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Roxbury startup space could be open by summer

Posted by Scott Kirsner  January 28, 2014 07:30 AM

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Gilad Rosenzweig is an architect and urban planner who is working on an interesting experiment: Can a tech startup space sprout in Roxbury's Dudley Square neighborhood? What kind of businesses, mentors, and investors would it attract?

Rosenzweig's non-profit, Smarter in the City, hopes to have an incubator up and running by June, with space for a half-dozen companies. But he's still in the process of rounding up prospective corporate sponsors to support the idea, and applying for grants from The Boston Foundation and others.

Smarter in the City would provide office space, mentorship, and educational programs for the selected entrepreneurs, along with a small amount of seed funding. But it wouldn't take a piece of equity from the startups that participate. Rosenzweig says he's primarily focused on "programming-based startups that are creating web and mobile applications or services," and "not manufactured or fabricated goods." The application process is now open. (I think the market for tech incubators and accelerators in Boston is already pretty crowded, and that focusing on different kinds of startups might be wise...like service startups, retail startups, apparel startups, etc. )

Rosenzweig's vision is to eventually create a network of incubators around the country. "The focus is to create high-tech startup incubators in the inner cities, spawning tech businesses in these neighborhoods and targeting a young, underemployed workforce as future innovators and entrepreneurs," Rosenzweig says. He has identified a few prospective locations for the program in Dudley Square, but says that he's focused on securing funding first.

Harvard economist Ed Glaeser wrote a Globe column last month about creating an entrepreneurship district in Dudley Square; in the town hall meeting referred to in the piece, Rosenzweig was a key participant in the discussion.

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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