Incubating the Space Coast Startup Scene
The Space Coast startup landscape is looking a bit like Silicon Valley.
Tabitha Beavers, electrical engineering ’15, might have one of the best job titles any recent grad could hope for, Innovation and Transformation Program Manager at Northrop Grumman. Part of her job description includes, “unleashing innovation” across her organization, how’s that for being empowered and trusted to make real change with a newly minted degree.
Not only is Beavers day job awesome, her side hustle is kind of epic as well.
Beavers is the CEO of Space Coast FABLAB, the largest Makerspace in Florida. She works with local schools to inspire the next generation of makers.
“Our goal is to help students of all ages learn technical skills and foster creative collaboration.” Says Tabitha.
Beaver’s employer, Northrop Grumman, is not only encouraging innovation within their organization, but on campus. The Northrop Grumman Student Design and Research Showcase gives students a chance to design and create new technology and pursue advanced research.
“Going to school on the Space Coast, driving distance from Kennedy Space Center, Harris Corp., Northrop Grumman and Rockwell Collins, the innovative mindset is contagious, said Florida Tech President T. Dwayne McCay, Ph.D., during an interview with Florida Today. “Every single undergrad is involved in some sort of research,” he said.
TrepHub, co-founded by Florida Tech alumnus Brandon Schmitt, is a nonprofit Space Coast startup established in 2012 to help Space Coast entrepreneurs pursue their ambitions within a community of like-minded people. It is one of many Brevard County organizations trying to foster a Space Coast startup culture.
Other local organizations fostering innovation and entrepreneurship include Melbourne Makerspace, COlaunch, Groundswell, weVENTURE, the Titusville Entrepreneurs Clubhouse, the Business Acceleration Summit, the Space Coast Tech Council, Startup Quest program at CareerSource Brevard and many others.
Thanks to this healthy ecosystem of a tech-focused university and high quality jobs a startup culture is bubbling up on the Space Coast and is starting to get a reputation.
Just recently, the Space Coast was named a “Best Place for Engineers” by Nerd Wallet who evaluated 350 of the largest U.S. metros. Comparing the industries size, mean salary and gross rent, the Space Coast owned the number three spot, beating out Silicon Valley, which ranked number five.
The ranking is validation for the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit that has been thriving along the Space Coast and at Florida Tech.
“I think the space coast culture is one of large scale growth; one where new beginnings seem to thrive. So honestly, it’s not that surprising it would be such a conducive environment for the cradling of efforts that might change the world,” said Ebube Eubochi, communications ’16.
Are you feelin’ the Space Coast? Check out our Space Coast Bucket List