The Jacksonville region has been a center of innovation for life sciences, financial services, transportation and logistics and advanced manufacturing for decades. That innovative spirit has driven the area to new heights both economically and professionally, and now the venture capital world is taking notice – culminating with the launch of the Jacksonville Venture Competition (JVC) in March 2023.
The JVC brings together entrepreneurs, investors and business leaders from various industries to support and promote innovation in Northeast Florida. The competition is open to early-stage and growth-stage startups that have a strong business plan, a proven concept and a scalable model. Selected startups had the opportunity to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges for a chance to win $1 million in venture funding, mentorship and access to potential investors and resources. In addition to the pitch competition, the event included thought leadership presentations, panel discussions and spotlights of local entrepreneurs.
The inaugural event was held at The Open Innovation Center, Jacksonville’s 3,900-square-foot innovation and technology training hub for entrepreneurs and employees from business and industries across the region. The center is a result of a partnership between the JAX Chamber and the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA), and serves as a hub and incubator for Northeast Florida’s burgeoning startup community.
Companies from Jacksonville and three other Southeastern cities were selected to participate in the event. In the end, the scientifically advanced preoperative beverage company Operade won the competition having been selected as the crowd favorite and the judges’ pick for investment.
The JVC is just one of recent offerings that are building a thriving innovation corridor in Northeast Florida. Other examples include:
- Mayo Clinic’s Innovation Exchange which provides internal innovators and external entrepreneurs with premier medical and business insights and connections that bring breakthrough innovation to market;
- FIS Impact Ventures, the corporate venture arm of Jacksonville-based FIS, which invests in fintech through its annual fintech accelerator, in partnership with The Venture Center. The 12-week program brings 10 portfolio companies to accelerate the pace of innovation, create partnership and investment opportunities with emerging tech companies and drive the process and differentiated offerings; and
- The inaugural Crowley Innovation Expo, which partnered with business accelerator Plug and Play at University of North Florida, and featured 20 startups in advanced energy, sustainability, supply and technology sectors to circumvent future challenges in the logistics and shipping industry.
Jacksonville’s commitment to creating a supportive and prosperous entrepreneurial ecosystem by helping startups and early-stage companies will continue to help the region drive economic growth and innovation.