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‘Persistence Pays Off’ Message at 2016 Innovation Park TechGrant Competition
Two previously defeated TechGrant finalists return, take home first and second place prize
TALLAHASSEE, FL – On Thursday, May 19, 2016, more than 120 friends, supporters, investors, researchers, and entrepreneurs watched five finalists compete for a shared prize of $25,000 at the annual Innovation Park TechGrant Elevator Pitch Night event. Winners also received scholarships to the Leon County Research and Development Authority’s Entrepreneurial Excellence Program, and inclusion into the TechGrant Winners’ Circle group. The event was co-presented by Hancock Bank and Danfoss.
NP Group, which developed an optical fiber sensor with impact damage monitoring and load sensing for active control in wind turbine blades, was granted $15,000. PointCatcher, which built a network-styled loyalty points program for small and micro-businesses currently absent from the loyalty landscape to help increase local spending, was granted $10,000.
Last year, NP Group was a finalist in the competition. PointCatcher applied, but it wasn’t selected to compete as a finalist. After receiving feedback from last year’s competition and applying the feedback provided by expert judges, both companies decided to apply again.
The competition was intense. Each finalist was given just five minutes to pitch to a panel of five judges what their business is and why it is worthy of investment. Each pitch session was followed by a five-minute Q&A, where finalists were tested not only by the judges’ questions, but also by a running clock.
After the scores were tabulated and the time came to announce the winners, the Executive Director of the Leon County Research and Development Authority and event emcee made it clear that this moment was much more than announcing the winners. This moment recognized that persistence pays off. He shared that the two winners sought extra coaching to better prepare them for the competition, and took advantage of every opportunity to practice their pitch in front of, and receive feedback from different audiences.
When the winners were announced, the excitement and pride were palpable and everyone in the room was reminded that supporting a competition like this is as much about supporting the people behind the company logos as it is about their business idea. Early-stage companies experience many challenges as they navigate the process of building a business, but one thing they never worry about in Tallahassee is its supportive community.
LCRDA Executive Director Ron Miller notes “Tonight’s winners demonstrated that the TechGrant competition is as much about persistently refining your business idea, honing your message, and perfecting your pitch, as it is about actually receiving the cash. In the long run, that perseverance and persistence paid off for both our grant winners.”
Entrepreneurial Excellence Program Continues at Innovation Park
Ten-class course offers entrepreneurs critical training on core business functions
TALLAHASSEE, FL – On Thursday, April 7, 2016 the Leon County Research and Development Authority’s (LCRDA) Board of Governors unanimously approved the transfer of the Entrepreneurial Excellence Program (EEP) from the Economic Development Council of Tallahassee/Leon County, Inc. (EDC) to the LCRDA. The EDC launched the program in 2011 with Larry Lynch directing the program that provides valuable insights to early-stage start-up businesses and entrepreneurs as they navigate through the vulnerable stages of business development. Larry Lynch will continue to serve as director of the program for the LCRDA.
The 10-week program provides an interactive classroom setting where entrepreneurs engage with local business professionals who have expertise in a wide range of skills and experiences in the legal, marketing, sales, team-building, and financing areas. All the sessions are led by local business experts who share their knowledge, expertise and experiences with the class members.
“It is hard to believe that we have now conducted 11 sessions of EEP since 2011 with over 130 new business enterprises having gone thru the program,” Lynch says. “The type of business entity that will benefit from EEP is one that is either in the initial start-up phase or has recently started and wants to move to the next level of success. We have had all types of businesses attend EEP, from high-tech University research related startups to low-tech service related businesses and everything in between.”
Until 2014, the EEP was funded as part of a federal grant of $450,000 to assist and implement entrepreneurial activities in the local Tallahassee community. The EDC received a Knight Foundation Grant in 2014 for $50,000 that allowed the program to continue in 2014-15. The Knight Foundation awarded additional funding for the 2015-16 classes.
Ron Miller, Executive Director of the LCRDA, notes “the Entrepreneurial Excellence Program fits perfectly within our mission as it helps to nurture the growth of more local entrepreneurs, many of whom will be able to commercialize locally developed technologies, and create more companies and jobs. We are very excited about the opportunity to keep this valuable program alive in our community.”
The next EEP class, scheduled to begin in October, will be the first class managed by the LCRDA and Lynch. The program will be hosted at Innovation Park, a 208-acre research and development campus they manage in southwest Tallahassee. The campus is also home to the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, Danfoss, and others. Additional information, and an online application form can be found on Innovation Park’s website at http://innovation-park.com/entrepreneurial-excellence-program/
Q: What do these scientific marvels have in common?
- the world’s largest and highest-powered magnet laboratory
- an advanced Aero Propulsion Laboratory with its own supersonic and subsonic wind tunnels
- Florida’s premiere center for the study of plasmas
- a giant pendulum capable of crashing a 2-ton concrete block into a commuter bus
- the world headquarters of the developer of commercially viable fuel cell technology
- a world-class research center developing materials used in lightning-strike protection and armored vehicles
- manufacturing of the world’s first totally oil-free compressors
A: You can find them all at Innovation Park of Tallahassee!
Spanning over 208 acres of pristine Florida landscape, Innovation Park is home to more than thirty-five cutting-edge research and manufacturing organizations. Research and technology breakthroughs pervade Innovation Park, from the development of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math educational software to a Transmission Electron Microscope (TEM) that achieves the highest scanning transmission resolution in the world among commercial TEMs!
Innovation Park’s location can’t be beat! Less than five miles from:
- Tallahassee Airport
- Florida State University
- Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University
- Tallahassee Community College
- Tallahassee’s flourishing downtown district
- …and conveniently close to Interstate 10!