Mar 16 2015

New Tech Hub Expected to Boost D.C.’s Digital Economy

The hub will house venture capital firms that agree to invest in the district’s local tech startups.

Washington, D.C., boasts more than 30 co-working spaces where entrepreneurs can discuss business plans and hash out upcoming projects with their partners.

But District officials understand that providing space for budding CEOs to hunker down and network with like-minded people isn’t all that attracts startups to the area — or entices them to stay.

Last week, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced a partnership with Howard University aimed at attracting more venture capital firms, and ultimately more technology startups, to D.C. Under the new partnership, the university has committed 10,000 square feet of office space on its campus in northwest Washington to house the city’s first Technology and Innovation Hub. D.C. will help fund its development with an economic investment, the dollar amount of which has yet to be finalized.

“The district’s partnership with Howard University will focus on leveraging university resources for venture capital firms to support medium to late-stage technology and innovation startups,” according to the news release from Bowser’s office.

Howard University says the hub may be open for business as soon as this fall, but there is no word on how many venture capitalists the tech hub is expected to house. One thing is certain: VCs will have to agree to invest in local D.C. startups.

“Today, we are taking a major step toward building an ecosystem that will make DC a world-wide hub for technology and innovation,” Mayor Bowser said in the statement. “This plan will bolster efforts to support our growing technology and innovation sectors by addressing the needs of startups and entrepreneurs in the District. I look forward to working with Howard University to foster more innovation, inclusion and equity throughout the community.”

The goal is to attract more venture capital firms to maintain a business in Washington, and to invest in the D.C. digital economy. “We want to make sure we are doing our due diligence to connect [VCs] with companies in [the] tech corridor that have come to the District looking for assistance,” a spokesman for the mayor told StateTech.

“The goal is to make sure we build out the space and make sure that we are communicating with venture groups and those that want to invest in local, district tech businesses and make sure they recognize the space is even available,” he said.

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