UF Tech Connect program awarded grant for starting technology companies
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida is the only university in the state and among only 10 universities in the region to receive a federal five-year grant this month to promote the formation of technology startup companies based on university research discoveries.
The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration awarded $645,000, matched by the university over the next five years, to UF Tech Connect through its University Center Economic Development Program.
UF Tech Connect, an EDA University Center housed in the UF Office of Technology Licensing at the Florida Innovation Hub, assists in commercializing university research discoveries by helping create startup companies. During the last fiscal year, UF Tech Connect client companies created 230 new jobs and generated $180 million in private investment. The grant will allow the program to continue this work.
“Given the stiff competition for this grant, we are pleased that the EDA has decided to continue its support of our program,” said Jane Muir, director of UF Tech Connect, associate director of the UF Office of Technology Licensing and director of the Florida Innovation Hub at UF. “We’ve worked hard and collaborated with many partner organizations to create an innovation ecosystem in our state. This grant will help us build on the progress to date and further our goal of building a disaster-resistant innovation economy, creating jobs for Floridians.”
These grants “leverage university assets to promote American innovation and strengthen regional economic ecosystems,” the EDA said in its news release.
As a partner with UF’s Office of Technology Licensing, UF Tech Connect accelerates regional and statewide economic growth by assisting technology-based companies in commercializing inventions in medicine, biotechnology, engineering, health, information systems, and other fields. UF receives an average of 300 invention disclosures a year on more than $600 million in research, generating more than a third of the state’s new inventions and the majority of all university startups in the state. In the past decade, this partnership has helped launch more than 140 startup companies, garnering more than $800 million in private investment, and creating more than 1,200 jobs.
“We are fortunate to have this strong partnership with EDA. It has enabled us to provide resources and assistance that many tech transfer offices cannot,” said David Day, director of the UF Office of Technology Licensing. “We look forward to our continued partnership with EDA in leveraging university discoveries to start new technology companies that are creating jobs.”
UF has partnered with EDA on several grant opportunities over the past several decades, including the 2009 grant for $8.2 million that funded the construction of the Florida Innovation Hub at UF. This unique business incubator opened in October 2011 as the first building in Innovation Square, a 12-acre science-and-technology community halfway between UF’s campus and downtown Gainesville. The 48,000-square-foot Innovation Hub houses UF Tech Connect; the Office of Technology Licensing; 24 technology-based startup companies; several service providers such as accountants, attorneys, product designers and venture capitalists; and other organizations that have access to state-of-the-art labs and office space, and, most importantly, programs and events that foster the “creative collision” of people and ideas.