Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Spotlight: Hartford, CT


Known as the Insurance Capital of the World, Hartford is a high-ranked city for economic measures and a growing city of entrepreneurship.

Hartford, CT is the state’s capital and fourth-largest city. Known as the Insurance Capital of the World because of its high concentration of insurance company, the Hartford metropolitan area ranks highly in a number of economic measures. And while insurance may be the city’s primary focus, entrepreneurship has started to emerge as well.

Inc.com ranked Hartford 46th on their Surge Cities index of the best places in America to start a business. The city also ranked 24th in WalletHub’s 2018 rankings of the best metro areas for STEM professionals. Finally, a 2018 study published by LendingTree named Hartford one of the top 10 cities in America for baby boomer entrepreneurs.

Based on these rankings, FundingSage has reviewed the resources that make up Hartford’s entrepreneurial ecosystem:

Entrepreneurial Meetups:

Through regular events, Empower Business Connection is a group that helps both entrepreneurs and non-entrepreneurs grow professionally.

The Entrepreneurs Roundtable of Central CT hosts regular meetings, including Masterful Mondays and Topical Tuesdays, to support entrepreneurs in the area.

Network After Work is a large, nationwide group that organizes networking events for professionals and entrepreneurs across the country, including in Hartford.

While not exclusively aimed at entrepreneurs, West Hartford Women in Networking supports women founding and running their own small businesses and startups.


Regular Entrepreneurial Events:

IMPACT Live is a two-day conference focused on digital marketing and business held annually in Hartford.

As the Insurance Capital, Hartford is home to the Insurance Market Summit, a conference bringing together leaders and entrepreneurs in the insurance industry.

The West Hartford Chamber of Commerce hosts regular events, including networking opportunities, an economic development update and an annual business awards ceremony.

Hosted by the University of Connecticut down the road in Storrs, xCite is the university’s conference for women in innovation, technology and entrepreneurship.


Startup Competitions:

Current students at universities across the state of Connecticut can compete for cash prizes in the New Venture Business Plan Competition or Elevator Pitch Olympics.

The University of Hartford hosts an annual business plan competition for students in the Entrepreneurial Studies program.

VentureClash is an entrepreneurship competition hosted by Connecticut Innovations, a Hartford-based organization, open to innovators and entrepreneurs from around the world.

Students that participated in the University of Connecticut’s CCEI Summer Fellowship program can compete for $15,000 in the Wolff New Venture Competition.


Co-working Spaces:

In addition to an accelerator program, reSET offers a variety of co-working options and private office space for entrepreneurs.

Upward revitalized a 34,000 square foot area in Hartford to become a co-working space to support innovation and entrepreneurship.

Formerly known as WeHa Works, West Hartford Coworking offers space to entrepreneurs, small business teams, remote workers and more.


Maker spaces:

The MakeHartford maker space offers a wide variety of tools and equipment and hosts regular classes and workshops for its members.

Opening in Winter 2019, MakerspaceCT will be a 20,000 square foot maker space aimed at supporting creativity and creation in the area.

The Hartford Public Library offers YOUmedia, a small maker space aimed at teenagers that hosts weekly workshops.



The Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology has two locations that work to support small businesses through access to technology and support services.

KNOX Hartford runs the Incubator Farm, an incubation program for people aiming to turn their passion for farming into a career.

The University of Hartford’s Micro Business Incubator connects area small businesses with business students to help advance their education and businesses.

The University of Connecticut’s Technology Incubation Program works to help launch and support promising technology startups.



The Hartford InsurTech Hub runs an accelerator program that helps to support health, life and property and casualty insurance startup companies.

The Sustainable Community Outreach and Public Engagement Accelerator is the University of Connecticut’s program that works to support social entrepreneurship.

A partnership between Stanley Black & Decker and Techstars, the program works with additive manufacturing and eco-friendly packaging startups.

Run by reSET, the Impact Accelerator is an award-winning four-month program to help startups with a focus on social impact grow.

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Located just outside of Hartford, Manchester Community College offers a certificate program in entrepreneurship and small business.

Down the road in Storrs, UConn offers undergraduate majors, minors and a master’s program in entrepreneurship as well as an accelerator and incubator.

The University of Hartford’s Entrepreneurial Center & Women’s Business Center supports student entrepreneurship inside and outside of the classroom.


Angel Groups/VCs:

Based just outside of Hartford in Rocky Hill, Connecticut Innovations runs a number of programs that help provide funding to startups and small business.

Located in West Hartford, Fairview Capital provides venture capital and private equity investments to promising companies in the area.

The UConn Innovation Fund invests around $100,000 in promising startup companies affiliated with the University of Connecticut.


Entrepreneurial Newsletter Coverage:

The Connecticut Business and Industry Association offers several newsletters with different focuses on business and entrepreneurship around the state of Connecticut.

The Hartford Business Journal offers a variety of e-news subscriptions and updates with different subjects and focuses.

Innovation Destination Hartford is a website that covers entrepreneurial resources, events, and news in the area and offers a newsletter.

Are you familiar with entrepreneurial ecosystem infrastructure in Hartford, 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, MANew York, NY, Buffalo, NY

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.