John Fonfara

State Senator

John Fonfara

Deputy President Pro Tempore

June 6, 2017

Fonfara Welcomes CTNext Innovation Places Award for Hartford/East Hartford

The CTNext Board of Directors has approved a $2 million implementation grant for Hartford/East Hartford’s Innovation Places initiative for fiscal year 2018. Senator John Fonfara (D-Hartford), who was instrumental in designing and passing a comprehensive law to help Connecticut embrace the innovation economy, applauded the decision by CTNext to invest in the Hartford area.

“I’d like to congratulate the core team that made this happen, in particular Michelle Cote of the Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation,” Sen. Fonfara, who co-chairs the Finance Committee said.

Innovation Places are concentrated areas where entrepreneurs and innovators have easy access to tech talent, support organizations and research institutions. These dense areas are intended to be highly walkable, transit-connected, and mixed-use in zoning to facilitate interactions among entrepreneurs and innovators across different organizations, and to be conducive to the creation of start-up companies. This environment is intended to be attractive not only for entrepreneurs to work in, but also to live in and for recreation, to help the community retain the most in-demand workers.
CTNext received Innovation Places applications from 12 communities across the state and, following a comprehensive review, the CTNext Board of Directors selected the finalists. The program will distribute $30 million to the winning cities and communities over a period of five years to support catalytic projects to stimulate their local innovation ecosystem. In total, four designated communities were announced as the winners Tuesday, including Hartford/East Hartford, New Haven, Stamford, and Thames River.

Hartford/East Hartford Innovation Places Initiative


Increase local innovation and commercialization in the region’s strongest economic clusters—insurance, healthcare and aerospace/advanced manufacturing. Build upon amenity- rich downtown Hartford and create new amenities in the Trinity/Hartford Hospital Impact Area to enable them to become thriving Innovation Places. Create social networks that tie together Hartford’s many existing, but fragmented and underutilized, resources and assets.

Team/Partners: UConn, Goodwin College, Trinity College, University of Hartford, Metro Hartford Alliance, Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology, Hartford Healthcare, City of Hartford, Town of East Hartford, reSET, Small Business Development Corporation, Innovate Hartford, MakerspaceCT and several entrepreneurs.

Major Catalytic Projects

Economic Initiatives—Accelerate innovation and commercialization in insurance, medical technology and aerospace/advanced manufacturing.

  • InsureTech Accelerator. Attract next-generation insurance companies to Hartford.
  • Digital Health Incubator/Accelerator. Support the development and testing of “minimum viable products” and new digital health technologies.
  • Technical Assistance, Training and Talent Recruitment. Provide aerospace/advanced manufacturing suppliers with technical assistance, training and talent recruitment to develop next-generation products and methods.

Physical Place Initiatives—Develop the Trinity/Hartford Hospital Impact Area as a thriving Innovation Place with diverse live/work/play opportunities.

  • Space-Matching and Grant Assistance. Provide access for local businesses to space-matching and grant assistance to improve area amenities.
  • Pop-Up Food Park. Provide healthy, affordable fresh produce while creating a shared “third space” for Innovation Places interactions.

Social Capabilities Initiatives—Network and connect the region’s many assets.

  • Asset and Cluster Mapping. Support area entrepreneurs by providing asset mapping and new tools. Provide cluster mapping to identify and connect resources within emerging clusters.
  • Build Networks. Build networks between startups and corporations and between students and the Hartford region.
  • New Makerspace. Serve as a shared space for collaboration between InsureTech, MedTech and aerospace initiative participants, as well as Hartford entrepreneurs.
  • Promote New Initiatives and Resources. Coordinate and promote each of the new initiatives and resources.

Impact Areas: Downtown Hartford area and the Trinity/Hartford Hospital area.