Sept. 26--The American Underground, home to more than 100 startups at two locations in Durham, is among seven "tech hubs" in the United States and Canada selected for a new entrepreneurial support program run by technology behemoth Google.
"That a company as large and as prominent as Google is validating the region and the entrepreneurial activity here, to me, is really significant," said Adam Klein, chief strategist at the American Underground.
Klein said the new "Tech Hub Network" unveiled by Google on Wednesday will mean, among other things, that "there's going to be an opportunity for American Underground teams to rub shoulders with Google software developers and other representatives from Google, virtually and in person, over the next two years."
Klein is optimistic that information technology companies at American Underground will gain insights into "the way Google approaches problems and builds products and software" that could benefit their businesses -- and possibly even lead to relationships with Google.
Each company in the American Underground also will receive a Google "startup pack" that will include $1,000 worth of credit for Google products, such as storing and accessing data on the Google Cloud Platform.
In addition, the leaders of the seven Tech Hubs -- each of which, like American Underground, are physical spaces that house multiple entrepreneurs -- will become part of a network. They'll have quarterly conference calls and annual face-to-face gatherings.
"The goal is really to have a community of leaders across the continent who are able to share best practices and talk about challenges," said Mary Grove, director of global entrepreneurship outreach at Google. "Physical space plays a tremendously important part in building a strong community for entrepreneurs to succeed."
The Tech Hubs also "will receive financial sponsorship from Google supporting their operational budget and their ability to put on events for the broader startup community in their city," Grove said. She declined to disclose the amount of financial support Google will provide.
In addition to Durham, the six other Tech Hubs selected by Google are in Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Minneapolis, Nashville and Waterloo, Canada.
"These seven Tech Hub partners represent to us some of the very best-in-class organizations ... having an impact on startups and helping them directly succeed," Grove said.
Although the Tech Hub Network officially is a two-year program, "in our mind this is just the start of a long-term relationship," Grove said.
So why is Google doing this? Grove said that in addition to entrepreneurship being "part of the Google DNA," the company believes that startups and entrepreneurs "are the backbone of economic development" and that their success ultimately will benefit Google's business.