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Innovation center to connect startups to DuPont, UD

Megan Pauly
Delaware Public Media
William Provine leads a tour through a DuPont building Monday that will house the innovation center.

A new startup incubator called the Delaware Innovation Space is coming to DuPont’s Experimentation Station campus, with help from the University of Delaware and the state.

Gov. John Carney joined other officials Monday afternoon to tour the lab spaces in one of DuPont’s Experimental Station campus buildings.

It will house startups that DuPont’s Doug Muzyka says will align with research already taking place at DuPont and UD.

“If you’re a young entrepreneur you want to start something, maybe you sometimes need access to specific scientific expertise that you don’t have – that you couldn’t go out and hire all by yourself," Muzyka said. "So we’d have a mechanism through the university to be able to provide access to that, we’d have a mechanism to be able able to collaborate across the frontier of DuPont.”

Credit Megan Pauly / Delaware Public Media
Delaware Public Media
DuPont's Doug Mzyka discusses the company's role in the innovation center Monday.

Monday’s tour came after the state announced it’s committing $5 million over three years to the project through a nonprofit, with the expectation it will be self-sustaining after three years.

UD and DuPont are also investing over $1 million each into the project, with DuPont supplying the space and equipment as well. UD is investing $1.5 million over three years, while DuPont is allocating $1.25 million in startup funding along with its $15 million in space value and $2 million worth of equipment.

Carney is excited about DuPont lending not only its space but also its name to the project and says he thinks – and hopes – there will be a competitive process for which companies will be chosen to occupy part of the 100,000 square foot DuPont building.

“If I’m a young scientist and I’ve got an idea, I’m out there, I’m here – if I’m a former DuPont employee, I want to get in this space," he said.


The application process is still being sorted out, but it’s expected startups will start moving into the space mid-summer.

The 100,000 square foot DuPont building is 10 times the size of UD’s 10,000 square foot STAR campus’s incubator space.

Credit Megan Pauly / Delaware Public Media
Delaware Public Media
UD's Dennis Assanis discusses the university's role in the center Monday.

UD President Dennis Assanis says the STAR campus - even before its ribbon cutting ceremony - already had a demand from companies that far exceeded its space. He says this project will be no different.


“We anticipate there’ll be far more ideas – and people who want to be here – than available space, so we’re going to evaluate those concepts, we’ll ask people to write proposals 2-3 times a year and we’ll have a board who’ll look at those proposals very competitively," Assanis said.


Entrepreneurs will also participate in on-site workshops and seminars led by UD faculty members, receive access to grant writing support and more. UD’s Horn Program in Entrepreneurship will also have direct ties to the innovation space. It's expected UD internships will also be created through the center. 


At maximum capacity, it's expected the center will create $20 million in state and local tax revenues and $43 million in federal tax revenues annually.



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