NSU’s new innovation center begins construction, announces board of governors

Renderings of Nova Southeastern University's new Alan B. Levan | NSU Broward Center of Innovation promise a hub of progress in the county

Nova Southeastern University’s October announcement of the opening of the Alan B. Levan | NSU Broward Center of Innovation at its Davie campus library set the county abuzz with possibilities.

And now those possibilities are getting closer to reality with the start of construction on the 54,000-square-foot space set to open in July in the fifth floor of the Alvin Sherman Library. Plus, NSU announced a board of governors for the center and more details on the project’s design and programs.

The center is deignsed to become an “economic development engine” by focusing on three themes (innovation, technology and entrepreneurship) and four pillars (ideate, incubate, accelerate and post-accelerate). A comprehensive list of customized programs, events, and wraparound services will act as a catalyst for the region’s innovation ecosystem by attracting new enterprise and providing opportunities for new skills, upskilling and reskilling, which will result in breakthrough ideation, new technologies, job creation, talent skills pipeline, company formation, and scaling of early stage and young startup companies.

These ideas will be integrated into the space’s hub-and-spoke design model, which will foster ideation and collaboration. Other design elements include glass walls to create an open concept, state-of -the-art technology, including Skyfold™ technology walls, as well as a commercial-grade catering kitchen for event and food-focused entrepreneurs. Plus, a purpose-built cybersecurity training range outfitted with a leading-edge technology platform providing instruction opportunities for the NSU community, industry and potential government partners.

Programming will include industry certifications, specialized workshops, seminars and short courses, industry leading speakers, boot camps, pitch sessions and hackathons complemented by a thoughtfully designed co-working space for people to collaboratively develop their skills. The center will also offer incubator and accelerator programs for early-stage and young-startup companies; mentoring opportunities; a technology-focused makerspace; a virtual community platform; a showcase and pitch area; technology and innovation skills classes, and more.

Chairing the new board of governors is Levan himself. “I am so honored to have such influential individuals join our mission as we work to elevate South Florida’s economic and scale-up abilities,” he said. “These leaders will be a driving force to help identify what additional support the community needs to grow our local businesses and create an ecosystem of innovation where entrepreneurs are supported and can bring their skills up to that next level needed to be successful.”

Joining him on the board are a host of county business leaders:

  • Ron Antevy – President & CEO, e-Builder
  • Ron Chenail – EVP, 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, Alan B. Levan | NSU Broward Center of Innovation; Chairman, BBX Capital Corporation; Chairman and CEO, Bluegreen Vacations Corporation
  • Lisa Lutoff-Perlo – CEO, Celebrity Cruises
  • John Machado – CTO, 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 – SVP/GM & CIO, American Express
  • Carl Schramm – Professor, economist, author; former CEO, Kauffman Foundation
  • Bob Swindell – CEO, Greater Ft. Lauderdale Alliance
  • Javier Villamizar – Operating Partner, SoftBank Investment Advisors
  • Jonathan Wolfe – Sr. Director, AutoNation

Overseeing day-to-day operations and strategic planning is John Wensveen, who has been named NSU’s chief innovation officer and executive director of the Alan B. Levan | NSU Broward Center of Innovation. He is tasked with attracting and retaining industry-leading entrepreneurs, technology, sources of investment capital and seeking out resources to create a premier innovation center.

“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. “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. Over the coming months, we will continue to develop our core programming as we add additional staff members and commence construction.”

The center is coming together with the help of several firms collaborating with NSU’s Office of Facilities Management: ACAI Associates, architecture; P2 Interiors, space planning and design; Sharpe Project Developments, project management; and JWR Construction Solutions, construction. For information about the Alan B. Levan | NSU Broward Center of Innovation, visit nova.edu/innovation.

Community Buzz

 

Members of the board of governors and Broward leaders share thoughts on the upcoming project.

 

Bertha Henry, Broward County Administrator: “Broward’s businesses, large and small, have great vision and intellectual capacity to build on the rapidly changing landscape around the world. No doubt, we are poised to take advantage of the opportunities the Alan B. Levan | NSU Broward Center of Innovation will offer.”

Steve Geller, Mayor of Broward County: “My highest priority as Mayor is to bring high paying jobs to Broward County. 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. Broward County has been good at creating small businesses, but bad at growing them into large businesses. We’re confident that the Levan| NSU Center will help these small businesses grow into big ones.”

Keith Koenig, CEO of City Furniture, Chair of the Broward Workshop: “This facility is the missing piece that will push South Florida forward as an innovation ecosystem. To have a central location in Broward County where entrepreneurs have the resources and support to create, grow and expand their business will help advance our local economy.”

Bob Swindell, President/CEO of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance: “Our community has a long tradition of innovation and a deep pool of entrepreneurial talent. 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.”

Cecil Kidd, CEO of TechLauderdale: “We are excited to have the Levan | NSU Broward Center of Innovation join our tech community here in Broward County. The collaboration between our two organizations will greatly benefit our members and we look forward to connecting everyone together when the space opens.”

Richard Berkowitz and Christopher Leonard, co-chairs of the Broward Workshop Technology Committee: “The Broward Workshop Technology Committee is focused on enhancing the technology ecosystem in Broward County and Greater Ft. Lauderdale and this collaborative initiative advances the opportunity to establish Broward County as a top 25 technology hub.”

Keren Moros
kmoros@lmgfl.com
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