(Photo by Kevin Allen)
Planned tech incubator 1313 Innovation opened up a year ago with all eyes set on revitalizing Wilmington with collaboration, educational outreach and entrepreneurship in mind.
One year later the mission remains the same but now with more to offer.
Founder Paul McConnell laid out the vision Thursday night for the next generation of 1313 Innovation, which includes a physical 100,000-square-foot expansion, as well as new partnerships with Start It Up Delaware, World Cafe Live and The Hub, inside the iconic Hercules Building that his real estate firm owns.
Based out of Philadelphia, The Hub already provides meeting spaces and amenities for businesses in three Philly locations. In its partnership with 1313 Innovation, it will open another 15,000-square-foot space in Wilmington. McConnell is also in talks with World Cafe Live to open a mobile location in the Hercules building.
Along with the new additions comes a slightly new model: “Putting a lot more people in a lot less space,” McConnell said of the 3,000 people he hopes 1313 Innovation will eventually serve.
Gov. Jack Markell stopped by for the first anniversary of 1313 Innovation’s opening Thursday, boasting Wilmington’s booming job growth while looking to the entrepreneurial sector as a source of hope.
“This is where the future is,” Markell said. “The idea that we’re going to have lots of multibillion dollar companies hiring a thousand people at the same time — that’s just not really the economy of the future.”
Instead Markell said the economy of the future is “letting a thousand flowers bloom” and seeing which ones can grow.
“The kinds of folks we want at the center of economy want spaces like this,” Markell said.
The Hub cofounder John New called the new chapter in Wilmington “a marriage” between two organizations with similar mindsets.
The Hub started up 10 years ago with its founders riding the outsourcing wave, integrating both technology and desired Philadelphia cuisine from chefs such as Jean-Marie Lacroix into its model.
Part of what brings The Hub to Wilmington is McConnell. New credits McConnell for having the vision of creating a 21st century building, knowing full well the modern-day drivers of real estate.
“Paul understands that you have to have amenities like 1313 Innovation and The Hub where people have everything they need, but don’t have to commit to fixed space,” New said.
The two organizations also share a vision.
“This is neat to kind of blend all the elements of times when humans need temporary workspace — whether its table for workspace or rooms for professional meetings,” New said of the joining of 1313 Innovation and The Hub.
To build any space, New said it is important to listen to the market. With Wilmington, it’s about creating a vibe that can attract people, particularly millennials.
Wilmington still ways to go in catering to millennials, New said.
“I think we’re getting there,” New said. “Collectively we’re going to have to accelerate it.”-30-
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