Upward Labs

Company: Upward Labs

Location: Hartford, CT

Program

Describe your program

Upward Labs is a CT based Venture Fund and startup lab that developed the ideal ecosystem to fast-track PropTech and AgeTech startups. The program matches each startup with decision makers from Fortune 500 companies. The startups and their advisers work together for six months to identify the most commercializable use cases and then test them in the Lab’s numerous sandbox buildings. The Lab also refines the startup's business model enabling rapid growth and commercial traction.

What are the coolest, most popular features of your program?

We have turned downtown Hartford into a laboratory of PropTech and AgeTech innovation. We have conducted 60 pilots in the past 18 months with a marquee list of pilot partners. Lastly, we have an extensive partner list that includes Aetna, CIGNA, United Healthcare, Stanley Black & Decker, Travelers, The Hartford, Hartford Steam Boiler, UBS Real Estate and more.

What impact did your program make in 2020?

We helped industries ravaged by COVID-19 recover through the use of innovative technologies. Our companies have created and sold devices that remove viruses from the air in schools, restaurants and commercial buildings. In addition, our companies have allowed isolated seniors in facility settings to easily connect with their loved ones using technology. Lastly, our program has created jobs, internships and economic impact in Hartford during a difficult year.

Nominator Justification

Upward Labs has done an excellent job at scouting talent from across the globe, bringing great emerging tech companies to the city of Hartford. The program has been highly successful, with all member companies getting PoCs with real use cases in the field. Many of the companies landed makor accounts from the connections developed by the program.

Funding

Investor/funding source description

Our program is a Venture Fund with partners that include CT Innovations

How are you engaged/involved in funding CT ventures?

We specialize in taking companies from outside the United States or our region, showing them the value of Connecticut and then getting them to hire or relocate here. To date, we have funded close to 30 companies who have participated in our program including an in person presence in Hartford. In addition, we are actively looking to fund additional businesses in our focus areas of PropTech and AgeTech.

What key milestones did you reach as an investor/funder or impact did you have in 2020?

We conducted two cohorts in 2020 with a total funded value of $6M between cash and in kind contributions spanning nearly 20+ early stage companies.

Nominator Justification

Some of the Upward Labs startups havebeen successful at raising capital to help grow their business.

Economic Development

Company/organization description

Upward Labs is a CT based Venture Fund and startup lab that developed the ideal ecosystem to fast-track PropTech and AgeTech startups. The program matches each startup with decision makers from Fortune 500 companies. The startups and their advisers work together for six months to identify the most commercializable use cases and then test them in the Lab’s numerous sandbox buildings. The Lab also refines the startup's business model enabling rapid growth and commercial traction.

How are you engaged/involved in supporting/advocating for the CT entrepreneur ecosystem?

We are an integral part of the CT entrepreneur ecosystem. Our parent company – Upward – has created a co-working space for entrepreneurs and corporate innovators, a co-living space in downtown Hartford as well as a Venture Fund and startup lab. We have created an ideal set of conditions that allow entrepreneurs to live, work, and thrive in CT.

What improved in the CT entrepreneur ecosystem due to your involvement/advocacy in 2020?

We were one of the only programs to continue in person during the pandemic in 2020. Our program helped show that we can continue to innovate in CT in even the most difficult times. We also planted seeds for when the environment returns back to normal. For example, we opened up a co-living space in downtown Hartford (196 Trumbull Street) which is a living space designed for startup founders, entrepreneurs, and corporate innovators.

Nominator Justification

Bringing in new talent and cultivating startups helps drive economic activity in our community.

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