A lot of people think of Florida for the alligators, the weather, Disney, vacations. But it really is a host and a hotbed for innovation.”Brian Kornfeld, President and Founder of Synapse

To make innovation happen, to enable it to create tangible new solutions and successful startup businesses, it takes more than just a village. According to Synapse Florida—a Tampa Bay nonprofit dedicated to helping transform Florida from the Sunshine State to the Startup State—it takes a concerted effort to prod engagement, collaboration and action into an energized and dynamic entrepreneurial ecosystem. Their recent Synapse 2020 event in Tampa’s Amalie Arena gathered 7,300 attendees over 2 days with 330 innovative speakers in 127 entrepreneurial sessions and 324 exhibitors including startup companies, universities, local/state government economic development officers, VC investors, business accelerators/incubators, non-profits and cross-industry business leaders. The goal was to bring the region’s business building community together to have meaningful dialogues, brainstorm, be inspired, and learn from a curated cross-section of speakers and panelists on the latest innovations, creative efforts and unique entrepreneurial support initiatives happening across all industries.

Other areas of the country looking to foster innovation and drive substantive economic development should pay very close attention to the community framework being developed and nurtured here in Tampa Bay. Entrepreneurs and startup leaders across the country looking for resources and multi-faceted support should pay close attention too.

The overall vision of Synapse is to be an all-encompassing, interactive, and flexible catalyst for exposing, facilitating and engaging the disparate and specialized resources available to entrepreneurs throughout the region and the state. By creating a centralized hub, they can provide the community the opportunity to be exposed to innovative partners, new ideas, opportunities, solve problems, come together and have a place to find what they need and share what they have. As they see it, innovation is a team sport and they want their hub to help create economies centered around innovation.

Here are a few spotlights to give you a better sense of the Tampa Bay entrepreneurial community event and some of the ecosystem support leaders and entrepreneurs:

Business Innovation Support Organizations

Florida Funders—a team of serial entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and experienced angel investors that conduct a rigorous vetting process to uncover future superstars of the tech world. With a proven track record of successful exits and a shared passion for growing the next generation of Florida tech companies, they have the connections, resources and experience to support entrepreneurs and generate serious returns for serious investors. Their venture fund was recently named the top VC fund for the Sunshine State, according to CB Insights. —Marc Blumenthal, General Partner

TampaBay Wave—a nationally recognized accelerator program that supports over 150 tech startups and 250 tech entrepreneurs to build, launch, and grow their businesses into successful ventures. —Linda Olson, President & CEO

Embarc Collective—helps Tampa Bay’s startup talent build bold, scalable, thriving companies through their staff of executive advisors and function-specific experts. They deliver individualized support to startups inside their newly launched state-of-the-art 32,000 square foot collaboration facility in downtown Tampa. —Lakshmi Shenoy, CEO

Blockspaces—a blockchain product development studio designed to inspire innovators to rethink business and build processes for a digital world based on trust and cooperation. They support entrepreneurs and established businesses on the creation and growth of successful products and services that utilize blockchain technology. —Gabe Higgins, Co-Founder

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