TAMPA — Some of the shining stars of the University of South Florida’s entrepreneurship push – including the purple-clad Megabyte and Sublimation, superheroes who are educating youngsters while saving the world from the evil Dr. Entropy – joined school officials Tuesday in launching the Student Innovation Incubator on the Tampa campus.
The incubator, housed at the USF Connect center, will provide work space and a collaborative business environment for students from all graduate and undergraduate disciplines to create and grow businesses.
The superheroes, also known as Samuel DuPont and Audrey Buttice, just earned doctorates in chemical engineering from USF. They’ve turned an experience in a program that put researchers in Hillsborough classrooms into a venture that makes science education a lot more fun.
“We saw some of the troubles they were having trying to teach certain concepts,” DuPont said. “Some teachers don’t necessarily have a really strong science background. Some of the materials they were using they were getting off the internet, and they weren’t good enough. We said, ‘We want to try something different.’ ”
Now, their Superhero Training Network and its videos, music, games and training manuals are in 23 Hillsborough elementary schools.
Also on hand Tuesday was Kerriann Greenhalgh, inventor of the KeriCure liquid wound care product now on shelves of Publix and other stores. She recalled toiling for some seven years in her garage lab after earning her Ph.D. in organic chemistry.
“If I had something like this, I would have been able to do it much faster,” Greenhalgh said. “I think this will be a really good way to start pushing the agenda of making commercial products out of our fantastic research and technology here.”
In addition to the work space, the incubator is expected to provide help with fundraising, licensing and other legal issues, business plans and financial models.
“There’s nothing more exciting and gratifying than to see the inventive spirit grow in our students, and there’s no greater reward for those of us who are in education to see our students’ ideas contributing to tangible action,” USF System President Judy Genshaft said. “I can only imagine the brilliant ideas that will grow here.”