For the past two years, the Lowth Center has also been the hub of research focused on Tampa Bay’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. The “State of the Tampa Bay MSA Entrepreneurial Ecosystem” report, initially funded by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, has determined that Tampa area entrepreneurial ecosystem is overcoming challenges to grow a diverse field of new ventures, support organizations, and investment.
Rebecca J. White, Ph.D. is Director of the John P. Lowth
Entrepreneurship Center at The University of Tampa
Rebecca J. White, Ph.D. is the Walter Chair of Entrepreneurship, Professor of Entrepreneurship and Director of the John P. Lowth Entrepreneurship Center at The University of Tampa. White is a thought leader in entrepreneurship education, where her research is based at the intersection of entrepreneurial ecosystems, opportunity recognition, entrepreneurial mindset, and competency-based education.
“At the most basic level, innovation centers are about economic development. However, high-performing entrepreneurial ecosystems lead to increased knowledge spillover and innovativeness, and the opportunities that emerge influence a region’s ability to attract and retain the best and brightest talent. Innovation centers are nourished by a number of economic actors including investors, corporations, governments, startups and educational institutions. A catalyst in virtually all highly functioning entrepreneurial ecosystems, universities serve as a primary source of intellectual talent, research, and innovation.
Strong universities are designed to solve complex dynamic problems, and as such, often take leadership roles in building entrepreneurial ecosystems. Moreover, university entrepreneurship centers, like The University of Tampa’s Sykes Business College Lowth Entrepreneurship Center, provide a place for innovation and creative intersections to occur. Fortunately, the Tampa Bay region is blessed with a wide variety of strong academic institutions that provide learners a range of opportunities, from community-based learning to postgraduate level, with a wide range of academic missions, from teaching to basic research.”
The University of Tampa’s entrepreneurship major, housed in the Lowth Entrepreneurship Center, is one of the largest majors on campus and provides students with skills that are critical for anyone who wants to be an entrepreneur or think like one.
Through its programs, the Lowth Center bring together prospective student entrepreneurs, educators and experienced entrepreneurs to generate, refine and develop business concepts and to launch new ventures. Through a combination of classroom study and applied learning with the local business community, students learn how to develop an entrepreneurial mindset, recognize business opportunities, conduct marketing research, prepare executable business plans, identify financial needs, acquire funding, maintain liquidity, manage cash flow and much more.
Undergraduate degree programs include majors in entrepreneurship and international business and entrepreneurship and a minor in entrepreneurship. Graduate degree programs include an MBA with a concentration in entrepreneurship and an M.S. in entrepreneurship. Launched in 2016, the M.S. program utilizes design thinking, systems thinking, collaboration and prototyping to help students move from concept to business in 12 months.
The Lowth Center’s incubator and accelerator programs typify the center’s learning modality. The Spartan Accelerator is designed to help current students grow their business ideas. The Spartan Incubator is a live lab for up to nine early-stage community businesses and alumni. Business owners in the Spartan Incubator receive expert guidance from faculty, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs-in-residence, attend seminars on campus and work with student consulting teams assigned to assist them.
The Lowth Center also fosters collaboration with students majoring in other disciplines. For example, the Department of Film, Animation and New Media, along with Entrepreneurship, have recently begun an initiative to bring students together to create sizzle reels for products and animated shorts that support entrepreneurship students with current projects. The goal is to promote a true interdisciplinary collaboration between worlds that have many characteristics in common, such as a risk-taking attitude, a never-ending curiosity, and a sense that we can change the world for the better.
Two Entrepreneurial Businesses built in the Lowth Entrepreneurship Center’s Spartan Accelerator and Spartan Incubator Programs:
1. ADventure Marketing
2. Signature Lacrosse
ADventure Marketing: Tampa’s Creative Firm. From web development and search engine optimization to innovative videography and social media management, we take our client’s needs in mind and create personalized digital packages that drive growth and revenue.
Alicia Waldner and Zach Gresham, coming from technology and medical marketing firms in the Tampa Bay area, left their 9-5 jobs to pursue the idea of owning their own firm.
One year later, ADventure has grown into a team of 10+ employees, creating digital excellence for many well-known brands in the Tampa area including the likes of Armature Works, Boca, McDonald’s, Tampa Laundry Company and more.
ADventure’s creativity is what sets them apart. Whether it is high-quality images, dynamic and sharp videography or futuristic, highly-engaging websites, the content created is at the forefront. Keeping their client’s goals and industries in mind, ADventure creates digital strategies and executes on them across multiple verticals and touchpoints. Creating ROI has become one of the largest drivers behind what they do, no matter the industry.
“I believe the biggest part about being an entrepreneur is surrounding yourself with passionate, driven individuals,” Gresham said of building the business in Lowth Center Spartan Accelerator. “Coming into an office with dozens of other hard-working individuals, being able to converse with other entrepreneurs about struggles and successes, and learning from them has made a huge impact in the growth of our own brand.”
Gresham said he is focused on becoming Tampa’s leading digital firm responsible for innovation in the way businesses outsource marketing. He sees repositioning sales to move towards social media instead of websites. “I’m inspired to create a brand that not only creates opportunity and success for our clients but brings together individuals passionate about marketing and giving them the tools to succeed,” Gresham said.
Learn more about how Lowth Entrepreneurship Center Spartan Incubator company, ADventure Marketing, is reposition sales and creating opportunities for businesses.