A ceremonial groundbreaking took place earlier today celebrating the redevelopment of the historic Sheffield School into a technology incubator and co-work facility known as Innovate Newport.

Located on Broadway in Newport’s north end, the 33,000 square foot building is being rehabilitated to provide co workspace for entrepreneurs, innovators and start-ups as well as private suites for small, established companies. This project, scheduled to be completed in January of 2019, is a partnership between the City of Newport, the Economic Development Foundation of Rhode Island and the Newport County Development Council, which is the non-profit 501c3 arm of the Newport County Chamber of Commerce.

The Greater Newport region has a robust defense and tech sector anchored by the Naval Undersea Warfare Center. Innovate Newport is designed to leverage the technologies and expertise in the region’s defense sector ecosystem for commercial applications, sparking the founding and growth of new businesses. Although the expertise and technologies in the region’s defense sector are expansive, specific technologies of interest include underwater technologies, cyber security and resiliency.

Innovate Newport entails a $7+ million investment in creating a unique, collaborative space for innovators and entrepreneurs. Businesses and entrepreneurs that locate at Innovate Newport will have access to OSHEAN’s Beacon 2.0 state-of-the-art optical transport network, which consists of 450+ miles of fiber optics. Innovate Newport offers a supportive environment for ventures with high digital-data demands.

Innovate Newport will embrace the mantra of building bridges with other organizations in the innovation sector. A wide array of other alliances are being planned with the goal of establishing Innovate Newport as a dynamic and high-value node in the Greater Boston, Southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island innovation community. Some initial partnership organizations include the Venture Mentor Services of RI, NUWC, URI, Salve Regina University, Social Enterprise Greenhouse, with more to come. A search is underway to identify a Program Manager for Innovate Newport. The Program Manager will be responsible for three primary areas relating to advancing an innovation/entrepreneurship ecosystem at the facility and in the Greater Newport region. Interested applicants should visit NewportChamber.com for more information.

The first confirmed tenants of the facility will be the Newport County Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber currently operates out of 35 Valley Road, a property the organization has owned since the 1980’s. The Newport County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors will be listing the property for sale in the near future and a portion of proceeds earned from the sale will be used to establish an endowment for the organization. The endowment will generate dedicated income towards programming for Chamber Members and the community.

“We couldn’t be more excited about these developments,” says Erin Donovan-Boyle, Executive Director of the Newport County Chamber of Commerce. “We are thrilled to be a partner on the Innovate Newport project and are happy to see this project come to fruition. The co-working business model is changing the workplace and is in line with the Chamber’s mission to connect, innovate, enhance and advocate for the businesses of Greater Newport. The Chamber is well-suited to help support the development of community amongst these small businesses and the broader membership. Further, the establishment of an endowment will enable the Chamber to have a reliable source of funding for valuable programming impacting members and the community in perpetuity.”

The City of Newport awarded a $6 million contract for Construction Services to Pezzuco Construction of Cranston, and construction has been ongoing since late 2017. Building occupancy is slated for January of 2019.


Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What's Up Newp. He was born and raised in Rhode Island and graduated from Coventry High School. He serves as Vice President of Fort Adams Trust and serves on the Board of Directors for Potter League for Animals. Ryan also is currently the Senior Editor - North America for Mountain News, publisher of OnTheSnow. Ryan is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA).