Editor’s note: Startup Spotlight is a regular part of WRAL TechWire’s Startup Monday package which also includes our latest Startup Guide updates, multiple calendars of event previews, a guide to tech meetups across the Triangle and our Startup Rewind – a weekly look back at recent NC entrepreneur-focused headlines. This week’s Startup Spotlight comes from Jason Widen of Raleigh Founded.

RALEIGH – Raleigh Founded is excited to announce it’s newest economic development project: Sparq. Sparq is a collaborative initiative between Raleigh Founded’s economic development initiative Founded Communities, Wake Forest School of Medicine, and Wexford. Sparq will be an entrepreneurial coworking community located in Winston Salem, NC with two main focus areas: activation of the Innovation Quarter and Health Tech.

Mainly, Sparq will serve as a “front door” to the Innovation Quarter in Winston Salem. For the past several years, the Innovation Quarter has been home to universities, organizations and companies working together to forward innovation. But the next step is to introduce entrepreneurs to all of the rich resources of IQ. Sparq will do so by helping entrepreneurs and small businesses owners to connect to all of the resources of the University and Companies housed within IQ.

Sparq logo

Because of these deep connections to Wake Forest School of Medicine, Sparq will also be home to a Health Tech Lab space. This space, located within the main coworking space of Sparq,  will serve as a  landing and convening spot for companies, startups, academics and individuals working in the Health Tech Space. Entrepreneurs who have health tech products or services will be able to utilize the space and collaborate with IQ tenants and partners.

Raleigh Founded is thrilled to add Sparq to the Founded Communities family which consists of a network of thousands of entrepreneurs across the state. Members of Sparq will have access to work out of any Raleigh Founded space in Raleigh NC up to 4 days per week and will also have similar access to coworking spaces in Wilmington, Durham, Charlotte, Greensboro, and Yanceyville, NC.

We are looking forward to supporting the Innovation Quarter and the Winston Salem community by creating a front door to the Innovation Quarter’s wealth of resources and knowledge, and help to amplify the unique health tech focus of the region.

By working closely with Wake Forest and Wexford, we believe that we can extend these resources to those who need it the most in the community. We look forward to connecting and collaborating with the incredible organizations that already exist in Winston Salem’s innovation ecosystem.

Sparq will be a collaborative community partner. Winston Salem already has great resources for entrepreneurs. The Founded Communities and Sparq team do not want to replicate or duplicate but instead want to add value to the entrepreneurial ecosystem and will be actively seeking partnership with other entrepreneurial support organizations and coworking spaces in order to be collaborative and add the most value to the Winston Salem Community.

Sparq will be an inclusive community that is open to entrepreneurs and small business owners from all backgrounds and will offer specific programs that lift up entrepreneurs of color and female entrepreneurs. It will also host a program which offers 3-6 months of free membership to entrepreneurs who are recovering from Covid, working on racial equity work, who are facing financial hardships, or who otherwise might not be able to afford membership.

Sparq will have events and resources that are free and open to the public, but also offer a membership level for those who want a landing spot within the Innovation Quarter. Sparq will offer free resources to its members and the community at large to include: office hours with attorneys, accountants, and marketing professionals; Pitch practice with local and national VCs; Connections to mentors; Connections with accelerator programs or grant programs; and Networking and community building events.