Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Spotlight: Palm Bay, Melbourne, and Titusville, FL

Melbourne, Florida

Florida’s Palm Bay, Melbourne, and Titusville area has an economy centered around the nearby Kennedy Space Center, entrepreneurship, and business.

Palm Bay, Melbourne, and Titusville, FL are a trio of cities in Central Florida’s Brevard County. The county, Florida’s tenth-largest by population, has an economy centered in large part around the nearby Kennedy Space Center. That relationship has led to the region becoming known as the “Space Coast.” However, there is more to the area’s economy than just space travel and aeronautics. All three cities, as well as the surrounding areas, rank highly for entrepreneurship and small business.

Melbourne and Titusville ranked 150th and 239th respectively in WalletHub’s 2019 list of the best small cities to start a business. Both cities have much higher rankings in the “Business Costs” category (84th and 24th, respectively.) The three cities together ranked 37th overall in a study done by Verizon of the most innovative metropolitan areas in the country. Entrepreneurship isn’t just limited to Brevard County, of course, with the entirety of central Florida a positive environment. Just a few miles down the road, Orlando has established itself as a powerhouse in the scene. It ranked first overall in WalletHub’s list of the best large cities to start a business and second in a Business.org list of the best cities for women to start a business.

Based on these rankings, FundingSage has reviewed the resources that make up Palm Bay, Melbourne and Titusville’s entrepreneurial ecosystem:

Entrepreneurial Meetups:

This meetup group that hosts events at locations around Brevard County to network and grow their businesses.

Groundswell Startups, an incubator program for high tech companies, hosts regular events to help tech entrepreneurs.

The Space Coast Business Group supports entrepreneurs and small businesses by hosting weekly networking events.

 

Regular Entrepreneurial Events:

Among the annual signature events hosted by the Melbourne Regional Chamber are a variety of awards ceremonies and a golf tournament.

Located in Melbourne and serving all of Brevard County, the Space Coast branch of SCORE hosts regular small business workshops and events, all at no or low cost to attendees.

Just down the road in the next county over, Orlando regularly hosts Techstars Startup Weekend events, small two-day conferences centered around entrepreneurship.

The Titusville Area Chamber of Commerce hosts a variety of events for the community, including regular networking opportunities.

weVENTURE is an organization that hosts educational events and provides mentorship for women entrepreneurs and small business owners in the area.

 

Startup Competitions:

Students at the University of Central Florida in Orlando can compete in the school’s annual Joust New Venture Competition. Winners can grab up to $75,000 in cash and business service opportunities.

Funded by the University of Central Florida, Megawatt Ventures is an annual cleantech business competition open to student teams nationwide with a $50,000 prize.

Ignite the Night competitions are held in a variety of locations around the country by NASA iTech.

Hosted by the National Association of Women Business Owners, the PropelHER Pitch Competition is held annually and open to all Florida women-owned businesses.

 

Co-working Spaces:

Specifically aimed at supporting entrepreneurs and small business owners, COlaunch Titusville offers a variety of membership options, with 24/7 access available for higher-level members.

Ladder Co. is a co-working space in Melbourne that places a particular emphasis on supporting creativity and creation.

The Space Coast Business Center provides co-working space, private offices and conference rooms for rent as well as virtual office space.

 

Makerspaces:

Located in Orlando, Factur offers a few different membership plans for both its makerspace and its co-working space.

Florida Tech in Melbourne offers its students access to a makerspace. Resources provided include 3D printing, laser engraving, CNC routers, digital modeling equipment and much more.

MakerFX is a 5,500-square foot makerspace located in Orlando that offers membership plans starting at $50/month. Also, MakerFX is open to the public on Friday nights.

The Melbourne Makerspace offers a variety of tools and equipment for use and hosts regular classes and open houses that the public can attend.

 

Incubators:

The Florida Small Business Development Center has a branch located at Eastern Florida State College near Palm Bay.

Founded in 2016, Groundswell is a non-profit incubator program that works to support startups throughout the “Space Coast” region of Brevard County.

Entrepreneurial students at Florida Tech can have their ventures and startups supported by the school’s Momentum Student Business Incubator program.

The UCF Incubation Program was founded in 1999 and helps small businesses in the area launch and grow. Additionally, they support companies looking to expand into Central Florida.

 

Accelerators:

The city of Titusville runs the ASCEND Business Expansion & Retention Program, which works to support businesses in the area.

Located in nearby Oviedo, the Goldstein Business Accelerator provides access to funding and mentorship for a period of 26 weeks.

Founded in 2009 and based in Orlando, GrowFL is an accelerator program that works with second-stage companies throughout the state of Florida.

The University of Central Florida’s Venture Accelerator program helps entrepreneurs turn their technology startups into real, successful businesses.

 

Colleges/Universities:

Eastern Florida State College, located in Cocoa, offers several certificate programs and an associate’s degree in entrepreneurship.

Students at Florida Tech in Melbourne can major in entrepreneurship and take of the other entrepreneurial resources offered by the school.

The University of Central Florida offers a variety of resources, both inside and outside of the classroom, to help support its entrepreneurial students.

 

Angel Groups/VCs:

With locations in Miami and Melbourne, Antares Capital invests in expansion-stage companies located in Texas and the Southeast United States.

Central Florida Technology Ventures is an organization that invests in early-stage technology companies. Primarily, in the Florida High Technology Corridor.

Funded by successful entrepreneurs in the area, the Legacy Angel Network supports promising companies headquartered in Brevard County.

 

Entrepreneurial Newsletter Coverage:

A newspaper serving all of Brevard County that offers a variety of newsletters to its subscribers.

As a business magazine covering the entire state, Florida Trend offers several newsletters focusing on different aspects of the economy.

The Orlando Business Journal offers newsletters covering business news both in the city itself and the surrounding areas.

 

Are you familiar with entrepreneurial ecosystem infrastructure in Palm Bay, Melbourne, or Titusville not included in the article above?  If so, let us know via a comment, and we will add it to the article. 

Interested in Ecosystem Spotlights of other cities in the USA?

Tallahassee, FL, Jacksonville, FL, Fort Lauderdale, FL


Quinn Pilkey

Quinn is a journalism major at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He also serves as a freelance author for Hashtag Basketball where he writes about the NBA's Charlotte Hornets and at Funding$age where he researches and writes about entrepreneurial ecosystems.