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Tampa General Hospital Designs Prediabetes Education Program

A new community outreach program at Tampa General Hospital is designed to prevent diabetes and other health conditions by identifying those at risk before the diseases take effect.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated over 79 million Americans age 20 and older have a condition known as prediabetes. Most do not realize they have the condition because their symptoms are not as severe as those with diabetes. It is a serious health condition that increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Risk factors can include: being a woman who has had a baby over nine pounds in weight at birth, having a parent, sister
or brother with diabetes, being under 65 years of age and getting little to no exercise and being 45 years of age or older.

Recognizing the need in the community, Tampa General Hospital (TGH) is offering free educational sessions to help those at risk to achieve optimal health through lifestyle choices such as diet and exercise. The program involves 16 weekly sessions followed by eight monthly support group meetings.

"We’d like to teach people the skills to prevent developing diabetes," says Tamika Powe, Community Health Educator for TGH, adding that the benefits can trickle down to family members as well. "Hopefully they’re taking the information they learn in this program back home to their families to help everyone make better choices."

The program is funded by TGH and is limited to 12 registrants per class in order to maximize effectiveness. The next session begins in September at locations in Tampa Palms and South Tampa. Participants must meet qualifying criteria.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Tamika Powe, Tampa General Hospital

St. Petersburg Greenhouse Launches Craft Entrepreneurship Program

Etsy, the most popular online marketplace for handmade items, is collaborating with cities across the U.S. to make it easier for crafters to supplement their income through workshops and expert advice. Because of its thriving arts culture, St. Petersburg was recently selected as one of 10 cities to pilot the program this year.

The program started last March in Rockford IL and has since expanded to places like Newark NJ and Santa Cruz County, Dallas TX.  The idea is to create an open source curriculum that can be used by other areas to run their own classes.

Unlike most economic development programs that provide tools to start businesses, Etsy’s goal is to provide supplemental income for people out of work during seasonal periods or perhaps to help a household boost itself over the poverty line.

Local classes will be hosted by the St. Petersburg Greenhouse, a collaborative effort between the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce and City of St. Petersburg. Classes are free and available to crafters who have not sold on Etsy in the past.

Classes are taught by local craft sellers who have been successful using Etsy as an outlet. Topics include time management, branding, pricing, shipping and photography. Participants will be able to sell their first 20 items for free on Etsy. The first session begins August 4.

"Here in St. Petersburg, such a large part of our economy and what makes us go is in the arts," says Sean Kennedy, Greenhouse Manager and Economic Development Coordinator for the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce. "We think it’s important to help artists be in the best position to succeed financially as well as develop their craft."

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Sean Kennedy, St. Petersburg Greenhouse

Embracing Our Differences Receives Donation For Art, Inclusion Programs

A recent donation will allow even more K-12 students in Sarasota and Manatee Counties to appreciate diversity through art.

Sarasota-based home builder Neal Communities recently donated $10,000 to support the efforts of Embracing Our Differences. A project of Coexistence Inc., Embracing our Differences’ mission is to create awareness and promote the value of diversity and inclusion, particularly among youth. The nonprofit achieves this through community-based outdoor art exhibits as well as teacher training.

The organization's pinnacle event is its annual juried art exhibit, which displays billboard-sized images in downtown Sarasota and Bradenton. The images depict diversity and acceptance through the use of art and writing.

"It's about teaching the next generation how to get along,'' says Michael Shelton, Executive Director for Embracing our Differences. The organization focuses on relevant topics such as bullying, making a statement in a visual and effective way.

Through working with the Sarasota and Manatee County school districts as well as other educational organizations, Embracing our Differences was able to reach over 30,000 children during the 2013-14 school year.

The funding will be used to support educational programming such as the "Make-a-Day-of-It!" program, which provides free bus transportation for students and teachers to view the outdoor exhibit and other cultural venues, including Florida Studio Theatre, Mote Marine Aquarium and Ringling Museum. More than 13,000 students participated in the program last year, and the additional funding will make it possible for close to 25,000 to participate this year.

"Teaching children at a very young age will have not only a societal benefit, but a huge economic benefit as well from those who buy into it and accept it," says Shelton.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Michael Shelton, Embracing our Differences

Florida Universities Rank Among Best For Patents, Innovation

Innovation continues to grow among Florida’s top research universities, as indicated by a recent global ranking of universities by the number of patents granted in 2013.

The University of South Florida (USF), University of Florida (UF) and University of Central Florida (UCF) were granted 239 patents all together. This puts the group ahead of other prestigious groups such as the research Triangle in North Carolina (Duke University, North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill) and the Texas universities (the entire University of Texas system, Rice University and Texas A&M University), all of which have a longstanding tradition of high quality research and technology innovation.

Together, the Florida universities head the Florida High Tech Corridor Council,  an economic development initiative whose mission is to grow the state's high tech industry through research, marketing, workforce development and entrepreneurship. The Corridor’s partnership involves over 25 organizations, 14 state and community colleges and 12 workforce boards.

"It’s great to be recognized by the National Academy, which is well more than 100 universities." says Randy Berridge, Florida High Tech Corridor Council President. "The report reflects the strength in our 23-county corridor region."

The report was produced by the Tampa-based National Academy of Inventors and the Intellectual Property Owners Association and recognizes the role that patents play in university research, innovation, technology and eventually workforce enhancement. The goal is eventually to commercialize the patents, thus creating companies and jobs surrounding the success of the products or services.

Berridge attributes the success to the leadership within each university and the emphasis placed on the importance of high quality research. "It represents not only the university but the professors who are doing the heavy lifting in generating the technologies through their input and that of their top students," says Berridge.

USF was ranked 12 overall, with 95 patents granted – up from 83 in 2012.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Randy Berridge, Florida High Tech Corridor

USAA Expands To Brandon, Adds New Jobs In Hillsborough County

USAA broke ground recently on a new facility near the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway in Brandon. The facility will be a mirror image of its current operating center in New Tampa, with similar jobs and functions.

The growth is being driven by the company’s members -- military veterans and their families.

The company has been in Tampa for over 40 years, with its first operations beginning in the Westshore area. It has expanded since then to more than 2,500 employees in locations across Tampa.

"USAA as a whole is seeing growth everywhere," says Robert Hoyland, VP and general manager for USAA’s Tampa operations "We started as an insurance company and have expanded in the last 30 to 40 years to run the gamut of financial services."

In addition to insurance products, the company provides banking products, mutual funds, investments and financial planning.

As a result of the expansion, the company is hiring Member Contact Representatives, who will take incoming calls and reach out to members about products.

The new facility is scheduled to open in October, but hiring has already begun.

"Part of the expansion is to tap into the workforce here in Tampa," says Hoyland.  "We came here because we know there’s a great market for hiring financial services folks."

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Robert Hoyland, USAA

Crisis Center Asks Youth To 'Drop An F-Bomb' In New Campaign

In a new effort to curb human trafficking in the Tampa Bay region, teens are being asked to drop the f-bomb, the "f" standing for "friend."

The campaign is a grassroots effort led by the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay in partnership with the Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking (FCAHT) and Dunn&Co, a Tampa-based advertising agency that took on the project pro bono.

The tagline is designed to immediately grab the attention of teens through social media and events, asking them to stand up for friends touched by human trafficking to get them help. A website and a social media campaign (#fbomb211) list ways a pimp typically targets teens with warning signs such as a young girl dating an older man, buying things she can’t afford, or acting secretive, depressed or afraid. Friends of potential victims are encouraged to talk to their friend and seek help through a confidential call to 2-1-1.

The campaign will also include guerrilla marketing techniques such as hangers placed in dressing rooms of stores where teens frequently shop.

"If we can help to prevent one or more girls from being trafficked, then this campaign will have been a huge success," says Crisis Center CEO David Braughton.

According to the FBI, an estimated 200,000 people in the U.S. are trafficked each year, mostly young girls. The average age a girl enters into prostitution is 12.

Most of the girls entering into trafficking situations had friends at one time who might have noticed they were wearing nicer clothes or jewelry, or spending lots of time with an older man. The campaign is targeted at those friends who can make a difference early on, noting that the victims are often vulnerable and don’t realize what’s happening until it’s too late.

"If we can identify these issues early on and a friend can call, then we can do something about it," says Braughton.

The campaign is already catching on. Braughton’s high school daughter tried it out with stickers on her car, and has received questions about it.

The Crisis Center’s Women in Action group is funding the campaign, along with funds given to FCAHT Founder Anna Rodriguez from the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Community Hero award.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: David Braughton, Crisis Center of Tampa Bay

Urban Charrette, CNU Tampa Bay Host:'Urbanism On Tap 3.3: Youthpreneurs'

Tampa's Urban Charrette and the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) Tampa Bay will host Urbanism on Tap at the Pour House in the Channel District of downtown Tampa on July 8, 2014 starting at 5:30 p.m.

Urbanism on Tap is a recurring open mic event, focused on generating constructive conversations within the community about current ideas and trends that are shaping the city of Tampa.

Moderators and attendees are invited to share their views and stories related to the topic of the day. The intention of the event is to generate a lively exchange of ideas, which will enhance our ability to make Tampa a more livable city.

The upcoming event, the third in a three-part series, is entitled "Youthpreneurs.'' This last event of the series features Tampa's young entrepreneurs involved in startups, creative professions and small businesses. How do public or private interests support young professionals and small businesses? What do such professionals and businesses need to thrive? The event will focus on how these young professionals and small businesses may shape urban development in Tampa and revitalize the city's downtown, an urban trend that is sweeping the rest of the nation.

The events are free and open to the public.

Organizers encourage people to visit Urbanism on Tap's Facebook page and website to continue the conversation online following the event.

Venue: Pour House at Grand Central, Channel District, Tampa (1208 E Kennedy Blvd #112, Tampa, FL 33602);
Date and Time: July 8, 2014 from 5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Writer: Vinod Kadu
Source: Erin Chantry, CNU Tampa Bay; Ashly Anderson, Urban Charrette

Fitness Website Helps Users Find Their YES!

Fitness is the new craze. Everywhere you look you hear about someone running a race, reaching a fitness goal or buying the latest gadget to track their progress.
 
Lakeland-based Make YES! Happen is a hub for all things fitness, with the goal of making things easier and more accessible to both novice and advanced fitness buffs.  The site defines YES! as “that moment when aspiration and inspiration come to fruition in exuberant success.”  

The concept was developed in 2008 when CEO Kevin Transue (also known as Captain YES!) was a financial planner training for a half iron man triathlon in his spare time. The experience made him realize how fragmented the event and fitness industry is. He wanted to create a stadium concept of sorts, to help people stay motivated and support others with common interests.

"I want one location where I can see how many calories I’ve burned and how far I run," says Transue. "At the same time I want to connect with others who are like me."

The idea became reality in 2012 when Transue connected with co-founder Scott Parker to create the site, which is expected to officially launch toward the end of June.

The team hopes to help users find their YES! moment through education, guidance, mentoring, accountability, interaction and rewards.

Users will be able to connect their fitness devices such as Fit Bit or Run Keeper into one location to easily access statistics such as calories burned or run times. They will also connect with others with similar fitness interests for motivation and support. Through the event portal, they can find out which events their friends are participating in. Nonprofits that run fitness-related events will be able to use the fundraising platform to easily capture funds and attract runners. The coaching portal will allow fitness coaches to access information for their clients and make comments about their workouts.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Kevin Transue, Make Yes Happen

St. Petersburg College's Innovation Lab Offers Free Flow Of Ideas

A new lab at St. Petersburg College (SPC) offers an open, creative learning environment for all ages to play and discover.

The Innovation Lab is now open to the public and located in the Seminole Community Library at SPC. If you have an interest in computers, science or digital arts, you can share new ideas and develop new skills with equipment such as the FreeFab3D Monolith 3D Printer, which was built locally using other 3D printers. Or, discover your inner musician with the littleBits Synth Kit, which allows you to produce music and create your own instruments. Use the MaKey MaKey Original Invention Kit to turn an everyday object into a keyboard and connect it to the Internet.

"I think of it more as a collaborative learning incubator for ideas," says Chad Mairn, Information Services Librarian at SPC and the lab’s creator.

The original premise was to give people an open space where they can be uninhibited and have the freedom to fail, a key aspect of the creative process. With a recent trend in libraries becoming more than simply a source of books and growing into a hub for information, both physical and digital, it was a natural fit.

The lab’s equipment was funded by an Innovation Grant from the SPC Foundation. Knowing the importance of design, Mairn also wanted an environment that is conducive to creativity and innovation, so he approached SPC Provost Jim Oliver and obtained additional funding for interior design work.

Future plans include workshops and other business-oriented thinking in the lab. The main goal is to give people the resources to become successful.

"It’s an invitation to play," says Mairn.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Chad Mairn, St. Petersburg College

USF Encourages STEM Majors With Summer Academy

First-year students at the University of South Florida in Tampa will soon have a way to better integrate into STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) majors early in their studies through a new summer STEM Academy.

The Academy will be offered to incoming freshmen beginning in the summer of 2015. It aims to serve 480 students, who will break into groups of 24 and receive mentoring from seniors and graduate students as well as connect with peers who share their academic interests. They will be able to experience the disciplines first hand through lab exercises that provide a realistic picture of their first year in the courses.

The concept was developed by a team of faculty and administrators at USF who researched student records of incoming students across multiple majors. They learned that four of every 10 of the 1,500 – 1,800 students who enter USF and declares a STEM major each year ultimately graduates with that degree. Their research suggests that a high population of those students are not leaving college all together, but are changing majors. Possible causes for this may be students not feeling connected or engaged with the large cohort of peers in their major, or that the entry level curriculum isn’t what they expected.

 "This particular experience will not only help the students understand what they will experience walking into the university, but more importantly will allow them to truly connect with other students and peers who have been successful to really understand how they can have the greatest student success and also that it’s possible to build relationships with others within the university," says Richard Pollenz, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies and the Director of the Office for Undergraduate Research at USF and member of the team that developed the STEM Academy.

Students participating in the Academy will also have the opportunity to be a part of an innovative Living Learning Community, where they will live on the same floor of a campus residence hall and share experiences with their peers throughout their first year. The community is one of 12 similar concepts on USF campus, where students who share common interests live and study together.

The program recently received a five-year, $1.2 million grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute for the summer enrichment program, one of 37 research universities to receive the grant aimed at bolstering the nation’s STEM capabilities.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Richard Pollenz, USF

AT&T Wireless Growth Spurs Hiring In Florida, 40 Jobs In Tampa Bay

AT&T is expanding its employee base across the State of Florida, with nearly 640 total openings.

The growth is fueled by an expansion of mobile services and an enhanced focus on customer service being offered through the company’s new Project Velocity IP (VIP). Project VIP is a $14 billion plan to invest in and expand the company’s wireless and wireline IP broadband networks. The investment is a result of increased customer demand for high-speed Internet access, enhanced TV services and mobile cloud services.

"We’re growing our mobile devices, and what we’re doing in stores," says Karen McAllister, spokesperson for AT&T. The recently opened store of the future in Tampa is an example of the new interactive, customer-focused shopping experience. "Our job growth is really fueled by being able to ensure that our customers have a great experience."

Current openings in Tampa Bay include Principal Database Developer and Database Programmer. Retail Sales Consultants and Manager positions are also available. In all, the company is looking to hire 40 retail employees in the Tampa Bay market, with more than half being newly created jobs. Currently there are 860 employees in Tampa, Clearwater and St. Petersburg.

"We’re looking for people that are looking to grow with the company and are excited about the future of mobile," says McAllister.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Karen McAllister, AT&T Florida
 

The Beer Project Taps Into Arts, Crafts And Beer Scene

Downtown St. Petersburg turns into a mecca for beer and art lovers June 12-14.

The Beer Project is the merging of beer crafts and craft beer, showcasing the growing craft beer and arts industries in St. Petersburg.

The event is the first of its kind for St. Petersburg, presented by the Museum of Fine Arts in partnership with Green Bench Brewing, St. Petersburg's first craft microbrewery. It’s all about inspiration, bringing together artists, authors, venues, businesses and home brewers to enjoy beer inspired by art and art inspired by beer.

Green Bench Brewing Company will introduce new recipes inspired by the Museum’s collections. Double Rice IPA, brewed with a base of rice and Japanese hop called Sorachi Ace, was inspired by the Asian collection. The Agave Green Chili Blonde Ale will also be introduced, infused with lime peel known as Rubia Caliente and inspired by the Museum’s recently closed New Mexican piece.

"It will be exciting to see what their interpretation is on our collection. It’s a nice pairing of art and craft and business," says Mary Szaroleta, associate curator of public programming at the Museum of Fine Arts.

Authors Shawn Bowman of Portland and Gerard Walen will be on hand to sign copies of their books. Bowman’s wearable jewelry, birdhouse and sculptures using beer can and bottle parts will inspire new ways to use resources. Walen’s book, Florida Breweries, lists some of the best places to find beer in the State of Florida.

Participants will taste home brewed beer and vote for their favorite from over 40 local home brews at a competition sanctioned by the American Home Brewers Association.

An art walk turned beer trail will drive beer lovers into the downtown arts districts, where seven arts venues will offer tastings.

"We’re trying to engage people who don’t normally go into the galleries to see what is downtown and to also taste local brewing companies’ beers," says Szaroleta.

Other event partners include: Cigar City Brewing, Brew Bus Tampa Bay, CD Roma Restaurant and Avid Brewing and Growing Supplies.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Mary Szaroleta, Museum of Fine Arts

Florida Designer Selected To Attend National Summit

Missy Palasol loves to design: "I live it, I breathe it, I eat it."

Her portfolio includes boutique, high-end restaurants and shops to old warehouses converted into tenant spaces. She has worked in a diverse set of industries, from hospitality to medical.

Her diverse experience and passion for the work led her to be selected as one of 12 designers in the nation to participate in Cambria’s third annual Style Maker’s Summit in Minneapolis, MN.

The Summit brought together some of the most influential designers in the nation along with local Cambria representatives for an exclusive, behind the scenes experience with the latest of the company’s products. The designers met with the development team and provided opinions on what’s trending and the company’s direction. The group also learned about company operations. "It was quite something," says Palasol.

Palasol began her career in Philadelphia in 1997, receiving training in architecture and interior design. She now resides in the Orlando area, working as an Interior Design Associate at Baker Barrios, an architecture and interior design firm. She was recently promoted to Associate and hopes to continue to grow with the company, helping to make it even broader and more diverse.

"It’s an exciting time," notes Palasol. "It’s great to see the economy finally turning around. You can tell by how much work is coming in and who is hiring."

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Missy Palasol, Baker Barrios

Young Chinese Artists Make U.S. Debut At 2 Tampa Bay Area Art Museums

An unprecedented look inside modern Chinese art of will be on display this summer in Tampa and St. Petersburg through a pioneering exhibit featuring 27 emerging artists from China.

"My Generation: Young Chinese Artists'' features work shown for the first time outside of China. The exhibit opens to the public at both the Tampa Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Pete on Saturday, June 7th. The exhibit also features a series of related lectures and performances, such as an exploration of the history of "Red Rock'' -- the Chinese rock scene and corresponding concert, another first to the Tampa Bay region.

Hand-picked and curated by Author Barbara Pollack, one of America's foremost authorities on Chinese art, the young artists have almost all grown up under their nation's one-child policy and tend toward subtlety where politics are concerned. Yet they express issues of alienation, self-definition, cynicism and rebellion though their work in variety of media. The environment, reaction to massive urban areas, the paradoxical market economy, the personal side of growing up as only children and the pressure for marriage and family despite sexual orientation are backdrop themes to much of the work.

The exhibit will ''introduce us to parts of Chinese culture that we know nothing about and I think people will be really surprised,'' says David Connelly, an MFA spokesperson.

"This exhibition represents a milestone in the life of this institution, and our partnership with the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg is an important step forward for the nature of regional partnerships,'' says Todd Smith, Executive Director of the Tampa Museum of Art, who originated the project and recently resigned to pursue another museum opportunity in California.

The collaboration between the two museums is an innovative approach that allows more art to be shown. For example, one of the more acclaimed artists in the show, Sun Xun, is creating a large installation specifically for the MFA, utilizing animation and drawings, which will take up an entire gallery.
 
At the same time, the concurrent approach cross-pollinates the region's art lovers. The museums are offering a $20 discounted combination ticket so that visitors can enjoy the full experience.

"We are hoping that with the outstanding innovative work in the show,'' museum patrons and art lovers will cross Tampa Bay to see both exhibits, says Connelly.
 
"My Generation: Young Chinese Artists,'' will be on view June 7 through Sept. 21, 2014. The exhibit will then travel to the Oklahoma City Museum of Art for display later this year.

Writer: Kendra Langlie
Sources: David Connelly, Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg
 

Google For Entrepreneurs Powers Startup Weekend Tampa Bay 2014

What makes Tampa's upcoming Startup Weekend distinctive? 

For one, Google for Entrepreneurs is backing the event. And new in 2014, the weekend will expand to include Youth and Maker events along with the core startup-driven competition.

Three years ago, Startup Weekend formed in Tampa as part of an international movement in more than 200 cities around the world. At the weekend-long, volunteer-led event, anyone is welcome to pitch an idea for a startup business. For the next 54 hours, teams form, vote for the top ideas, and dive in to all aspects of developing a fresh new product -- from coding to marketing to creating a working prototype. There are winners, and sometimes real-world businesses form as a result.

The winner of the third Startup Weekend Tampa Bay developed his proposal from a pain point he'd encountered upon arrival to the event. Seeking a more interactive, real-time way to engage with other attendees, Todd Goldberg pitched the product that would go on to win Tampa's 2012 Startup Weekend -- EXMO, now Eventjoy. The business, which provides fee free ticketing and organization for events, is now a Y-combinator backed Tampa Bay success story.

Wazinit, an app to help consumers identify food ingredients and allergens, has achieved notoriety of its own since winning Startup Weekend Tampa Bay 2013. The beta-stage mobile application gained a place in Tampa Bay WaVE's First WaVE accelerator program, garnered almost $1,000 at crowd-sourcing festival OneSpark in Feb. 2014, and took a second place finish as a Top Tech creator at the event.

A similar standout startup could evolve from this July's Startup Weekend Tampa Bay. Don't consider yourself an expert, or even an experienced, techie? Co-organizer Michael LaPlante says that diversity amongst attendees will be a focus in 2014. Traditionally, the event caters to a tech-savvy crowd who already know about coding or creating a product.
 
"This year, we are really trying to target a different demographic and go outside of just technology,'' LaPlante explains. "We want all entrepreneurs to feel welcome to come pitch their ideas and have a life-changing experience.''

"You will be able to contribute, no matter what, if you participate,'' he says.

A weeklong event "focused around bringing the community and all the events together into a culmination of 'awesomeness' '' is also on the radar, LaPlante teases. This Startup Week concept is set to roll out in six core cities, including Tampa, according to Startup Weekend founder Andrew Hyde.
 
Startup Weekend Tampa Bay 2014 will take place July 25-27 at the Hillsborough Community College Dale Mabry Campus. To register or volunteer, visit the Startup Weekend Tampa Bay 2014 website.

Writer: Justine Benstead
Source: Michael LaPlante, Startup Weekend Tampa Bay
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