WANTED: Entrepreneurs looking to solve problems, generate prosperity and create jobs.
StartUP FIU, an initiative aimed at supporting innovation among students, faculty, alumni and community members, encompasses three new incubators and an accelerator program that is accepting applications for the first cohort starting in September. Additionally, the initiative will leverage FIU’s many existing entrepreneurship resources including the Small Business Development Center, Pino Entrepreneurship Center, AshokaU, Tech Station, and Miami Beach Urban Studios.
“We see a need to provide entrepreneurship education in the hands-on setting of an incubator to better prepare our students and others to create jobs,” said FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg. “StartUP FIU gives our students, faculty and entrepreneurs in our community a place to take their ideas and launch scalable ventures.”
StartUP FIU also will focus on the commercialization of scientific discoveries and cutting edge technologies developed by FIU faculty, leveraging its $165 million of research a year and its science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) talent. FIU graduates more Hispanics with STEM degrees than any other university in the nation, making it a great environment to foster technology innovation. In April, FIU announced plans to build a new $150 million engineering facility designed to enhance collaboration between engineers and life sciences researchers with an eye toward innovation.
The launch of StartUP FIU is made possible in large part by recent grants from the Community Progress Makers Fund by Citi Foundation and the State of Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, totaling nearly $2 million.
FIU’s flagship incubator at the Modesto A. Maidique Campus will be housed in 10,000 square feet of space currently under renovation.
A second incubator, Food FIU, will make its home at the Biscayne Bay Campus in North Miami. In partnership with the Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Food FIU will offer food entrepreneurs access to state-of-the-art commercial kitchen facilities as well as technical expertise from faculty and students, to innovate, test concepts and scale their businesses, providing a pathway to prosperity for many small businesses.
The third incubator space is being developed at a commercial building in the West End District, near Tamiami Airport, which is already home to Topp Solutions and Dell/Alienware.
“Each of our three locations is strategic and addresses a need and an opportunity in our community,” said Director of StartUP FIU Robert Hacker, who has taught entrepreneurship at FIU for 10 years, after having successfully grown traditional and social enterprises for over three decades. He also teaches social entrepreneurship at MIT and the University of Miami. “Most of the entrepreneurial activity in Miami at the moment is concentrated in the Brickell/Wynwood corridor. We are opening opportunities for the rest of the city including west of the Palmetto and in the north end of the county.”
One of the things that distinguishes StartUP FIU from other incubators is its inclusive approach: It intentionally mixes entrepreneurs from the university and the community and it is not focused on a particular segment of the economy.
“We believe that diversity improves collaboration,” said Assistant Vice President for Research and Economic Development Emily Gresham. “We are grateful to be given the opportunity and support to foster a creative and inclusive environment for great things to happen.”
For more information about StartUp FIU please visit http://startup.fiu.edu/ or call 305-348-7156.