A new partnership between the University of Connecticut and Innovate Stamford aims to provide a platform of new programs that will strengthen the city’s position as a leader in technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship.
This partnership bolsters Stamford’s ability to compete in the global landscape for talent.— Glendowlyn Thames
The first of these programs will be a summer internship program for 50 students from any UConn campus, who will be placed with area businesses for two months’ training in entrepreneurship and innovation.
“UConn is playing a transformative role for the 21st century as the state’s public research university, anchoring it as a vital center of competence to help tackle social challenges and drive economic growth,” says Radenka Maric, vice president for research at UConn. “We are thrilled to work closely with leadership from Innovate Stamford, CTNext, and Connecticut Innovations to build a more robust community of entrepreneurs, train students for high-paying jobs, and accelerate business growth.”
The state’s fastest growing city, Stamford is home to global corporations and high-potential startups, has active home sales, low unemployment numbers, and a lively social scene. Add to this that Stamford is an easy commute to New York City, and it is no surprise that it is a center for research, innovation, and entrepreneurship.
In 2017, Innovate Stamford formed and was catalyzed with a $2 million grant from CTNext, Connecticut’s go-to resource for entrepreneurial support. The grant designated Stamford as an “Innovation Place,” with the long-term goal of enhancing the city’s Innovation District by connecting places, institutions, and stakeholders that had previously operated independently.
While Stamford’s startup scene and mentor networks are lively and growing, the area could benefit from more active engagement with the state’s researchers, according to program officials. The UConn-Innovate Stamford collaboration seeks to leverage the infrastructure, expertise, and facilities associated with a top research university like the University of Connecticut.
“We are delighted to enter this partnership with UConn,” says Sam Gordon, director of Stamford’s Innovation Places Program. “High-growth potential companies need access to research capabilities and talent pipelines; Stamford companies have been asking for this and it fits well within Innovate Stamford’s mission.”
The first program to launch under the UConn-Innovate Stamford collaboration seeks to make it easier to connect talented students and Stamford businesses.
As part of a two-month summer internship, 50 student interns from UConn will work with Stamford area companies in marketing, engineering, digital media, and other critical fields. The student interns will receive mentoring and training in entrepreneurship and innovation from key figures in the Stamford business community, as well as from UConn faculty. Upon completion of the internship, these highly skilled graduates could easily transition to full-time employees and will help Stamford companies sustain a competitive advantage, according to program officials.
To counteract financial barriers that Stamford’s cost of living could pose for young workers, the program will provide student interns with a $5,000 summer scholarship and free accommodations in the UConn Stamford campus housing.
“We know that talent is a key factor in nearly every business location decision,” says Glendowlyn Thames, executive director of CTNext. “For Connecticut to compete, we must aggressively develop, recruit, and attract talent. This partnership bolsters Stamford’s ability to compete in the global landscape for talent.”
The summer internship is just the first of many future programs that are planned under the UConn-Innovate Stamford partnership. The second phase will include an expansion of UConn’s programs in customer discovery, technology transfer, venture development, and R&D support.
A key objective of the collaboration is to extend UConn’s Technology Incubation Program (TIP) to include a fully-fledged physical incubator in Stamford. TIP currently has two primary locations in Storrs and at UConn Health. The future Stamford TIP will attract, support, and grow early- to mid-stage companies, and will serve as a focal point for entrepreneurial and corporate engagement, global outreach to attract new talent, and partnerships with industry.