Startup Quest™ implementation teams gather to discuss statewide practices

The entrepreneurial training program is being implemented in eight Florida regions

Startup Quest™ Regional Project Managers (RPM), vendors and invested parties gathered on Tuesday, June 11, to discuss the progress of the statewide program. The program’s Project Lead Entity is CareerSource North Central Florida (NCFL), the flagship region where the 2011 pilot was developed. Funded by a nearly $12 million grant through the U.S. Department of Labor Workforce Innovation Fund, the program has expanded to eight Florida workforce regions.

Startup Quest™ regional project managers and partners gathered to discuss the progress of the program and best practices.

Startup Quest™ is an innovative 10-week, hands-on program that pairs technological innovations developed at public universities, federal laboratories and NASA with highly successful entrepreneur mentors who help qualified professional participants learn how new inventions and technologies are brought to market. It is part of an evaluation study funded by the U.S. Department of Labor.

CareerSource NCFL Executive Director Kim Tesch-Vaught welcomed attendees. “It’s great to see so many new and familiar faces invested in fostering entrepreneurship,” Tesch-Vaught said. “We’ve been funded to change lives and shift mindsets.”

Attendees discussed the current state of the program and its progress since the 2013 statewide launch. RPMs were invited to present on best practices. A recurring theme throughout the day was community involvement. Startup Quest™ is more than an entrepreneurial training program; it strengthens communities by creating new pathways for citizens’ employment, giving highly educated participants the tools and training they need to create new businesses and stimulate job creation.

In addition to technology source institutions, economic development organizations and workforce boards, Startup Quest™ engages local businesses, business and community leaders, chambers of commerce, investment groups and angel networks. “Startup Quest™ is the vehicle for all of these groups to come together,” said Cris Johnsrud, technology commercialization specialist.

The program has received national recognition for its innovative practices on approaching entrepreneurship and community collaboration. The National Association of Workforce Boards acknowledged Startup Quest™ at its annual meeting in April as an innovative program. U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration’s Eric Seleznow, acting assistant secretary, also recognized innovation in workforce through entrepreneurship in Florida and CareerSource NCFL CIO and Startup Quest™ co-founder Angela Pate.

“Expanding Startup Quest™ is a wonderful opportunity for the state of Florida and the nation,” said Tesch-Vaught. “The world is watching.”

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