Microsoft opens Innovation Lab to help DC entrepreneurs


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Microsoft officially opened its Innovation Lab within the 1776 startup hub in Washington, D.C., Thursday that will provide the incubator’s more than 200 companies with the latest in Microsoft hardware and software at no cost.

The Innovation Lab is aimed to give the hub’s entrepreneurs an area where they can work, collaborate, create and play, while working on innovation in a variety of growing areas such as education, health, energy and smart cities.

“While we’ve branded this the ‘Microsoft Innovation Lounge’ – it is intended to be used and leveraged by the 1776 startups and community as a way to facilitate access to expertise and mentorship and to provide a space for startups to create, innovate and collaborate,” wrote Dan Kasun, senior director, developer and platform evangelist of the U.S. Public Sector for Microsoft, on the company’s blog. “The space also serves as a place to demonstrate their work to customers and investors, and somewhere to just kick back and relax (in the rare chance they get to do so).”

The lounge includes a number of Microsoft’s latest innovations, including Surfaces, Windows phones, an Xbox One, a Makerbot 3-D printer and a 55-inch Perceptive Pixel touchscreen, along with software advances like Windows 8.1, Office 365, Skype, Visual Studio and access to cloud platforms, such as Microsoft Azure and CRM Online. Microsoft representatives will be in the lounge regularly to provide guidance and support to those who call the incubator their working home.

Microsoft has been fostering innovation and economic development in Washington, D.C., for the past few years, establishing a digital alliance that provides resources and training to D.C. job seekers, enlisting hundreds of city startups in BizSpark (which provides free software and services to new companies).

The company has also developed a plan for a Microsoft Innovation Center in the revitalization of St. Elizabeth’s East campus, which will house the Department of Homeland Security.

Evan Burfield and Donna Harris, a pair of successful entrepreneurs with experience building companies and communities, founded 1776 in January 2013 as a platform to help entrepreneurs connect with the resources they need to excel.

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