The new Event Development Institute scheduled to launch June 1 in Tampa is a first-of-its-kind sports event incubator envisioned by the Tampa Bay Sports Commission and funded by private donations.

“There was no fertile ground in which these event ideas could come to fruition,” said Sports Commission Executive Director Rob Higgins. His team created the EDI to give upstart sports event planners an opportunity to meet all of the industries they would need to put on an event all in one incubation space.

The EDI is set up in 2,000 square feet in the SunTrust Financial Center with a high-tech board room or “Collab Lab,” and another multi-function space in which first-stage event planners can meet with prospective collaborators on their event.

Higgins has secured agreements with Tampa Bay-based companies in the hospitality industry that can help incubate events – from legal services, finance and transportation to social media and registration technology companies.

Grow Financial Federal Credit Union jumped at the chance to be the EDI’s financial services partner, said Thomas Feindt, executive vice president at Grow.

“It seemed like a smart move on our part,” he said. “We talk about innovation all of the time and this thing is innovative.”

The EDI will treat sports events like children’s triathlons, soccer tournaments and other competitions as if they are start-up companies.

“As the owner of a technology company, I can tell you it has all of the tenants that make a successful tech incubator,” said Jonathan Cordeau, founder of Tampa-based event registration company LaunchTrack.

Higgins is making a formal announcement about the new incubator at the Tampa Bay Sports Commission’s Sneaker Soiree tonight at T. Pepin’s Hospitality Centre.

– Chris Wilkerson, Tampa Bay Business Journal

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