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Synapse Summit draws more than 6,000 entrepreneurs and innovators to Amalie Arena

The event's aim is to connect people and continue to grow the innovation scene across Tampa Bay.

TAMPA, Fla. — Innovation and collaboration were the focuses at Amalie Arena Tuesday for the annual Synapse Summit. The two-day event aims to bring entrepreneurs and creators together from all over the Bay area to build and strengthen the community.

It started as a simple idea that turned into a major event. The summit aims to not only connect those who are already here but also to entice newcomers to start and grow companies in the Bay area.

“The state of Florida is one of the fastest-growing states in the country. 160 plus people have moved to Tampa Bay every single day. And we would love for them to come and want to be a part of the innovation ecosystem. To get jobs, to grow companies, to scale companies, sell companies, to invest in companies. And that creates an economic development cycle that we have never seen here, that would be, that’s the dream," said Brian Kornfeld, the president & co-founder of Synapse and Synapse Summit.

Entrepreneurs in Tampa Bay have taken full advantage of that dream and turned it into their own -- like Jonathan, who we introduced you to last week during our On The Road with Bobby Lewis segment. 

RELATED: At 9, he had a stroke. Now he's helping other kids get therapy with VR computer games

After suffering from a stroke as a kid, he wanted to create a company that could use technology to make therapy more fun, and therefore effective, for kids. Synapse helped him make his idea into a fully functioning company.

Credit: Jonathan Truong, Co-founder & CEO, Verapy

“Every single person on my team came from going to events. Networking. Each single person. So even here at Synapse we met a lot of our team members here. We met a lot of our mentors, here. We even met a lot of our investors, here. It’s because of Synapse that we were able to make that happen," explained Jonathan Truong, Co-founder and CEO of Verapy.

The summit is both a place to show off what you’ve got and to build those new connections. Tampa General is working with local technology teams to innovate and explore what the future of health care will look like.

“Before we tear down any kind of walls, we want to experience what that ‘patient room of the future’ is going to feel like. And so we do. We have the clinicians and different folks that are a part of the care team, experience that before we break any kind of ground," said Jason Swoboda, the executive director of emerging technology and health innovation at Tampa General Hospital.

The hospital is working on a pilot program with local VR company 'Insight,' which is also at the Synapse Summit. The goal is to incorporate games into care and therapy.

“Our pediatric population, if they’re in the hospital, they want to be able to do things and move around and whatnot. Or sometimes they’re not motivated to do that. Well, this allows them to do that. So it helps them exercise, and get up and get out of bed without actually saying, ‘okay time to do your exercises.’ Those mundane types of things. But it puts it into a format that kids are familiar with," said Swoboda.

Right now, the pilot program is only in a section of the hospital. But if the tests work well, the hospital could be expanding the program.

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