In a large L-shaped office — filled with colorful bean bag chairs, an Xbox gaming system, writable walls, ping-pong tables and, not one, but two 3D printers — sit a few dreamers.
These are just a few folks from 1313 Innovation, a collaboration between The McConnell Companies (a commercial real estate firm) and Digital-Vikings (a mobile app design studio).
At first glance, it’s an odd pairing.
But here’s the mission: 1313 Innovation wants to be more than just known for solid work in the technology field; it hopes its creativity will help revitalize Wilmington by in attracting more tech-savvy individuals to Delaware.
“Paul’s mission is to revitalize Wilmington,” said Greg Shelton, who along with founder and so-called “Chief Innovation Viking” Kjell Hegstad, works for Digital-Vikings. “There’s a lot of great ideas to give back to Wilmington. But we have to find what people need and want.”
The Paul there is Paul McConnell, a partner at the real estate firm that bears his name, and a founder of 1313 Innovation. He has spent the last 15 years giving Wilmington the boost it needs.
“The early goal is to revitalize Wilmington — and that’s a lofty goal considering where we’ve come from — but I think if we can leave each day with having worked with some of the key people and businesses,” that’s a start, said Shelton.
Digital–Vikings works out of the 1313 space. By the fall, 1313 Innovation plans to offer paid memberships and coworking options to interested parties and individuals.
This is all part of the McConnell’s vision, said Shelton.
Another goal the 1313 team — which includes Community Manager Megan Anthony and Education Coordinator Ryan Harrington — is to host a week of innovation events this fall, called “Wilmington Tech2gether.” The weeklong events series will be held in late September. Harrington said the events would focus on three pillars of innovation: medicine, education and technology.
“We’re extremely excited about how excited people are about it,” Harrington said.
The goal of Wilmington Tech2gether is to bring together different career groups from Wilmington and across the state. Organizers would like to showcase local presenters and performers, as well as successful leaders in the tech industry from other cities that have experienced a tech boom, like San Francisco, Austin and Pittsburgh.
“We have a lot of talent here,” Harrington said. “We want the big names and the smaller companies to be elevated.”
Although 1313 Innovation only officially opened in January, the group views itself as a force in shining positive light on the city of Wilmington.
“[Along with others] we’re changing the whole culture,” Anthony said. “Seems like we’ve had a lot of news from people, ‘Oh you can’t change Wilmington.’ I think slowly it is changing and we have to be the game changers.”