Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Spotlight: Dover, DE

Dover, DE

Dover area is home to several major manufacturing facilities, including one for Kraft Foods, Inc.

Dover, DE, located on the banks of the St. Jones River, is the state’s capital and second-largest city. One of the oldest cities in the country, Dover has a long history of being a governmental and economic hub for the region. That economic history continues today, as the Dover area is home to several major manufacturing facilities, including one for Kraft Foods, Inc. In addition to large manufacturers, though, there is an opportunity in the Dover economy for entrepreneurs.

The city ranked 647th overall on WalletHub’s 2019 list of the best small cities to start a business, with a rank of 126th in the “Access to Resources” category. That access to resources is helped in part by Dover’s location near major entrepreneurial cities like Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington DC, but the city itself has plenty to offer as well. Dover ranked 53rd on Forbes’ 2019 list of the best small places for business and careers and 171st overall on a WalletHub ranking of the best cities for Hispanic entrepreneurs in the same year. Finally, a study performed by the New Jersey Business and Industry Association ranked Delaware as the state with the best business climate in the seven-state region from Massachusetts to Maryland.


Based on these rankings, FundingSage has reviewed the resources that makeup Dover’s entrepreneurial ecosystem:

Entrepreneurial Meetups:

The Delaware Networking Group meets the second Monday of every month in New Castle to allow entrepreneurs from throughout the state to meet one another and make connections.

The Dover Small Business Meetup meets every several months to allow like-minded entrepreneurs and small business owners in Dover the opportunity to meet one another.

The S.E.V.E.N. Networking group has chapters throughout the United States, including one serving the Dover area located just outside of the city in Smyrna, DE.

Hosted down the road in Newark, DE, the Women Empowered meetup group is an opportunity for women in business to build relationships and expand their networks.


Regular Entrepreneurial Events:

Down the road in Wilmington, 1 Million Cups hosts monthly events to allow entrepreneurs to present their startups

The 55 Plus expo is an annual event held in Delaware in which entrepreneurs and business owners present new products designed to improve the lives of those 55 and older.

The Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce hosts a number of events throughout the region designed to support business and entrepreneurship.


Startup Competitions:

Founded and organized by the University of Delaware is a global pitch competition for high school students that offers thousands of dollars in cash and in-kind prizes.

Students, alumni, faculty and staff at the University of Delaware can participate in the school’s annual startup competition with prizes totaling $100,000.

The Delaware Prosperity Partnership created Startup 302, a competition open to early-stage technology startups located throughout the state.


Co-working Spaces:

The Delaware Company House is an organization in Delaware that rents offices and executive suites to those interested, as well as providing other support services.

Just down the road from Dover, the Middletown Area Chamber of Commerce runs an incubator program and workspace available for rent by area business owners.



The Dover Public Library opened a small makerspace that hosts regular events and classes aimed at people of all ages.

NextFab, a Philadelphia-based chain of makerspaces, opened a location in Wilmington, DE that includes several types of workshops full of tools and equipment for member use.

Down the road in Newark, students, faculty and staff at the University of Delaware can use the school’s MakerGym, a 5,000-square foot makerspace facility.



Organized by Delaware State University, the Delaware Center for Enterprise Development aims to support entrepreneurship in and around Dover.

Dover is home to one of three locations of the Delaware Small Business Development Center, an organization that provides support services to area entrepreneurs.

Just down the road from Dover, the Middletown Area Chamber of Commerce runs an incubator to support local small businesses and startups.



Located in Wilmington, the Delaware Innovation Space is a combination incubator and accelerator program that works to develop science and technology startups in the state.

The University of Delaware runs several Venture Development services that help incubate and accelerate student ventures, including the 12-week Summer Founders pre-accelerator.



Through the Delaware Center for Enterprise Development, Delaware State University runs a number of programs designed to support student entrepreneurship.

Delaware Technical Community College offers an Associate Degree program in entrepreneurship at both their Dover and Wilmington campuses.

Down the road in Newark, the University of Delaware organizes a number of entrepreneurial resources for students, both inside and outside of the classroom.

Students seeking their Master’s Degree in Business Administration at Wesley College can earn it with a concentration in entrepreneurship.


Angel Groups/VCs:

While neither location of the Delaware Crossing Investor Group is actually in the state, the company invests in high-growth startups throughout the region.

First State Innovation is an angel investment group that supports the state’s economy by investing in early-stage technology-based startups.

Leading Edge Ventures is a Delaware-based venture capital firm that invests primarily in early-stage IT and medical device startups in the area.


Entrepreneurial Newsletter Coverage:

The Delaware Business Times offers a daily newsletter containing the biggest news in the local and regional business scene.

The Dover Post offers several newsletters focusing on local headlines and news, though none specifically focus on business or entrepreneurship.

Technical.ly, an organization that focuses on business and economic news, has a Delaware-focused section that offers daily updates and news relating to the area’s economy.


Are you familiar with entrepreneurial ecosystem infrastructure in Dover, DE 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?

Philadelphia, PA, Norwich-New London, CT, Hartford, 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 FundingSage where he researches and writes about entrepreneurial ecosystems.