Catapult Lakeland is among 50 national and regional partners named this week by Embarc Collective, a Tampa innovation hub for tech startups backed by Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinick.

For the local business incubator, it means access to high-tech resources and potential opportunities for emerging businesses based at Catapult, according to Christina Graham, Catapult’s executive director.

“We have agreed to promote relevant events from each organization, collaborate on national speaker engagements, provide event space when needed, and we are in the process of formalizing a reciprocity agreement,” Graham said.

“Embarc Collective works with software startups. Oftentimes, these startups need services from photographers, videographers, graphic designers, etc. We have sent over a list of the entrepreneurs at Catapult who provide those services so they can utilize them when needed,” she added.

Catapult is an arm of the Lakeland Economic Development Council, whose president Steve Scruggs points out that both Catapult and Embarc are nonprofits with similar missions.

Embarc aims to demonstrate that tech companies can start and grow in the Tampa Bay region just as much as in the San Francisco and New York, the company said in announcing its 50 partners.

“Our goal is to support startups and increase their odds of success,” Lakshmi Shenoy, Embarc’s CEO told the Tampa Bay Times. “We see this opportunity to connect regional and national resources as critical to strengthening and supporting the growing number of startups in Tampa Bay.”

Wesley Barnett, an investor in local entrepreneurial ventures, said he was excited about the news. “By partnering with Embarc Collective in Tampa, Catapult is expanding the horizons of the Lakeland startup community and improving the chances for success of our local entrepreneurs,” he said.

Embarc is building a 32,000-square-foot center in downtown Tampa at Whiting and Jefferson Streets, a few blocks north of the Amalie Arena. It is expected to open by the end of the year.

Likewise, Graham has said Catapult expects to occupy its new 38,000-square-foot home by the end of the year. It is being built on the site of the former Lakeland Cash Feed building on Main Street just north of Lake Mirror.


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Barry Friedman founded in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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