CTI_Headshot-circle-mask-mattMatthew McCooe
Chief Executive Officer

The most important ingredient in any successful startup is an experienced and effective management team. Since our state has taken a beating in the business press of late, I thought it was an appropriate time to remind our readers—you—about one of the critical factors that sets Connecticut apart, namely our extraordinary management talent. Let’s take a closer look at a few lists that I believe more accurately rank our state and represent our greatest asset: our supremely talented human capital. Keep in mind that we’re recognized nationwide for a variety of traits that set our talent apart.

We’re recognized innovators
Every entrepreneurial community depends on the strength of its human capital. Connecticut punches well above its weight in this category, as captured recently in this Bloomberg survey, which recently ranked Connecticut among the top five states for innovation. The Nutmeg State was ahead of every state save for New Jersey, Washington, California and Massachusetts. Connecticut owes its high ranking to worker productivity, patent filings and advanced science and technology degrees. Indeed, our universities—and not just Yale and UConn—are world-class institutions producing sought-after graduates.  Nevertheless, one important challenge we do need to tackle is keeping more of our young talent living and working in Connecticut.

We’re known for our experience
The Brookings Institute’s annual ranking of major metropolitan centers also points to the depth of Connecticut’s talent. The survey consistently places the Hartford area and Fairfield County in the top 10 metro areas across the globe based on gross domestic product (Hartford was fourth after Zurich, Oslo and San Jose; Bridgeport in Fairfield County ranked eighth). Fairfield County’s proximity to New York City, and its high, if expensive, quality of living, makes it an area where many hedge fund, finance, advertising and Fortune 500 executives choose to live.  Hartford County’s long history as the crossroads of New England, home to United Technologies, and the global center of the insurance industry, attracts world-class talent. The challenge here is to do more to connect our young entrepreneurs with the senior executives in these communities, so that our young talent can benefit from the experience and networks of the state’s seasoned executives.

Our female entrepreneurs are raising the bar and bolstering the economy
According to a recent Fast Company article, the Bridgeport-Norwalk-Stamford-Greenwich area ranks second in the country for the strength of its women-owned companies; only Boulder, Colorado ranks higher. Organizations such as the Women’s Business Development Council in Stamford have been leading the charge for years, empowering women with entrepreneurial training and financial education. Newer organizations, such as The Refinery in Westport, are also working to expand opportunities for female entrepreneurs. Our challenge now is to get more women involved, and to connect them to experienced mentors to strengthen the community even further.

What We Do
I believe in the incredible strength of the talent in this state, which is why Connecticut Innovations is investing in the challenges I mentioned above. We are aggressively expanding our entrepreneur in residence (EIR) program to add senior talent to our team—executives who can support our younger entrepreneurs.  We are also funding internship programs for companies that are looking for tech and startup talent. Finally, we support a variety of organizations that support entrepreneurs, including women-owned businesses, in a number of ways.

Of course, we know that while we’re making progress, we don’t have all the answers. That’s where you come in. Share your ideas—the bolder the better. Reach out to me or post a comment below; I’d love to know your thoughts on how we can make Connecticut the most innovative state in the nation.