UF breaks ground for business 'super incubator' in Gainesville
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida and Gainesville leaders broke ground Monday on the Florida Innovation Hub, a business “super incubator” designed to promote the development of new high-tech companies based on UF research.
Funded through an $8.2 million grant from the federal Economic Development Administration and $5 million from the university, the 45,000-square-foot facility on Southwest Second Avenue is the first building in a proposed research park called Innovation Square. The building is scheduled for completion by fall 2011.
The facility is unique because in addition to providing offices, laboratory space and shared equipment areas for high-tech startup companies, it will house UF’s Office of Technology Licensing and UF Tech Connect, the main commercialization offices for the university.
“This facility maximizes the incubator concept by bringing together all the elements needed for commercialization to succeed,” said Win Phillips, UF’s vice president for research. “The data shows that companies in incubators are four times more likely to succeed than those without that support.”
University officials envision the Hub as a place where entrepreneurs, scientists, investors and students will gather to share ideas that lead to new opportunities.
“This ‘super incubator’ is indicative of the collaborative spirit and the forward-looking, regional approach to economic development that EDA is focused on advancing,” said John Fernandez, assistant secretary for economic development in the U.S. Department of Commerce.
The project is also the anchor for Innovation Square, an ambitious plan to develop the rest of the block over the next decade. Likewise, Innovation Square is viewed as an important component of the City of Gainesville’s plans for the Southwest Second Avenue corridor that connects the university with downtown.
“We intend Innovation Square as the last major piece of the Southwest Second Avenue corridor, finally bridging UF and downtown Gainesville,” UF President Bernie Machen said. “We believe what will rise here is a neighborhood of homes, offices and retail outlets – a happy merger of downtown, the tech community and the university.”
Fernandez adds that the project “will expand the entire region’s knowledge-based economy and advance Gainesville’s reputation as a national hub for green and health technologies.”
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