Every day, startup companies pop up across the nation. These tiny enclaves of controlled energy can have a huge impact on the local community by generating jobs, bringing in outside investment and attracting a highly skilled workforce. So, what does it take to transform an invention into an innovation?
The Innovation Hub at the University of Florida is a startup incubator that helps dedicated companies and impassioned entrepreneurs learn and practice what it takes to organize and succeed. Although the incubator’s well-rounded method for grooming successful startups was gaining national renown, its public image was more of a building rather than a vibrant program and community of entrepreneurs.
The Hub had a solid foundation, but what it needed was a flexible identity system that reflected its culture, goals and spirit.
So, several months ago, university officials approached Parisleaf with a challenge: Establish a strategy for communication to illuminate the program’s value to the community while transforming its web presence into a vehicle for this message.
What we witnessed
Every project begins with discovery. This is where we interview, distill and analyze. We dove in, began to unravel the story of the Innovation Hub, and outlined its strengths and weaknesses by talking to everyone from residents to city officials.
We learned the critical success factor for startups in the Hub was their proximity to one another. This led to a strong sense of community, where sharing knowledge spawned a collective desire for mutual success. Creative collisions defined the Hub, and emphasizing the positive impact of those collisions would take the Hub into its next phase.
More so, we found a surprising phenomenon at work: We heard stories of people knocking on doors or meeting in the hallway to share advice, contacts and knowledge. The intimate, mutually beneficial relationships we found could serve as a guide for small communities like ours. In a world of instant tech communication, the connected space, shared ideation, collaboration, and community-oriented business thinking has rapid and hugely beneficial effects.
When you peel back the lid of the Innovation Hub, you’ll find a bustling hive of passionate engineers, mentors, entrepreneurs, problem solvers and thought leaders. We felt that the most positive impact we could make on the Innovation Hub’s mission was to show the public that there are real people behind these startups and that their combined efforts feed Gainesville’s culture and economy. They have a great track record, too, known for creating more than 750 jobs, bringing in $50 million in investment, and lofting highly successful and tenacious startups like Shadow Health, Feathr and MYOLYN.
The story of the Innovation Hub aims to communicate the truth about the place: that it’s more than just a place. It’s a microcosm of Gainesville itself. Gainesville already has resources and infrastructure. What makes the difference are the human resources, the people and the ideas, and the collective mentality that serves as a vehicle to get us there. The secret to achieving success on both the local and national levels is to take a cue from the incubators, the Innovation Hubs of the world. Talk to people. Share what you have. Collaboration, resource sharing and community building will bring success. And, it just might make the world a better place, too.
When you find yourself searching for that perfect sci-fi reference or obscure italo-disco music recommendation, BENJI HASELHURST is your guy. He blends a diverse background of art and design with a love and dedication for user experience on the web. He also knows his beers, and all dogs seem to love him. Benji is the in-house web designer for Gainesville-based Parisleaf, a branding and digital studio.