Three Months Later, The Inclusive Innovation Incubator (In3)

Aaron Saunders
4 min readJun 4, 2016

I started this post three months ago and was hoping that it would never see the light of day, but here were are. I am still positive, but learning to be more patient. I have spent my whole career working in the tech ecosystem which usually has a greater sense of urgency, not with Universities and local governments so learning to accept the pace of the process has been a challenge, but it has helped me to grow as an individual and as someone who wants to make a difference.

The tweet storm below is what motivated me to finish this post

I keep this photo pinned to the top of my social media as a reminder and a goal. The bars in front of the sign are discouraging, but what is behind it is potential.

We were selected as the operators in January 2016, the mayor’s office provided Howard University a 1 million dollar grant for the buildout and we, Clearly Innovative Inc / Luma Lab are basically tenants to Howard University as the landlord… meaning we need to pay rent and have received no funding to date from Howard University or the District Government.

Luma Lab Inclusive Innovation Incubator (In3) is currently behind the gates but soon will be open, currently planned for opening late October 2016 . The imagery of the gates is a reminder of what we are trying to break through to create something positive in the space. There are definitely challenging days ahead but I believe that there are enough individuals in the community that we will find a way to do something positive for the District of Columbia.

Recent articles, attached below, attest to the positive impact this space can have on the overall community. This is not a risky proposition, this has been studied and data supports that it can make a difference in cities.

Our primary focus for the last six months have been trying to finalize negotiations with Howard University around the terms of the lease so we can move forward identifying sponsor and funding sources to support the efforts of the space. We are close, but I was hoping that by now we would have an agreement is place since it is next to impossible to secure funding and partner relationships without an agreement/term sheet in place.

Identifying sponsors and funding sources are critical to the overall success of the space since our target audience is, according to the original proposal, “underserved and underrepresented members of the region”. One can assume that if you are part of that audience then financial support has been a barrier to access some of the services & programming we plan on offering at the Inclusive Innovation Incubator (In3) so it is critical we identify partners to support our efforts as we attempt to get the space operational

In the last few days I have seen article after article about the work that is being done in other cities and the progress that has been made. I have spoke with people from other cities that have targeted DC to come here and make an impact on the “tech diversity and inclusion issue”.

Screenshot of our pre-launch/coming soon website

We are ready to make our own news and show that here in the nation’s capital,