A smart ‘green tech hub’ in Vermont reimagines the status quo

Inside a plain brick building in Burlington lies the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies, a buzzing hipster incubator that looks as if it could be in Silicon Valley. It is powered invisibly by forces that any city would envy: a green grid that is highly energy-efficient and a superfast one-gigabit internet connection.

“People would kill for this internet connection,” said Tom Torti, president of the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce. “For us to grow our tech network, we needed to double down on fiber network.” The new Burlington economy is going to be knowledge- and skills-based, he added.

This digital superhighway runs through beautiful Burlington, a small city sandwiched between the distant Green Mountains and the 125-mile-long Lake Champlain. It is an outlier as far as emerging technology hubs and so-called smart cities go. But Burlington, which has a lower unemployment rate than Silicon Valley, is now spawning a wave of technology pioneers.

The technology center, called VCET, provides free advice, mentoring, seed money and gorgeous co-working spaces that are available to entrepreneurs for a low fee. Students can use these spaces free, so Max Robbins and Peter Silverman, 20-year-old college students, are starting their business, Beacon VT, there. It is similar to the dating site OkCupid, but for employment, matching students with employers.

“We’re trying to give people an unfair advantage,” said David Bradbury, president and fund manager at VCET. “There’s nothing too big that you can’t dream here. And the snowball is moving faster.”

Read the full story. (New York Times)