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Here to Assist: Greater Daytona Helps Entrepreneurs Achieve Success

Various resources in the Greater Daytona Region give entrepreneurs a leg up and the help they need to succeed. 

By Kim Madlom on June 7, 2022

Sampson Hall at Stetson University, located in the Greater Daytona Region.
Stetson University

The number of startups, particularly in the tech industry, continues to rise in Greater Daytona, thanks to the region’s collaborative, energetic culture and ecosystem supporting and nurturing innovators.

Key contributors to that ecosystem include business incubators established by the University of Central Florida in Volusia County and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU), as well as Stetson University’s highly regarded entrepreneurial and executive education programs.

What many successful area entrepreneurs have come to learn is that if you choose this region as the place you want to live and launch and grow a business, doors start to open, and any business need you have can normally be met. Let’s explore some of the resources offered in the region.

Providing Assistance, Creating Jobs

The Volusia County Business Incubator, powered by the University of Central Florida Business Incubation Program, marked 10 years in 2021.

Over the past decade, the incubator and its clients have assisted more than 100 companies during the early stages of growth, provided more than 8,000 hours of coaching for locally owned businesses, conducted more than 1,500 training sessions, created nearly 1,000 full-time, high-wage jobs and provided a return on investment of $8.35 for every $1 of public investment.

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JonesFoto, Inc.

Developing Businesses & Products

The Research Park at Embry-Riddle in Daytona Beach — with its cornerstone building, the MicaPlex — presents a collaborative opportunity for businesses and the university to develop, refine and bring new products and technological services to market.

Shepherding startup companies through the stages of product/service development toward market readiness is a tremendous advantage.

Since opening in March 2017, the MicaPlex has served 24 companies that have raised a combined $46.7 million in grants and equity-based investments. Those companies have created more than 120 high-wage jobs with an average salary of $68,000.

Those numbers illustrate that the research park is meeting its three primary goals: expand the university’s research capability, collaborate with industry, and create high-wage jobs to support economic development in the community.

Another win, says Stephanie Miller, executive director of technology transfer and research park initiatives at ERAU, is that many student interns are hired for those high-wage jobs, and some of the companies using the research park’s services are Embry-Riddle alumni.

“It starts with these brilliant students with ideas but who are not quite sure what to do,” she says. “We help them explore their ideas and the viability of starting a company and raising money. A lot of work is done before they decide to incorporate and start that journey.”

Entrepreneur Approved

Who better to describe the benefits the MicaPlex provides than a company in the incubator?

“MicaPlex is great for startups,” says Modularity Space founder Scott Weintraub. “By providing labs, equipment and expertise, it gives companies like ours full research and development facilities for prototyping products.”

Modularity Space is developing technology to stop space debris by capturing, refueling and repairing satellites.

“We’re not solving a single problem,” Weintraub says. “We’re trying to redefine the entire satellite industry.”

Modularity Space employs eight people at Embry-Riddle’s MicaPlex. The company is focused on building the reusable technology that will lay the foundation for the future of the space industry.

Weintraub says access to a workforce of undergraduate and graduate interns — students required to complete internships — is a bonus and win-win for companies and students.

“We can provide opportunities right here where they can walk from the campus,” he says. “They can work with us and get hands-on experience with a space startup. Working for a startup, students don’t focus on one area of their study. With us, they work on different projects and have the opportunity to gain broad experience in aerospace, mechanical and electrical engineering.” 

Miller says 173 student interns have worked for companies in the research park.

“These are great experiences for our students, and it allows us to provide a source of qualified and affordable labor to these companies,” she says.

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