March 11, more than 100 hopeful entrepreneurs gathered with FloridaWorks and the University of Florida Office of Technology Licensing to become part of an unprecedented program. Through a grant won by FloridaWorks the groups hope to leverage the combined resources of UF and the FloridaWorks’ regional workforce system to assist participants to achieve greater success for themselves and the community.
At the first workshop, the hand-selected attendees that included the most educated unemployed in our community heard the experiences of four Gainesville entrepreneurs, learned about Innovation Gainesville, the UF Office of Technology Licensing commercialization process and UF Tech Connect.
Next, attendees will be split into five- or six-person teams and paired with a local entrepreneur as a mentor, and they will participate in an eight-week entrepreneurship training program based on curriculum from the Kaufmann Foundation. Ultimately, the teams will produce a business plan based on the commercialization of a technology and, hopefully, new companies will result.
Though there will be cash prizes for the top teams, Jim Lilkendey, Apogee Coaching owner, hopes all the participants will meet and learn from successful area entrepreneurs, learn new skills and discover new entrepreneurial opportunities.
The training provided through the FloridaWorks grant is valued at nearly $3,500 per participant. As the participants learn these skills they are more valuable employees and many will learn how to become self–employed with the potential to employ others. While this is not a typical workforce training program, it has tremendous potential to far exceed the normal workforce return on investment
“We want our thousands of training dollars to yield millions in capital investment and create many new jobs instead of just one person getting one job,” Angela Pate, FloridaWorks executive director said to attendees. “That is our hope with this program. We want you to be the class of 2011. We need you to succeed to show that a program like this can work. We’re on the edge of another revolution after the Industrial Revolution and the Information Revolution; this is an Innovation Revolution, so let us show you off statewide and nationally. We know you can do it”.