Betaspring, universities to boost entrepreneurship

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- A Providence-based start-up incubator said Wednesday it is partnering with two local universities and the business community in an effort to boost entrepreneurship in Rhode Island, where the economy continues to struggle.

Betaspring is joining with the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, the University of Rhode Island and Brown University to launch a new "Founders League" designed to link start-ups, students and would-be entrepreneurs. The idea is to provide the kind of diverse support they need to build successful ventures.

The partners have pledged $235,000 to the effort so far, including $100,000 each from the Chamber and Brown and $35,000 from URI.

Rhode Island's 10.7 unemployment rate is the nation's second highest, and Gov. Lincoln Chafee recently convened a meeting of the state's government and private-sector leaders to put new life into efforts to lift the state's sagging economy.

Betaspring plans to hold networking events, educational programming and other activities this fall at its headquarters in the so-called Knowledge District and oversee planning for how the longer-term effort will take shape. Members of the consortium will reach out to other educational institutions and businesses in the state to see if they want to participate as well.

Betaspring co-founder Allan Tear said the start-up community is stronger than ever and that this effort builds on existing momentum.

An official launch is planned for December.

The Rhode Island Foundation this week announced it would spend $1 million on economic development initiatives that came from its "Make It Happen" summit last month.