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Business Observer Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018 1 week ago

Accelerator program widens partnership with higher education

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Colleges and universities expand involvement to provide greater collaboration with Naples Accelerator to develop new businesses.

NAPLES — Collier County’s business accelerator program, a public-private partnership between Collier County and non-profit Economic Incubators Inc., is expanding its relationship with the University of Florida, Florida Gulf Coast University, Florida Southwestern State College and Hodges University to assist new and emerging businesses at the Naples Accelerator and the Florida Culinary Accelerator @ Immokalee.

“This partnership of four local and state universities greatly expands the network of strategic partners and knowledge experts who are available to businesses within the Accelerator Project,” says Economic Incubators Chairman Fred Pezeshkan in a statement. “This builds upon our mission of creating jobs, investment and diversity in our community.” 

Under a three-year agreement, FGCU, FSW and Hodges University will provide business mentorships, essential services and a collaborative environment at the Naples Accelerator. The agreement builds upon an existing pact with the University of Florida and the Culinary Accelerator @ Immokalee.

Established in 2014, the accelerator program is funded through Collier County, federal and state grants, and membership and program income.

“As we continue to look for creative ways to diversify the support of these business development programs, our partnership will collectively pursue federal, state and other funding opportunities that will support not only the Accelerator Project but the regional economy as a whole,” says Collier County Manager Leo Ochs Jr., who initiated talks with the schools.

The Naples Accelerator is a membership-based business accelerator, certified soft-landing international business accelerator and co-working office in Naples. The Florida Culinary Accelerator @ Immokalee opened in January. It provides a commercial kitchen to its membership and access to possible venture funds and businesses assistance.

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