Benjamin's Desk Merges with 1776

11 Campuses Across 4 States and the District of Columbia, More Than 1,000 Member Companies Will Now Be Part of the Largest Network of Entrepreneurial Incubators in the Northeast; UNION Digital Platform Emerges As Independent Technology Company

WASHINGTON, D.C. and PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (October 16, 2017)1776 and Benjamin’s Desk announced they will join forces to provide greater support for entrepreneurs throughout the Northeast Corridor. 1776 is a global incubator and producer of the international Challenge Cup competition for startup companies, and Benjamin’s Desk is a Philadelphia-based coworking network. The combination will provide greater resources for startups to help them scale their businesses which will create jobs and increase economic development in their local communities and cities.  

1776 cofounder and CEO Evan Burfield will become Executive Chairman of the combined incubator network, which will operate under the 1776 brand. Benjamin’s Desk cofounders Anthony Maher and Jennifer Maher will lead the organization’s day-to-day operations as co-CEOs. The combined network will provide a greater density of innovation hubs and supply entrepreneurs with additional resources in major metropolitan areas along the Northeast Corridor, including Washington, D.C., Wilmington, Del., Philadelphia, Pa., and New York City.

“1776’s mission has always been to challenge amazing entrepreneurs to solve big problems and provide them resources, networks, and expertise to make them successful” said Evan Burfield. “I am proud of the work we have accomplished, and by combining with the Benjamin’s Desk network, we will be able to extend 1776’s work in a more dynamic and impactful way.”

“Five years ago, we couldn’t find the right combination of resources to grow our family’s real estate startup, so we built them ourselves,” said Benjamin’s Desk cofounder and co-CEO Jennifer Maher. “In 1776, we’ve found kindred spirits who understand the impact entrepreneurs can make when they have resources, mentors, and inspiring spaces in which to work.”

Today, more than one thousand growing companies and independent entrepreneurs operate from 1776 and Benjamin’s Desk facilities. The combined network will manage, operate, or license nearly a quarter million square feet of office space, including more than 94,000 square feet currently operated under the 1776 brand and more than 138,000 square feet managed by Benjamin’s Desk and its licensing partners.

“The right mix of talent and resources can revive and reinvent the modern city,” said Benjamin’s Desk cofounder and co-CEO Anthony Maher. “We’ve spent five years watching member companies bring new jobs to Philadelphia, and we’re so excited about the potential to see members inventing new futures for communities up and down the Northeast Corridor.”

UNION Digital Network to Extend Mentorship and Growth Opportunities

Upon completion of the merger between 1776 and Benjamin’s Desk, 1776 cofounder Evan Burfield will become the CEO of UNION, a global platform powering startup hubs and corporate open innovation programs. UNION was built within 1776 and is now being spun out as an independent business. UNION provides access to the best resources to startup hubs and innovators regardless of where they are located.

“After challenging entrepreneurs to solve complex problems all over the world, we realized the need for a platform that can connect startups to crucial resources while helping them stay in their hometowns,” said Burfield. “We expect that making UNION more widely available to other startup programs and coworking spaces throughout the world will help even more young companies create jobs and impact their communities.”

Member companies across the entire network will now also benefit from 1776’s curriculum and training programs, powered by the UNION technology platform, as well as from both organizations’ mentorship, advisory, and advocacy initiatives.

Company officials stated that further updates, including specific details about membership benefits, will be published online at

The 1776 Seed Fund, which has invested in more than 34 startups over the past three years, will continue to operate as a separate legal entity from the 1776 incubator network.  

About 1776

1776 is a public benefit corporation that empowers startup ecosystems around the world to solve complex challenges. To accomplish this, we leverage physical campuses in Washington, DC and New York City; a global startup pitch competition, Challenge Cup; and deep staff expertise in regulatory issues. We accelerate connections and outcomes among startups, corporations and public institutions.

1776 was founded in February 2013 by Donna Harris, a serial entrepreneur and the former Managing Director of the Startup America Partnership, and Evan Burfield, founder of netDecide, a provider of enterprise wealth management solutions, as well as the consulting firm Synteractive.

For more information, please visit and follow @1776 on Twitter and @1776vc on Instagram.

About Benjamin’s Desk

Born in Philadelphia, Benjamin’s Desk is a next-generation business incubation engine. Our mission is to spur innovation, accelerate business growth, facilitate investment, and foster thriving companies that create jobs, generate revenue, impact communities, and drive growth to every corner of the world. Equipped with a ubiquitous network of shared workspaces, diversified business programming and events, customized growth services and coaching, and the region's top entrepreneurs-in-residence, Benjamin’s Desk provides the space, community, resources, and expertise to help you innovate, impact, thrive, and grow. #InventYourFuture

For more information, visit or email Media kits, photos, and other resources for reporters are available at


UNION empowers startup ecosystems around the world. Our platform provides entrepreneurs, startup hubs and innovation teams with the best resources, networks and data architecture to transform their operations regardless of location. To learn more, visit


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About 1776

1776 is the largest network of incubators that cultivates and empowers startup ecosystems in the Northeast Corridor. We exist to strengthen the cities and economies by building a thriving community of entrepreneurs.