16 Tech chooses partners for new Innovation Hub ventures

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The chief executive of 16 Tech told a city board Wednesday that the district plans to partner with an East Coast firm to create a startup incubator and flexible office space at the campus’ Innovation Hub.

Speaking during a meeting with members of the local governing board for the federal New Markets Tax Credits program, 16 Tech CEO Bob Coy said the district is finalizing a deal with Philadelphia-based incubator network 1776 to operate a 54,000-square-foot flexible office area at the hub.

The 50-acre 16 Tech, north of downtown, was one of four local projects selected in October to receive funding from the tax credit program. It’s expected to get $8 million for the Innovation Hub project, now under construction in the former Citizens Energy headquarters, when the deal closes by the end of January.

The potential partnership with 1776—which manages seven incubators in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey and Washington, D.C.—is one of several 16 Tech has secured for the hub in recent months, Coy said.

While some parts of the Innovation Hub project remain fluid, he said it’s expected to included three components: the coworking space, a 15,000-square-foot makerspace and a 40,000-square-foot artisan marketplace.

The coworking area will feature collaboration spaces, individual work stations, corporate offices and suites and conference rooms.

“We wanted to find an operator who had experience successfully [running] incubators,” Coy told IBJ following his presentation. “We also wanted an incubator that had national reach. It was the combination of those two goals … that led us to select them to operate the coworking part of the Innovation Hub.”

1776 officials did not respond to requests for comment Thursday.

16 Tech is working with Alex Bandar, founder of the Idea Foundry in Columbus, Ohio, to operate its makerspace. Bandar, who is working on a handful of makerspace projects throughout Ohio, has been consulting with 16 Tech for the past several months.

Bandar is helping determine the district’s equipment, programming and service needs through conversations with corporate, entrepreneurial and resident stakeholders, a 16 Tech spokesperson said via email.

The 16 Tech makerspace is expected to mirror some concepts from the Idea Foundry, which is one of the largest in the world with over 800 members and 60,000 square feet of space.

It will feature CNC machine tools, 3D printers and robotics in a member-driven workshop and fabrication studio, along with STEM programs for students and a collaboration hub for local startups and other companies, Coy said.

For the Innovation Hub’s artisan marketplace, 16 Tech has hired local chef Craig Baker as a consultant. Baker has worked in several local and national restaurants—most recently Cunningham Restaurant Group as the executive chef—and runs a consulting firm called CCCB Inc.

Coy said Baker is helping 16 Tech hone its plans for locally based food and artisan concepts in the marketplace, which will serve as combination of culinary incubator, food market and food hall.

The Innovation Hub is expected to open in late 2020.

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