FloridaWorks, University of Florida Office of Technology Licensing and Santa Fe College welcomed over 60 attendees, consisting of regional workforce board representatives of BASEC, community stakeholders, local employers and guests throughout the state of Florida, to its launch event for the expansion of Startup Quest, an entrepreneurship training program for out-of-work, degree holding professionals piloted in Gainesville.
The Startup Quest Launch took place at Florida Innovation Hub at UF on Wednesday, August 29 from 1:00-6:00pm, and continued at Santa Fe College’s Center for Innovation and Economic Development (CIED) the following day from 9:00am-1:00pm.
The two-day event was filled with presentations from community partners instrumental in the creation of Startup Quest and work sessions where the new Business Advocacy and Self-Employment Consortium (BASEC) members began implementation planning for the $11.95 million Workforce Innovation Fund grant they were recently awarded to replicate this entrepreneurship initiative in their respective communities.
Gainesville, as the host city, provided the attendees with a comprehensive perspective, capturing Gainesville’s economic benefits, talent pipeline, entrepreneurial spirit, startups and their licensed technologies, and the future and promise of Gainesville. Presenters ranged from Jane Muir, Assistant Director of UF Office of Technology Licensing, to Jane Teague, COO of Florida Institute for Commercialization of Public Research; to Ed Poppell, Director of Economic Development of UF Development Corporation; to Sonia Douglas, COO of Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce, and more.
StartUp Quest combines technology from state university systems, government research institutions, and community resources; successful mentors who made millions of dollars by selling or going public;, and teams formed of professional trainees in STEM, marketing, finance, and operations. Each team competes to create the best business plan and startup pitch, as judged by a panel of investor judges. The first Startup Quest was formed though partnerships and collaboration between FloridaWorks, the University of Florida Office of Technology Licensing, the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce, 14 entrepreneurs and 12 investors.