Does your vocabulary consist of words like innovation, startup, entrepreneur and accelerator? Consider the University of North Florida.
The entrepreneurial energy in Jacksonville is on fire. Downtown leaders and startups like CoWork Jax, One Spark, KYN, and other initiatives are literally putting Jacksonville on the map in the innovation and entrepreneurial department. What’s great is that UNF is not only embracing this energy – but participating.
Were you downtown this April when One Spark, the World’s First Crowdfunding Festival launched and 130,000 patrons attended to see what was up in art, music, science, tech and innovation on the First Coast? It was inspiring, and we’re proud of the fact that key members of the inaugural One Spark team once called UNF home. In addition, a group of current UNF students participated as entrants of One Spark and received funding towards their entry -– a smart phone app that provides an in-depth tour of Jacksonville’s diverse musical industry. What a great way to showcase Osprey innovation on a national stage.
The need for real-world experience pushes our students to think beyond the classroom. UNF seeks to provide students with opportunities to obtain first-hand experience in their field of study prior to graduation. Let’s talk about UNF’s partnership with KYN. UNF’s College of Computing, Engineering and Construction formed a partnership with KYN, the downtown Jacksonville-based accelerator program focused on supporting the growth of tech, health & fitness and hard-goods companies. KYN is starting an apprenticeship program that will provide real-world experience of working with startups in downtown Jacksonville. Ten UNF students will participate in the program while getting paid and receiving college credit. The apprenticeship program is run by design and development professionals who will guide, teach, and challenge students during their apprenticeship. Talk about a resume builder!
Innovation is in action on campus as well. Next week, UNF will provide the space for the fastpitch! event that usually occurs monthly at CoWork Jax. CoWork Jax, a downtown Jacksonville coworking space and startup hub, and UNF’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) will host this free event at the Student Union. Ever heard of the TV show Shark Tank? Fastpitch! is similar. During the event, five UNF students will have five minutes each to pitch their business idea to an audience of entrepreneurs, potential investors, fellow students and faculty. Networking will follow with ample opportunity to meet and greet attendees. Fastpitch! will expose students to business resources, local leaders and the startup community of Northeast Florida. What a productive way to obtain real-time feedback on a business idea. RSVP for fastpitch! and see what it’s all about.
We’re excited about the innovative and entrepreneurial currents in Jacksonville, and are constantly striving to provide our students with opportunities in and outside of the classroom. You know the saying, “being at the right place at the right time”… if you’re planning on changing the world, #JoinTheFlock.
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