Tampa Bay 'Event Incubator' Cultivates Success

Tampa Bay 'Event Incubator' Cultivates Success

TAMPA, Fla. — What big idea will the Tampa Bay Sports Commission hatch next? The newest concept is something called an "event incubator," essentially a one-stop shop where the best ideas in event planning can be cultivated from conception to execution.

"We asked ourselves, 'Where's the next big event idea going to come from?' " said sports commission executive director Rob Higgins, who launched the program June 1, hoping to bring additional events, revenue and jobs to the area. "We needed to develop a platform to be able to answer that."

The Event Development Institute is a privately funded venture on the 23rd floor of the SunTrust Financial Centre, and its website — growyourevent.com — will accept ideas online, selecting the best options quarterly for review and potential launch.

In one room, a person or company with a concept could have all the contacts needed to execute an event, either locally or elsewhere — companies offering financial help, hotels, transportation, registration, social media, event management, staffing and publicity.

Higgins compares the collaboration to the TV show Shark Tank, where investors hear pitches from innovators seeking financial backing for their business concepts.

"It's a Shark Tank for sports and entertainment," Higgins said. "We'll get down to that list of events we really think have a high percentage chance to make it work."