Runway Program

Start Something New

Students and Alumni have a place to launch the business of their dreams.

Runway Program Business Incubator


Emily Ennis Runway Program Participant and Founder of Safe Driving Toolkit

The FGCU Runway Program is a free business incubator that is open to students and alumni. Located in the FineMark Incubator on the first floor of Lucas Hall, participants have access to over 2,000 ft2 shared work spaces, private conference rooms, computers, camera and audio recording equipment, product and app development software, as well as direct access to expert faculty, staff, and community startup coaches. Program participants will have priority access to the third floor Media Lab, which features total lighting and sound control, backdrops, props, and cinema quality audio-video equipment. The Rist Family Maker Space, located on the second floor of Lucas Hall, contains 3D printers, a laser cutter, desktop CNC, and VR development kits that participants can request to use. 

Participants regularly meet with an assigned Runway Program Advisors to receive feedback on ideas and progress, and set achievable goals towards launching their business venture. The Runway Program follows Lean Startup methodologies. Participants identify and validate the existence of a problem or opportunity, and then develop solutions and a plan that they can test with real customers. At the end of the semester-long program, qualified participants have the opportunity to pitch for equity-free seed funding to launch their businesses.

When Emily Ennis ('20) first joined the Runway Program, she had a vague idea of what she wanted to do. She had been affected by a traumatic distracted driving incident that sparked a passion for wanting to prevent others from experiencing what she did. Through the Runway Program, Emily went from an idea to a functional and funded business solution that she is now in the process of growing.


Over 90%

of all FGCU majors are represented in the Runway Program.

Over $1 Million

in equity-free funding distributed to student and alumni participants since Fall 2016.

Over 450 Students

have participated in the Runway Program since Fall 2016. 

Meet Our Runway Program Entrepreneurs

Andrew Townsend and Amber Redfern started Cattyshack Cafe

Andrew Townsend

Through the FGCU Alumni Runway Program, Andrew Townsend ('18) and his fiancée, Amber Redfern, found a way to reduce feline euthanasia rates and give the community a fun place to hang out with cats with their company, Cattyshack Café.

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Makenzie Whitaker and Olive the Pig creator of Kidney Kronicles

Makenzie Whitaker

Makenzie Whitaker ('19) is a Runway Program Participant, an English Major with an Entrepreneurship Minor, and kidney transplant survivor with a dream of helping kids and families through the process of taking on diseases like the one she had with her book, The Kidney Kronicles.


Runway Program Participant John Ciocca founder of youBelong

John Ciocca

John Ciocca ('22) is a Runway Program Participant, an Interdisciplinary Entrepreneurship Studies Major, and an award winning app developer with the hope of making the internet a safe place for everyone with his startup, youBelong. The app has 2200 users across 26 different countries.

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Runway Program Administration

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Assistant Director, Institute for Entrepreneurship
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Schaffer, Jonathan
Manager, Entrepreneurship Outreach Programs
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Wilson, Kelly
Entrepreneur In Residence