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Innovation Awards Competition Offers Opportunities For Startup Businesses


 Entrepreneurs can take their business ideas from inception to commercialization by participating in the Innovation Awards contest, one of the most lucrative business plan competitions in Florida. Tech and knowledge-based companies that have a promising product or service that can create local jobs can compete for cash prizes ranging from $5,000 to $100,000.


The event is sponsored by Innovation Coast and the University of West Florida Office of Economic Development and Engagement (OEDE).


“This is a great event and an opportunity to help promote innovation and entrepreneurship in our region,” said Brice Harris, assistant vice president with the UWF Division of Research and Strategic Initiatives, under which OEDE is organized.


This year, the contest has more opportunities to win, including at least two prizes for pre- and post-revenue businesses, a veteran-owned business and an entrepreneurial college or university student, said Tiffany Sullivan, executive director of Innovation Coast.


During the two-day event April 12 and 13 at the Hilton Pensacola Beach, experts will select companies to showcase their products and services before a “Shark Tank”-like audience of entrepreneurs, industry leaders and potential investors and strategic partners. From those companies, finalists will be selected to present before a live panel of judges competing for the top cash prize.


Pre- and post-revenue category winners must move to, expand to, or already be headquartered in one of the following Florida counties: Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Bay, Gulf, Wakulla or Franklin.


The deadline to apply is Jan. 31. For more information and to apply, visit awards.innovationcoast.com


Center for Research and Economic Opportunity staff writer Brandy Hilboldt Allport contributed to this report. She can be reached at ballport@uwf.edu

Sandra Averhart has been News Director at WUWF since 1996. Her first job in broadcasting was with (then) Pensacola radio station WOWW107-FM, where she worked 11 years. Sandra, who is a native of Pensacola, earned her B.S. in Communication from Florida State University.