Innovative program provides entrepreneurial guidance for disabled veterans

Published: May 8 2015


Disabled U.S. veterans will again descend on the University of Florida’s campus for the second annual Veterans Entrepreneurship Program beginning Saturday.

The VEP, sponsored by the Warrington College of Business Administration’s Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, assists veterans interested in starting a business or who already own one. The program is free to eligible veterans.

“VEP is a rigorous, focused program that features some of our top faculty and leading entrepreneurs, as we work in partnership with these veterans to help them launch and grow ventures,” said Professor Michael Morris, VEP Program Director and James W. Walter Clinical Eminent Scholar Chair. “It is such an honor to be able to support these men and women who have given so much for our freedom.”

The VEP hosted 32 decorated military veterans during its inaugural session last year, and 43 participants are enrolled in this year’s program, which consists of three phases that provide practical training in venture creation and growth.

The participants recently completed Phase I — a five-week, concept development phase — and arrive in Gainesville for Phase II: an eight-day “boot camp.” UF faculty, guest entrepreneurs and business experts will expose veterans to the fundamental elements of business ownership through workshops, lectures and other activities. Phase III, which consists of eight months of mentoring and venture development from the program’s resident entrepreneurs and experts, begins in June.

To qualify for the VEP, veterans must:

  1. Be separated from active duty service (or currently in the administrative process of separating) with an honorable discharge.
  2. Be identified as disabled by the Veteran’s Administration or Department of Defense based on a “service connected” disability or “service distinguished” based on exemplary military conduct.
  3. demonstrate an intense interest in entrepreneurship and small business ownership/management.

The program’s costs, including travel expenses and lodging for the participants’ stay in Gainesville, are underwritten by sponsors and private donors.

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Writer: Milenko Martinovich,
Contact: Michael Morris, 352-273-0329,