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Tampa Bay WaVE Announces New FirstWaVE Venture Center Location and Expanded Services
By: Tampa Bay WaVE, Inc.
FirstWaVE provides a variety of services to early stage tech companies throughout the eight-county Tampa Bay region to help them build successful, job-creating companies for the area. Services provided include flexible office and co-working space for entrepreneurs, techies and creatives. FirstWaVE also provides educational workshops and networking events, and it hosts several partner events throughout the year such as hackathons, startup weekends, meetups for developers and more. Finally, FirstWaVE also provides a tech business accelerator program to connect vetted startups with mentors, investors, talent, and other key resources.
Tampa Bay WaVE launched FirstWaVE in March 2013, thanks to the 2012 i6 Challenge Grant, awarded to a collaborative regional partnership that included the University of South Florida (USF) and Tampa Bay WaVE, along with a network of universities, local businesses, nonprofits and public sector partners. FirstWaVE has been incredibly successful in connecting high-growth startups with mentorship, early stage capital and other critical resources to foster an innovation-driven economy for the region and has closed many of the largest ecosystem gaps. To date, the FirstWaVE Venture Center has supported over 90 local startups who collectively have created and retained over 350 jobs, making it one of the critical economic drivers for the region.
In April 2015, the University of South Florida and Tampa Bay WaVE partnership was awarded a second federal i6 Challenge grant to support the expansion of FirstWaVE. Thanks to this new grant, Tampa Bay WaVE will expand the FirstWaVE Venture Center in two critical ways. First, FirstWaVE will expand its capacity for accelerating the connections of tech startups to seed and early stage capital, thus closing the funding gap for these high-growth potential companies. Second, FirstWaVE will also create targeted industry and demographic verticals on top of its existing programming by combining the strengths of its current venture development program with nationally recognized industry thought leaders and relevant sources of capital in the region and beyond.
The new location was made possible by a partnership between Tampa Bay WaVE and local attorney and businessman, Rich McIntyre, a partner at McIntyre Thanasides law firm. McIntyre purchased the 500 E Kennedy Boulevard building in May 2015.
“We’re thrilled to announce the expansion of our FirstWaVE program so that we can provide even more critical support to local startups, address more gaps in our local ecosystem and foster a culture of innovation throughout the region,” says Linda Olson, President of Tampa Bay WaVE. “Plus, we are excited to know that we have a community-minded landlord who shares our vision of a booming entrepreneurial ecosystem for Tampa Bay.”
“The Tampa Bay WaVE is a fantastic organization. We are very fortunate and excited to share our building with them.” says Rich McIntyre.
A few of the most successful local tech startups who have been supported by FirstWaVE include eStaff365 (aquired by erecruit in October 2014), KiteDesk, SavvyCard, MamaBear App, and Marbel. The former four companies are focused on web-based applications. The latter, Marbel, produces a high-tech, motorized skateboard and recently raised over $365,000 through a recent Kickstarter campaign.
About Tampa Bay WaVE: Tampa Bay WaVE is a non-profit providing local entrepreneurs with facilitated access to the resources, expertise and capital they need to grow vibrant technology-based companies in Tampa Bay, create high-wage tech jobs and foster an innovation-based economy for the region. With a grant from U.S. Commerce Department and support from The University of South Florida and Hillsborough County, as well as corporate sponsors including Sykes Enterprises, Florida Blue, Tampa Bay Rays, Tribridge and Bright House Networks, Tampa Bay WaVE actively supports more than 100 local tech startups out of its FirstWaVE Venture Center in downtown Tampa. For more information, visit www.tampabaywave.org.