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USF rolls out succesful share-a-bike program

Students at USF's Tampa campus now have an innovative solution to the challenge of maneuvering such a large property as the bike sharing program is rolled out. The Share-A-Bull Bikes program, which officially launched September 28th, allows students the opportunity to borrow one of the 100 bikes on campus to get to their destination.

“Since we have an urban campus with lots of traffic, we had to come up with an alternative to help students get where they need to go,” says Francis Morgan, Assistant Director for Outdoor Recreation. “There were three things that really pushed this initiative, one being that is would increase physical activity, the second being it would decrease carbon emissions and finally it would get people from one place to another.”

In order to participate in the program, students must enroll at which point they receive a 16 digit account code that they will use to unlock one of the bikes. Once they have unlocked a bike, they can ride up to two hours per day at no cost. Each bike is equipped with a GPS system, which helps student locate available bikes through a Smartphone app or through the USF website.

According to Morgan, there are over 1,600 active members who have registered to date.

“This program has been very successful,” he says. “In fact, it is six times more successful than any other bicycle system in the world.”

Share-A-Bull Bikes program is funded through USF’s Student Green Energy Fund, which is a student fee funded program that the student body voted on. The purpose of the fund is to reduce the carbon footprint on campus.

“This is something the students asked for, and from its success so far, it’s seems to be something they appreciate.”

USF area in Tampa gets new pedestrian safety beacons

New pedestrian safety beacons have been installed along a one-mile stretch of 50th Street between Fowler and Fletcher Avenues in North Tampa. The goal is to help prevent accidents such as one that involved a University of South Florida student who was seriously injured in November 2014 while crossing the busy two-lane thoroughfare. 

The flashing beacons were officially unveiled on Wednesday (Sept. 16, 2015), and transportation officials spent the morning along the road passing out educational cards to pedestrians to help teach them about the new safety measures. Deputies from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office were also out in force, pulling over speeding motorists. 

“Speeding is one of the biggest problems we face when it comes to pedestrian safety,” says Julie Bond, a senior researcher at the Center for Urban Transportation Research. “We don’t want people to be scared to walk. Walking is a healthy and enjoyable way to get around, and we want our community to enjoy these benefits and feel safe.” 

The $70,000 pedestrian safety improvements along 50th Street are part of a larger initiative in the USF area. In early 2015, $5 million in improvements were completed along the congested stretch of Fletcher Avenue between Nebraska Avenue and Bruce B. Downs, just west of the USF campus. Speed limits along that portion of Fletcher Avenue were also reduced from 45 miles per hour to as low as 35 miles per hour.

“This is really an extension of the pedestrian safety enhancements that were recently completed along Fletcher Avenue,” Bond says. The flashing beacons along 50th Street, which benefit students walking to and from several apartment communities just east of the campus, pave the way for further pedestrian safety improvements around USF. In the next year, similar pedestrian safety enhancements will be completed along 42nd Street and 56th Street. 

These projects are funded and supported by a consortium of organizations, including the CUTR, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, and the Florida Department of Transportation. Another major advocate is WalkWise Tampa Bay, a grassroots initiative that aims to educate local citizens on pedestrian safety. The organization also offers free, personalized pedestrian safety presentations. 

“We need to talk to more people,” Bond adds. “Education is the only way we can help pedestrian and motorists safely co-mingle on the roads.”

USF Health gets $2M federal grant to improve geriatric care curriculum

Healthcare services for older adults in the Tampa Bay area received a big boost in funding during August 2015: $2.24 million in federal grant dollars.

The University of South Florida is one of only two awardees in Florida and 44 groups across the nation to receive a portion of the $35 million disbursed by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through its Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program.

The three-year grant, awarded to USF Health in partnership with Tampa Family Health Centers (TFHC), will fund inter-professional training and curriculum for students entering health professions with the overall aim of improving care for older adults.

The bulk of the grant’s support goes toward encouraging inter-professional geriatrics education and training among USF Health faculty and TFHC health care professionals. TFHC and USF Health faculty will work together to create a custom, tailored geriatrics curriculum for incoming USF medical, nursing, pharmacy and physical therapy students, as well as current residents and fellows specializing in geriatric care. Students will also spend a rotation at TFHC for clinical training under faculty supervision.

More than 2,000 students will take the new, geriatric-driven curriculum.

“Florida does not have an adequate workforce to support the state's growing geriatric population,” says Dr. Rita D’Aoust, associate professor and associate Dean of academic affairs and inter-professional initiatives in the USF College of Nursing. “USF Health has tremendous potential to address geriatric workforce needs in our community and, ultimately, to transform geriatric care in our region.”

USF Health is a partnership of the USF Morsani College of Medicine, the College of Nursing, the College of Public Health, the College of Pharmacy, the School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences, and the USF Physician’s Group.

TFHC, a federally qualified health center (FQHC), services underrepresented communities at 15 clinics across Hillsborough County. The center offers medical, dental, pharmacy and behavioral health outpatient services to children and adults.

Federally qualified health centers “play an important role in providing primary care to underserved populations,” D’Acoust says, noting that around 80 percent of TFHC’s 6,000 patients ages 60 and over had an income below the federal poverty line in 2014. Common health complaints included obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

By taking on “the issue of building a resilient, trained geriatric workforce,” USF Health and TFHC aim to make geriatrics a primary focus in Florida’s FQHC primary care clinics, D’Aoust says. Together with the USF Byrd Alzheimer's Institute (BAI) and TFHC, USF Health aims to “embed geriatric primary care and related services into the FQHC and the training curricula of USF.”

In addition, the USF Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Project will support three community-based organizations that provide long term care services or support for elders: Senior Connections, Hillsborough County Department of Aging Services and the Health Services Advisory Group. 

“The GWEP award will be a powerful catalyst to transform USF Health and revitalize student and resident interest in geriatric care,” D’Aoust says.                                                                                                                           

Moffitt develops genetic test for pancreatic cancer

For the nearly 50,000 people who are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year, there is hope on the horizon when it comes to treatment of this deadly disease. Moffitt Cancer researchers have developed a genetic test that can predict which pancreatic cancer patients will benefit from surgery.

"There is an unmet need to develop a reliable test, which will better predict prognosis for patients with early pancreatic cancer and thereby allow for personalized treatment,” says Dung-Tsa Chen, Ph.D. and senior member of the biostatistics and bioinformatics department at Moffitt.

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth most deadly cancer according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the high mortality rate is attributed to lack of effective diagnostic and prognostic tests.

“We found through our research that the patients who survive long-term may have a different genetic makeup, and so we looked at what we call the signatures of those genes, and compared them to those who didn’t do so well,” says Mokenge Malafa, M.D., F.A.C.S., department chair and program leader for Moffitt’s Gastrointestinal Oncology Program. “Dr. Chen did his statistical magic and he was able to match from a pool of genes, which patients would do well and which would not.”

Malafa goes on to say that with this information, he as a surgeon, can do a genetic test early on before doing surgery and if the patient is not a good candidate for surgery, they can look at other treatment options.

The study, which was supported in part by the National Institutes of Health and the DeBartolo Family Personalized Medicine Institute Pilot Research Awards in Personalized Medicine, was published in the PLoS One journal.

Malafa says the next step and research project in the fight against pancreatic cancer is a blood test that would catch cancer early on.

“From very little tissue samples, we could really perfect the signature where we could tailor the patient’s treatment based on this signature,” he says.  “Another option would be to use the information we have on genes, and how they affect the behavior of the tumors, we may be able to find a specific drug and target or intervene early on. In the future, we will find ways to make the outcome for these patients not so dismal.”

Johnson & Johnson brings 500 Jobs, $23.5M investment to Tampa

Johnson & Johnson, the company best known for its baby products and Band-aids, is coming to Tampa in a big way.

By 2016, the company plans to open its North American shared services headquarters, a multi-functional center designed to consolidate and coordinate finance, human resources, IT and procurement for its operating divisions.

So what does this mean for the Tampa Bay area? Higher-paying jobs, and lots of them, 500 over the next three years, according to a statement by Florida Governor Rick Scott. 

Johnson & Johnson already has offices around the state, so it's familiar with the business climate and ready to recruit, says Ernie Knewitz, VP for Global Media Relations.

“We currently have a strong presence in Florida with businesses in Jacksonville, South Florida and other locations, and this will build upon the success we have achieved in the state,” he says. “Tampa has many attractive attributes, including the strong talent pool in the area, which will help us staff and grow our operation here.”

The company will also make a capital investment of $23.5 million into the Tampa region.

With plans to have the shared services center fully operational by mid-2016, Knewitz says hiring for positions related to finance, HR, IT and procurement are imminent. 

“We anticipate being able to begin the hiring process soon,” he says. “People can search for jobs at Johnson & Johnson's career site.”

Johnson & Johnson joins an increasing number of global companies that have decided to locate or expand operations in Tampa and Hillsborough County, including Bristol-Myers Squibb, Covidien, Amazon and Ashley Furniture Industries.

Johnson & Johnson's North American shared services headquarters will be located at the Hidden River Corporate Center One Building at 8800 Grand Oak Circle in Tampa.

Lakeland Regional Health gets enhanced pediatric care

Pediatric patients at Lakeland Regional Health will now have enhanced care as the group teams up with Nemours Children’s Hospital of Orlando. The collaboration will allow Lakeland Regional Health to expand its pediatric specialty care services to the children and teens in its community.
Nemours Children’s Hospital opened in 2012. In addition to offering advanced pediatric care, the hospital has two pediatric interventional radiologists and a neurologist who specializes in the treatment of neuromuscular disorders.
Not only will more services be offered to patients through the agreement with Nemours, but research and educational resources will be available to pediatric care providers throughout Polk County and the surrounding region as well.
The partnership between Lakeland Regional Health and Nemours is vital because it will allow families residing in Polk County the opportunity to get treatment in their community for conditions that would have otherwise meant referrals elsewhere.
“Children needing pediatric specialty care often had to be referred outside our county to receive essential healthcare services,” says Danielle Drummond, senior VP and chief strategy and growth officer for Lakeland Regional Health. “Our strategic relationship with Nemours was formed to provide families with exceptional care options much closer to home.”
Lakeland Regional Health will build an eight-story pavilion for women and children on their medical center campus. The pavilion, which is expected to open early 2018, will offer healthcare services such as labor and delivery, obstetrics, newborn care, neonatal intensive care, pediatric surgery and pediatric emergency medicine.
“We feel very comfortable partnering with Nemours,” Drummond says. “Bringing specialty pediatric services to this community is keeping with the direction Lakeland Regional Health has been charting.”

USF, Moffitt team up on study to help breast cancer survivors

USF and Moffitt Cancer Center have joined forces in an effort to better the lives of breast cancer survivors. The team equipped with a $2.8 million grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) will begin a five-year study on how stress reduction can help repair the cognitive impairment of breast cancer survivors.

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), more than 25-percent of cancer survivors suffer from a “mental fog” otherwise known as “chemo brain” after receiving cancer treatment. These cognitive impairments include trouble with memory and concentration, and can last from a few months to 10 years after treatment has ceased.

Dr. Cecile Lengacher, professor and pre-doctoral fellowship program director at the USF College of Nursing, applied for the NCI grant, and says previous studies she has been a part of show a correlation between stress reduction and clearing up this “mental fog.”

“During the study, we teach patients about yoga, breathing exercises and meditation techniques that they can use to help their concentration,” Lengacher says. “We also teach the patients to be mindful of the present, so if the mind wanders, we can train it to come back to the present -- because when the mind wanders to unpleasant thoughts, or thoughts about their breast cancer experience, they can ruminate in those thoughts.”

Lengacher goes on to say that while they do not know how the stress reduction and mindfulness works to improve concentration and memory, research shows there is definitely something going on in the brain to repair the damage.

The study will look at 300 patients from Moffitt Cancer Center and the USF Health Morsani Center for Advanced Care.
Patients will be placed in three different groups: a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), control group and usual care.

“What is great about this is it’s not a pharmacological intervention,” she says. “The drugs don’t [always] work and they have side effects, so we are very excited about this approach, and proving it through this study.”

New culinary center in Plant City aims to create 100 jobs

Culinary professionals can start sprucing up their resumes as Fitlife Foods prepares to open a new culinary center in Plant City.

The company, founded in 2011, makes meals from scratch and sells them throughout its seven Tampa Bay area retail locations.

“The culinary center in Plant City is currently under construction, but we expect it to be completed mid-August,” says David Osterweil, Founder of Fitlife Foods. “We plan on hiring approximately 100 people by the end of 2016 at the culinary facility.”

The company, which currently employs 110 employees, will be seeking mostly culinary professionals at its new state-of-the-art culinary center; however, Osterweil says he will also be looking to fill logistics and transportation positions.

“The culinary center in Plant City is a big, small batch kitchen,” he says. “We are making everything from scratch in our kitchen everyday, and we need a bigger space to do it in, that’s the bottom line. These chefs need a lot more room to get their job done.”

Fitlife Foods offers customers healthy prepared meals for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Customers can pick up one meal, or plan their meals for the next few days.

"You’re not locked in, you can come in and pick up one meal, but a majority of our customers come in on Sunday and load up on meals for several days,” Osterweil says.

A marathon runner and father of two, Osterweil aims to provide customers with healthy options that are quick and easy to fix.

“Our main goal is to make each meal delicious,” he says. “We all have the same amount of time in our day, if you are eating the right foods in that day, that quality of that time is going to be so much better. “

For a list of store locations, visit the Fitlife Foods website

Tampa grandmother designs ergonomic holder for easily gripping smart devices

When Rosanne Clementi of Tampa won a Kindle e-reader in a raffle, she planned to regift it. Instead, she “got hooked” on using the device for casual reading.

There was only one problem.

Clementi has arthritis in her hands, which made holding up her new device difficult. It was painful, and, she adds, “My thumbs kept hitting the screen and changing the page before I wanted to.”

An Internet search for a product that could ease her pain – some kind of handle for the e-reader – turned up empty. A folio cover served as a temporary solution, but it didn’t solve the problem.

“It became my mission to develop a product that would make it easier to get a good, comfortable grip on an electronic tablet,” says Clementi.

The Pad Go Round, an ergonomic tablet holder with handles, is Clementi’s solution.

Clementi designed and developed the Pad Go Round for people who have difficulty with gripping tablets. The device, which can be used for various sizes of tablets and e-readers, has a sturdy base on which four handles or clamps slide. Handles can be adjusted for various brands of tablets and can be used for activities from casual reading to video or photography. Four legs on the bottom of the base elevate the tablet slightly, reducing the risk of damage from spills.

“We have such a versatile design for the Pad Go Round that it has multiple applications for various markets,” Clementi says.

Clementi, who is a successful business owner in the field of environmental consulting, attended the University of South Florida for undergraduate studies before earning an MS from Clemson University. The grandmother of two has also formed a corporation to develop products that help make daily life activities, such as yoga, more accessible to people with arthritis.

The Pad Go Round is patented, but Clementi is still seeking the necessary funding to make the device a reality.

With over 50 backers and $5,000 pledged to the Kickstarter campaign for the device, the project has a long way to go to reach the funding goal of $22,000 by June 22. Regardless of whether the Kickstarter campaign is successful, Clementi says, “My plans are to continue to move forward and hit the street to market the product.”

”Every day I meet someone who has not seen the Pad Go Round and falls in love with it,” Clementi says. “The testimonial in my Kickstarter video from Rob [see above], the gentleman who is a quadriplegic, is my inspiration to keep going. Failure is not an option.” 

To contribute to the Pad Go Round Kickstarter campaign, click here.

With $1 million at stake, UT students take on urban slums

A student team has earned the University of Tampa the distinction of being the only university in the United States to secure a spot in the final round of competition for the 2015 Hult Prize. Up for grabs: $1 million in seed funding to the winning team.

The Hult Prize Foundation is a nonprofit that focuses its efforts on solving world issues through challenging young, social and eco-conscious entrepreneurs to come up with innovative ideas.  The challenge, this year, was to develop an idea that would meet the goal of educating 10 million children in urban slums by 2020.

UT’s student team, Athollo, joined other competitors from across the globe, including another team from UT, to address the issue of early childhood education – or lack thereof - in urban slums. The team aims to use mobile phones as the key component in providing top quality early childhood education to children from the ages of 0-6 who are living in the urban slums of developing nations.

Inspired by the educational theme, the team name derives from the Greek god of wisdom, Athena, combined with the Greek god of knowledge, Apollo. Founder and Chief Visionary Officer Phil Michaels explains that the team’s mission is to ”endeavor to alleviate the inaccessibility of education around the world.”

Athollo won first place in the San Francisco regional competition, one of six Hult Prize regional locations around the world. Along with the other regional winners, the team will attend a 6-week accelerator over the summer. In September, the teams will then head to NYC to present in front of President Clinton at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual meeting.

One team will be named winner, and earn $1M in seed capital funding.

If Athollo wins the Hult Prize competition, Michaels says, the team will “funnel the seed capital funding into providing salaries for their employees, developing an app, subsidizing marketing efforts and other operating expenses.”

“Tampa is the next wave of social entrepreneurs!” says Michaels, who also serves as the UT campus director for the Hult Prize. “I never doubted the ability of our university’s young social entrepreneurs to address this pressing challenge intelligently and thoughtfully.”

Athollo is comprised of six enterprising UT students:
  • Michaels, a dual degree-seeking student (MBA in Entrepreneurship and MS in Marketing) at UT and self-described serial entrepreneur.
  • Chief Social Capital Marketing Officer Sercan Topcu is an MS (Marketing) student at UT. Chief Education Officer Brittany Brescia is a dual-degree seeking student in Education and English at UT.
  • CFO Ulixes Hawili is an honors student at UT pursuing a dual degree in Mathematics and Economics.
  • COO Ravi Goldberg is an honors student at UT who is majoring in Entrepreneurship and minoring in Leadership and Business Analytics.
  • Akingbolahan Akinwumi, Chief Cultural Officer, M.D. is pursuing an MBA.
A second UT team, BamBoost, came in second at the Boston regional competition, but they aren’t out of the running for the $1 million yet.

This year, any participating teams can compete for a wild card spot in the final competition by earning the most money in an Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign. To date, BamBoost has earned about 60 percent of their goal of $20,000. Click here to learn more or to donate to their crowd-funding campaign.

Athollo is also seeking donations via crowdfunding website GoFundMe; the team hopes to raise $53,000 to implement a pilot study in sub-Saharan Africa. Click here to learn more or to donate to their crowd-funding campaign

“I am incredibly proud of the hard work that both teams have put into their efforts to educate impoverished children in urban slums that need it most,” Michaels says. “It is a humbling experience to watch them grow into the business pioneers they were destined to become while changing the lives of millions of people in the process.”

Hillsborough County woos Johnson & Johnson with $2M in incentives

Health care giant Johnson & Johnson is considering a massive move to the Tampa area.

In March 2015, Hillsborough County commissioners voted unanimously to approve a $2.1 million incentive package in hopes of encouraging the Fortune 500 company to invest in Tampa Bay. If Tampa is selected, hundreds of new jobs would be relocated or created at a new “shared services” headquarters for Johnson & Johnson.

Hillsborough County economic development director Lindsey Kimball says that the move would be a good one, economically, for the community.

“If Johnson & Johnson chooses to locate in Hillsborough County, the project will potentially represent 700 new higher wage jobs in the community and a $23.5 million capital investment,” Kimball says. “These jobs are in what we call a ‘targeted industry,’ which means the primary customers for their services are outside of our market -- and that is a good thing because they expand our local economy, driving demand for local services and goods.”

By the terms of the agreement, if Tampa is selected, Johnson & Johnson would be required to create the first group of about 200 jobs by December 31, 2016.

If Johnson & Johnson does set up shop in Hillsborough, the created jobs will be “shared services” functions typical of a headquarters operation, such as accounting, marketing, human resources, IT and legal. 

The average salary for these jobs would be around $75,000.

It is likely that not every position will be relocated, meaning the potential for new hires from within the Tampa Bay community.

“I would like to add that this project, if it chooses to locate here, will strengthen the biosciences cluster within our community by adding an additional marquis company to join Bristol-Myers Squibb, Draper, and Bausch and Lomb,” Kimball says. 

The Bristol-Myers Squibb North American Capability Center opened in Hillsborough County at 5104 Eisenhower Blvd. S. in January 2014 after similar wooing efforts from dozens of cities. Draper Lab, an engineering and tech research facility from MIT, has had a presence at the University of South Florida since 2009 and in Pinellas County for years at 9900 16th St. N. in St. Petersburg. Bausch and Lomb, the pharmaceuticals company, has had a manufacturing plant presence in Tampa since 1993 at 8500 Hidden River Parkway. 

Before the deal is decided, Johnson & Johnson will continue to look to several other states for the expansion. Florida’s incentive package depends on the $2.1 million from Hillsborough County along with a state incentive package of $7 million from the state’s economic development organization, Enterprise Florida, totaling a $9.1 million overall incentive package.

TGH offers new surgical relief from sleep apnea

Tampa General is one of the first hospitals in the nation and the first in Florida to offer a new “sleep pacemaker” solution to patients who suffer from severe sleep apnea.

Clinical trials were held at 22 hospitals nationwide – including TGH, the primary teaching hospital for USF Health – with results published in the New England Journal of Medicine

Dr. Tapan Padhya, professor and vice chair of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery at the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, was the chief investigator for Tampa General’s trials and co-authored the "sleep pacemaker" study results.

The technology in the implant is “similar to a cardiac pacemaker, re-applied for sleep apnea patients,” says Dr. Padhya. 

Sleep apnea occurs as the result of muscles in the tongue and throat relaxing, which makes breathing more difficult. As people with the condition sleep, oxygen supply runs low, which in turn causes them to wake up to take a breath, often accompanied by a snoring or gasping noise.

The disorder has typically been treated with the CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine, which involves wearing a mask over the nose, and occasionally mouth, while sleeping. The mask can keep airways open by pumping pressurized air into the mouth, but for many people, it can be difficult to sleep with.

Enter the "sleep pacemaker" neurostimulation device, developed by Minnesota-based Inspire Medical Systems, which is meant to help sleep apnea patients for whom other treatments were ineffective.

Here’s how it works: an implant described as half the size of an iPhone is placed under a patient’s collarbone. It can deliver a small electrical stimulus to the base of the tongue when the patient takes a breath. 

Patients with the Inspire device can activate it with a remote control before sleeping.

“It will gently push the tongue out to help the air flow," Dr. Padhya says. "You have an open airway. You don’t have that struggle to breathe.”

Most telling, says Padhya, is the fact that there are clinical trial patients still using the device several years after the surgical procedure.

Millions of people suffer from severe sleep apnea, a disorder that causes shallow breathing while sleeping, disrupting rest periods and leading to daytime fatigue and other health issues including insomnia, behavioral changes and disruption to executive functions like decision-making, reaction time, memory, and learning.

Because other factors can cause some of these effects, people with sleep apnea can sometimes be unaware that they suffer from the condition. However, if untreated, the disorder increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure and other health problems.

New St. Pete startup streamlines your workout

Reinvent the way you workout.

That’s the selling point behind Stacktive, a new St. Pete-based startup company that offers members a universal fitness membership to an array of area gyms and sports clubs.

Stacktive, founded by University of South Florida Saint Petersburg graduates Evan Brady and Reuben Pressman, launched in early February 2015 in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Stacktive aims to reduce the hassle of multiple gym memberships through a streamlined service. And like many startups, Stacktive was inspired by personal experience: at one point, CEO Brady maintained three separate memberships to a Crossfit gym, a boxing gym and a traditional gym.

“I had to pay full price at each, just to split my time between them. I definitely was not getting my money’s worth,” Brady said in a press release.

The company plans to expand to Tampa quickly, Pressman says – and to other cities in Florida throughout 2015, including Orlando and Miami.

“We've had lots of interest already and people saying they'll be signing up,” Pressman says. “We've begun discussions and have actually had partners in Tampa request to join already.”

Participating gyms can be found on the startup’s website. Stacktive has already secured partnerships with a wide range of 14 St Petersburg-area gyms and businesses. Stacktive partners specialize in crossfit, yoga, MMA, kickboxing, paddleboarding, and more.

There are multiple plans to choose from, capping out at $99 per month for unlimited access to partner gyms and studios. These include Crossfit 9, Elite Training Center, IAMFITNESS, Citygym, Elevate Fitness, YogaBlu, and others in St Petersburg. All partners are locally owned, boutique locations.

“You will never find the expertise and personal attention at a gym chain that you will at the boutique gyms and studios that Stacktive has partnered with,” says Brady.

Membership cards have been replaced with a mobile app for iOS and Android phones. Members will be able to work out at any participating gym in any city.

Stacktive is fully bootstrapped and may seek future funding.

A local perk? The startup offers unlimited kayak and paddleboard rentals in St. Petersburg to members. 

Innovation Alliance invites businesses to help transform University area of north Tampa

The Tampa Innovation Alliance aims to transform almost 15,000 acres of commerce, housing and retail surrounding the University of South Florida and affiliate hospitals into a revitalized “Innovation District” that will attract local visitors and tourists.

After a 10-year stint as a Hillsborough County commissioner, Mark Sharpe has stepped into the role of executive director for the Tampa Innovation Alliance. The group formed in 2011 with intentions to redevelop the university area as a premiere destination, but focused too much on a “master plan,” Sharpe says. “I want to make sure that we focus on our key mission: to create this ‘Innovation District’ core.”

The area, which stretches from I-75 on the east to I-275 on the west; north to the Bearss/Bruce B Downs intersection; and south to Busch Blvd, is comprised of thousands of acres in which run-down retail and residential blocks co-mingle with specialized hospitals like Moffitt and the VA center, the University of South Florida’s campus, and popular entertainment destinations like Busch Gardens and MOSI Tampa, the Museum of Science and Industry.

“I think there is a way to capture some of the market that is driving past or through, not stopping, at the local businesses that abut these major anchors,” Sharpe explains. “We’re going to focus on outreach and bring in members, large and small, who will all partner together.”
A kick-off luncheon on Friday, Jan. 9, serves as the group’s first outreach to the broader community, Sharpe says. Local businesses both inside and outside the future Innovation District are invited to join Sharpe and other Tampa Innovation Alliance members, such as USF President Judy Genshaft, at the USF Connect Building to discuss the group’s next steps and ideas for area branding.

Businesses are invited to provide feedback at Friday’s meeting, along with a series of monthly meetings Sharpe plans to host, similar to those he conducted at Buddy Brew during his run as a county commissioner. The first of these meetings, open to the public, is scheduled for Jan 23.

The first focus is getting organized, Sharpe says. “I’m doing it all right now – I’m approving colors of the logo, and spellchecking things, and calling people to encourage them to come.”

The group’s current members and partners include Fifth Third Bank, the Tampa Bay Lightning, Brighthouse, Tampa International Airport, EWI Construction, and more. Tampa Innovation Alliance’s Kickoff Luncheon will be held 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 9, 2015, at USF Connect, 3802 Spectrum Boulevard in Tampa.

USF teams receive grants to develop socially beneficial products

Five teams at the University of South Florida in Tampa were recently selected as part of the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program.

The program is designed to foster an environment within the science community that encourages the development of innovations that benefit society. Each I-Corps team receives a $50,000 grant designed to help determine the viability of their technology, product or process and, if viable, help transition them to the next level. Teams are developed from previously or currently funded NSF projects.

Five teams were selected from the University of South Florida, making it the largest grant receiver in Florida and ranking them third in the nation out of 153 total teams representing 91 universities.

One of the USF teams created software designed to increase quality control in the use of nanotechnology, or the act of manipulating atomic particles that leads to new discoveries in areas such as medicine and energy production. The software suite provides engineers with the ability to more easily identify defects, saving time and resources and improving quality.

The team wrote the software and enlisted the assistance of the USF Patent and Licensing office to receive a provisional patent. The next step is to use the grant funding to see if there a market for the tool as well as investigate its social impact.

"One of the goals is not to focus on your patent or technology, but where is the pain point? Why are people struggling?" says Sanjukta Bhanja, associate professor, Electrical Engineering at USF and principal investigator for the team.

The teams consist of USF faculty, researchers, graduate students and a mentor with entrepreneurial experience. NSH provides additional mentoring assistance as well as an immersive learning experience to help transition the research into feasible products or processes.

Other projects include a walking crutch/cane and a mobile health network.
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