San Diego’s New Downtown Incubator Opens Doors to Internet Startups

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After previewing its expansion plans last summer, San Diego’s EvoNexus, the free startup incubator established by the non-profit technology group CommNexus, has opened a newly renovated downtown office space. A dozen early stage companies began moving into the incubator Monday.

CommNexus founded EvoNexus in 2009, when San Diego’s innovation economy was reeling from the Great Recession. The incubator has taken in 14 companies so far, including six that have moved out of the EvoNexus incubator in University City. Office space, utilities, and other services are provided to startups free of charge, and companies leave with no obligations to EvoNexus or CommNexus.

“As far as we know, we’re the only pro bono incubator in the country,” EvoNexus chairman Kevin Hell says in a statement issued late yesterday. “The goal is to grow sustainable tech companies and expand the industry here in San Diego.”

When the EvoNexus incubator first opened in Sorrento Valley, organizers said they wanted to host startups developing advanced communications technologies, including wireless life sciences and smart grid networking.

Since then, CommNexus moved EvoNexus to University City and broadened its criteria. The industry group established the new downtown EvoNexus to host startups that are focused primarily on developing Internet software, Web services, gaming, social networking, and cloud computing technologies. The privately held Irvine Co. made the 15,000-square foot space available to EvoNexus at no cost. The incubator takes up an entire floor of the building at 101 W. Broadway, known locally as the AT&T building.

Hell says he sees parallels in the downtown San Diego locale with San Francisco’s SoMa, the downtown neighborhood South of Market Street that has become a magnet for social media startups and mobile app developers. The nightlife, housing, and amenities available in San Diego’s city center should appeal to young entrepreneurs, Hell says.

CommNexus plans to continue to operate its incubator in University City. The 12 companies in the new downtown space are:

Antengo: Real-time mobile classifieds.

BigSho: Social webcam game show.

Chatmeter: Online reputation management.

Fashioning Change: Shopping experience for eco-friendly apparel.

Saambaa: Social media app for finding things to do.

SwoopThat: Online textbook shopping by course.

TapChow: Cloud-based restaurant experience manger.

Taphunter: Mobile app for locating places that serve craft beer.

UgliApps: Mobile apps focused on food.

Voluware: Saas healthcare information software.

Xpenser: Web-based tracking of business expenses, time, and mileage.

Zambig: Web-based service that provides online outlet for radio ads.

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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