USF opens space for student innovation, entrepreneurship


As USF climbs in ranks as a producer of research and technology, even more students can become entrepreneurs as a new opportunity opened on campus Tuesday afternoon.

Located in USF’s Research Park, the Student Innovation Incubator (SII) provides office space and the ability to work with local business partners and mentors to help students develop businesses with new innovations and inventions.

Developed by USF CONNECT, part of USF Research and Innovation, along with the USF Center for Entrepreneurship, Florida High Tech Corridor Council and Hillsborough County, SII opened with an open house event Tuesday featuring several USF-based startup companies as well as USF and Tampa officials.

Before cutting a ribbon for SII at the event, USF President Judy Genshaft spoke to an audience of about 100 people, saying new discoveries and new businesses are what improve people’s lives.

“There is nothing more exciting and gratifying than seeing the inventive spirit grow in our students,” Genshaft said. “There is no greater reward for those of us in education to see students’ ideas turn into tangible action — that is what this incubator is all about.”

Tuesday’s event also showcased startups from the FirstWaVE Accelerator in downtown Tampa, USF’s Tampa Bay Technology Incubator and other USF student entrepreneurs. One such entrepreneur was Kerriann Greenhalgh, who graduated from USF in 2007.

Since graduating, Greenhalgh has founded KeriCure, a company that manufactures and sells an innovative skin protectant based on Greenhalgh’s own research. Now, her product can be found on the shelves of supermarkets.

Greenhalgh said she would have appreciated a place like SII to start her business during her time in USF’s graduate program.

“Instead of having to put a lab together in my garage, a place like (SII) would have helped me be able to continue to develop it,” she said. “I wasn’t ready to form a company yet, I still needed some work and I think this is exactly what this is meant to do and help students develop their technology and help them progress and excel.”

SII works with university members and local experts in business to mentor student startups to gain the education and training, as well as other resources necessary to get them to the next level in the business world.

“This incubator becomes the latest place for students and their mentors to come together and support each other… to inspire us all,” Genshaft said. “This is a place we can take charge of our future and celebrate our spirit of innovation that has come to define the University of South Florida.”

SII is currently accepting applications from all USF students. Application forms can be found and submitted on the SII Web page of USF Research and Innovation’s website.