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Alan B. Levan/NSU Broward Center of Innovation is supported by South Florida business

[vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column][vc_column_text]This is what excites Alan Levan about the upcoming opening of the Alan B. Levan/NSU Broward Center of Innovation: Anyone who’s anyone is not only on board but is actively cheerleading the project that is slated to debut in July on the top floor of Nova Southeastern University’s Alvin Sherman Library.

“The collaboration that we’re seeing, which includes academia, government and business, is really exciting,” Levan says. The Center promises to be an intellectual core the likes of which the region likely has never seen—an economic development engine focused on the themes of innovation, technology and entrepreneurship, organized along four philosophical pillars: ideate, incubate, accelerate and post-accelerate. 

The Levan/NSU Broward Center’s mission is nothing if not ambitious: it is “designed to serve the community, resulting in breakthrough ideation, new technologies, job creation, talent skills pipeline, company formation, and scaling of early stage and young startup companies.” The Center will sprawl across 54,000 square feet and encompass a hub of activity—a home to industry certifications, specialized workshops, seminars and short courses, industry leading speakers, boot camps, pitch sessions and hackathons. 

“This is one of the very first activities of this nature in Broward County—maybe even in South Florida—that has this kind of collaboration, from the mayor to the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance,” Levan says. “A lot of constituencies are very interested in this project.” Steve Geller, mayor of Broward County, is fully committed to the Center’s success: “My highest priority as mayor is to bring high paying jobs to Broward County,” he says. “And I will work with our friends and partners in the business community to accomplish this. The new Alan B. Levan/NSU Broward Center of Innovation will help to provide the infrastructure to accelerate job growth, particularly in high-tech industries and other careers that require high levels of training and skill.” 

Geller is candid about the local gap he hopes the Center will fill: “Broward County has been good at creating small businesses, but bad at growing them into large businesses,” he concedes. “We’re confident that the Levan/NSU Center will help these small businesses grow into big ones.”

Parts of the Alan B. Levan/NSU Broward Center of Innovation are being designed as flowing, freeform incubators of ideas.
Parts of the Alan B. Levan/NSU Broward Center of Innovation are being designed as flowing, freeform incubators of ideas.

ob Swindell, president and CEO of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance, sees no limit to what the institution can achieve, envisioning a global marker being laid down when the facility opens its doors. “Our community has a long tradition of innovation and a deep pool of entrepreneurial talent,” he says. “The services, coaching and support that will be found at the Alan B. Levan/NSU Broward Center of Innovation will serve as a catalyst to help take Greater Fort Lauderdale’s startup ecosystem to the next level of success. An incubator of this magnitude will be an asset not only locally, but nationally as the Alliance works to attract businesses and entrepreneurs from around the country and world.”

“As I asked our board members to join in this initiative, I had no turndowns,” Levan recalls. “Even when I approached the county commission, not only was it unanimously approved, but each commissioner wanted to speak in favor of it. It’s one of those ideas whose time has come. We have all these forces connecting that can really make things happen for a common goal. To have so many different people already participating in the idea just drives a lot of energy. Success brings success. I’m told that within the first 28 days after our press release, we received 20,000 mentions on social media. That’s an incredible number of people following what we’re doing, which tells you we’re on the right track.”

Day-to-day operations and strategic planning will be overseen by John Wensveen, who will serve as NSU’s chief innovation officer and executive director. “This is a dream position and an opportunity for NSU to be a changemaker, fostering an innovation mindset in Broward County and beyond, resulting in a hub of scientific, technology and innovation development,” said Wensveen, who has previously served as vice provost of academic schools at Miami-Dade College. 

Wensveen has been tasked with supporting the growing entrepreneurial ecosystem in Broward County by attracting and retaining industry-leading entrepreneurs, technology and sources of investment capital. “The Alan B. Levan/NSU Broward Center of Innovation will connect students, faculty, staff and the community creating products, solutions and jobs that will drive revenue creation and investment opportunities,” he says. “Over the coming months, we will continue to develop our core programming as we add additional staff members and oversee construction.” 

When Levan thinks about where the Center that bears his name will be a year from now, he envisions that it will enhance enrollment, invigorate students and garner recognition for the university. “And from the community standpoint,” he adds, “we will have signed a number of partnership agreements, we will have a number of community-based programs going on, and the conversation will take the direction of how this endeavor is actually starting to change the technology and ecosystem of Broward County and South Florida.”

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The Alan B. Levan/NSU Broward Center of Innovation

Board of Governors

• Ron Antevy
President and CEO
e-Builder

• Ron Chenail
Executive vice president, Provost
Nova Southeastern University

• George L. Hanbury II
President and CEO
Nova Southeastern University

• Marcell Haywood
CEO
Encompass Onsite

• Bertha Henry
Broward County administrator

• Keith Koenig
CEO
City Furniture

• Alan B. Levan
NSU trustee; chairman of Alan B. Levan/NSU Broward Center of Innovation; chairman, BBX Capital Corp.; chairman and CEO, Bluegreen Vacations Corp.

• Lisa Lutoff-Perlo
CEO
Celebrity Cruises

• John Machado
Chief technology officer
Ultimate Kronos Group, formerly known as Ultimate Software

• Harry Moon
EVP, chief operating officer
Nova Southeastern University

• George Platt
NSU trustee; managing partner
LSN Partners

• Licenia Rojas
Senior VP, general manager and chief information officer
American Express

• Carl Schramm
Professor, economist, author; former CEO
Kauffman Foundation

• Bob Swindell
CEO
Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance

• Javier Villamizar
Operating partner
SoftBank Investment Advisors

• Jonathan Wolfe
Senior director
AutoNation

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Drew Limsky

Drew Limsky

Editor-in-Chief

BIOGRAPHY

Drew Limsky joined Lifestyle Media Group in August 2020 as Editor-in-Chief of South Florida Business & Wealth. His first issue of SFBW, October 2020, heralded a reimagined structure, with new content categories and a slew of fresh visual themes. “As sort of a cross between Forbes and Robb Report, with a dash of GQ and Vogue,” Limsky says, “SFBW reflects South Florida’s increasingly sophisticated and dynamic business and cultural landscape.”

Limsky, an avid traveler, swimmer and film buff who holds a law degree and Ph.D. from New York University, likes to say, “I’m a doctor, but I can’t operate—except on your brand.” He wrote his dissertation on the nonfiction work of Joan Didion. Prior to that, Limsky received his B.A. in English, summa cum laude, from Emory University and earned his M.A. in literature at American University in connection with a Masters Scholar Award fellowship.

Limsky came to SFBW at the apex of a storied career in journalism and publishing that includes six previous lead editorial roles, including for some of the world’s best-known brands. He served as global editor-in-chief of Lexus magazine, founding editor-in-chief of custom lifestyle magazines for Cadillac and Holland America Line, and was the founding editor-in-chief of Modern Luxury Interiors South Florida. He also was the executive editor for B2B magazines for Acura and Honda Financial Services, and he served as travel editor for Conde Nast. Magazines under Limsky’s editorship have garnered more than 75 industry awards.

He has also written for many of the country’s top newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Boston Globe, USA Today, Worth, Robb Report, Afar, Time Out New York, National Geographic Traveler, Men’s Journal, Ritz-Carlton, Elite Traveler, Florida Design, Metropolis and Architectural Digest Mexico. His other clients have included Four Seasons, Acqualina Resort & Residences, Yahoo!, American Airlines, Wynn, Douglas Elliman and Corcoran. As an adjunct assistant professor, Limsky has taught journalism, film and creative writing at the City University of New York, Pace University, American University and other colleges.