President Barack Obama speaking at 1776 in July 2014. (Courtesy of

On Tuesday, Washington, D.C.-based global incubator and seed fund 1776 announced two pivotal partnerships—with DuPont Fabros Technology (DFT) and the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN)— separately. The key to 1776’s success has long been its ability to connect startups to mentors, experts and investors. The influence and experience of each organization may be able to further showcase not only 1776’s startups and alum, but the incubator itself. For one of the District’s premier incubators, Tuesday’s action illustrates the fact that it is a key player in the international incubator space.

“The D.C. tech scene has grown into a formidable force, and as a Washington, D.C.-based company, we are excited about this opportunity to align ourselves with 1776, which is nurturing innovation in our own backyard,” said Lee Kestler, Senior Vice President of Sales and Leasing at DFT said in a press release.

At the moment, it seems DFT — a developer, operator and manager of large multi-tenanted wholesale data centers — secured this bronze sponsorship in the hopes of connecting with promising D.C. startups who use big data initiatives. The company’s prides itself on its data centers, which are highly specialized, secure, network-neutral facilities. Its customers are primarily national and international Internet and enterprise companies — high-profile customers include Microsoft, Yahoo, Rackspace and ServerCentral.

Evan Burfield, co-founder of 1776, said “not only will this relationship give DFT access to the world’s most promising startups using data to solve fundamental challenges—it will provide young companies with invaluable mentorship and connections from a proven leader in the data center sector.”

Founded only two years ago, 1776’s partnership with GEN will enable the expansion of the Challenge Cup competition, a clear effort to align local leaders and startup incubators around the world to host competitions. Held in 16 cities around the world, the Challenge Cup puts up $650,000 in cash prizes through four categories: education, energy/sustainability, health and infrastructure. The event works to uncover high growth-potential startups who are focused on some of society’s biggest challenges.

In terms of immediate effect, the GEN connection will mean the indefinite hosting of its annual Challenge Festival at 1776 — a weeklong event planned for Washington, D.C., that gives regional competition finalists an opportunity to pitch investors, connect to new mentors and meet with policymakers. The event is also similar to 1776’s other global startup initiative, Startup Federation, in the form of its networking design and purpose.

1776 co-founder Donna Harris said in a press release, “as a global incubator, our top priority is to find the most promising startups and surround them with the connections they need to grow, in whatever city they call home. GEN has done a fantastic job of convening global startup community leaders …”