Why New Haven, CT is the Best U.S. City for Tech Startups

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Although Silicon Valley, Research Triangle Park, and Austin are still active centers of tech entrepreneurship, other regions across the United States have followed in their footsteps and become hotbeds of innovative technology startups. New Haven, Connecticut, in particular, is among one of the best locations for tech innovation.

In fact, New Haven ranked at the top of Right Click's list of the 12 hottest cities for tech startups. Other cities in the running include Orlando, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Medford, Barnstable, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Santa Rosa, Stockton, Spokane, and Bellingham.

The four main criteria for these rankings were internet use, cost of living, competitive salaries, and population size. However, when considering what makes a good location for start-ups, other factors are significant as well.  One of the most notable could be termed the “proximity effect.”

For example, locations such as San Francisco, Stockton, and Santa Rosa are near Silicon Valley but far enough away to make commuting a challenge. Therefore, they have become havens for techies who are tired of the commute—they want to be close to the action but no longer feel the need to sit in traffic every day so they start new companies closer to home. Other regions, such as Orlando, are getting a boost from the burgeoning tech demand from local business and an improved telecommunications infrastructure.

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No matter what forces of startup attraction are at work, certain common denominators characterize startup hotbeds. We detail some of the biggest requirements that New Haven meets.

1. A Technology Talent Pool

Startups need technology talent, including engineers, hardware designers, programmers, and other experts. When seeking top talent, you either can hire people from other companies or train employees with the expertise you need. New Haven has a large regional technology talent pool from which to recruit, including established professionals and recent college graduates.

Consider the number of other technology companies in the region. For example, biotechnology is strong in Connecticut and getting stronger. As more biotech experts gravitate to the region for employment, many are willing to work at startups to face new challenges. The same is true for software engineers, designers, financial experts, and others who bring talent essential for a successful startup.

Also, local universities provide top-notch science and engineering programs that are turning out newly minted technologists who are just itching to show what they can do. Connecticut has some of the finest universities in the country, and UConn, Wesleyan, Trinity, and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy all boast strong engineering programs. Furthermore, Yale is located in New Haven and offers a number of specialty programs, such as the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute, which was specifically created to nurture the next generation of entrepreneurs.

2. Investors and Capital

In addition to talent, startups need capital, and there are plenty of investors across Connecticut. Organizations such as Connecticut Innovations, for example, provide funding for biosciences, high tech, clean tech, medical devices, and advanced manufacturing.

Moreover, the Angels Investment Network connects innovators with investors. Whether a startup is looking for seed money or venture capital, the network handles thousands of business proposals to match the venture with the right venture capitalist.

Finally, other Connecticut-based funding sources are available as well. Investment firms such as Topstone Angels and Crossroads Venture Group are finding Connecticut to be a rich market for startup investment.

3. A Positive Entrepreneurial Climate

Every startup seed needs to be nurtured in a climate of enthusiasm and positive reinforcement, and New Haven is just one of the Connecticut cities rolling out the welcome mat for startups.

Anxious to help startups, the state government is considering New Haven, among other cities, for state funding to create innovation spaces. Cities across Connecticut have already created their own innovation spaces, such as the Stamford Innovation Center and the B:Hive in Bridgeport; New Haven is no exception with The Grove,  a co-working space where innovators, entrepreneurs, and creative thinkers can collaborate and spark new ideas.

4. Infrastructure

Of course, no startup succeeds without business infrastructure. Just as any seed needs fertile ground, water, and sunlight to grow, startups need various resources, such as a robust telecommunications system, reliable internet access, thriving communities for employees, access to shipping and warehousing, and so on.

In particular, New Haven has a robust infrastructure and strikes the right balance to make it the ideal place to live as well as work. The region attracts highly educated workers, which means the per capita income trends higher, so wages are higher and schools tend to be better. In general, the quality of life is better, yet New Haven is still very affordable compared to other technology cities.

New Haven: A True Haven for Tech Startups

What makes New Haven the best city for tech startups is a combination of all the aforementioned factors and more. It’s how those factors come together symbiotically that makes New Haven a dynamic community with the right climate to nurture tech startups.

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About The Author

President of NSI, Tom has been helping small and medium businesses succeed in Connecticut for over 25 years.