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USF Researchers Discover Potential New Therapy For Psychological Disorders

Researchers at USF Health may have found a more viable treatment for patients with neuropsychiatric illnesses, such as bipolar disorder.

Currently, FDA-approved lithium carbonate is one of the oldest and most widely used drugs to treat these illnesses. The drug, however, comes with a major drawback -- toxicity. There are alternatives on the market, but none have the same efficacy without the side effects, which include hand tremors, vomiting, diarrhea, weight gain and thyroid problems.

A team of researchers at the University of South Florida recently discovered a previously untested lithium salicylate (an alternative salt form) while working on a collaborative endeavor with a chemistry professor. The group used crystal engineering techniques to change the component of the new solid forms of lithium and published a salicylate containing co-crystal. This prompted researcher Adam Smith to wonder what other lithium salts could do.

The downside to current lithium therapy is that it’s eliminated very rapidly from the body. Therefore, patients have to take it once or twice daily to achieve optimum absorption levels, leading to potential toxicity. The new therapy has the potential to stay in the body for up to 48 hours, leading to a decrease in the number of pills taken. By modifying the dosing regiment, researchers hope to improve patient compliance and reduce the potential for side effects.

"We hope that these findings lead to a more effective lithium therapy,"says Adam Smith, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow at the Center of Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair at USF Health.

Animals trials have shown promise thus far. Next steps are to conduct additional animal trials that more closely mimic reality with multiple doses and then begin human trials.  

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Adam Smith, PhD., USF Health

Stonegate Mortgage Expands in Pinellas, Adds Jobs

Stonegate Mortgage Corporation, a publicly traded mortgage company that finances and services residential mortgages, plans to expand its Pinellas County operations to the Cardinal Point area in St. Petersburg. The move will mean the addition of 139 new employees by 2016.

The business climate and quality of workforce in Pinellas are part of what fueled the company's expansion. Previous successful hiring at their existing location was a big part of their decision to stay and expand here. Stonegate will also receive a Qualified Target Industry Tax Refund from the State of Florida and Pinellas County, which provides a rebate of up to $5,000 for each new job created and verified.

The expanded offices will be part of the company’s headquarters and back office operations for the company. The new positions are expected to pay over $47,500 (115 percent of the State of Florida’s average annual wage) and focus on underwriting, clerical, legal and other administrative functions.

"We have a strong financial services sector throughout the Tampa Bay area, which is why they chose to expand here," says Mike Meidel, Director of Pinellas County Economic Development. "The quality of life [in Tampa Bay] makes it easy to attract people from elsewhere in the country, but they should find everything they need here in the local labor force."

The capital investment for the new space is estimated at $920,000. Projected salaries could mean an economic impact of $10.5 million on the local community, resulting in more money spent locally.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Mike Meidel, Pinellas County Economic Development

Social Mobile Conference Embraces Branding In New Economy

As consumers move beyond traditional ways of finding information, purchase decisions are made based on sharing, comparing and rating experiences using social media. Real-time information through a mobile device is becoming an expectation. In light of this, brands are continuously looking for new and meaningful ways to connect with customers.

The Social Mobile Engagement Conference & Code Challenge, September 4-5, 2014 at the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel and Marina, is designed to be an outlet for this kind of information while highlighting local talent and organizations to senior tech leaders from across the nation.  

The event is an expansion of the Social Mobile Payments Conference, which took place twice since 2011 and focused on social media and mobile commerce. After the last event in 2013, organizer Bruce Burke started looking at the thought process leading up to the transaction of buying a good or service. By focusing on just the payment aspect he felt he was missing part of the story. By widening the scope and audience, Burks hopes to appeal to an even broader audience that is interested in learning more about the customer journey, including the user and social experience. "Engagement starts when the product is first discovered by the consumer," says Burke.

Burke’s company, Gulf Bay Consulting, is organizing the event but his motivation behind it is a sense of purpose and wanting to see the Tampa Bay community help create the next big thing.

The first day will consist of workshops on topics such as user experience, social communities, mobile engagement, big data and gamification. The second day will be a code challenge, sponsored in part by the Hillsborough County Economic Development Innovative Initiative (EDI2). Coders will hack, explore and create. The afternoon will be open to the public, where people can vote for and cheer on their favorite teams and coders.

Abstracts are being accepted until March 28 for individuals and companies interested in presenting at the event.  

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Bruce Burke, Gulf Bay Consulting

Hillsborough County Grants More Than $200K To Local Tech Events

Hillsborough County has awarded $230,000 in funding to 31 local applicants through its flagship tech-centric program, the Economic Development Innovation Initiative (EDI2).

The EDI2 program is the first of its kind of Florida. Established in June 2013, the program aims to bring innovation, job creation, technology and new business to the Tampa Bay region. In an effort to lead this movement, the Hillsborough County Economic Development department set aside $2 million in funding to award to events and programs that are centered around technology and innovation. Led by County Commissioner Mark Sharpe, EDI2 awarded $307,000 to applicants in the first round of funding in fall 2013.

Some of the latest round of funding will go toward programs and events already well-established within the Tampa Bay community, such as Startup Weekend Tampa Bay 2014 in March, monthly StartupGrind events, and the Moffitt Cancer Center's Business of BioTech 2014.

The bulk of the funding was awarded to one-off conferences like Gulf Bay Consulting's Social Media Engagement event in September 2014, which received $12,375. Girls in Tech Tampa Bay, meanwhile, was awarded $12,500 for outreach and an event in December 2014, and TiE Tampa Bay's TiE Breaker III 2014, which took place in January, received $19,000. The University of Tampa's Entrepreneurs Student Organization was awarded $14,500 for its Southeast Entrepreneurial Conference in February 2014.

Other funded programs include the Computer Mentors Group, Inc., which was awarded $25,000 for the 2014 STEM Education Showcase Tampa, and Nuturism Media Group, Inc., awarded $25,000 for Running Lean Bootcamp. Both are in May 2014.

To view a full listing of funded projects and applications, visit the Hillsborough County website.

Events and programs must meet several stages of criteria before they are awarded funding, including the ability to measure event metrics and a way to clearly identify the economic development impact of each project.

EDI2 is "focused on building a vibrant and sustainable startup community and is centered on the use of technology and innovation,'' according to a news release from Hillsborough County.

Hillsborough County is currently accepting applications for its third cycle of EDI2 funding. Applications and additional information can be found at the EDI2 website. The deadline to apply for the third round of EDI2 funding is April 1, 2013.

Writer: Justine Benstead
Source: Annette Spina, Hillsborough County

USF Student Entrepreneurs Gain Real-World Experience By Helping NonProfit

The student chapter of Enactus at the University of South Florida recently partnered with a Tampa-based nonprofit to advance their motto: "Entrepreneurs in Action for the Greater Good."

Enactus is a global organization of student, academic and business leaders with 1,600 student chapters at universities across the world. The group’s goal is to use entrepreneurial skills to create sustainable communities by helping those in need develop their skills.

The student chapter at the University of South Florida (USF) is meeting this goal by identifying problems in the Tampa Bay community and working toward solving them in a way that empowers people. Knowing that homelessness is a major issue locally, the students selected New Beginnings of Tampa as their most recent project.

New Beginnings is a nonprofit organization in Tampa that provides transitional housing, counseling and job training services to rehabilitate the homeless.  

The team of 10 students targeted four areas where they could make the most impact based on their skills sets. First, they organized a charity golf tournament to help engage former clients and others who want to help the organization in a meaningful way. The event not only brought in $6,000 but will also serve as a template for the organization to continue on a yearly basis.

Second, they partnered with Hillsborough County Public Utilities to install low-flow shower heads and sink aerators, saving $12,000 in the first year alone.  

Next, they updated the organization’s website and social media plan and trained their employees so they could continue these initiatives.

Finally, they outfitted New Beginnings’ clients with professional suits to wear for job interviews using surplus suits from Enactus’ Suit-a-Bull program, which rents suits to USF students for career fairs and job interviews.

The student team not only helped the community, but gained valuable skills from the experience as well, particularly in the areas of motivation, problem solving and teamwork.

"We worked as a unit to get it done," says Sarah Schmidt, Management Information Systems major at USF and project leader. "I think everyone has come out of this project a lot more professional and realistic when it comes to expectations in the business world."

The team plans to enter the project in a national Enactus competition in April.

"It’s been a really awesome experience," says Schmidt. "You get out of it what you put into it."

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Sarah Schmidt, Enactus

Tampa Entrepreneurs Create Innovative Solution To Noise Disturbance

Three entrepreneurs in Tampa have created the solution for noise disturbance for both commercial businesses and residents with a product that goes beyond absorbing noise to keep the noise from entering in the first place.

Founded in 2013, Residential Acoustics’ signature product is the AcoustiCurtain, a soundproof curtain designed to make life quieter for urban businesses and residents.

The inspiration for the product came from partner Walker Peek’s personal experience. Living near the Selmon Expressway, Peek experienced a lot of noise outside his residence from airplanes, construction, traffic and other things. Peek discussed his frustrations with business partners Dylan McCandless and Zach Levine, and the team constructed a curtain to help reduce the noise. The product worked so well, they decided to mass produce. A company in Odessa now manages the production process, and the team works from home on the marketing and sales, when not involved with their fulltime jobs.

The curtain is made out of a mass loaded vinyl material in between two pieces of cloth, giving it sound blocking characteristics. Supported by grommets at the top, it is also visually appealing and available in a variety of patterns and colors. The curtains are customized to exact dimensions to provide the best coverage for the space needed. They can be retracted to let in light, sound and air if desired. They are currently being sold in Los Angeles, New York and Chicago.

The company just started utilizing the mentoring services provided by the Tampa Bay Technology Incubator for assistance with marketing, sales and legal advice.

They plan to remain in the Tampa Bay region in the long term. "There is a big need for new companies where you can have employees that are local," says McCandless. "Lots of manufacturing happens here. We’re excited to bring more to the area."

The company plans to expand the product line and partner with large retail outlets in the near future.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Dylan McCandless, Residential Acoustics

New Partnership Makes Digital Signage More Accessible, User-Friendly

Wondersign and IAdea recently announced a partnership that will enhance the flexibility and user-friendliness of the digital signage world.

Wondersign is a cloud-based content delivery system for digital signage. Customers purchase the signage hardware for restaurants, stores or other areas and use Wondersign’s product to manage the content design and development. The drag and drop interface works with any web browser and doesn’t require advanced technical knowledge. Based out of Switzerland, Wondersign runs its North American operations from its Tampa office.

Taiwan-based IAdea provides media players and sign boards to power large-scale, commercial grade digital signage projects. The partnership offers customers a way to manage their devices out of the box, simplifying their deployment and operation.

"The fact that [IAdea] has identified a cloud-based software-as-a-service like Wondersign as a strategic partner for the future shows where the industry is going,” says Casper Fopp, director of marketing and public relations for Wondersign.

The partnership is particularly useful for small- to medium-sized businesses that may be new to the world of digital signage and overwhelmed with the prospect of managing multiple signage locations. The cloud-based nature of the software is attractive to businesses that have different locations and are not able to have a physical presence everywhere their signage is placed.

"The partnership helps a lot of people get into the digital signage world with easier access," says Alvin Kuo, senior sales manager for IAdea.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Sources: Casper Fopp, Wondersign; Alvin Luo, IAdea

Brickmania Brings STEM, LEGO Together In Tampa Bay

A family-friendly event with a focus on building blocks and building bonds is coming to Tampa Bay on March 22, 2014. Brickmania, a STEM education program founded in South Florida, will take place at 2 p.m. on the Carrollwood Day School campus.

Open to all families with students in kindergarten -- eighth grades, Brickmania will feature STEM-centric exhibits, interactive activities, and a LEGO contest.

Brickmania Founder Jennifer Weinman describes the event as "an opportunity for Bay Area students to try out their communication skills and build bonds within our community.''

Through interactive "Brick and Mortar'' STEM-centered activities, kids will be expected to mingle with other students in a fun-filled environment.

"Each year, students can go through an anxious transition time as they enter new situations. Much of this stress and anxiety is caused by unknown social concerns of 'Will I know anyone, and will I fit in?' '' Weinman explains.

She notes that "building bonds'' is an important theme.

"Most STEM careers require team collaboration, where good communication skills are a must. We are giving students a chance to practice this skill in a fun, safe environment,'' says Weinman. "They will build their confidence.''

The event aims to help students learn more about STEM education and careers as they get to know each other. Professors and other professionals will be available to talk with kids about their work in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.

Event exhibitors already lined up include Microsoft, Syndaver, USF College of Engineering, and USF College of Marine Science. USF professor Dr. Yu Sun and his students from the USF Robotic Perception Action Lab will be exhibiting their "On-Body'' Learning System, a projection game for students to learn about basic anatomy.

"The projection images will move and turn with the student's moving body, creating fun spatial 3D learning,'' says Weinman.

The display highlights anatomy and healthcare careers, "but also promotes engineering ideas that are used in game and medical equipment development,'' she explains.

The day's flagship event will be the LEGO contest.

"Students have amazing imaginations, and the Brickmania LEGO contest is all about imagination,'' says Weinman.

Contestants will be asked to create their entries at home using LEGO blocks and bring them in the day of the event for judging. LEGO creations should be a student’s original design. 

Contest divisions and themes in 2014 include: "How Does Your Garden Grow'' for grades K-2; "Florida'' for grades 3-5; and “The Ultimate Theme Park” for grades 6-8.

To reserve a space in the LEGO contest, forms and fees are due by Tuesday, March 18th, 2014. Forms may be submitted online, mailed, or dropped off in person at Carrollwood Day School. Questions? Email Event Chair Jennifer Weinman.

Brickmania will donate a portion of its proceeds to USF Center for Autism and Related Disabilities, a local comprehensive outreach and support program.

Writer: Justine Benstead
Source: Jennifer Weinman, Brickmania

Sarasota Mobile Healthcare App Voalte Receives $36 Million In Funding

Voalte, a Sarasota-based leader in healthcare communication technology, has announced $36 million in Series C funding, led by private equity firm Bedford Funding.

Healthcare communication technology in your hands, or mHealth, will only become a bigger market in coming years, predicts Voalte founder and President Trey Lauderdale.

"The mobile health industry is poised to grow to 10.2 billion by 2018, according to some reports. We believe that the industry will be as large as the electronic medical record (EMR) industry within five years,'' Lauderdale says.

The company, which launched as a startup at HIMSS in 2009, aims to simplify healthcare communication.

Voalte One, the company's primary mobile solution, is a shared smartphone alternative that offers tailored voice calls, alarm and alert notification, and text messaging on one device. It is also HIPAA-compliant. The Voalte Me application allows caregivers outside of the hospital to connect with Voalte One users inside.

"Voalte applications help connect caregivers both inside and outside the hospital, and integrate with other hospital technologies to maximize workflow efficiency,'' Lauderdale says. "The two apps facilitate seamless communication between caregivers and improve care coordination.''

Voalte's applications are used in over 100 leading healthcare facilities like Massachusetts General Hospital, Sarasota Memorial Health Care System, and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Smartphone use at the point of care is a growing trend.

"There is an increasing demand for smartphones in healthcare due to the functionality of smartphones compared to legacy devices or pagers. Voalte is the only company in the industry to provide a fully integrated mobile communication strategy,'' Lauderdale explains.

He notes that the investment funds will provide Voalte with "the resources to grow the company, further expand our engineering team, and build out our services and support department.''

The company currently has 130 employees.

"Voalte nearly tripled in size in 2013, and expects significant growth in 2014,'' Lauderdale says.
Writer: Justine Benstead
Source: Trey Lauderdale, founder and President of Voalte

Webber Kerr Associates, Junior Achievement Partner To Guide Next Gen Business Leaders

A new partnership utilizes the knowledge and experience of a Tampa-based business to guide and educate local youth.

Webber Kerr Associates, an executive search and consulting firm based in Hyde Park, is partnering with Junior Achievement to provide financial support, mentoring and guidance.

Webber Kerr wanted to select a charitable organization to donate a percentage of search fees for every contract signed during 2014.

"Discussions kept coming back to children, education and preparing the next generation of leadership," says Emily Wagner, managing director for Webber Kerr.

The employees were particularly impressed with Junior Achievement’s mission, which is helping youth achieve skills in entrepreneurship, economics and financial literacy through real-world experience with business leaders.

In addition to the financial support, the company wanted to have a physical connection with the charity. They are allowing their employees paid volunteer time to participate in speaking engagements, mentoring programs as well as the Pam & Les Muma JA BIZTOWN, a mini city that contains up to 23 fictitious businesses to allow youth to experience economics in a real life setting. Students receive "jobs" such as accountant, retail sales representative and banker, and there’s even a city mayor.

A native resident of Dunedin and University of South Florida graduate, Wagner participated in BIZTOWN herself while in fifth grade. "I remember exactly what job I had and what a good experience it was." The experience left such a good impression, she wanted her company to play a major role in giving back to today’s youth in the same way.

"We have to be focused on children, their education and growing their careers, giving whatever we can, whether it be monetarily, guidance or mentorship" says Wagner, speaking about the business community in Tampa Bay. "The economic health of the entire area depends on it."

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Emily Wagner, Webber Kerr Associates

USF, Hillsborough County Recognized For Excellence In Teacher Education

The Association of Teacher Educators, a national organization that focuses on high quality teacher preparation, recently recognized education partners in Tampa Bay for their role in preparing teachers to educate the next generation.

The 2014 Distinguished Program in Teacher Education award was given to the innovative partnership between the University of South Florida (USF) Department of Childhood Education and Literacy Studies and Hillsborough County Public Schools.

The award criteria included: collaborative development, research-based principles, data-based decision making and demonstrative positive impact on students.

"Today, high quality teacher education requires intense collaboration with school-based partners," says Diane Yendol-Hoppey, Ph.D., chair of childhood education/literacy studies at the USF College of Education.

The strong partnership is the pinnacle of USF’s success, allowing teachers coming out of the program to receive many hands-on hours in the field and make instructional decisions specific to individual student needs.

The program is unique in that students work directly in classrooms throughout their studies rather than a traditional internship during the last semester. Rather than designing coursework based on theoretical ideas, the program links research-based practice with student learning. These initiatives help provide conclusive data about the positive impact on students.

Another unique aspect is the Partnership Resource Teachers -- Hillsborough County public school teachers on leave who work at USF. These shared positions, funded jointly by USF and the school district, help create strong curriculum links between the university and the field. Every USF faculty member also spends at least one day per week in the field, understanding the challenges the teachers face.

USF’s elementary education degree has 450 students within its two distinct programs: the Urban Teacher Residency Partnership Program and the Elementary Cohort Program. 80 percent of graduates teach in Hillsborough County after graduation, making it an important pipeline for talent.  

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Diane Yendol-Hoppey, USF

Georgia Natural Gas Provider Enters Florida Market

Businesses owners in the Tampa Bay region have a new option for powering their establishments: Gas South is going to start offering services here and other cities in Florida.

Atlanta-based natural gas provider Gas South announced in January that it is expanding, and Hillsborough and Pinellas counties are a key target market. The growing company will also serve Miami, Orlando, Fort Myers and Jacksonville.

Gas South was established in Georgia in 2006, and its customer base has grown to 265,000, says Florida Market Manager Nicholas Glover of Tampa. The company decided to move southward after looking at the business climate in Florida and assessing that the state has the same type of industries that use the service in Georgia.

Glover says Florida's deregulation of the natural gas industry in 2000 also opened the way for Gas South to enter the state.

Gas South provides natural gas to small, medium and large businesses, government agencies and compressed natural gas stations. Establishments can use natural gas to generate electricity. Clients include places like dry cleaners and restaurants. Gas South is only offering its natural gas services to commercial customers and government clients.

While it faces competition, Glover points to a couple assets that he believes could make Gas South a preferred choice for clients.

"We are synonymous with whatever market we're in … because of how involved we are with the community,'' he says, pointing to support for nonprofits and other charitable organizations. The company participates in community service through its Gas South Cares program.

He also touts the company's customer service as one of its biggest selling factors.

Writer: Alex Tiegen
Source: Nicholas Glover, Gas South

New South Biolabs Plants In Bradenton, 52 New Jobs

New South Biolabs has established a new sales and distribution center in Bradenton to market and sell environmentally safe ZeroMold anti-microbial products made by Biosenta, Inc. The development will create 52 new logistics, marketing and sales jobs over the next five years with average salaries at 50 percent higher than the local average area wage of $35,633.

The successful establishment of New South’s distribution center in South Manatee County is a result of the Bradenton Area Economic Development Council’s global economic development initiatives and long-term commitment to business collaboration.

"Two years in the making, this is the first international project directly resulting from the EDC’s outreach initiative that began in 2011 through a grant provided by Manatee County Government. Our initial conversations in Toronto with New South Biolab’s president placed the Bradenton area on the company’s radar as it was identifying a location for marketing Biosenta products," says Sharon Hillstrom, president and CEO of the Bradenton Area EDC.

New South is a newly formed company that recently entered a distribution agreement with Canadian firm Biosentia to market, sell, and distribute a new line of anti-microbal products from the ZeroMold brand. The products will be targeted to and sold in the Southern US, Caribbean Basin and South America.

Manatee Board of County Commissioners
approved New South to receive up to $104,000 in performance-based incentives for the new jobs that it will create.

New South’s distribution center additionally qualified for Manatee County’s rapid response permitting program which streamlines and expedites the process of obtaining the necessary permitting to bring the full project and facility to market.

"The Bradenton area offered a number of attributes that attracted us. We need a warm climate to help protect the product from damage; the cost of doing business was attractive; and we value proximity to Port Manatee for future distribution," says New South President Bill Connor.

The company's new facility features 15,000 square feet of operational space and the addition of a full science lab at the Parkland Center in South Manatee County.

New South’s 2014 focus includes hiring and training new staff, regulatory approvals, and logistics management.

Biosenta is also sourcing local companies to produce the liquid product nearby.

Visit the Bradenton Area EDC's website for more information.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Sources: Bill Connor, New South Biolabs; Sharon Hillstrom, Bradenton Area EDC

PLS Logistics Services Expands To Tampa, 120 New Jobs

Leading third-party logistics solutions and freight brokerage services firm PLS Logistics Services is expanding significantly in 2014, opening a new office in Tampa and creating 120 new sales jobs with a base salary of $35,000 over the next three years.

"PLS is excited to announce the opening of our new Tampa sales office. We will be able to better serve our growing client base in the greater Tampa area and also capitalize on the population of young, talented professionals this region provides," says PLS VP Bob Janeda.

Founded in 1991, the Pennsylvania-based company was ranked among Transport Topics’ Top 25 Freight Brokerage firms. PLS uses proprietary web-based transportation management system PLS PRO to cater to the mobility needs of its customers.

With significant capital investments being planned in the Tampa Bay market, the new sales jobs will largely focus on further growing the company’s client base in the greater Tampa Bay region as well as nurturing new and existing customers to ensure logistics success.

"PLS feels that Tampa Bay has a strong workforce and is a growing community with critical mass. We appreciate the business-friendly regulatory and government environment of Florida and Tampa," says Janeda.

After experiencing substantial success in core Midwestern markets serving industrial companies, PLS made moves to enlarge its territory to serve shippers of all shapes, sizes and industries and expand services beyond its Midwestern reach.

The company recently opened new offices in Pittsburgh, Houston and Jacksonville.

"Our successful expansion into Jacksonville was a key driver in the desire to expand in Tampa," says Janeda.

Atop the company’s must-have list during the site-selection process was proximity to area universities as well as downtown areas that provide entertainment and cultural options for their employees.

The company’s determination and commitment to their customers drive a rich corporate culture of innovation, collaboration, growth and reward.

"To be successful, it takes a hungry, aggressive person who is willing to put in the time to learn and grow. Because of the nature of the job, it is imperative that our management team create a fun, yet competitive environment," says Janeda.

To find out about career opportunities, visit PLS online.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: Bob Janeda, PLS Logistics Services

University Of Tampa Receives National Recognition For Excellence In Entrepreneurship

The University of Tampa (UT) Entrepreneurship Center adds to its list of accolades the Outstanding Emerging Entrepreneurship Program Award from the U.S. Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

The award is given annually to recognize programs that have been in existence for three years or less or have undergone a major revision during the same time period. Programs are judged on: innovation, quality, potential viability, comprehensiveness, depth of support, sustainability and impact. The top four schools were invited to present before a set of judges at a national program in Texas in January.

UT’s program, which boasts 250 undergraduate and graduate students, has undergone a transformation recently from a focus on family businesses to a more comprehensive emphasis on the entrepreneurial mindset, appealing even to students who aren’t interested in starting their own business.

"We focus on building intellectual capital," says Rebeca White, director of the Entrepreneurship Center and professor of entrepreneurship at UT. "We certainly want to have businesses come out of the program, but the real focus is on building entrepreneurs."

White feels that strong support from the university is key to UT’s winning the award, noting that the university wants to be known for entrepreneurship. "We have a lot of great momentum," says White. "We were able to prove our ability to do what we say we’re going to do."

One example of this support is the creation of an entire floor of dedicated space for the center in a new building set to be completed by Spring 2015. The space will bring together students, educators and experienced executives to develop entrepreneurial concepts and launch new ideas. UT also plans to take the concept across campus and provide programming for students outside of the business college, including nursing, art or theater majors who want to be more engaged in an entrepreneurial mindset.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Rebecca White, The University of Tampa Entrepreneurship Center
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