After opening just over two years ago in Tampa's Rivergate Tower on N Ashley Drive— also known as the Beer Can Building — the Tampa Bay WaVE business incubator is relocating next month. Backed by federal grants and local matching funds, the nonprofit technology accelerator will reopen five blocks away at 500 E Kennedy Blvd. with an official grand opening planned for later this summer.
The Rivergate Tower was sold in late 2014 as part of a group of commercial properties and was spun off and put up for individual sale earlier this year.
According to Tampa Bay WaVE, the move is driven in large part by a federal i6 Challenge grant awarded in April through a partnership with the University of South Florida. With the additional resources, Tampa Bay WaVE will expand its FirstWaVE Venture Center capacity for accelerating tech startups to seed and early-stage capital.
"We're thrilled to announce the expansion of our FirstWaVE program so that we can provide even more critical support to local startups, address more gaps in our local ecosystem and foster a culture of innovation throughout the region," WaVE president Linda Olson said.
The incubator credits the new location to a partnership between Tampa Bay WaVE and local lawyer and businessman Richard McIntyre, a partner at the McIntyre Thanasides law firm. McIntyre purchased the E Kennedy building this month.
"We are very fortunate and excited to share our building with them," McIntyre said.
The incubator says it has supported more than 90 local startups that collectively have created and retained more than 350 jobs — a good counterbalance to a metro area still focused on recruiting jobs with taxpayer incentives.