By Ione Villegas, Innovation Coast Staff Writer
Make your mark in Northwest Florida’s thriving tech hub
Compared to tech clusters located in Silicon Valley, Boston's Route 128 and Austin's Silicon Hills, Northwest Florida is a largely undiscovered jewel. But nestled against the backdrop of pristine white sand beaches and emerald-green waters is a vibrant ecosystem that supports innovators and creative entrepreneurs.
Since 2011, Innovation Coast has rallied behind technology and knowledge-based companies by identifying partnership opportunities that spur economic growth and development. To continue to expand the region’s technology footprint, Innovation Coast is looking for an individual who has the skills and motivation to lead the charge.
Jim McClellan, chair of the board of directors for Innovation Coast, and director of marketing and communications for AppRiver, said Pensacola's startup scene took time to evolve.
"The technology and knowledge-based sectors in the area began as small, disparate companies that didn't share common goals," McClellan said. "To foster an economic environment that was conducive to growth, we formed a community of like-minded companies where we could exchange ideas and network.
"With the infrastructure in place, we are now searching for an executive director who can build up Innovation Coast and navigate its path to success."
Today, nearly 300 information technology companies employ more than 3,000 people in the greater Pensacola area. As the tech community continues to thrive, so does Innovation Coast.
From 12 members, membership has more than quadrupled over the years. The organization has achieved success by providing members with valuable opportunities, such as networking events, mentoring from successful entrepreneurs and marketing efforts that increase visibility.
Innovation Coast is also committed to cultivating a network of venture and angel investors in the area so startups can grow. To attract investment opportunities, Innovation Coast launched Florida’s most lucrative business plan and capital acceleration competition in 2014. Now in its second year, the Innovation Awards is a flagship event that awards $200,000 in cash and technical and consulting services to winning companies.
Dr. Donovan Chau, outgoing executive director of Innovation Coast, and director of strategy and engagement at University of West Florida’s Center for Research and Economic Opportunity, said Innovation Coast has come into its own during the past year.
“The groundwork founding Innovation Coast members laid has led us to a point where we are providing a value proposition to the community and region,” Chau said. “With a new executive director at the helm, I know the organization will move closer toward reaching its full potential.”
To learn more about the executive director position at Innovation Coast, visit the website.