Delaware needs more, but Wilmington innovation corridor is a start - Technical.ly Delaware

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Sep. 12, 2014 9:11 am

Delaware needs more, but Wilmington innovation corridor is a start

With a nationwide trend toward urbanism, no one interested in Delaware’s innovation economy can ignore what North Market Street is fast becoming. Yet a recent op-ed in the News Journal did just that. We set the record straight.

What Market Street was is far less interesting that what it could be: an innovation corridor.

(Photo by Flickr user Boston Public Library, used under a Creative Commons license)

Disclosure: Some of the organizations mentioned in this commentary (The Archer Group, Start It Up Delaware, 1313 Innovation and Delaware Technology Park) are founding sponsors of Technical.ly Delaware.

Across the country, any community preparing for the future is working to put together a technology and entrepreneurship ecosystem.

No industry will escape a software revolution fast mandating that a class of technologists is necessary for any healthy business community. Innovation is being fueled by tiny experiments that sometimes grow into big solutions.

Delaware is not ignoring this.

A recent News Journal op-ed on the subject rightly alluded to the anchor that is the University of Delaware, and the state has other institutions like the Delaware Technology Park, Christiana Care Health System and a slew of traditional economic development groups. But far more is happening than most know.

A stronger, denser, more celebrated Wilmington should be Delaware's innovation leader.

The city of Wilmington, despite its challenges of crime and poverty, has a fledgling innovation corridor that could become the state’s best known asset outside the region. With a nationwide trend toward urbanism, no one interested in Delaware’s innovation economy can ignore what North Market Street could be.

Today, visitors from some of our country’s largest and most culturally significant cities could hop off an Amtrak train and take a tour of tech and entrepreneurial success stories that rival those from most any other city Wilmington’s size.

wilmington delaware innovation tech

Nearly 200 tech jobs with eight creative orgs are within a 15-minute walk of the Amtrak train station. Map by Technical.ly Delaware

  • Start at Trellist, the marketing technology firm with more than 100 employees and a satellite office in Philadelphia.
  • Walk to The Archer Group, a digital branding firm that has national clients.
  • Visit the Delaware College of Art and Design and its increasingly web-minded students.
  • Walk past the hip Spaceboy storefront on Market Street en route to the headquarters of web design firm Squatch Creative and online gaming network IndieGameStand.
  • Head inside the Hercules Building for a visit to 1313 Innovation, a new tech incubator that launched this year.
  • Hang out at The Loft coworking space operated by Start It Up Delaware, a group catalyzing the state’s tech entrepreneurship community with the help of a state grant.

There, regular events bring together its dozens of members and attract hundreds of people from the broader community to build tech startups and find creative expression through digital means. For example, in November, Start It Up Delaware and 1313 Innovation are co-hosting Delaware’s second Global Startup Battle Weekend, part of an international network of coding and business launch events. At last year’s event, a team from the University of Delaware, ProjectedU, was voted as one of the top five best ideas worldwide.

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And none of this means there isn’t innovation also happening in Rehoboth and Lewes and Newark and elsewhere in the state.

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All of Delaware needs to participate in this technology adoption and entrepreneurial zeal — and a stronger, denser, more celebrated Wilmington should be the leader.

These examples were enough to justify our launch of Technical.ly Delaware this summer to cover all of these efforts and many more.

Global tech brands like private car-hailing app Uber haven’t yet been convinced that there’s the density in Delaware to justify their expansion here. That shouldn’t suggest that there isn’t already great growth in Delaware’s innovation community — because there is.

But we need more participating and higher standards for ourselves. This new momentum is exciting, but a lack of awareness is one of the many challenges we hope to help overcome. For that, we should all take part.

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