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MetroHartford Alliance Request for Proposals: Planning Support and Strategy Development

The MetroHartford Alliance has issued a Request for Proposals for an Innovation Places consultant, who will help in the process of gathering information, engaging key community stakeholders, and developing a strategy for making the Hartford/East Hartford region one of Connecticut's first recognized Innovation Places by CTNext. The deadline for submissions is Friday, November 18.  


On October 20, a group of community stakeholders from Hartford and East Hartford were awarded a Planning Grant by CTNext, a subsidiary of Connecticut Innovations.
The purpose of this Planning Grant was to help the group identify ways in which Hartford/East Hartford could develop a reputation as an “Innovation Place”. That group, whose fiscal agent is the Metro Hartford Alliance, seeks the assistance of a consultant to help in the process of gathering information, engaging key community stakeholders, and developing a strategy for making the Hartford/East Hartford region one of Connecticut’s first recognized Innovation Places by CTNext.

CTNext is self-described as “a public/private network of entrepreneurs, mentors, service providers and others helping Connecticut’s most promising startups succeed and grow. In 2016, CTNext expanded to new initiatives helping key places in the state become magnets for talent, supporting entrepreneurship in higher education, and focusing more on growth-stage companies.” Innovation Places is the first of its programs to be implemented, and “seeks to support entrepreneurs and leaders developing places that will attract the talent high-growth enterprises need. It weaves together entrepreneurship support and relationship-building with physical planning and development.”

Beginning in July, a diverse group of leaders from Hartford and East Hartford’s key anchor institutions and community organizations came together in order to respond to this opportunity (Further referred to as the Planning Team; see attachments for full list of current stakeholders).  Through a series of volunteer-led community meetings, the group decided to apply for an Innovation Places Planning Grant to support efforts required to develop a strategy for activating community resources and capabilities in ways that will create the conditions needed for innovators and entrepreneurs to thrive.  In recognition of the group’s efforts, and goals, $50,000 was awarded by CTNext to support this effort. Additional private resources have also been committed to this planning effort.

The Planning Team expects that the Hartford/East Hartford Innovation Place will build upon the region’s existing strengths, resources and capabilities, including: biomedical science; advanced manufacturing; agriculture and food sustainability; social enterprise; and financial and insurance services.  An important element of this effort will be to assist the team in identifying focused investments that will achieve the greatest possible impact.


The Planning Team has several goals for the investigation of factors that might make Hartford/East Hartford a more highly-recognized Innovation Place. They include:

  • Identifying conditions present within the Hartford/East Hartford region, and specifically, proposed “Impact Areas” that influence innovation and spur entrepreneurial activity
  • Measuring the level of innovation and entrepreneurial activity that is already taking place
  • Identifying strategic capabilities and initiatives already present in the region that are capable of fostering innovation
  • Identifying barriers that prevent Hartford/East Hartford from attracting innovators and that prevent innovators in the region from achieving their full potential
  • Identifying catalytic actions needed to develop or enhance innovation district(s) within the region
  • Prioritizing potential catalytic actions and sequencing investment to maximize impact
  • Developing measures of success and information systems that will provide guidance with evaluation and further planning and development


In its application for Planning Grant funds, the Planning Team identified a geographic area that spans Hartford and East Hartford, which is outlined in purple in Figure 1. This area includes several potential “impact areas”, or specific, compact communities that could serve as loci of innovation and high-potential business development. They include:

  • Parkville neighborhood (Hartford)
  • Coltsville neighborhood (Hartford)
  • Hartford Hospital/Trinity College area (Hartford)
  • Homestead/Albany neighborhood (Hartford)
  • Downtown Hartford
  • Rentschler Field area (East Hartford)
  • Goodwin College/East Hartford River Bank/downtown (East Hartford


The Planning Team seeks to work with a consultant, or consultants, who can offer multiple types of assistance in the planning process. One of the greatest contributions that a consultant can provide is helping members of the Planning Team in identifying ways to accomplish the following tasks most efficiently, given the group’s internal capabilities and areas of expertise. It is the Planning Team’s expectation to be highly involved, and perhaps, lead several of the initiatives and sub-initiatives described below. Therefore, helping the Planning Team to create a framework for accomplishing the following, and flexibility and adaptability to the changing needs of the group in accomplishing these goals are critical for the successful candidate.

Developing a shared vision of the type of activity that we seek to foster:   

  1. What type(s) of innovation and entrepreneurial activity are most important to us? Should the region have a thematic or industry focus, or develop capacity to serve several types of innovators and entrepreneurs?  
  2. What innovation exists already in the Area of Interest?  
  3. What support systems exist for innovators in the Area of Interest?   
  4. What is an Innovation District, and what characteristics of existing Innovation Districts do we already possess in our region? This should include an exploration of the history evolution, size, governance, and investment used to create Innovation Districts in other places, such as: Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Providence.

Developing a flexible and adaptive governance model for the group, including the following components:   

  1. Developing a framework for making decisions that include the allocation of group resources and coming to consensus on proposed components of a final strategy  
  2. Developing a framework for leadership amongst current and future members of the group, and commitments required for membership in the group   
  3. Developing an on-going structure capable of gaining the confidence of potential investors, planning and executing the strategy developed, and measuring the impact activities.

Identifying existing conditions that can either foster or inhibit innovation within the Hartford/East Hartford area. This will require outreach to key community stakeholders, including: innovators already established in the area; existing anchor institutions such as corporations, hospitals, arts and cultural institutions and higher education institutions; education and workforce development institutions; research institutions, community organizations and trade organizations. Key capacities and capabilities include: technical capacity for business development (including research capability, manufacturing capabilities); areas available for development; the vibrancy of arts and culture, along with other “placemaking” components; and location (proximity to other metropolitan regions, transportation system; natural resources).

Reviewing a number sources of this type of information already exist, including:

  • Metro Hartford Region CEDS
  •  CBIA 2016 survey of Connecticut small businesses
  • Metro Hartford Progress Points   
  • JumpStart Report commissioned by Metro Hartford Alliance 
  • Data generated by CT Innovations for creation of the Venture Clash competition.

Identifying information that needs to be collected in order to guide analysis of conditions and strategy development.

Working with members of the Planning Team to facilitate stakeholders conversations for the purposes of: interpreting the information gathered amongst entrepreneurs, investors, and anchor institutions; identifying additional strategic capabilities that may not have been revealed through the data collection; and assessing community characteristics and amenities that are most important to innovators. Stakeholder outreach will likely encompass both conversations that are focused upon potential Impact Areas, and those focused upon the needs of key stakeholders.

Identify the catalytic actions needed to make Hartford/East Hartford a more favorable place for innovation and high-potential venture growth and development.

  1. Soliciting ideas for strategic, opportunistic, institutional and individual investment with a second round of stakeholder conversations. 
  2. Matching the conditions existing in Impact Areas with proposed catalytic investments.   
  3. Vet investment ideas with key stakeholders.

Putting it all together – what does the data tell us about how to make Hartford/East Hartford a more favorable place for innovation? Focus will be upon:

  1.  Distilling what distinguishes Hartford/East Hartford from other areas  
  2. Identifying locations within the region that are most ready to become innovation districts 
  3. Identifying the factors that limit the area’s ability to attract and grow innovators   
  4. Prioritizing catalytic investments, and sequence them for maximum impact.

Developing a strategy that will guide an Innovation Place Implementation Grant Application: 

  1. Work with the Planning Team to select the catalytic actions to propose within the Implementation Grant.   
  2. With the planning team, complete the Investment grant application.


A copy of the Hartford/East Hartford Planning Grant application is available upon request

More information on the CTNext Innovation Places program is available here:


This work will assist the Planning Team in developing an application for the CT Next Innovation Places Implementation Grant. Implementation grant applications are due by April 1, 2017. However, the Planning Team intends to seek technical feedback from the Review Committee on a draft that should be submitted by March 1.


Proposals shall include the following:

  • Cover Letter
  • Firm Profile, Experience and Services Provided
  • Team Organizational Chart – Clearly identify members of the team, responsibilities and the project manager
  • Resumes
  • Project Approach that addresses the above scope and provides a schedule for completion
  • Pricing and proposed level of effort/involvement for each component of proposed work
  • Relevant Project Experience
  • Schedule of Key Milestones and Deliverables


Members of the Planning Team will select a consultant based on their demonstrated ability to facilitate and execute multi-stakeholder strategic planning efforts.

Specifically, the Planning Team seeks a consultant with experience in:

  • coalition building
  • facilitation of strategic design
  • stakeholder managemenr
  • creating and implementing effective governance structuresThe Planning Team also seeks to work with a consultant who possesses:• real knowledge of Connecticut and specifically the Greater Hartford Region (its specific strengths and weaknesses, and potential for collaboration/complementarity to other members of the state – including government)
  • knowledge of the conditions and factors needed to encourage and support innovation and entrepreneurship
  • knowledge and understanding of lifestyle and community information, education statewide
  • clear communication style and ability to make value added recommendations
  • experience facilitating initiatives with new or emerging governance structures
  • ability to make meaning and extract relevant insights out of data The Planning Team also requests a minimum of three client references accompanying responses to this proposal. Contact information, and a description of the work performed should be included.


Questions and Proposals may be directed to Michelle Cote, coordinator for the Planning Team:

Appendix A: Members of the Hartford/East Hartford Innovation Place Planning Team
John Cunningham – Bad ELF*     
Jeff Devereux – Breakfast Lunch & Dinner*     
Rich Hollant – CO: LAB*     
Elliot Ginsberg – CCAT     
Paul Striebel – CCAT     
Michelle Cote – CT Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation     
Dave Steuber – CT General Assembly     
Roselyn Vasquez – CT Senate     
Mayor Marcia LeClerc – East Hartford     
Spencer Curry  – Fresh Farm Aquaponics*     
Andrew Ingalls – Fresh Farm Aquaponics*     
Todd Andrews – Goodwin College     
Jamie Bratt – City of Hartford     
Sandy Fry – City of Hartford     
Tom Dubay – Hartford Flavor Company*     
Beth Chaty – Hartford HealthCare     
Bryan Patton – Makerspace CT*     
Devra Sisitsky – Makerspace CT*     
John Shemo – MetroHartford Alliance     
Eric Knight – Remarkable Technologies Inc.*     
Ojala Naeem – reSET     
Amy Brough – Trinity College     
Gerald Gunderson – Trinity College     
Ellen Hart – Trinity College     
Jason Rojas – Trinity College; CT General Assembly     
Sulin Ba – UConn School of Business     
Lynn Baronas – University of Hartford     
Lou Manzione – University of Hartford     
Fred Wergeles – University of Hartford     
* Entrepreneur by occupation