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State of Florida #1 for Innovation

Fast Company Magazine has just named Florida No. 1 state in the nation for innovation, according to an article by the Tampa Bay Business Journal. Read more

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Capital Ventures

With venture capital investment in Florida down 42 percent in 2012, and the state ranking an underwhelming 18th in attracting such money, having showcases for our venture capital-worthy companies is more critical than ever. They provide a convenient and efficient way to connect these companies with qualified investors. Read more

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Seize the Day in Orlando

Because I’m an arts administrator and patron, living in Orlando, I have the advantage of being an insider who has seen, up close and personal, just how far the region has gone to distinguish itself culturally. The coming Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, the Downtown Arts District, Loch Haven Park, our local theaters, our festivals, our growing diversity – all that and so much more –are making our area increasingly attractive to people in their 20s and 30s. Read more

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Lessons from Minnesota and the US

It’s been nearly a year since I left my internship at FloridaNEXT and started working toward my Masters of Public Policy in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I’ve learned a couple of lessons about Minnesota that I hope to one day bring back to Florida: Read more

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Next Gen: Stay or Go?

College grads in their ‘20s and ‘30s are catalysts for economic development. They have the energy, creativity and workforce skills needed for communities to prosper. As a group, they tend to be mobile, and often choose a place to live before finding a job. Because of this, cities like Pittsburgh, Memphis, and Richmond are developing strategies to attract more young professionals. In the case of Orlando, the city has invested millions of dollars to build a new basketball arena, a performing arts center and several downtown apartment complexes. Read more

One Spark

One Spark

Florida NEXT curated a venue at One Spark, the world’s crowdfunding festival featuring creators, inventors and entrepreneurs. We occupied the sixth floor of the SunTrust Building in Jacksonville and drummed up support for more than 30 innovative creators.

Two of our creators got major kudos for their projects. Wazinit? and Black & Denim Apparel, two Tampa-based startups, walked away with tremendous recognition and some prize money. Wazinit? placed second in the technology category and Black & Denim Apparel raised the most crowdfunding dollars out of all creators at the festival.

“One Spark is built to provide a platform that connects great ideas with the funding and launch resources they need to move forward and Florida NEXT shares that passion,” said One Spark Executive Director Joe Sampson. “We’re excited that they not only chose to curate one of our biggest venues at One Spark 2014, but also recruited a standout group of entrepreneurs and innovators to attend and participate.”

WaZINIT? is a mobile app that identifies food ingredients and allergens. Its mobile app will allow smart phone and tablet users to scan products and identify ingredients from the app’s directory.
In the Tech category, WaZINIT was voted second by One Spark attendees and was also chosen separately by the jury to be among the top three Tech Creators.

“One Spark was a lot of work and a lot of fun,” said Wazinit creator Brian Di Vito. “We were able to network with lots of interested people in a variety of positions. It’s hard to describe. We went into the event with the goal of getting users, feedback, and insights from potential customers. We were able to accomplish that, and we’re also excited to be among the top three Tech Creators as voted by both Jury and Crowd.”
Visit them at www.wazinit.com.

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Black & Denim is a Tampa-based apparel company whose products are made and sourced with 100% American Raw Materials. They raised almost $5,000 in crowdfunding dollars at OneSpark.

“Only 3 percent of apparel sold in the US is manufactured here. Fifty years ago, that was not the case. We want to make that happen again. We want to bring manufacturing back to the US. Why is this important? American craftsmanship is second to none. We have been dictating the trends in design and manufacturing since the industrial revolution. We want to support local communities. That is why we want to have jobs come back to our city of Tampa, Florida. We have been working on this project since March 17, 2008, when the recession hit. We understood that the best way to rebuild America was from the ground up. At the lowest point in modern history, we started working with vendors that were left dry by huge companies for overseas options in manufacturing. We brought to them this idea. They saw the vision and followed our lead. We wanted to create a brand that is as resilient as the American dream.”

 

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Innovation Collaborative

Connecting the dots for entrepreneurs throughout the stateStatewide - Florida NEXT Innovation Colab Visual Aid

Mobile Giving

Innovation in the Nonprofit Sector Through Mobile Giving

In May 2014, we helped raise more than $1 million in one day for nonprofits across the Tampa Bay area.
Most of the donations were through online giving: mobile phones, laptops, iPads.

Visit the Give Day website here: www.givedaytampabay.org

Read media coverage here:

Give Day Tampa Bay Will Help Nonprofits

Give Day Tampa Bay Hits $1 Million Goal

Impact Forum Series

 

IMPACT FORUM SERIES

90 second pitch + action = results

We pick a city and invite young entrepreneurs, small business owners, and community leaders to a single gathering in one evening. We give them 90 seconds to pitch an idea to make their community a better place to live, work and play. The ideas with the most votes receive programming support from us. Here are the creative, innovative and inspirational ideas we’re working on in each city:

TAMPA

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  • Public relations owner Keisha Pickett suggested a “Sunday Sounds” event along downtown Tampa’s waterfront. Her idea, which calls for a festival atmosphere featuring local bands, received the top number of votes.
  • Second place was an idea by Tampa attorney Tyler Cathey, who wanted to create a “Culture of Philanthropy” in the Tampa Bay area by establishing a way of tracking charitable giving by young professionals.
  • Two ideas tied for the third highest number of votes and the participants who pitched them enthusiastically agreed to merge their ideas. Ryan Iacovacci, a farm-to-restaurant distributor, wanted to plant fruit trees on all vacant lots throughout the city. Pastor Danny Bennett asked for ways to help the homeless. They agreed to hire the homeless to plant the trees while also providing them with sustenance.

ST. PETERSBURG

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  • Venture House: The city rents out its foreclosed and abandoned houses for $1 a year to residents who wish to grow their businesses from their homes. In exchange, the tenants rehab the homes and build up the neighborhood. Eventually, the tenants will have the option of buying the homes for $1.
  • Kayak Condos: Need a place to store your kayak or paddleboard? Kayak Condos proposes to offer locker space for your water toys.
  • St. Pete Bike Co-Op: Start a mechanic training program to teach the homeless how to repair bikes. That gives them a skill while also fixing bikes for the St. Pete Bike Co-Op.
  • Green Florida & Edible Landscapes: Build community gardens with edible landscape and encourage walking meetings.

JACKSONVILLE

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  • Emerald Cities: Transform dilapidated, blighted neighborhoods into green communities.
  • Navy Warship: Bring the Navy warship USS Charles F Adams, to Jacksonville, which will create jobs, enhance the economy, attract tourists, serve as an educational tool, and highlight the river.
  • The Artery: Open a building that houses nonprofits that will teach the community all forms of art like painting, music, acting, dancing, and filmmaking.

BROWARD

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  • Flagler Village Community Garden: Bring urban gardening and sustainability initiatives to the forefront ofBroward County with a community garden in Downtown Fort Lauderdale. Flagler Village Community Garden will not only be a place to claim your own plot to grow your own food, but to come for free educational workshops and to connect with your neighbors in a modern green space. With the numerous environmental issues facing South Florida, Flagler Village Community Garden would be a venue for educating the public on current topics of sustainability and helping to spread these concepts throughout South Florida.
  • Prison to Prosperity: Reform ex-offenders and continuously mentor, coach, educate, train, and provide counseling with the goal of converting these individuals into productive members of our society. Upon graduation, ex-felons will be required to stay involved, give back and mentor the next group of felons that are dedicated to changing their lives for good.
  • Millennial Messaging Network: Keep the next generation informed on local quality-of-life issues of interest to them. Organizers are exploring the best platform for curating and disseminating the information, seeking to avoid people from having to say: “I wish I had known” when it comes to issues in their community.