The Uptown Innovation District is a 19-square-mile area that holds $11.3 billion in annual potential economic impact. It is a district brimming with opportunity. For decades its institutional organizations have developed and evolved into powerhouses in their own right: a preeminent University, a national research leader producing intellectual property, the nation’s second largest Veterans Administration (VA) hospital and the largest military physical rehabilitation research facility in the world, the top cancer treatment and research center in the southeast currently ranked #8 in the country, and other significant institutions, even including a world-renowned theme park.

Yet there are significant challenges if we are to reach the District’s true potential. Within walking distance of these significant institution is a neighborhood exhibiting all of the symptoms of the scourge of generational poverty. Abysmal health outcomes, food security issues, significant educational needs for both children and adults, all of these chronic social issues are present in the area.

The CEL was created to enrich all aspects of the District: from stimulating the area’s economic development, to finding novel solutions which can be implemented to address its least fortunate residents’ needs and aims to be the focal point between the area’s resources,residents, and institutions, and to add the foundational elements of a thriving District ecosystem.

Pillars of Activity


Mobilize stakeholders inside and outside of the Innovation District to solve chronic communal problems in the area neighborhoods.


Add to the scope and strength of the Innovation District by recruiting new partners and stakeholders.


Organize events that enrich the sense of community and underscore the importance of innovation, problem solving, and thought leadership to the area.


As a living cell is made up of various critical parts, the CEL seeks to work with many different entities to create vibrant solutions.

Florida Blue logo Florida Business Development Corp logo

Community Partners

AMRoC logo We Built Bikes logo Tampa Innovation logo UACDC logo

Media & Events

Spring/Summer 2020

We Nourish

The CEL {Community Enrichment Lab} is launching the We Nourish initiative to feed those in need in the Uptown Innovation District while helping our small businesses get back on their feet! Meals will be prepared by the many restaurants, grocery stores, and food providers that give Uptown it's unique flavor.

Through partnership with the University Area CDC, Crossover Church, Mort Elementary, and others, families are receiving the meals they need prepared by businesses that have been severely impacted by the pandemic.

Thank you for helping us get back to normal faster by helping our neighbors in need!

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1st Quarter 2020

Hackathon to benefit the UACDC


CEL makes grant to AMRoC Fab Lab

We are proud to announce that the Community Enrichment Lab (CEL) has made a $25,000 donation to FCDI’s Advanced Manufacturing & Robotics Center (AMRoC) Fab Lab. The announcement was made at the Innovation Gathering at the University of South Florida on October 17th.

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Celebrating a Tampa Bay Innovation District

There was a celebratory gathering recently in northern Tampa on the University of Florida (USF) campus that deserves wider attention. The Innovation Gathering event held a few weeks ago was Tampa Innovation Partnership’s signature annual event created to call...

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“When great institutions and people come together, you can do amazing things. In Uptown District, we are seeing tangible change. We realize that building and nurturing human relationships is key—that’s what brings fuel to the fire, what creates change. My team is open to anything and everything that creates opportunity and innovation in this region. I strongly believe CEL can help build common ground, helping residents, entrepreneurs and institutions move forward together.”

– Christian Leon, Executive Director, Community Enrichment Lab


“There is a tremendous amount of procedural, social, and tactical actions needed to achieve organized innovation in Uptown. And the most exciting action is the social, figuring out and tackling problems worth solving. There are people who need lifting up. There are great ideas and innovations, phenomenal institutions and innovators in this district. We can connect and put them to work all around us. CEL can connect all the pieces in the most meaningful and impactful way. We can fill the gaps and fulfill the social potential of the area.”

— Shilen Patel, Chairman, Community Enrichment Lab


“We all are part of a networking creating an innovation movement. CEL celebrates the spirit of the innovative partnership. A lot of great, innovative things are about connections. We can set up the district to connect. And the more connections we create, the more wonderful the district becomes.”

— Chris Bowen, CEL Board Member and Chief Development Strategist for RD Management

Thursday, October 17 5:30 – 7:30 pm

2019 Innovation Gathering - Tampa !p

The Innovation Gathering is Tampa !p’s signature annual event– now in its 5th year – created to highlight innovation in the area and accomplishments toward the growth of the innovation district. This year’s “Uptown United” theme highlights the unprecedented collaboration between Hillsborough County, the City of Tampa, the state of Florida, and the private sector to leverage the strengths of Uptown for the purpose of driving Florida’s innovation economy and creating high-wage jobs.

More Info / Tickets


Please let us know if you’re interested in the CEL in any way. We’d love to hear from you.

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