The Download: Startup America Partnership, Startup Weekend merge to form Up Global

The District-based nonprofit Startup America Partnership will merge with another entre­pre­neur­ship advocacy group just more than two years after it was created in conjunction with an Obama administration initiative to spur investment in start-ups that could create jobs.

The organization will join Seattle-based Startup Weekend under the umbrella Up Global. Startup Weekend hosts competitions in cities around the world in which participants have just 54 hours to create a business.

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Startup America Chairman Steve Case said Up Global will effectively serve as a holding company. The two organizations will share leadership and financial backers, but continue to produce events under their separate monikers.

Case, who will serve as chairman of Up Global, said Startup America was conceived as a three-year program that would establish regional start-up hubs around the United States. Those hubs would remain even after the national organization dissolved.

Since the partnership’s inception in early 2011, 32 state or regional groups with nearly 13,000 start-up members have been created, according to its Web site, including outposts in Maryland, Virginia and the District.

“We’ve got one more year. How do we make sure we end with momentum?” Case said. “The overwhelming sense was don’t end, [we’ve] made great progress, let’s build on that as opposed to call it a day.”

But Case said the board decided that for the nonprofit to continue it would need to join forces with another organization and zeroed in on Startup Weekend, which is sponsored by the Kauffman Foundation, as a potential partner.

Startup Weekend chief executive Marc Nager will head Up Global. Scott Case, the chief executive of Startup America, will step out of that role after a transition period.

Though Startup Weekend has taken a more grassroots approach to entre­pre­neur­ship that is international in scope, Case said Startup America will continue to focus its attention on the United States, including shaping public policy to favor entrepreneurs.

“My principle focus and passion is more on the United States side of things,” Case said. “That will be my primary focus. But I also recognize that entrepreneurship is an important strategic priority for the United States even outside of the United States.”

Willkommen

District economic development officials welcomed a tour of at least 50 German entrepreneurs last week, taking the group through the city’s latest monument to technology: the start-up hub 1776.

The shared office space in Northwest D.C. is home to some 75 start-ups working in sectors as varied as education, travel, apparel and politics, among others. The venue opened earlier this spring with the help of a $200,000 city grant.

The stop may have seemed like small potatoes for visitors fresh off a trek through the tech firms in Silicon Valley, but 1776 gives D.C. officials a landmark where they can showcase innovative companies and the city’s commitment to entre­pre­neur­ship, said David Zipper, director of business development and strategy.

A smaller group from the Chinese embassy had already toured the 1776 venue. Zipper said last week’s German delegation was the largest to date. Among the attendees were D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, German Ambassador Peter Ammon and Philipp Roesler, Germany’s vice chancellor and minister of economics and technology.

“I’ve never had a place to bring them like 1776 before, so this is a really new and exciting opportunity that’s just opening now,” Zipper said.

Bits & bytes

Leesburg-based Gravy, a service that helps people find local events, debuted www.findgravy.com last week, a Web version of the smartphone app the company launched last year.

The Web site asks visitors to choose their “mood” from lively, classy, brainy, playtime or whatever, then suggests nearby concerts, gallery openings and other events based on their selection.

Gravy, initially called TimeRazor, raised $3 million from investors in December.

The Tech Council of Maryland, a trade organization representing information technology and biotechnology firms in the state, named Doug Doerfler chairman of its board.

Doerfler serves as chief executive of Gaithersburg-based life sciences company MaxCyte. He also sits on the board of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, the sector’s main advocacy group and association.

The Tech Council of Maryland is still searching for a chief executive.

 
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