If the standard definition of an incubator is a place where things are grown from very small ideas to the point where they’re standing on their own, then sure, Hatch could be considered an incubator.

But according to Amy Pearl, executive director and CEO of Springboard Innovation, the 10-year-old social enterprise entity behind this new endeavor, that definition only scratches the surface of what Hatch is all about.

“The big, deep thinking of Hatch is that it is a kind of town square,” she said. “The notion is to have a place where people will bang into one another, where they’re cross-pollinating and thinking differently about what they’re doing in the community.”

Initially devised during a retreat on the Oregon Coast in 2009, Hatch officially launched in a retrofitted car dealership building on Northeast Sandy Boulevard in the fall of 2013. It focuses largely on social entrepreneurship and being more of a community innovation lab than a traditional incubator.

 

Hatch has nine offices that are for rent — all but two of which were spoken for as of mid-February by a range of socially minded organizations. Among the current tenants are XRAY.FM, a progressive radio station launched through a Kickstarter that raised more than $100,000, and Mojalink, which helps nonprofits connect with businesses, governments and other donor groups.

Hatch also rents stylish cubicles, called “fireboxes,” in 6-month increments — current renters include a technology expert and a communications specialist — and Hatch members can “co-work” together in shared areas with sofas, tables and bars.

 

“People come here to meet people and work together and find what they need,” Pearl said.

Hatch is also home to what it calls the Parts Department, a group of professionals like lawyers and business consultants who not only do their own work in the space, but who offer workshops and open office hours for members every month.

Later this year, Hatch will kick off its Next Impact program, which will connect retired business people (and potential investors) with Hatch members. Hatch will also introduce its Launch Lab, a business accelerator for social entrepreneurs in the startup stage. Those folks will have access to office amenities, the Parts Department and all of the other random interactions that come with being a part of Hatch.

“It’s all about creating a place where people can come and find a home and feel like they can move forward,” Pearl said. “And they can find the resources they need and the community to grow.”