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Employees of start-up companies work at their designated spaces at the offices of 1776 business incubator in Washington DC, February 11, 2014. 1776 hosts about 185 start-ups in its offices/AFP

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Startup scene flourishes in US capital

Employees of start-up companies work at their designated spaces at the offices of 1776 business incubator in Washington DC, February 11, 2014. 1776 hosts about 185 start-ups in its offices/AFP

Employees of start-up companies work at their designated spaces at the offices of 1776 business incubator in Washington DC, February 11, 2014. 1776 hosts about 185 start-ups in its offices/AFP

WASHINGTON, June 12- In a large warehouse type office, software coders work on apps, as “angel” investors and mentors help budding entrepreneurs figure out strategy for their startups.

This technology “incubator” called 1776 in downtown Washington has some 200 startup firms, and many more seeking to get in to the collaborative workspace which provides desks, connectivity, technical assistance and importantly, connections for those with a dream or a mobile app.

A few years ago, the notion of Silicon Valley on the Potomac might have evoked ridicule. But the capital city in recent years has become home to thousands of entrepreneurs and a tech ecosystem supporting them.

“The ingredients we need for startups are right in our backyard,” says Donna Harris, co-founder of 1776, which opened last April and quickly filled up.

With 15,000 square feet (1,400 square meters) in the downtown K Street corridor, 1776 accepts about half those applying for membership in the tech incubator.

“It’s not just capital that people need. They need connections,” Harris said.

By some measures, the District of Columbia has a startup scene which is bursting at the seams.

A survey last year by Fast Company magazine found the district had a higher number of venture funded startups per capita than any of the 50 US states.

PriceWaterhouseCoopers ranked the city in the top 10 for business investment in the fourth quarter, with more than half of the $300 million going into software and IT services.

 

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– Startup scene ‘vibrant’ –

 

“The startup scene in DC is vibrant, it’s growing,” says Christopher Etesse, chief executive of FlatWorld Knowledge, a startup for digital textbooks and online educational services, which has grown to 32 people in the 1776 offices and is now preparing to move into its own offices.

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