CED’s leaders really have started something this time – a project that could be as important as any undertaken by the state’s largest entrepreneurial organization.

Folks at the CED in Durham have embraced “Start Something” as their motto and even applied that label to the organization’s blog.

And what they have started with the first version to be unveiled on Jan. 23 at its annual meeting is B-I-G.

The Council for Entrepreneurial Development and several partners are fine-tuning the initial version of a huge database project – an “Entrepreneurial Network” map – that it hopes will serve as a “digital doorway” for the Triangle.

“The Initial plan is to show where the technology and life science players in the Triangle are,” says Joan Siefert Rose, who runs the CED.

“People are already calling this the ‘Digital Doorway’ or ‘Digital Front Door’ to the Triangle.”

The CED a year ago published a treasure trove of information about the startup community. Working with UNC-Chapel Hill, that project focused in large part on financing – the life blood of the entrepreneurial world.

With the map, the CED anticipates assembling a constantly evolving and growing digital gateway to link not only companies and entrepreneurs in the Triangle but also to better showcase the region’s strength to the world at large.

While some groups and organizations have maps or lists of members, the CED project will dwarf those simply in scale.

How big is the map?

Well, the CED and contributors such as the N.C. Biotechnology Center, the North Carolina Technology Association, and the Research Triangle Foundation which operates RTP, have already identified 2,000 companies that need to be plotted.

“Big” isn’t the operative word if one only thinks of physical size.

Rather, “big” refers to the amount of data that the Digital Doorway will include, such as a great deal of information about each firm.

Other features will be added over time, including a calendar, Rose says.

“Phase One is basically: Here we are,” Rose explains.

From there, the project will evolve based on the input from entrepreneurs, service providers and other members of the tech and life science community.

“Over the next year, we will be working with our partners to figure out what features entrepreneurs and others might need,” she says. “Rather than build in features that we might like and they might now, we will say: ‘Here’s the map; how would you like to interact?”

Startup-focused groups such as The American Underground and The HUB in Raleigh also are participating.

The project is not cheap, either. Rose estimates the Digital Doorway will cost $100,000 a year to maintain.

In November, the CED hired Hal Thomas to lead the project. Vance Faulkner, a CED staffer who focuses on data, also is helping shape the map.

Will the first phase be ready for that Jan. 23 premier?

“Nothing like a deadline,” Rose says with a sigh.