D.C.’s 1776 may be just a baby in age, but since launching in January it’s skipped the whole “crawl before you walk” thing to spread it wings and fly with sights set on global initiatives. Just before America’s birthday, the accelerator introduced the Challenge Cup – a startup competition slated to start in 2014 in 16 cities around the globe searching for the most innovative entrepreneurs tackling issues in education, healthcare, energy and city challenges. To complement that venture, 1776 announced Thursday another global initiative: Startup Federation.
With an inaugural round up of eight of the world’s most dominant entrepreneurial centers, Startup Federation plans to unite entrepreneurs from different corners of the globe for collaboration, joint programming and, perhaps the sweetest perk, membership reciprocity. Starting immediately, members of 1776 and the other seven incubators – General Assembly in NYC, Capital Factory in Austin, 1871 in Chicago Cambridge Innovation Center in Boston, Warner Yard in London, Betahaus in Berlin and Digital October in Moscow – will have the unique privilege to travel to and work from any of the Federation’s locations. Basically, it’s a foreign exchange program for the included startups. For instance, if 1776 resident The PoshPacker – which connects travelers with design-driven hotels and hostels around the world – wanted to research locations in Berlin, they would also have full use of Betahaus and get the chance to bounce ideas off of founders and developers there. “Das ist genial,” as the Bavarians might say.
The eight accelerators are just the first of more to come as Startup Federation gets up-and-running and expands to even more regions. Notice that not only was there an absence of any West Coast players (wink, wink: 500 Startups) in the Federation, but other areas like Southeast Asia, Latin America and the Middle East did not make the first cut. But you have to imagine, as Startup Federation rolls out more members, these areas will be covered. Because if it’s not obvious with initiatives like this and others such as Geeks On A Plane, startups are booming not just in America, but globally. And like in any other growing ecosystem, collaboration and synergy will be key to the success of their growth.