Starting March 1, a space at UF’s Innovation Hub will house only female-run businesses.
The collaboratory, an open work space that facilitates cooperation, opened Jan. 2 in the Innovation Hub, located at 747 SW Second Ave., for women to work in. The program, which will house about eight to 10 startup companies for a monthly fee, will start taking applications from women in March, said Nola Miyasaki, the executive director for outreach and incubation at the entrepreneurship and innovation center in the UF Warrington College of Business.
“The physical space is really to give the program a home,” Miyasaki said. “The co-working space is all about good ideas that are scalable and have high growth.”
Aside from office space, the growing businesses will have access to a conference room, mailbox, printer and copier. But the most important part of the co-working space is access to a network of entrepreneurs who provide guidance, said Kathy Sohar, the assistant director for women’s entrepreneurial programs at the entrepreneurship and innovation center in the UF Warrington College of Business.
“It’s basically a closed system where providing support can help a company grow and develop and have a chance of success,” she said.
The co-working space offers a place for women to scale their businesses, work out a business plan and transition to an incubator or a commercial space, Sohar said.
The Hub’s co-working space will be exclusively for women. However, the space will be shared with the Gator Accelerator, which is open to students who’ve graduated from the Gator Hatchery, a retail incubator in the Reitz Union.
Miyasaki said the program’s purpose is to provide resources, training and networking to women who want to be innovators in the science, technology, engineering and math field.
“I think over the years the research shows that there are relatively few women in the STEM field and even fewer women in high-tech ventures,” she said. “When women get involved in innovation, there’s more success in the enterprise than there is if there were no women at all.”
Applications for the co-working space are being accepted on a rolling basis beginning March 1, when businesses can also start moving in.
In addition to the co-working space, the Collaboratory will offer programs and workshops to anyone, Sohar said. Programs like the Startup Road Map help students work on early-stage companies and ideas.
“Research has shown that having connections and networks that can help address these issues can be very helpful,” Sohar said. “We’re teaching them real skills and knowledge, but we’re simultaneously providing a forum for resources.”