A new partnership between UCF and the non-profit organization Canvs will help build a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem in downtown Orlando, where students and home-grown businesses can thrive.
The partnership means UCF has negotiated a new lease agreement for the Church Street Exchange space where Canvs and its related programs currently operate.
The UCF Board of Trustees approved the new partnership with Canvs during Thursday’s meeting to ensure the organization’s stability and future growth to support entrepreneurial activity downtown.
Offering educational support and coworking space for budding entrepreneurs, Canvs is also home to business accelerator programs Starter Studio and FireSpring Fund. Many of its startups are in the tech and digital media industries.
“UCF has a long history of nurturing startup and small businesses on its main campus and through its award-winning incubator program, and we are pleased UCF is expanding its support for the entrepreneurial ecosystem in downtown,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. “From co-working spaces, to startup accelerators, to seed funding, each element plays an important role in our community’s reputation as a place of innovation and collaboration where entrepreneurs can pursue big ideas.”
This summer, Canvs opened its third location, a pilot Parramore coworking space in UCF’s Center for Emerging Media to support students and entrepreneurs west of Interstate 4. The pilot space was made possible with a $50,000 award from the City of Orlando.
And it will help spur a new innovation district in and around Creative Village, anchored by UCF’s new downtown campus that will be shared with Valencia College.
“A critical piece of creating a downtown innovation district means partnering with entrepreneurial accelerators and community partners who will help small businesses – including our students and graduates – start, grow and stay in Central Florida,” said Vice Provost for UCF Downtown Thad Seymour, Jr.
Because of his role downtown, Seymour was asked earlier this year to serve as chair of the Canvs board of directors.
“We’re seeing great strides with new leadership and our reconstituted board,” said Canvs executive director Donna Mackenzie. “And we are excited about the opportunities to grow our programs and help more entrepreneurs realize their dream of starting a business.”
Just three years old, Canvs has already seen national success of its members. Orlando-based entrepreneurs Chris Harden and Jeremy Scheinberg appeared on ABC’s “Shark Tank” in spring 2016 and landed a $166,000 deal from inventor Robert Herjavec for their educational toy robot, Trobo.