ORLANDO, Fla. (Sept. 20, 2023) – Based on its success in Stage One of the Small Business Administration’s Growth Accelerator Fund Competition, the Florida High Tech Corridor (The Corridor) and its regional partners were selected for a $150,000 Stage Two-prize. The prize will enable Central Florida collaborators to enhance business support services for high-tech companies in the region’s rural areas.
The Corridor found that rural areas, which make up over 60% of the state, are vastly underrepresented in tech-based economic development and companies in those areas need different kinds of support to integrate into the regional ecosystem. The Corridor plans to extend tailored business assistance to companies served by rural partners to meet their unique needs. Depending on where each company is in their entrepreneurial journey, determined through a needs assessment, services may include access to capital through SBIR/STTR programs and matching grants, tailored support for industry clustering through Cenfluence – the Central Florida Cluster Initiative, scholarship opportunities for StarterStudio’s accelerator training, collaboration opportunities, and regional stakeholder engagement events that connect startups with critical resources.
Collaborators in the initiative include organizations with an established or growing presence in Central Florida that impact and serve innovators from rural communities:
- Orlando Economic Partnership (OEP)
- Catapult Lakeland
- Lake Economic Area Development (LEAD)
- Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University MicaPlex
- University of Central Florida (UCF) Business Incubation Program
“We are thrilled to be recognized by the SBA as we strengthen our regional innovation ecosystem with this additional round of funding and develop trusted, informed and inspiring collaborations that serve small businesses across our community,” said The Corridor’s Chief Strategy Officer, Amy Beaird, Ph.D. “The Corridor is committed to helping diverse innovators from all areas of our 23-county region connect with the incredible regional assets we have in Central Florida, like our world-class research institutions. As we gain a greater understanding of the needs of entrepreneurs in underserved communities, it benefits the entire ecosystem. We are excited to leverage these resources and regional partnerships to tailor our established and trusted entrepreneur support programs to serve even more companies.”
This award will build upon work started by The Corridor after it earned an SBA Growth Accelerator Fund Competition Stage One prize. Stage One presented an opportunity for The Corridor to map out entrepreneur support resources that touch rural communities, convene regional entrepreneurial support organizations to build new relationships and explore new opportunities for partnerships to meet the needs of rural entrepreneurs with speed and scale. The Corridor was one of only 40 organizations selected from a pool of 335 to receive a Stage One prize and one of only 35 to earn the second round of funds.
About the Partners:
About the Florida High Tech Corridor
An economic development initiative of three research universities – the University of Central Florida, the University of South Florida and the University of Florida – the Florida High Tech Corridor converges and catalyzes the capacity of high tech, innovative and bright minds across a 23-county region to generate a global ripple effect that advances the lives of people in the communities it serves. Powered by an ethos of collaboration, The Corridor aligns opportunities and resources in academia, industry and economic development to unleash the region’s exponential potential.
Cenfluence is a program of the Florida High Tech Corridor and Orange County that establishes organizations within a formal cluster structure with all the benefits that clustering activities have to offer, resulting in expanded economic opportunities and increased job opportunities for Central Florida. Cenfluence works with local organizations (Cluster Members) to leverage synergies within the cluster community, existing regional strengths and a well-established global network to address the specific needs of Central Florida businesses.
About the Orlando Economic Partnership
Winner of the National Chamber of the Year award, the Orlando Economic Partnership (the Partnership) is an economic and community development organization that is seizing the moment to advance Broad-based Prosperity® and create a more prosperous economy for all. Through the power of partnerships, we grow the economy, attract growing companies, boost job creation, drive investment, improve competitiveness and fuel regional leadership. Learn why opportunity in Orlando is Unbelievably Real™ at InvestOrlando.org.
About Catapult Lakeland
Catapult is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that fosters an environment for founders to build scalable businesses through expert guidance, shared equipment, funding, and relationships. Located in Lakeland FL, Catapult has a state-of-the-art 38,000sf facility that has a makerspace, kitchen incubator, and workspace (coworking, and offices) all under one roof.
About the Lake Economic Area Development Partnership
Formed in October of 2022 as Lake County’s first public/private partnership focused solely on economic development, LEAD was designed to lead efforts in further growing, diversifying and uniting the Lake County regional economy. Most importantly, the organization works closely with government, private businesses, chambers of commerce, educational and workforce organizations and other related stakeholders to collectively drive economic growth in Lake County.”
About Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Reporters worldwide contact Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University for content experts in all aspects of aviation, aviation business, aerospace, engineering and STEM-related fields. Our faculty experts specialize in unmanned and autonomous systems, security and intelligence, air traffic and airport management, astronomy, human factors psychology, meteorology, spaceflight operations, urban air mobility and much more. Visit the Embry-Riddle Newsroom for story ideas.
Embry-Riddle educates 31,300+ students at its residential campuses in Daytona Beach, Florida, and Prescott, Arizona, at approximately 110 Worldwide Campus locations and through online degree programs. In 2023, U.S. News & World Report named Embry-Riddle Worldwide the nation’s No. 2 provider of online bachelor’s degree programs. The university has ranked either No. 1 or No. 2 in this category every year since 2016. Our residential campuses hold multiple Top 10 rankings. All of our campuses have been ranked Best for Veterans.
About the UCF Business Incubation Program
The University of Central Florida Business Incubation Program is a community resource that provides early-stage companies with the tools, training and infrastructure to become financially stable, high growth/impact enterprises. Since 1999, this award-winning program has provided vital business development resources resulting in over 300 local startup companies reaching their potential faster and graduating into the community where they continue to grow and positively impact the local economy.
With nine facilities throughout the region, the UCF Business Incubation Program is an economic development partnership between the University of Central Florida, the Corridor, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Volusia Counties, and the cities of Eustis, Kissimmee, Orlando and Winter Springs. In 2022, current incubator clients supported over 1200 employees and generated over $120 million in revenue. Nineteen companies graduated from the program and remained in the local community. For more information, visit www.incubator.ucf.edu.
StarterStudio is a nonprofit 501(c) (3) that works with partners throughout Central Florida to strengthen the tech startup ecosystem and to elevate the region in the eyes of investors, educating them about the advantages of investing locally in tech startup companies. The combination of educational programming, industry-specific and startup-specific mentoring, and seed funding makes StarterStudio a unique and powerful asset to the economic development of the region. It is only through support of others – including local government, academic institutions, corporate sponsors, and individual donors – that StarterStudio’s important mission is fulfilled.