Incubators grow with demand
Organizations that support start-up business reinvented
|Published Tuesday, November 13, 2012 7:00 am|
New organizations that nurture start-up businesses are in the works for South Florida, and they're reinventing the traditional "incubator" concept to meet the changing needs of today's entrepreneurs.
Jane Teague, who ran Florida Atlantic University's incubator in Boca Raton for 10 years, said entrepreneurial programs and incubators have to be updated with the kinds of businesses being developed. Entrepreneurs who are working on mobile apps, for example, don't need the same kind of office space as software makers, she said.
Incubators may offer lower-cost or free rent, flexible commitments, shared space, high-profile networking and small-business expertise, as well as resources for off-site entrepreneurs.
The interaction between those starting businesses and more experienced business owners andexperts holds the most value, entrepreneurship experts say.
"We have a far greater demand. Entrepreneurs are anxious to have us help them and would love to be close to the enthusiasm and activity," said Robert Strandberg, chief executive of Enterprise Development Corp., a technology incubator at FAU in Boca Raton.
Strandberg is working to open new incubators with Broward College in Fort Lauderdale and with a private group in Coral Springs. In Miami, a successful university program is opening a new downtown incubator that ties economic goals to technological innovation.
EDC also is doubling space for start-ups at the Research Park at FAU, offering co-shared space where entrepreneurs can use a desk or conference room as needed, but don't have to commit to a lease.
The ultimate goal of South Florida's new entrepreneurial efforts is to create jobs. Strandberg points to about 18 companies at EDC that are on track to create about 100 jobs.
"These companies start with a small group of founders. Then they have to hire two or four others. If they get financing traction, then four becomes six, seven or eight," he said.
Broward College hopes to help the community create jobs and provide some for its students through a new incubator it plans to open by year-end. The college acquired a building behind Citrix Systems, off Cypress Creek Road, in Fort Lauderdale. It will house eight to 12 start-up businesses, said Norm Seavers, associate vice president for the Institute for Economic Development at Broward College.
"Our plan is to allow the businesses to be in the incubator up to 24
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