Four community-minded partners announced an ambitious new project to encourage entrepreneurship and advance inclusive innovation in New Haven’s Mill River neighborhood. Comcast, CTNext, District Innovation and Venture Center, and Elm City Innovation Collaborative have committed to combine their resources and expertise to create a connected and collaborative destination, within the District New Haven campus, that integrates public space, education in advanced technology and the wider New Haven community.
Comcast has committed nearly $700,000 of cash and in-kind services toward the center. Through the Innovation Places program, CTNext and Elm City Innovation Collaborative have awarded the project a grant totalling $850,000 over the next five years.
This relationship emphasizes inclusive innovation and community collaboration and is actively putting new investments behind educational programming efforts and space expansion in the coming months. All of these efforts are designed to enhance District New Haven’s ability to use shared resources and space in a way that moves the New Haven region forward.
A 106,000 square foot mixed-use development at the former Department of Transportation building on James Street, the District New Haven project was formally announced when it broke ground in 2016. The 9-acre site was a remediated brownfield that has been transformed into a technology hub and innovation campus with flexible coworking spaces, office spaces ranging from 1,000-25,000 square feet, a media studio, a restaurant and beer garden, an athletic club, an outdoor amphitheater, and a kayak and paddleboard launch designed to reactivate the Mill River waterfront.
“Effectively recycling a former transit hub, District New Haven is a breakthrough technology campus for the new economy. New Haven is proud to support its development into what will be an attractive asset for the city and the state,” Mayor Toni N. Harp said. “In partnership with Comcast and the Elm City Innovation Collaborative, which is funded by the state’s Innovation Places program, District New Haven will provide world-class training so city residents can learn the skills necessary to compete and thrive in the digital economy.”
“District New Haven is a shining example of how community-focused partners, like CTNext, are helping to drive innovation and accelerate growth for Connecticut’s most promising startups. These collaborative initiatives assist in developing a strong workforce, fostering new enterprises and attracting firms to relocate or expand operations to New Haven and across the State,” said Senate President Martin M. Looney (D-New Haven).
Comcast is committed to fostering inclusion through innovation and technology and is a natural ally in this initiative. As Connecticut’s leader in connectivity and mobility, Comcast is providing the Innovation Center with a multi-gigabit (Gbps) high speed Internet connection, including a full deployment of Comcast Business VoiceEdge®, a hosted cloud-based telephone system; Comcast Business video service, including X1 for business; and Xfinity WiFi, which will be deployed throughout the District New Haven campus. Additionally, Comcast will work with the District to produce and run public service announcements to promote the campus and its events.
“Comcast is pleased to make this commitment with our partners and provide resources for the betterment of the workforce and workplace in New Haven. We believe our technology will play a critical role in helping District New Haven reach its innovation goals, while our investment will help develop the community for the digital economy,” said Paul Savas, vice president of Comcast Business in Comcast’s Western New England Region, which is headquartered in Connecticut.
“Comcast is a real partner and catalyst to our organization’s mission of improving the outcomes of the region’s entrepreneurial and technology ecosystem,” said David Salinas, founder of the District Innovation and Venture Center, a 501c3 located in the District New Haven campus. “As a result of their investment we have been able to rally the support of additional partners and vendors and will be announcing education and workforce development programming in critical areas starting with Software Engineering and Data Science.”
“This is exactly the type of public-private partnership that we believe will fuel the growth of the knowledge-based economy in our state,” said Glendowlyn Thames, executive director of CTNext. “The District has the ability to assemble a community of entrepreneurs and companies that will inspire new and innovative thinking and spur the growth of companies and jobs in the city and the region.”
Elinor Slomba, Implementation Manager for the Elm City Innovation Collaborative, funded by CTNext, adds, “This project supports our mission to build on New Haven’s strengths as a city that nurtures innovative companies and hubs. It’s amazing to see a project of this magnitude flip the switch and open for business.”