Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Spotlight: Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT

Bridgeport, CT

Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT has a history in business and innovation. Numerous companies are headquartered or originally opened in the area including Xerox, Pepperidge Farm, Subway, Charter Communications, WWE and more.

Bridgeport, CT is the state’s most populous city and the center of the Bridgeport Metropolitan area, which includes nearby Stamford and Norwalk, the state’s third- and sixth-largest cities, respectively. Altogether, the cities making up Greater Bridgeport are the 48th-largest metropolitan area in the country. The three cities also have a history in business and innovation, with numerous companies being currently headquartered or having originally opened in the area, including Xerox, Pepperidge Farm, Subway, Charter Communications, WWE and more.

It’s not just a place for major corporations, though: the area also has a robust entrepreneurial environment, ranking 29th overall in a Verizon study of the most innovative metropolitan areas in the country. The metro area also ranked 67th overall in a 2018 ranking of the best cities for women to start a business published by Business.org. Stamford and Norwalk ranked first and second in a list by Fundera of the best cities in Connecticut to start a business, while the state as a whole ranked 10th on the US News & World Report’s 2019 rankings of the 10 best states for business.

Based on these rankings, FundingSage has reviewed the resources that make up Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk’s entrepreneurial ecosystem:

Entrepreneurial Meetups:

Entrepreneurs and business owners in Bridgeport and the surrounding area can join the Bridgeport Business Leaders networking group to meet each other and make connections.

Every Wednesday morning in the Trumbull Library Community Room, entrepreneurs from around Fairfield County gather to network with one another and share business referrals.

Up for Business holds weekly meetings in Stamford that give local entrepreneurs an opportunity to meet one another and try to grow their startups.

The Women Entrepreneurs Social meetup group hosts regular events at locations throughout the Greater Bridgeport area to support women in entrepreneurship and business.

 

Regular Entrepreneurial Events:

The Bridgeport Regional Business Council hosts a variety of events related to entrepreneurship and business, including networking opportunities.

The best and brightest entrepreneurs from around the state of Connecticut are honored every year at the annual CT Entrepreneur Awards event.

Stamford Innovation Week is an annual weeklong conference celebrating entrepreneurship in the region and working to grow area startups.

Organized by the University of Connecticut and held in Stamford, the xCITE Conference aims to celebrate and support women in entrepreneurship and technology.

 

Startup Competitions:

CTNext is an organization that hosts a competition of sorts in which entrepreneurs can apply to present their startups for a potential grant of up to $10,000.

Fairfield University’s StartUp Showcase is a startup competition for student teams that have participated in a year-long curriculum of educational and networking events.

Students at the University of Bridgeport can participate in the school’s UBusiness Plan Competition, which has $1,000 in cash prizes.

Entrepreneurs from around the state of Connecticut and the world can compete in VentureClash, a competition for early-stage startups with $5 million in award money.

 

Co-working Spaces:

B:Hive Coworking, which provides a pair of uniquely-designed co-working spaces in Bridgeport and Westport, offers a variety of membership plans.

Just outside of Bridgeport in Black Rock, WerkSpace provides members with 24/7 access and offers a free day pass for first-timers.

One of Serendipity Labs’ many locations around the country is in Stamford, where the company offers several traditional co-working plans and private office space for individuals and teams.

With three locations across South Norwalk, SONO Spaces provides the Greater Bridgeport community with co-working and event spaces.

Located on the water of the Long Island Sound in Stamford, Workpoint provides 15,000 square feet of co-working space, conference rooms, meeting rooms and event space.

 

Makerspaces:

Located in Norwalk, the Fairfield County Makers’ Guild is a makerspace as well as an organization dedicated to supporting makers of all kinds.

The Ferguson Library Makerspace, located in downtown Stamford’s DiMattia Building, is a small workshop with tools and equipment for makers of all ages.

Located in the Bridgeport Innovation Center, Makerspace Bridgeport provides the community with access to its array of tools and equipment and hosts weekly classes, typically for free.

Norwalk Community College offers its students access to a small makerspace full of fabrication tools, including 3D printers, laser cutters and more.

 

Incubators:

The Bridgeport Innovation Center provides office space, warehouse and storage space, makerspace tools and other resources to developing businesses in the area.

The University of Bridgeport’s CTech IncUBator helps early-stage technology startups grow and reach the commercialization stage.

Located in Norwalk, the Fairfield County branch of SCORE hosts regular workshops and other events to support area small business owners.

The City of Bridgeport runs the Small & Minority Business Enterprise, a program that works to support small businesses owned and led by women and minorities.

 

Accelerators:

The Accelerator for Biosciences in Connecticut is a six-month program that helps the state’s most promising biosciences startups grow.

The University of Bridgeport runs the Student Entrepreneur Center, a program that works to develop startups created and led by the school’s student population.

Located in Stamford, TechXel is an accelerator program that helps prepare early-stage technology startups to receive funding.

 

Colleges/Universities:

The Dolan School of Business at Fairfield University offers a major, minor and post-baccalaureate certificate in entrepreneurship as well as other forms of support and education.

Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport offers a 27-credit business certificate program in Small Business Management/Entrepreneurship.

Norwalk Community College’s Entrepreneurs Institute connects area entrepreneurs to a wide variety of support programs and other resources.

The University of Bridgeport provides its students and the community as a whole with a wide variety of resources and support programs for entrepreneurs.

 

Angel Groups/VCs:

Cava Capital is a Norwalk-based investment firm that supports and occasionally co-founds businesses, especially those in the technology and consumer products and services sectors.

Based just down the road from Stamford in Greenwich, Landmark Angels has a group of about 300 members that invest primarily in technology startups.

Located in Fairfield County, Topstone Angels invests in promising early- and mid-stage startups across a variety of sectors and locations.

 

Entrepreneurial Newsletter Coverage:

The Bridgeport Regional Business Council offers The QR, a quarterly review of the area’s economic development, and the Greater Bridgeport Region Magazine, a more frequent version.

The Connecticut Business & Industry Association offers a newsletter covering the state’s economic and small business development.

The CT Post – along with the Norwalk Hour and the Stamford Advocate – offer some newsletters covering local news, though none focus only on business or entrepreneurship.

Are you familiar with entrepreneurial ecosystem infrastructure in Bridgeport, CT not included in the article above?  If so, let us know via a comment below and we will add it to the article. 

Interested in Ecosystem Spotlights of other cities in the USA?

Boston, MA,  Hartford, CT, New Haven-Milford, CT,


Quinn Pilkey

Quinn is a journalism major at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He also serves as a freelance author for Hashtag Basketball where he writes about the NBA's Charlotte Hornets and at Funding$age where he researches and writes about entrepreneurial ecosystems.