Entrepreneurial program named finalist for national award
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A UF Tech Connect project providing entrepreneurial training to unemployed workers is a finalist in a national awards competition.
The University Economic Development Association named Startup Quest one of three finalists in the Innovation and Entrepreneurship category of the 2011 Awards of Excellence competition. UF Tech Connect will make a presentation at the UEDA Annual Summit Oct. 9 -12 in Indianapolis, where summit participants will select a winner.
Many of today’s unemployed are well-educated and have tremendous work experience but have been caught in the economic crisis and find themselves without a job. The University of Florida UF Tech Connect program collaborated with FloridaWorks, the local workforce development system, to provide entrepreneurial training to a select group of 83 highly educated and talented unemployed people. The group was divided, based on each person’s skills, into teams that reflected typical company management teams.
During an eight-week series conducted by a certified instructor, the management teams learned basic business concepts entrepreneurs need. Teams received a two-hour training session followed by two hours with an experienced entrepreneur mentor who reinforced and expanded upon these concepts. The mentors also provided direction and guidance to each of the team members by giving them assignments to assist in the development of a business plan and investor presentation. At the end of the eight weeks, each team presented a completed business plan to a dozen early-stage investors.
The goals for the program were to:
• provide entrepreneurial training focused on all aspects of creating and running a technology-based company,
• encourage unemployed professionals to think entrepreneurially,
• provide valuable market information regarding patented new discoveries,
• introduce participants to funding opportunities through federal small business programs for commercializing research discoveries, and
• ultimately to create a handful of new companies that create jobs.
“While many of the outcomes will take some time to become measurable, we know from the evaluations that participants found the training extremely valuable,” UF Tech Connect Director Jane Muir said. “The university is currently considering the formation of several new startups.”
- Jane Muir, firstname.lastname@example.org, 352-846-1646