New Innovation Hub program assists hopeful entrepreneurs
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Innovation Hub at UF has launched “The Hatchery,” a new incubator program to help aspiring entrepreneurs fine-tune concepts for technology-based businesses and turn these ideas into startup companies.
“Budding entrepreneurs will gain round-the-clock access to a collaborative working environment, where they can benefit from educational seminars, networking opportunities and personalized advice from experts,” said Innovation Hub Director Jane Muir.
The program, which costs $400 for three months of mentorship, events and collaborative workspace, has rolling application deadlines. Companies that meet or exceed performance goals are eligible for a one-time renewal.
“We’re very excited about The Hatchery,” said Gayle Dykeman, the Innovation Hub’s building manager. “This is a great program for individuals who may have an idea for a business but haven’t yet thought about incorporating or renting office space. They can experience the creative collision of the Innovation Hub without making a long-term commitment.”
An experienced entrepreneur will serve as a “Mentor in Residence” to Hatchery entrepreneurs, providing advice on strategic and tactical approaches to starting technology-based companies.
Resident partners and service providers, including accountants, attorneys and venture capitalists also donate their time and sponsor educational workshops, which will be available to Hatchery participants.
”The Hatchery is for entrepreneurs who would like to locate in the Innovation Hub but haven’t quite developed their business concept enough to qualify,” Muir said. “This program enables us to provide them with the help they need to become a viable business entity.
“We see many budding entrepreneurs who want to start a company but often find the transition between simply having a great idea and actually forming a company around it rather difficult. By offering entrepreneurs a wide range of resources and support, we can make the much less daunting.”
Built with an $8.2 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration and a $5 million contribution from UF, the 48,000-square-foot Innovation Hub opened in October 2011 as the first building in Innovation Square, a 24/7/ live/work/play research community. It is one of the only incubators in the nation to house a leading university technology-transfer office, service providers and other partner organizations, such as UF Tech Connect and the Florida Institute for the Commercialization of Public Research, which nurture high-tech companies.
In the first 10 months, the Innovation Hub’s two dozen startup companies created 85 jobs and secured $7.2 million in private investment.
Contact Dykeman at email@example.com or 352-273-4819 for a Hatchery application or to learn more about the program.