Jeff Vinik plans new venture capital fund and innovation hub at Water Street Tampa

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Jeff Vinik says the Tampa Bay area needs a bigger, stronger ecosystem for startup companies, and on Tuesday he announced three major initiatives to nurture them.

First, Vinik said he will, with other investors, create a venture capital fund with as much as $50 million or more to support startup entrepreneurs, some with direct grants. That, he believes, would make it the largest fund of its kind in Florida.

“We’re going to have a grant program similar to what’s going on in St. Louis, called the Arch Grants there, where we give away $25,000 to $50,000 to those startups … who we think are really, really good,” Vinik told a summit on urban technology and development at the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina. “We want to be a magnet for attracting them … from throughout the Southeast and the rest of the country.”

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