GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The University of Florida Small Business and Vendor Diversity Relations office is pleased to announce the launch of its 2017 Mentor-Protégé Program. This program connects emerging businesses with established business leaders and provides them with the opportunity to learn and hear from UF departments, project managers and business industry experts and interface with fellow UF administrative leaders and thought leaders. This year’s class boast an impressive number of participants from a variety of industries ranging from construction to professional services.

The year-long program meets eight times from January to November. The program officially got underway last week with a reception at the O’Connell Center, in which UF’s SBVDR introduced the mentor/protégé participants to one another, provided a program overview and led a tour of the newly renovated O’Connell Center, which can be used as a meeting space and venue for the business community.

“Our Mentor-Protégé program, one of the few in the state of Florida, offers free, hands-on mentoring and coaching to small business by larger companies that are often leaders in their respective fields,” said SBVDR Director Kathey Porter. “This program can not only lead to business opportunities with the University of Florida, but prepares companies for large contract opportunities throughout the state and hopefully, long term success as entrepreneurs. There are a number of companies that previously participated as protégés and are successful, major contractors for UF as well as mentors in the program,” adds Porter.

For companies interested in participating in the next year’s program, either as a mentor or protégé, contact UF’s SBVDR office at or 352-392-0380 for details.