Madison is about to get another startup hub.
Nestled in the heart of the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, right across the street from the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, a (formerly purple, as some Madisonians know) brick building was christened “@1403,” named for its location at 1403 University Ave., last week.
“We’re basically trying to create a space on campus where the entire community can come together and collaborate and innovate,” said Aaron Olver, managing director of the University Research Park, a research and technology park affiliated with the UW-Madison.
The building is owned and will be operated by the University Research Park. The research park, which is located on the west side of town, at 510 Charmany Dr., was founded in the mid-1980s and supports early-stage businesses in various ways, including renting coworking space and providing networking and mentorship opportunities.
Olver said the University Research Park hasn’t had trouble drawing interested entrepreneurs to the west side from campus (“There’s really good transit access at the Research Park,” he said), but he acknowledged the campus location will be a major asset of @1403.
“We recognize that there are folks in the College of Engineering or Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery who might need a place to start a company, and this building is a perfect space to serve that audience where they’re already working,” he said.
The research park purchased the building that houses @1403 a couple years ago. The facility houses UW-Madison’s Discovery to Product program, which provides resources to early stage projects conceived by UW faculty, staff, or students.
In the past several months, the facility has added the UW-Madison Law and Entrepreneurship Clinic, which provides free legal services to less experienced entrepreneurs and early stage companies, and the clinic’s related startup accelerator program, the Madworks Accelerator.
“It’s going to be a really cool spot, I think,” said Louis Condon, operations manager for Madworks. “We’re still figuring out what it’s going to be. It’s still kind of a blank canvas at this point.”
Madworks Coworking, a coworking space associated with the accelerator, plans to open a @1403 branch early next year. It will maintain its location at the University Research Park on the west side as well, Olver said.
Another entity, one with no previous ties to the University Research Park, will also frequently utilize the space at @1403.
gBETA, startup incubator gener8tor’s campus-focused offshoot, has been holding meetings and hosting public events in the space for a couple months and will continue to do so.
“We made the move when that space opened up so we could have entrepreneurial events as accessible to students as possible,” Maggie Brickerman, program manager for gBETA, said.
“Students are so busy, and I think there are really a lot of resources for entrepreneurs — in some ways it can be hard to navigate,” Brickerman said. “When you have hubs like this, it gets in people’s heads. It’s a place that they gravitate toward.”
That gravitational pull of entrepreneurially-minded individuals will benefit the entire startup ecosystem, stakeholders said.
“I think that’s what this space really allows: an increase in ‘collisions’ of like-minded people, someone looking for another partner, another co-founder,” Condon said. “I think the ‘collision’ aspect is going to be fun to see.”
Olver said community response to @1403 has been overwhelmingly positive.
“We rolled out the name and it’s created more energy than I anticipated,” he said.
According to Olver, more announcements about @1403, including programming and an official opening date, are forthcoming.