by Marcia Heroux Pounds South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Florida International University in Miami-Dade County is joining a growing list of local universities launching incubator programs for startup businesses.
StartUP FIU, which will include incubators in three locations, is designed to support startup business involving students, faculty, alumni and community members. Applications are being accepted for the first group starting in September.
“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.
Broward College announced last month it would roll out over the next six months The Venture Formula, a 14-week program designed to successfully ramp up tech-related businesses in South Florida. And FAU Research Park, situated on Florida Atlantic University’s campus in Boca Raton, has operated a technology incubator for three decades. Currently, 19 tenants are in its technology incubator.
FIU’s three incubators will focus on food businesses targeted at lower and middle-income communities, technology-focused startups, and general businesses including retail and clothing. He said all incubators will also have a “social entrepreneurship” focus, helping provide solutions to societal problems.
“Our incubators are open to everybody,” said Bob Hacker, director of StartUP FIU.
Hacker, who has taught entrepreneurship at FIU for 10 years, said he’d accept high school students — with a parent or guardian’s permission — as well as retirees and others from the community who have business ideas.
“We would welcome people from Broward. We don’t have any geographic limits,” he said.
StartUP FIU will also draw upon FIU faculty’s scientific discoveries and technologies to commercialize into new products.
The main incubator will be in a 10,000-square-foot space, currently under renovation, on the Modesto A. Maidique Campus.
A second incubator, Food FIU, will be at the Biscayne Bay Campus in North Miami. Food FIU will offer entrepreneurs access to a commercial kitchen, as well as technical expertise from faculty and students at the Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management.
The third incubator space is being developed at a commercial building in the West End District, near Tamiami Airport. It will host technology-related startups and is already home to Topp Solutions and Dell/Alienware.
The launch of StartUP FIU is being funded by grants from the Community Progress Makers Fund by Citi Foundation and the State of Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, totaling nearly $2 million, FIU said.
For more information about StartUp FIU, go to startup.fiu.edu or call 305-348-7156.
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