Sparks of Innovation

Libraries are traditionally vectors of knowledge and research where the learned and unlearned alike find educational resources for a more fulfilling life. Next year, a new addition to the Alvin Sherman Library at Nova Southeastern University promises even more of these resources.

Nova Southeastern University recently announced it will open the Alan B. Levan | NSU Broward Center of Innovation on the library’s fifth floor in July 2021.

Covering 54,000 square feet, the center is part of the public-private partnership with NSU and Broward County, launched as a collaborative effort between NSU, its Board of Trustees, and the Broward County Board of County Commissioners. The goal of the center is to create two “theory and practice” integrated programs: 1.) an academic curriculum of innovation for all of NSU’s 15 Colleges, its research centers, and NSU’s University School; and 2.) an economic development program for the County to “scale up” early-stage and young start-up businesses, primarily focused on the defined targeted industry verticals, while attracting and retaining hi-tech corporations in the region.

“We are leading the effort to nurture an innovation ecosystem right here at NSU that puts Broward as the hub of innovation for South Florida and geographically located in its center,” said Dr. George Hanbury, NSU’s President and CEO. “Today’s competitive, tech-driven environment calls for strategic partnerships to stimulate economic development and NSU, as a ‘knowledge-based industry’ is proud to house this on our campus. The Levan Center of Innovation will develop into a hub-and-spoke model where companies can scale-up and create knowledge-based jobs in South Florida while stimulating economic development on a much grander scale than we’ve seen before.”

The space will be ideal for r entrepreneurs, students, faculty, staff, companies, venture capitalists, angel investors, economic development experts and other creative individuals to build businesses. NSU and the county see the center as a catalyst for the region’s innovation ecosystem to develop and upskill local talent—and attract talent from outside the region—that is vital to successfully scaling up early-stage and young companies and provide a place for mature companies to innovate through skunkworks projects.

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

The center is named for Florida-based business leader and NSU trustee Levan, who volunteered to take on the leadership role in seeing this new effort come to fruition and also committed his philanthropic support as well as his passion for the university and community. Hanbury asked Levan to be the founding chair of the center’s board of governors and named the center after him.

“The Center is poised to be a transformative institution in Broward County. I am pleased and honored to be appointed chair, and proud to see it bear my name,” said Mr. Levan. “I see a unique opportunity to tap into the potential of businesses and entrepreneurs throughout our community with this Center acting as a catalyst for their development and growth.”

Levan’s philanthropic gift, resulting in the naming of the center, will help to build out the space over the next eight months. NSU and Broward County have both committed $5 million each, and an additional $10 million will be raised through business partnerships and community philanthropy, for a total of $20 million.

NSU students will have unique access to amenities and events at the Levan Center of Innovation, including business startup/ramp-up assistance, training in entrepreneurship and business fundamentals, boot camps, guest speakers and early-stage financing. Growing into one of the largest innovation centers in the nation, students will have access to the tools that will give them the opportunity to dominate their careers, both academically and professionally.

The Levan Center of Innovation will also offer a comprehensive list of programs, events and wraparound services supporting innovation, technology, and entrepreneurship. Programming will include specialized workshops and seminars, guest speakers, boot camps and hackathons complemented by a thoughtfully designed co-working space for people to develop their skills collaboratively. In addition, the Center of Innovation will offer incubator and accelerator programs for early-stage, high-growth companies; mentoring opportunities; startup space; a showcase and pitch area; technology and innovation skills classes and more. A key differentiator will be the addition of 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.

Learn more about the Alan B. Levan | NSU Broward Center of Innovation here.

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