Innovate Newport, a collaborative initiative between the City of Newport, Newport County Development Council, the non-profit 501c3 arm of the Newport County Chamber of Commerce, and The Economic Development Foundation of Rhode Island announced today via a press release that they have recently hired Tuni Schartner to lead branding, development of partnerships and programming, and community building as they prepare for an anticipated February 2019 opening.

Tuni Schartner

The Innovate Newport Director of Entrepreneurship and Innovation will be responsible for three primary areas relating to advancing an innovation/entrepreneurship ecosystem at Innovate Newport (“IN”) and in the Greater Newport region: Ecosystem, Brand, and Program Management.  This 18 month contracted position has been funded by the van Beuren Charitable Foundation, who has also supported other aspects of this initiative integral to the launching of this exciting project for Greater Newport.

The Director of Entrepreneurship and Innovation will lead the effort to formalize partnerships with other organizations in the innovation sector to establish Innovate Newport as a dynamic and high-value node in the greater Boston, southeastern Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island innovation community. Some initial partnership organizations envisioned include Venture Mentoring Service of RI, The Naval Undersea Warfare Center, the University of Rhode Island, Salve Regina University, SENEDIA, RIMTA, Social Enterprise Greenhouse, SEA-Ahead and many more to come.

Innovate Newport will partner with WorkBar, a well-established and successful operator of co-work facilities in the greater Boston area, to help manage staff training, member services, and community building, as well as programming and promotion for the co-working space.

Additional responsibilities include formalizing and deploying a marketing campaign, convening and hosting events and summits relative to enhancing the recognition of the entrepreneur community in the Greater Newport region, and ensuring implementation of comprehensive programming at Innovate Newport that will benefit the broader start-up community.

“I am eager to take on this exciting project and to have the responsibility of advancing an innovation/entrepreneurship ecosystem at the facility and in the Greater Newport region.  I’ve been an early ‘cheerleader’ of this initiative and am excited to help bring the vision of this project to fruition, all the while focusing on my passion of building a thriving co-working and business community for the RI economy.  I’ve been called ‘RI’s Economic Gardener’ but I look forward to focusing my efforts on this Greater Newport region project, which will have a long-lasting positive impact on the growth of the entire state’s economy.  I am happy to join the team and be an integral part of the innovative, forward-thinking leadership, both at the Chamber and within the City of Newport” Schartner said in the press release we received on Wednesday..

“We couldn’t be more excited about Tuni joining our team and leading this initiative,” says Erin Donovan-Boyle, Executive Director of the Newport County Chamber of Commerce in the release.  “I can’t think of a more qualified candidate who has the well rounded background of starting and managing a co-work facility in southern Rhode Island, a long history of supporting small businesses with growth strategies, and marketing and branding expertise, I know she will bring a tremendous amount of energy and excitement to this project.  We are thrilled to be a partner in the Innovate Newport project and look forward to relocating our offices into this beautiful space upon opening.  I am certain we will be able to serve the start-up and small business community in new and more innovative ways than ever before!”

“This is a significant step for Innovate Newport,” says Joe Nicholson, City Manager – City of Newport in the press release.  “We have an exciting team and look forward to the next few months as we ramp up to the opening of Innovate Newport. There is so much more to come.”

For more information on Innovate Newport, visit

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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).