TAMPA – USF’s Tampa Bay Technology Incubator has been recognized with the Outstanding Client Specialty Award from the International Business Innovation Association for its support of tech startup COI Energy Services in its trajectory from local boot-strapped enterprise to a nationally-recognized, trailblazing company attracting significant investment.
The TBTI team was lauded for its work with CEO SaLisa Berrien, who founded the company to provide technology that enables energy companies and users to optimize power and money saving efficiencies in their systems. Since joining TBTI four years ago, COI has been invited to participate in high-profile accelerator programs - such as the Morgan Stanley Multicultural Innovation Lab, SAP.iO, Nasdaq Milestone Maker and clean energy innovation competition 76West. COI Energy was also one of the eight Tampa finalists to pitch legendary investor Steve Case at the 2019 Rise of the Rest tour of Tampa.
Berrien credited TBTI’s mentorship, networking support and promotion of COI Energy in helping her break through many of the barriers for women seeking to build their own companies.
"Women typically have to break glass ceilings, climb over walls and push open doors to get to the table. We developed our confidence by overcoming each barrier put before us." Berrien said. “One of the biggest obstacles that women-led startups face is raising funds from venture capital firms. Many say it's not worth our time of day since very few women get funded. I believe this is just another barrier that determination, tenacity, optimism and favor are needed to overcome."
Since joining TBTI, COI Energy has built its customer roster to more than 150 entities, including Citi, US Foods, TECO and NY Power Authority. Recently, Berrien was recognized by Google 4 Startups as 1 of 30 Black founders to watch in 2021.
TBTI supports both USF spinout companies and community startups through their early stage of commercialization utilizing state-of-the-art facilities, scientific equipment and programming from experienced entrepreneurs and technology leaders.
TBTI assists clients with making connections in the community and serves as a resource, providing information about educational, networking and pitching opportunities from other community organizations. Also, TBTI works to connect companies to USF student interns and provides member companies with co-working space, physical offices and boardrooms.
"Throughout USF's Innovation Enterprise, vibrancy, engagement and community-driven efforts define the synergistic relationship that exists among the USF Technology Transfer Office, TBTI and USF Research Park.
“Our goal at TBTI is to connect the vibrancy, engagement and community support of USF’s innovation enterprise to entrepreneurs who have innovative ideas and a vision for building new companies,” said Shannon Pastizzo, TBTI’s program director. “I am proud of our team’s work in creating an environment where entrepreneurs can pursue their dreams and be a part of building the Tampa Bay Region’s innovation economy.”
The TBTI team recognized in the award are, in addition to Pastizzo, Alissa Costabile,
assistant program director; Steven Jacques, fiscal and business manager; Leigh West,
lab manager; Stefan Seepaul, data administrator; Kathryn Kretzinger,
administrative specialist; Sujie Chen, student director; and Sydney Smith, student assistant.
Learn more about TBTI and USF CONNECT programs here.