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Tech incubators booming across nation

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In less than nine months, more than 180 startups have flocked to Washington's new business incubator, 1776.

The startup hub gives members a chance to take notes from high-profile entrepreneurs during what are known as "lunch and learns." 1776 runs like a campus, with workshops, a communal kitchen and 24-hour access for members.

1776's co-founder Donna Harris says their footprint has doubled, expanding to more than thirty thousand square feet of space.

With a $200,000 grant from the D.C. government and backers such as Scott Case, the co-founder of online ticket service Priceline, the incubator is now the go-to source for startups looking to tackle policy issues.

A 2011 report funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce says some level of public investment in incubators can lead to job creation.

Jeff Reid, a professor and director of Georgetown University's Entrepreneurship Initiative, says it costs a local government more to recruit big companies than back an incubator.

“If you think about how government can help business in general, there are so many tax breaks and benefits for large companies,” Reid said. “Incubators are almost a drop in the bucket when it comes to helping business in general.”

1776 co-founder and entrepreneur Evan Burfield says young, high growth companies provide solutions to the nation’s most pressing issues.

“Not only are they creating jobs and creating growth for our economy, they are doing them in areas that really help to make our economy more dynamic in the long run,” Burfield said.

1776 has already gone global. They are scouting the most promising startups with their "Challenge Cup" competition in sixteen cities around the world, including here in Austin.

Burfield says companies at 1776 are different than consumer-driven startups. They pick an issue in education, healthcare, energy or sustainability, and solve it.

“What you see at 1776 is that grit and perseverance with that real passion for tackling some of the bigger problems that are facing our economy in our society,” Burfield said.

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