Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward attended a March 1 reception to celebrate the overwhelming number of registrations Innovation Coast received for the 2017 Innovation Awards. The 62 registrants represent companies from across Florida, and as far away as Colorado, New York and New Jersey.
The Innovation Awards is Florida’s most lucrative business plan competition. This year there are award categories for pre- and post-revenue businesses, the Landrum Veteran’s Award for a veteran-owned business, and an entrepreneurial community college or university student, totaling more than $250,000 in cash and consulting and technical services available to winners.
Mayor Hayward applauded all the risk-takers and entrepreneurs who were present at the reception at the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition.
“Eight years ago, we set out to create an environment that supported entrepreneurs,” he said. “Before becoming mayor, I was an entrepreneur so I understand the long days and difficult choices that you make. I can tell you that what you’re doing is incredibly important for our economy and our quality of life.”
Jim McClellan, chairman of the Innovation Coast board of directors and director of marketing and communications for AppRiver, said the companies that registered for the Innovation Awards exemplify the talent and innovation that resides in Northwest Florida.
“The Innovation Awards competition showcases the region’s ingenuity while spurring the growth of new companies and our area’s economy,” he said. “Innovation Coast is working to bring all these pieces together: the talent, the capital and the companies that can make Northwest Florida a technology hub.”
Registration for the Innovation Awards ended on Feb. 28 and judges will soon start reviewing the business plan submissions. The competition is modeled after the popular reality television show “Shark Tank” where entrepreneurs pitch their business ideas to a panel of judges. Companies that can demonstrate leverage opportunities and generate pathways to robust local job creation will compete for cash prizes ranging from $15,000 to $100,000.
Local businesses and the public can show their support by purchasing individual tickets for $100 or $1,000 for a table of up to 10 people to attend the two-day event on April 12 and 13, at the Hilton Pensacola Beach hotel. The event provides an opportunity to connect with potential investors and network with peers. Business leaders can pledge their commitments to the region’s economic development and engagement by becoming Innovation Awards sponsors.
To purchase tickets, go to awards.innovationcoast.com/tickets/. To become an Innovation Coast sponsor, contact Tiffany Sullivan, executive director of Innovation Coast at 850-380-8838.