Housed in Bailey Power Plant, the effort will become the new “front door” to the Innovation Quarter, offering programming, space and connections within the district
Innovation Quarter today announced a new and exciting way for small businesses and entrepreneurs to get plugged into the vast resources, connections and opportunities in the district—Sparq, a new venture and small business launchpad.
Located on the second floor of Bailey Power Plant, Sparq will become the primary way new companies are introduced to the Innovation Quarter community—and will become a primary feeder for startups that qualify to participate in iQ Labs, which includes iQ Healthtech Lab and iQ Community Lab.
“We know from research and community conversations that there has long been a barrier of entry to people who want to participate in everything happening here at the Innovation Quarter,” said Damiqa Golden, Community Development Director for Sparq. “As the new front door to the Innovation Quarter, Sparq will help small businesses and entrepreneurs can get connected, access resources and find space that will help them succeed.”
Sparq will offer resources to its members and the community at large to include:
- Office hours with attorneys, accountants and marketing professionals to help navigate business challenges
- Pitch practice with local and national venture capital companies and individuals
- Connections to business and scientific mentors
- Connections with accelerator programs or grant programs
- Networking and community-building events
In addition to resources and programming that are open to the whole community, Sparq will also feature paid memberships that unlock access to even more amenities, including coworking space, private offices/suites, shared kitchen space and a coffee bar serving coffee, espresso and beer for members.
“Creating a platform for innovators to connect, grow and thrive is central to our mission here in the Innovation Quarter,” said Graydon Pleasants, head of development for the Innovation Quarter. “Sparq will provide access to a more robust platform of programming, resources and space, and we look forward to watching this space within Bailey Power Plant become even more activated.”
One of Sparq’s founding goals will be to prioritize access and opportunity for historically underserved entrepreneurs and small business owners, most especially women and people of color. For example, Sparq will have a program that offers 3-6 months of free membership to entrepreneurs recovering from COVID-19, working on racial equity initiatives, facing specific financial hardships, or who otherwise might not be able to afford membership.
Sparq will be managed by and is part of Founded Communities, an impact-driven coworking management and consulting firm that works with community leaders, policymakers, private developers and universities to use innovation spaces and programming as a means for economic and community impact. Members of Sparq will have access to work out of any Raleigh Founded space in Raleigh up to four days per week and will also have similar access to coworking spaces in Wilmington, Durham, Charlotte, Greensboro and Yanceyville.
“We are looking forward to supporting the Innovation Quarter and the Winston-Salem community by creating a front door to the Innovation Quarter’s wealth of resources and knowledge, and helping to amplify the unique healthtech focus of the region,” said Jason Widen, founding partner of Founded Communities. “By working closely with Wake Forest and Wexford, we believe that we can extend these resources to those who need it the most in the community. We look forward to connecting and collaborating with the incredible organizations that already exist in Winston-Salem’s innovation ecosystem. ”
Sparq plans a soft launch of the new space in Bailey Power Plant in November, with a grand opening after the first of the year.
“As a globally-recognized leader in regenerative medicine, Winston-Salem and Forsyth County have great opportunity to attract and develop new innovations in life science, biotech and more,” said Mark Owens, president and CEO of Greater Winston-Salem, Inc. “Our well-established entrepreneurial ecosystem develops the pathways to success for startups within these industries and others. The critical link to helping new ideas grow is access—and that is what Sparq brings to the Innovation Quarter and our community. We are excited to continue partnering with the Innovation Quarter to see what innovations will spark and grow here.”
For more information, please visit SparqWS.com