • Setting up CTNext as its own, entrepreneur-led subsidiary of Connecticut Innovations to cultivate and promote the innovation ecosystem statewide—connecting entrepreneurs to one another and to all available resources.
  • Creating Innovation Places—The bill provides some resources to plan and develop hubs of innovation—concentrated neighborhoods of entrepreneurs, innovators, tech talent, support organizations and research institutions in dense, walk-able, transit-connected, mixed-use areas.
  • Aiming to unlock the innovative potential of our colleges & universities—The law creates a Working Group of all Connecticut’s public and private college presidents to develop a statewide master plan for higher-ed entrepreneurship.
  • Focusing on helping companies that make it past the startup stage, to what economists call “Stage 2” or “growth stage” companies. The exponential growth that transforms small, young firms into “growth stage companies” accounts for a great majority of the net job growth in an economy. The legislation does this by:
    1. Funding programs to create the talent pipeline that growth stage companies need to grow
    2. Expanding procurement networks aimed at helping them acquire new customers; and
    3. Providing small grants to help them tackle key growth challenges.
  • Increasing the number of private venture capital (VC) firms in Connecticut by:
    1. Providing authority for Connecticut Innovations to invest some of its funds into other Connecticut-based venture capital firms, and to establish incentives for those firms to invest in Connecticut companies, or for outside firms to open an office in Connecticut.
    2. Creating an unprecedented estate tax credit for long-term investments made in funds investing in Connecticut companies.
    3. Extending the Angel Investor Tax Credit.

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